Kingdoomed Orioles happily embrace A's great outdoors

July 21, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- This much is a virtual certainty: If it doesn't rain and there isn't an earthquake, the Orioles will play baseball today in Oakland, Calif.

Unless the sky falls.

The Orioles are not in danger of being roofed out for the third day in a row because the open-air Oakland Coliseum has no roof.

For the second day in a row, they were not allowed to play baseball in Seattle yesterday, thanks to a fallen ceiling tile that crashed into the seats Tuesday a half-hour before the public was allowed into the Kingdome.

Yesterday's tentatively scheduled doubleheader with the Seattle Mariners was called off in the morning, and the Orioles flew to Oakland in the afternoon. No makeup date has been scheduled for the two postponed games.

The Mariners lease the Kingdome from King County through 1996 and are trying to get a new retractable-roof stadium built to keep baseball in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Mariners are expected to ask King County to reimburse them for the revenue lost from six home games.

The Mariners' four-game series against the Boston Red Sox that was to begin tonight at the Kingdome has been moved to Fenway Park, where the clubs are scheduled to play single games tomorrow and Sunday and a doubleheader Saturday.

The games were postponed by King County officials.

"King County cannot assure complete fan safety based solely on visual inspection," a King County official said. "We will require more than 24 hours to check more thoroughly."

Both the Orioles and Mariners are idle Monday, but playing the games then at Camden Yards has been ruled out because of the logistical nightmare. The Orioles would have had to travel from the West Coast, play a doubleheader Monday, and a day-night doubleheader Tuesday.

"It's not going to be resolved for a while," Phyllis Merhige, American League vice president of administration and media affairs, said of the makeup date.

The most likely scenario has the Orioles and Mariners making up the games at the end of the season if they have an impact on a pennant race.

Roger Maris must be smiling somewhere because record-breaking-minded Ken Griffey might have just had his season reduced to 160 games, even if there is no strike.

A briefly discussed consideration of playing a night game in Tacoma quickly was scratched by the American League, not that the Orioles would have been interested in doing that.

"I didn't want to go to Tacoma to play," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "I don't think there are too many people who thought that was a good idea. I don't want to go to a minor-league ballpark to play a big-league game. I don't even like playing exhibition games in minor-league ballparks."

The idea didn't appeal to the players, either.

"I never played in the Pacific Coast League before and I hope I never have to," said reserve outfielder Jack Voigt.

Said Dwight Smith: "I don't want to see those fields again until I'm coaching."

Ben McDonald, his start scratched two days in a row, voiced a dissenting opinion.

"Sure, I would have liked pitching in Tacoma," McDonald said. "It's a grass field. I would rather pitch on grass than turf any day."

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond and Mariners GM Woody Woodward both talked to American League president Bobby Brown yesterday.

"Dr. Brown has to analyze the entire schedule and our coming from the West Coast and the split doubleheader for us Tuesday means it has to be later in the schedule," Hemond said.

Woodward centered most of his discussions with Brown on plans for the Boston series.

"We gave Bobby Brown a list of things we could have done," Woodward said. "We looked at Cheney Stadium and Vancouver. There was even a National League park mentioned. But the final word was Boston."

As for the final word on when the Orioles and Mariners will play, there is no final word.

"We have no feasible idea right now," Orioles player representative Mike Mussina said. "The only feasible idea is to play it at the end of the season if we have to play. Hopefully we'll be up three games and we won't have to worry about playing them."

Playing Monday at Camden Yards did not appeal to the Orioles, who in 1992 played a game at Anaheim Stadium, flew home in the morning to play an early-start night game against the Yankees, the first game on the Orioles' slide out of the pennant race.

"Playing Monday would be asking the players to drag themselves out onto the field to play tired," Orioles reliever Mark Williamson said. "You can fool your body for one or two days, but it will catch up to you."

Said Mussina: "If we played Monday, we wouldn't have a day off from the All-Star break to the middle of August."

One scenario not being discussed would have the teams playing on a neutral site on Aug. 29, a day off for both clubs.

The Orioles open a road trip in Chicago on Aug. 30 and the Mariners open a trip on the same day in Milwaukee.

Kenosha, anyone?

ORIOLES TODAY

Opponent: Oakland Athletics

Site: Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum

Time: 4:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Ben McDonald (11-6, 4.26) vs. Athletics' Ron Darling (9-9, 4.36)

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