The following is a transcript of an argument that erupted in the Orioles' conscience soon after Arthur Rhodes limited the Minnesota Twins to six hits in seven-plus innings last night. The baseball disciples Patience and Pennant are arguing.
Pennant: "Did you see that? Holy Vida Blue! That kid could win the division for us."
Patience: "But he belongs in Rochester. He needs a little more polishing in the minor leagues. You know he does."
Pennant: "How can you say that? He came in cold tonight and shut down the best-hitting team in the league. After what Mesa and Milacki have been giving us at the bottom of the rotation, we have to see what the kid can do."
Patience: "But . . . "
Pennant: "No. There is no choice. I don't think we can beat the Blue Jays with the team we have now. We're short a dependable starter, and that would kill us down the stretch. So here is this kid already wearing our uniform. He could make the difference, and we don't have to make a trade or anything. It's so easy."
Patience: "But it's wrong, and you know it. Let's go back to spring training. Remember what we agreed on there? That we were going to send the kid to Rochester with a note on his uniform saying, 'Will Not [Under Any Circumstances] Be Returned to Sender Until Next Year.' You thought that was real funny, remember? We were out by the pool, and you were laughing. I hate it when you change your mind."
Pennant: "But there's nothing wrong with changing your mind when the facts are obvious. Did you hear what Johnny Oates said after the game? He said, and I quote, 'If Arthur can throw strikes like he did tonight, there's no reason he can't be here.' And remember, Johnny was the one who really wanted Arthur to spend all year in Rochester. Things change. So you change your mind. Big deal. I want to win."
Patience: "Well, I don't like this. We're talking about one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. He will get set back and maybe even scarred if he starts getting knocked around up here again."
Pennant: "He looks absolutely ready to me."
Patience: "C'mon, you know the situation. He is just now putting together all the pieces. He made a big correction in his delivery this spring, straightening out the landing of his front foot, and he has been a different pitcher ever since. More control. Sharper breaking balls. But he is still getting used to the new delivery. He needs more time."
Pennant: "Are you kidding? Kirby Puckett didn't get the ball out of the infield in three at-bats tonight."
Patience: "Right. And if you keep him in Rochester this year, you will have another Mussina next season."
Pennant: "But, see, you're outsmarting yourself. You think too much. Just trust your eyes. After watching him tonight, how can you not say he is ready to pitch here? You can't deny what you just watched."
Patience: "Didn't someone say that to Ronald Reagan once?"
Pennant: "Don't change the subject. The Blue Jays won again tonight. We're going to have a heck of a time catching them. Remember, they didn't call up Juan Guzman until June last year, and look at him now. You never know when a kid like that, or this, is ready to just suddenly take off. And now that Arthur has given us this tease, the least we can do is see if he develops."
Patience: "If he is suddenly the answer to all that ails us, how come he was just 6-6 at Rochester with a 3.72 ERA? Is that so terrific? I don't believe you. You're making the oldest mistake in baseball. Getting fooled by one game. You should be embarrassed."
Pennant: "The only thing I'm embarrassed about is that we waited this long to try something. We've been treading water for six weeks now. You can't just let the season slip away and not try to do something to save it. The rotation from now on should be Sutcliffe, Mussina, McDonald, Storm Davis and Arthur. We needed a left-hander, anyway."
Patience: "I don't deny we need to make changes. But the thing we should do is make a trade for an experienced pitcher. Arthur is still a little too raw for a division race. Remember last year when he was so jittery? You don't just shed that instantly. It takes time. Next year, pal."
Pennant: "There'll be a riot in the bleachers if you don't give this kid a chance after tonight. And can you blame them? Anyway, it would cost us some money to trade for an experienced pitcher."
Patience: "You know, something tells me I'm going to lose this argument."
Pennant: "Ar-thur, Ar-thur."
Patience: "Oh, pipe down."