CLEVELAND -- Roland Hemond had more than a passing interest in the search for a general manager for the National League expansion team in Florida.
"It was a strange situation for me," Hemond said yesterday after Dave Dombrowski was named GM by the Marlins. Doug Melvin, the Orioles' director of player personnel, was one of the finalists for the job.
Dombrowski, 35, is a protege of Hemond's from the Oriole GM's days with the Chicago White Sox. Melvin and Hemond have worked closely with the Orioles for the last four years.
"I'm very proud of both of them," said Hemond. "Doug is very capable and both he and Dave will have good careers. It's nice to know that baseball has good, young, qualified people like this who are capable of stepping in and doing the job."
Melvin, 39, admitted to some disappointment at not getting the job in Florida, but was philosophical. "It was appealing because it's an expansion franchise," said Melvin, "and the opportunity is there to build from the ground up.
"But this is a good situation here [with the Orioles]. I just have to be patient. I think Dave will be a good choice for them. He and [Florida president] Carl Barger have a pretty good relationship from what I understand."
* IS IT A COINCIDENCE? Otis Nixon got a second chance from commissioner Fay Vincent before being suspended for violating his aftercare program, but it obviously didn't help the speedy outfielder -- either on the field or off. Without trying to diminish the effect of Nixon's loss to the Braves, his production was already in sharp decline at the time of his suspension.
From Aug. 1, the approximate time he was summoned to New York for a meeting with Vincent, Nixon had batted only .195 -- a sharp drop from his .330 mark before then. Although in shock over the loss of the major leagues' base-stealing leader, the Braves reacted philosophically to the suspension.
"We have to treat it like another injury," said David Justice, "and we've had to play through them all year."
* SYSTEM BREAKDOWN? What has happened to the Dodgers has to concern teams that believe the farm system is still the most dependable way to success. For a half century the Dodgers have been considered the model organization, but their "how to succeed by building" formula is out of kilter.
The last position player developed, and retained, by the Dodgers is catcher Mike Scioscia -- and he came on the scene 10 years ago. On the pitching staff, Ramon Martinez is the only impact performer who came through the system.
The Dodgers, with no outside overhead (rent, debt payments etc.) to speak of, might be baseball's wealthiest team. That, coupled with the farm system's prolonged slump, makes them a major player in the free-agent market. But the Dodgers might have their hands full this year, with nine potential free agents on their own roster. It will be interesting to see if their own, or other, players will command top priority.
Those rumors that the Dodgers might let Eddie Murray walk could have been a bit premature. The ex-Orioles first baseman is again demonstrating that he is, as Dick Vitale would say, a PTP -- prime time player.
* WHERE WILL YOU PLAY, JOSE? Think Jose Canseco will have some fun tonight when he and the soon-to-be dethroned A's return to the Oakland Coliseum? The slugging outfielder picked a funny time to "explore other options" if the fans didn't start treating him better.
Completing the first year of a five-year, $25 million contract, Canseco doesn't have a whole lot of options other than taking DTC the money. One thing you have to admit about this guy though -- he produces.
He's having another monster year that is overshadowed by the collapse of the A's pitching staff.
* BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: The first no-hitter by an Orioles' pitcher took place 33 years ago today. Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm beat the New York Yankees, 1-0.
The lone run came on the 30th home run of the season by Gus Triandos. At that time, it was not only a club record, but a record for American League catchers.
* TRACKING PHIL AND THE WHAMMER: Former Orioles Jim Traber and Phil Bradley are having banner years with contending teams in Japan.
Traber, who has found a home in the Far East, was hitting .285 with 27 home runs and a league-leading 88 runs batted in at last report. His team, the Kinetsu Buffaloes, was leading the division.
Bradley, playing his first year in Japan, had a .280 batting average with 20 home runs and 66 RBIs for the Yomiuri Giants, who were running four games off the pace in their division.