That's right. The Orioles flew home on their team charter because there was not a block of hotel rooms available within 90 minutes of the stadium. They will fly back to New York this afternoon for tonight's rain-postponed finale of the three-game series.
The New York metropolitan area is in the midst of a tourist and convention crush that has made it difficult to find one hotel room, much less the 53 necessary to accommodate the Orioles.
A few Orioles -- including Cal Ripken, Brady Anderson and Charles Johnson -- found their own accommodations and remained overnight in Manhattan, but most of the traveling party were stuck with the inconvenience of two plane flights and three bus rides between the final two games of the series.
The Orioles players weren't happy with the rescheduling of the rainout to begin with, and that was before they knew about the strange logistics. The Mets could have scheduled a doubleheader yesterday and preserved a day off for both clubs, but chose to schedule the makeup on the off day to preserve the gate.
"It stinks," Orioles player representative Mike Mussina said Tuesday night.
The reviews didn't get any better yesterday. Manager Mike Hargrove held a brief team meeting to explain the strange travel plans, and didn't sugarcoat the situation.
"I don't like this," Hargrove said. "I don't think it's right, but my opinion and 50 cents will get you a cup of coffee. It puts us at a distinct disadvantage, not necessarily tonight, but Thursday night, and as a competitor, I don't like that."
Phil Itzoe said that it was the first time in his 33 years as traveling secretary that he had been unable to find alternate accommodations after a postponement. When the weather reports indicated that Tuesday's game likely would be rained out, he tried to extend the team's stay at the New York Hyatt Regency Hotel, but was told that it was overbooked by 100 rooms.
Itzoe spent Tuesday night and yesterday morning contacting hotels as far away as Princeton, N.J., and Stamford, Conn., but found nothing more convenient than the home-and-back intinerary that the club eventually settled on.
"I've never seen anything like this, Hargrove said, "but let's not beat a dead horse. It is what it is and we'll deal with it. ...I don't blame the Mets for doing what's right for their ballclub, but that doesn't mean we have to like it."
Mets officials indicated that they did not know of the potential hotel problem when they rescheduled the game, though it might not have affected their decision to salvage some of the crowd from Tuesday night.
"After considering the business aspects and the baseball aspects, playing on separate days made the most sense," Mets general manager Steve Phillips had told reporters on Tuesday night. 'The tendency in doubleheaders is to split. That's why from a baseball standpoint, we'd prefer to play separate games. And the business aspect was to save the gate.
If at first you don't succeed
The home game against Tampa Bay that was rained out on April 17 originally had beep rescheduled for tonight. However, that makeup game has been re-rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader at Oriole Park on Saturday, Aug. 26.
The makeup game will be at 1:35 p.m., followed by a game at 7:05 p.m.
The southbound lanes of the Jones Falls Expressway between North Avenue and Eager Street will be closed this weekend for construction, but will be opened before games Saturday and Sunday to allow fans to reach Camden Yards.
It will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Injured pitcher Calvin Maduro threw on the side yesterday and will join the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings this weekend in Durham, N.C., to begin an injury rehabilitation assignment.
Hargrove indicated earlier this week that Maduro would make three or four relief appearances in the minors and then rejoin the major-league club, perhaps in time for next week's series against the Texas Rangers.
Clark defends offense
First baseman Will Clark responded to criticism of the Orioles offensive chemistry, pointing to the lineup changes precipitated by interleague play as a key reason why the club has not been hitting well.
'This is interleague, so you don't have Harold [Baines]," he said of the designated hitter, "and then Monday night we had all the left-handers out of the lineup. We've got a good offense. We'll be all right."
Around the horn
It was a busy night in left field for ballyhooed Mets rookie Jason Tyner. Not only did he make an error in full stride on Cal Ripken's drive and make up for it by throwing out B. J. Surhoff at home on a medium length fly ball, but he also was involved in a fan interference call. In the seventh inning, Tyner went over to the left-field stands to catch Mike Bordick's foul pop, but a fan reached his hands into Tyner's glove and caught the ball Bordick was ruled out. ... After his first big-league hit, Scott Erickson had the ball taken out of play as a keepsake. ... The sixth marked the Mets' first two-triple inning since former Oriole Rich Becker and Rey Ordonez did it on May 19, 1998, against Cincinnati.