By sundown tonight, many of the Orioles may be well on their way to their winter vacations, and no one is awaiting a little rest and relaxation more than Ben McDonald.
"I'm looking forward to the off-season, so I can rest my arm," said McDonald, who has thrown 218 2/3 innings going into today's start. "The off-season will be really nice, but then I'm excited about next season already."
The 1993 season was a pretty exciting one for McDonald (13-13), who will lead the staff in both starts and innings pitched, and can tie Mike Mussina for the club lead in wins with a victory over Toronto today in the final game of the season.
Oddly enough, McDonald notched the first win of his major-league career in 1989's final game, pitching one inning of relief against the Blue Jays.
A win today would give McDonald, who has been called the best .500 pitcher in the American League, a winning mark for the year.
And while McDonald would certainly rather take a winning record back to Louisiana this winter, his 1993 accomplishments -- a 3.09 ERA (fourth-lowest in the league), the third lowest hits-to-innings-pitched ratio, and only allowing the opposition to hit .224 (fourth-best in the AL) -- will speak for themselves.
"I'll be happy with my performance. As far as I'm concerned, I've had a pretty good year," said McDonald, 25. "I should have a lot more wins. We all know that, but that's the way things go. All my numbers are good, except for wins and losses, but that goes with the fact that we can't always have control over wins
The hunt for a new owner
Manager Johnny Oates met briefly in his office with author Tom Clancy before last night's game.
Oates characterized the meeting with Clancy, who is the second-largest investor in the new ownership group behind Peter G. Angelos, as a "nice chat."
"I guess I should read more of his books," said Oates. "Right after he was named as one of the prospective owners, half the team had his books on the team plane. That was front office and players."
Left-hander Fernando Valenzuela pitched in what could have been his final appearance as an Oriole on Friday, beating Toronto, 7-2.
"We all know that in July he was Pitcher of the Month," said Oates. "He's given us a lot of quality innings. He probably did as much as any fifth starter in the league. At times, he was better than you would have expected from a fifth starter."
The Orioles will open the 1994 season at home for the 12th time in the past 13 years, on April 4 against the Kansas City Royals, according to the schedule released yesterday.
The Orioles will close the year on a seven-game road trip through Toronto and Cleveland, ending the season on Oct. 2.
And the winner is . . .
Perhaps not surprisingly, Oates is picking the Blue Jays to win the American League Championship Series over the Chicago White Sox.
"I think Toronto has enough pitching and they certainly have enough hitting," said Oates.
"They say that pitching wins in a short series, and they have enough of that. And that lineup that they're going to put out there is pretty good," he said.