Ever since the Orioles' pitching collapsed in 1985, many people have been wondering exactly what went wrong. Did Scott McGregor stop trying after he signed the big contract? Have Mike Flanagan's injuries finally caught up with him? Is the trip to Japan in the winter of 1984 the real cause? Probably not. In fact, there is only one major change between the Orioles' pitching staff of 1984 and that of the 1985 season. On June 21, 1985, Ray Miller left his position as Orioles pitching coach to become manager of the Minnesota Twins.
It may seem difficult to blame the demise of an entire pitching staff on the departure of one man, but the statistics appear to support it. The following are the earned run averages of the Orioles' starting core (Mike Boddicker, Storm Davis, Flanagan and McGregor) from 1983 through 1986:
Boddicker: 2.77, 2.79, 4.07, 4.70.
Davis: 3.59, 3.12, 4.53, 3.62.
Flanagan: 3.30, 3.53, 5.13, 4.24.
McGregor: 3.18, 3.94, 4.81, 4.52.
It's rather striking that four good pitchers all went sour the same year. It's even more striking that it happened the same year Ray Miller left the club. Last September, McGregor pitched two shutouts. These came in the midst of a warm streak McGregor encountered after speaking with Miller during a series in Minnesota. McGregor said Miller pointed out a mechanical problem. Why couldn't a member of the Orioles pitching staff point it out? A pitcher can only be as good as his coaching.
When Miller was fired by the Twins, the Orioles should have been quick to hire him back. Even now, it couldn't hurt the Orioles to ask him to return. He may just accept. He could be just the help the Orioles staff needs to return to its championship form.
Greg Bensimon Silver Spring
It is difficult to see, as The Post's Thomas Boswell does, any link between the charisma of individual golfers and the tournament they happen to be playing in.
The truth of the matter is that there is something inherent in the tradition and ambiance of golf that creates dullness. In spite of a few quirky eccentrics here and there, golfers are the most comformist athletes in the world. They dress alike, play golf alike, and all impose the same inner check on their emotions.
Their idea of a bizarre noncomformist is one of their tribe who wears knickers instead of tailored slacks. In golf, a charismatic personality is defined as one who tips his visor three times when he makes a long putt and stares into space when he misses a short one.
My advice to Boswell would be to give up this search for romanticism in the world's dullest sport and come to grips with reality. Watching golf is about as exciting as watching grass grow. For the spectator, it's a mind-numbing experience; and for anyone who chooses to cover the sport on a professional basis, it has to be an exercise in masochism. Roland Diehl Washington
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