The Orioles faced many of the same question marks as the Mets in terms of starting pitching, going into the '94 season with a staff who's rotation only had one pitcher over .500 in '93 (Sadie McMahon). But they started the '94 season much like the Mets have this season, winning their three games by scores of 8-3, 12-6, and 4-3. But still nobody believed in them. Consider what a Boston Globe columnist wrote about the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff back in March of 1894:
"Why bully, these Orioles have no pitching. Tony Mullane? He's old. The rest of these chums are too young. Baseball is all about the future...and my sources tell me there will be a team soon called the New York Highlanders which will be playing a better brand of baseball than these National League bums. Bully!" -Sebastian Verducci, Esq.The Beaneaters had just gotten done with a sweep of their own over the Brooklyn Grooms...who's shortstop, Tommy Corcoran, had said during one of his January medicine ball workouts that the Grooms were the best team on paper in the National League. So this was going to be a great matchup between the Orioles and Beaneaters.
Except that the Orioles made the much anticipated game an annihilation, a 15-3 victory on April 24th over the Beaneaters that started their dominance of the National League in 1894, finishing with a league best 89-39 record behind 25 wins from Sadie McMahon, and a mid-season trade which brought none other than Kid Gleason to the Orioles. His 15-5 record gave the Orioles the National League pennant. (But you probably know him best by the character played by John Mahoney in Eight Men Out.)
One hundred and thirteen years later, here were the Boston Beaneaters again in the next meeting of 3-0 National League teams...except this time, they're the Atlanta Braves. The Baltimore Orioles? You guessed it, they were defunct by the turn of the century. But in their place is a team who once beat a team called the Orioles in a World Series...and just like the 1894 Orioles, their starting pitching was much maligned.
"The tone in the Mets' camp has been similarly unsettled, largely because of a starting rotation that has nothing but question marks behind Tom Glavine. Orlando Hernandez went to camp assured of a job but has been horrible. The other spots seem likely to go to John Maine, Oliver Perez and either Aaron Sele or rookie Mike Pelfrey, who has been the one bright spot." -Phil Rogers, Chicago TribuneBully.
Like the defunct Orioles, the Mets made minced meat out of the Beaneaters, this time by a score of 11-1. Jose Reyes had two triples and four RBI's, and Oliver Perez, of the much maligned starting rotation, pitched seven strong innings with six K's and zero walks. The only thing defunct regarding the Mets in six years will be Shea Stadium. Is a pennant in their future as it was for the Orioles? Who knows. But watch those Brooklyn Grooms. I hear they're the best team on paper.
(A special thank you to Gary Cohen, for providing that interesting nugget about the last time 3-0 National League teams played each other...thus providing me with tonight's material. It's your world Gary, we're just squirrels trying to find a nut...and decipher what Keith is talking about.)