Generation Ex-O's are playoff keys

October 04, 1998|By KEN ROSENTHAL

It's called the Ex-Cub Factor -- the more former Cubs on your roster, the worse your team will be.

The Ex-Oriole Factor works just the opposite.

The more former Orioles on your roster, the better your team's chances of reaching previously unattainable heights.

Three of the postseason teams had front offices rooted in Baltimore. Each of the eight had at least one former Orioles player, and five had former Orioles coaches or managers.

Such change is not unusual in this age of rapid turnover. In fact, some of the movement even predates owner Peter Angelos, shocking as that might seem.

Whatever, here's your Ex-Oriole playoff scorecard. If some of these guys look familiar, it's because they are.

Cleveland Indians

John Hart, GM. Former Nautilus salesman, former Rochester manager, former Orioles third base coach. Dismissed as something of a phony by many in Orioles organization in late 1980s. Little did they know, he would follow Hank Peters to Cleveland and become their worst nightmare, leading the Indians to three ALCS appearances in four years.

Dan O'Dowd, assistant GM. Engaged in power struggle with Doug Melvin in late 1980s (O'Dowd aligned with Peters, Melvin with Edward Bennett Williams). His career might be about to come full circle -- he's a leading candidate to be the Orioles' next GM.

Mark Wiley, pitching coach. Orioles allowed a major-league record 10 homers under his watch at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium on Sept. 14, 1987.

Jim Poole, left-handed reliever. Yes, that was him yesterday, getting big outs in the Indians' Division Series clincher. The Orioles replaced him with Jesse Orosco.

New York Yankees

David Wells, pitcher. It looked like such an ideal free-agent trade -- the clownish Wells for the classy Jimmy Key. Who knew that Wells would find himself in New York? Who knew that the one thing he would respect is Yankees tradition? Who knew that he would throw a perfect game? Wells is 34-14 since leaving Baltimore. Key, 22-13 as an Oriole, seems likely to retire.

Boston Red Sox

Damon Buford, center field. Buried by Phil Regan in favor of Curtis Goodwin, sent to the Mets in the Bobby Bonilla deal, traded to Texas, traded to Boston. Batted .282 with 10 homers in 216 at-bats this season. A better player than Goodwin, and to this point, Jeffrey Hammonds.

Texas Rangers

Doug Melvin, GM. Assistant GM who left for a better job when Angelos wouldn't commit to his future, just like Kevin Malone four years later. Transformed forever-promising franchise into perennial contender. July trades for Todd Stottlemyre, Royce Clayton and former Oriole Todd Zeile helped the Rangers secure their second AL West title in three years.

Johnny Oates, manager. Insecurities rose to surface while managing under Angelos in a (then) one-team town. Has it easier in Dallas, where the Cowboys' coach gets all the heat, and ownership leaves well enough alone. Might have been in trouble if Rangers had not reached postseason, but new owner Tom Hicks just announced that Oates would return in 1999.

Jerry Narron, third base coach; Dick Bosman, pitching coach. Serving Oates in the same roles they did in Baltimore. Bosman's job reportedly was in jeopardy in September, but the performance of the Texas starters against the Yankees helped his case.

Mark McLemore, second base. Slumped in the second half playing on two bad knees, but remains a heart-and-soul player that Oates is reluctant to remove from his lineup. If Roberto Alomar had his fire ah, never mind.

Houston Astros

Ricky Gutierrez, shortstop. Not to be confused with Jackie "many errors" Gutierrez, Ricky once was considered the heir apparent to Cal Ripken. The Orioles traded him to San Diego for the immortal Craig Lefferts in 1992. Houston acquired him in a 12-player trade in '94, and Gutierrez helped beat his former team in Game 2 of the Division Series by stealing third and scoring the game-winning run.

Tom McCraw, hitting coach. Served in same capacity for Orioles from 1989 to '91, favored cigars and Dove bars, not necessarily in that order. Also known for his candor. Informed that a story would appear in The Sun predicting that Oates would replace him, McCraw replied, "Ain't got a problem with a man writing the truth."

San Diego Padres

Larry Lucchino, team president. Cut-throat Washington attorney and Eli Jacobs henchman transformed into laid-back California dude under owner John Moores. Better get that new ballpark, though, or he could resurface in his previous form in northern Virginia.

Fred Uhlman Jr., assistant GM. Son of Orioles scout Fred Uhlman Sr., spent a decade in the organization, rising to assistant scouting director at the age of 24. Are the Orioles even aware that he's gone?

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