The color TVs atop the players' lockers in the cavernous Orioles clubhouse at Camden Yards were showing stock car racing on ESPN yesterday. The most attentive person in the room was Dick Bosman.
"There's nothing like it, when you get those engines clicking on all cylinders," said the O's first-year pitching coach. Usually a person who reacts with such passion to race cars is from the southeast quadrant of the country. But Bosman is from Kenosha, Wis.
"My dad came off a farm," Bosman was saying. "When I was growing up, when anything needed to be done -- fix a car engine, for instance -- my dad did it. If cement had to be poured, he did that.
"He made me learn by doing everything with him. As a kid, I was always working on cars or playing football."
Bosman became a big-league pitcher, of course, and for the last four years he has been a minor-league pitching coach for the Orioles.
He still loves cars. He builds and drives street rods. He has raced dragsters. His current auto is a '48 Chevy.
If anyone knows when an engine is purring, it's Bosman. And if there's anyone who knows when a pitching staff is running smoothly, it's also Bosman. His Orioles pitchers are doing that now.
"It's fun when you're going like this," Bosman said after the Orioles' 8-6 win over Seattle yesterday, completing a three-game series sweep.
"Mike Mussina [4-0 after getting the win yesterday] is head and shoulders over anybody I had in Rochester the last three years. It's unbelievable that he could be that sharp that young . He's a natural.
"Rick Sutcliffe [4-2] is a winner. He's a finisher. Sutcliffe is great rTC to work with. He works hard and sets a great example for the young players. He's like Frank Howard was with the young players when he and I played with the Senators.
"Sutcliffe is healthy now. He throws 120 pitches and he's still out there. He reminds me of Gaylord Perry when I was with him in Cleveland.
"Bob Milacki [1-2] is the Clydesdale of the bunch. He goes out there and works hard and does the same thing every day. He doesn't get ruffled much either.
"Ben McDonald [3-0] had minor injuries starting the last two years, things that are not unusual for young pitchers. But because of Ben's stature, those things became a big deal.
"I'm confident that if we continue to get the kind of pitching we've been getting, we'll be in there. Things are going good. Now it's a matter of maintenance."
Mussina points out that his name is not always pronounced correctly. It's just "mus-SEEN-a." People have been putting an extra "y" sound in there: "myew-SEEN-a". Says Mike: " 'Myew-SEEN-a' must sound better over the PA."
* Doug DeCinces, who played third base for the O's from '73-'81, was "awed" by his first look at Oriole Park yesterday.
"The amenities are awesome," DeCinces says. "The weight room alone is awesome."
DeCinces flew into town over the weekend from his home in California to surprise his old Baltimore neighbor, Roger Wittenbach, who was celebrating his 50th birthday.
What amazed me was what DeCinces said about his only son, Timmy, who was 7 years old when his dad left the Orioles to play for the Angels. Announced Doug with a big smile:
"Timmy's going to UCLA in the fall on a baseball scholarship. He's a catcher."
Rick Dempsey, a former teammate, showed Doug through the clubhouse. The two watched Bill Ripken bat against the pitching machine behind the Orioles dugout. "Good light in here," observed DeCinces.
Dempsey, who is in limbo here, dressing for games but not being on the roster, says he is no longer talking to other clubs to see if they want his services. Says Rick: "I'm a holdout. I'm holding out for a chance to play with this club."
* Tom Hessenauer, president of the Oriole Advocates, reports that the collection Saturday night of used baseball equipment for youngsters here and in the Dominican Republic produced 500 bats, 300 gloves, plus lots of balls and old uniforms. They're stored in a warehouse in Dundalk.
"We're going to keep collecting the stuff for the rest of this homestand," says Hessenauer. "We have to cut it off after that. There's a shipping deadline of May 20."
* Though the Orioles have now played 10 games at Camden Yards, the new park continues to attract journalists from around the country.
Columnist Mark Purdy, of the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury-News, was here all weekend, checking out Baltimore's new ball yard, because San Jose wants a park of its own to house the San Francisco Giants.
"I like your park," Purdy says. "It looks like it's been here for a long time. A new ballpark for San Jose is on the ballot June 2. If it passes, the Giants have agreed to sign a 30-year lease."
San Jose's population of 760,000 is larger than San Francisco's. San Jose sold out every one of its National Hockey League home games this winter at an average price of $30 a ticket.