To the victors belong the spoils. Oriole catcher Rick Dempsey received a Pontiac Trans Am as World Series MVP, played golf in Hawaii and dined at the White House. Shortstop Cal Ripken (see page 34) got more milk money from MAMMA (the Mid-Atlantic Milk Marketing Area). And several Orioles whose names aren't Jim Palmer will soon make brief appearances for Jockey shorts.
But anyone who thinks the victors have become spoiled should have visited the Oriole clubhouse in Miami this spring. The 1983 Baltimore highlight film, O's, What a Feeling, played to a rapt audience. The O's cheered each game as if the outcome were still in doubt and yelled at stragglers who blocked the screen. Hardly blasé.
"When we won the championship last year, everybody said everything had fallen into place for us," says DH Ken Singleton. "That's not the case. We had lots of injuries, we had two seven-game losing streaks and we always seemed to lose the first game of an important series, including the playoffs and World Series, and put more pressure on ourselves than we wanted. It was a fun year anyway."
Gearing for more fun, the O's acquired third baseman Wayne Gross, 32, and signed free agent lefthander Tom Underwood, 30, both of whom were with Oakland last year. The O's re-signed free agents Palmer, 38, and Dan Ford, 31, and gave Ripken, 23, a four-year, $4 million contract. Gross will platoon at third with Todd Cruz, who hit .199 in '83. Cruz went to the Instructional League for two weeks where he switched his erect stance to a crouched one and also lowered his bat.
April 2, 1984
Underwood, who can spot-start and throw short and long relief, adds to the O's embarrassment of pitching riches. Manager Joe Altobelli's "five-day" rotation: Mike Boddicker, Scott McGregor, Mike Flanagan, Palmer and, when needed, Storm Davis. All have lifetime winning percentages above .600.
Dollars aside, no one expects Ripken to shoulder the load he carried last season when he played every inning of every game. In fact, Altobelli has already said he will rest his young shortstop. Benching the MVP winner is easier when the runner-up is a teammate, in this case first baseman Eddie Murray.
The Orioles led the AL with a .343 on-base percentage, led in out-homering foes (168-130, plus 38), were second with a 3.63 ERA and fifth in fielding. Baltimore also had the best road record in the bigs (48-33) and was second in runs (799). In 103‚Öì innings of relief, Tippy Martinez had more strikeouts (81) than hits allowed (76).