The Orioles yesterday continued their open-ended series against the surreal. While players gathered inside Camden Yards for an impromptu workout, Baltimore City Fire Department officials instructed the team to postpone last night's game against the Anaheim Angels while emergency crews worked to extract a 60-car train from a nearby tunnel exit.
Orioles chief operating officer Joe Foss could not predict when play will resume at Camden Yards but expressed optimism about tonight's 7:05 game taking place as scheduled.
"We are taking it literally a day at a time," Foss said after a joint news conference with Mayor Martin O'Malley and city officials yesterday afternoon. "When last night's game was canceled, there was an expectation of tonight's game being played."
The Orioles instead learned shortly before 3 p.m. that they would suffer their third postponement in as many days. An attempt to pull smoldering cars from the tunnel was delayed when several workers were overcome by heat and smoke. Fire officials notified the Orioles that no games would resume until the burning cars and others carrying hazardous materials can be removed from the tunnel that exits about 200 yards south of the team's offices.
"We are looking at the safety of the public and the issues we've been talking about are concerns that have led us to direct the Orioles not to play tonight," said Battalion Chief Hector L. Torres, a Fire Department spokesman.
Foss said the club is faced with possibly rescheduling numerous home games at road venues as well as seeking compensation from both its insurer and the owner of the freight line involved in Wednesday's incident.
The Orioles announced a day-night doubleheader for tomorrow as a makeup for last night's game. The first game will take place at 1:35 p.m. as originally scheduled, with the second game to start at 7:35 p.m. Should today's game be postponed, however, Foss suggested the possibility of consecutive day-night doubleheaders tomorrow and Monday.
"There's a lot of potential combinations and permutations of the schedule that could come about," Foss said.
Postponements beyond today could toss the Orioles' schedule into chaos, with lost home games rescheduled for next week at Anaheim's Edison International Field.
"There is a likelihood we would play games in out-of-town ballparks if this pattern continues," Foss said.
The Orioles have requested that Major League Baseball allow them to make up one of two games lost earlier this week against the Texas Rangers on Oct. 1, thereby allowing third baseman Cal Ripken to play the final game of his career at home on the day after the season. Logistics and precedent weighed against it. The commissioner's office denied the request barring a surge by either fourth-place team into playoff contention.
Foss has forwarded the club's preferences for makeup arrangements to commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball chief operating officer Paul Beeston through vice president of scheduling Katy Feeney. Discussions also must involve the players association, whose policy prevents teams from playing more than 20 games in 20 consecutive days.
The Orioles, meanwhile, estimate their losses at $1 million to $1.5 million per lost date. Foss said the club is investigating whether it is insured for losses resulting from the rail accident.
"That review is under way and not complete," Foss said. "In a normal rainout, there is no insurance protection. That's what we run into on a regular basis. But when you go into acts of God that might have some damage to a physical property, that's where we have some insurance protection. This particular case is different than a rainout, obviously. But this particular accident and what its impact would be on lost revenue is presently being reviewed."
Foss said the team also has left open the possibility of litigation seeking remuneration from CSX for any losses from canceled games.
"We're obviously going to keep all our financial options open," Foss said. "At this point in time, we're more interested in getting back playing. One really can't assess what financial liabilities may have been because it's not inconceivable we may recoup some of
that if we get these games rescheduled. If they're not rescheduled, or if we're rescheduled out of town, obviously there are financial losses. And obviously we'll pursue all our normal alternatives to get those revenues."
As Foss appeared at the news conference near the south end of the Camden Yards warehouse, most Orioles players attended a mid-afternoon workout still carrying vivid memories of Wednesday's abrupt evacuation that postponed the second half of a day-night doubleheader against the Rangers.
The game was to feature throwback uniforms from the 1970s, but the promotion was quickly forgotten amid an urgent call for players and stadium personnel to evacuate.
"They told us we needed to get out right away, that there was going to be a disaster coming. So we got out of there as quickly as we could," said outfielder Chris Richard. "A lot of us were in our shorts and our workout shirts. Things finally calmed down and we were able to go down for a couple minutes and get our keys and wallets and things. But we had to get in there in a hurry. Nobody knew what happened. We all just stayed together.
"Ripken was in his '70s uniform. He didn't want to go home like that, so we had to get back down there and get changed."
Several players initially thought a bomb threat was responsible for the evacuation. Manager Mike Hargrove was told to steer his players around the stadium toward the Bromo Seltzer Tower. Not aware of the Charm City landmark's location, Hargrove instead took them to the main concourse before receiving permission to quickly retrieve personal belongings from the clubhouse.
"It's very serious. We totally understand from their perspective," second baseman Jerry Hairston said. "One spark and it could all go bad. They're definitely trying to be safe."
Barely out of the All-Star break, the Orioles remained philosophical about their second three-day interruption in less than two weeks.
They have lost 11 of 13 to fall a season-high 12 games below .500 and will embark on a six-day road trip to Texas and Anaheim beginning Tuesday.
"It feels like spring training again. You come in, work out, practice and wait," Hairston said. "You don't know when we're going to be able to play again. Hopefully, the situation's under control and we'll be able to play tomorrow."
Hargrove attempted to enter the warehouse parking lot on Thursday but was stopped by a city policeman.
"I gave him my lifetime American League pass; I gave him my 2001 American League pass; I gave him my driver's license and my business card. And he said, 'There's nothing here that shows you work for the Orioles.' He said he was a hockey fan, not a baseball fan," Hargrove said.
Hargrove finally gained entry by phoning vice president of baseball operations Syd Thrift to vouch for his employment.
Sun staff writer Roch Kubatko contributed to this article.