Ups and downsBen McDonald -- HORZ --...


Ups and downs

Ben McDonald -- HORZ -- Didn't get to start like he wanted, but he spoke his mind and will work out of the bullpen the way he prefers.

The Orioles -- HORZ -- Ultimately, Big Ben deferred in this XTC dispute. But the whole stupid thing could've been avoided. Easily.

Jimmy Haynes -- UP -- 1996 is looking better than 1995 already. Remember, though, that September performances can be a poor barometer.

Bobby Bonilla -- UP -- A reputation for selfishness dogged him in New York. Since he's been with the Orioles, he's done everything they've wanted _ moving to third base, for instance _ and he's gone out of his way to draw together teammates.

Terry Clark -- DOWN -- For two months, he was the sure thing, untouchable. Lately, he's a sure thing to get hit.

The Second Basemen -- DOWN -- Manny Alexander's down with an injury, Bret Barberie likely is out after this year. All in all, the Orioles didn't get much out of this spot this year.


"I went out there for a month when I shouldn't have been out there pitching, going at about 75 percent, sucking up losses. I went out there and tried to help out this club and help it get back in the pennant race. And this is how I get rewarded, for coming back and getting healthy. (Phil Regan) won't even put me in the rotation. I told him, that's garbage, and you know it's garbage."

-- Orioles pitcher Ben McDonald, after being told he would work out of the bullpen.


The five pitchers projected for the Orioles' rotation at the start of the year have won a total of 27 games. Of those, Mike Mussina has won 16.

The Week Ahead

Monday-Thursday, at Detroit. Last time the O's went to Detroit, the Tigers swept three. In retrospect, this may have been the first hard signal that this was going to be a bad year for the Orioles. The Tigers are in full rebuilding mode now, rarely playing veterans like Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell, and shortly after the season ends a general purge is expected, with GM Joe Klein and manager Sparky Anderson among those who will be cut loose.

Friday-Sunday, at Milwaukee. Remember those years when the Orioles and Brewers went down to the wire, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor against Eddie Murray. Well, this series will be nothing like that. This series could be the working definition of what it really means to play out the string, two teams which fell out of the wildcard race prematurely facing off in a weekend series. The most significant aspect of this series for the O's is Jimmy Haynes' start, which likely comes on Saturday.

The Good

Rafael Palmeiro is going to wind up with one of the best unnoticed years in baseball this year, with nearly 40 homers and 110 RBI in a strike-shortened season.

The Bad

Collectively, however, the Orioles are wrapping up the year as one of the noted flops in the game. Doubt that anyone would've predicted the O's would be eliminated by Sept. 13.

The Ugly

The Orioles attempting to hit the aerodynamically unsound offerings of Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield Wednesday. They may have been better off just taking pitches and hoping to score on walks.

A Move That Paid Off...

Placing Haynes in the rotation makes perfect sense, because he's definitely going to be here next year, and physically, he's ahead of Ben McDonald, having pitched regularly for five months now.

And One That Didn't...

Strictly 20-20 hindsight: The Orioles would've been better off leaving Armando Benitez in the minor leagues for the whole year, to refine his concentration and control.

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