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Is Now the Time For an Angelos Renaissance?

Orioles owner Peter AngelosAs of press time for this column the Orioles haven’t been playing well. Losers of five of six before tonight, they’re right on the verge of a bona fide slump. Let me say up front that it’s OK. They’ve slumped once before this season and they’ll slump at least one more time. Overall, there’s no reason to think they won’t be contenders to the end.

Even if they’re not, though, we’ve already seen a playoff season followed by a +.500 first half. We’re way past “fluke” territory.

Where does this leave Peter Angelos?

Go back a few years as an Orioles fan and the Angelos name hovered above everything that happened on the field. The team was bad (or, at best, “not good”) and Angelos was the biggest and most convenient boogeyman most folks could find to help explain why. He was an easy demon.

The truth was always more complicated. Angelos’ track record as an owner isn’t exactly free from demerits but those who suggested that he didn’t care or didn’t want to win were peddling nonsense. Peter Angelos was never the sole reason for the team’s failure, and the list of his shortcomings as an owner never included a bullet point for apathy. The business just doesn’t work that way.

But what of Angelos now? With the team playing well I find I rarely hear his name.

This, then, is the place where it would seem to make sense to say that Angelos deserves to be back in the discussion. Doesn’t he now warrant praise from those who previously authored scorn?

In some specific instances, sure. But on the whole? Not really.

In much the same way that Angelos was never the sole reason for failure he is not now the sole reason for success. As frustrating as it was to hear his name dredged up every time something went wrong it would be nearly as frustrating to hear his name every time something goes right.

Instead, Angelos, whether he meant to or not, has found his level. He’s in the background, where he (and every other sports team owner) belongs. To the extent that we should be thinking about him it’s to say, “I hope he’s enjoying this. It’s been a long time coming.”

I can’t say for sure, but something tells me that’s exactly how the man himself likes it.

(hat tip to Big Ben’s Motorcycle, whose comment a couple weeks back got me thinking about this)

12 comments to Is Now the Time For an Angelos Renaissance?

  • Andrew

    I still hold a lot of resentment towards PA for the decade and a half of miserableness. For me to forgive that, I’d need to see him willing to pay the necessary price to keep Davis and Machado, and then similarly empower Duquette to go out and get some top quality FA arms this offseason.

  • dan the man

    I agree with both Neal and Andrew here. On the one hand, the less we hear about Angelos, the better, and I never did buy “he doesn’t want to win.” The dude is 85+, he put some good people in place, got a little lucky, and I’m ok with letting him enjoy some of this.

    That said, an Angelos Moment is bearing down on us in the near future. Wieters and more importantly, Davis and Machado. And then this team STILL hasn’t ever gone out and given a frontline pitcher a fat contract. On the one hand, that’s smart, but only if you can develop arms properly, which the O’s have proven (even still) that they can’t. Guilty until a proven Bundy or Gausman really arrives.

    So Duquette is doing what he can right now.. he got Chen for cheap, found Gonzo with the magic of Ferreira, got Tillman straightened out, got some good scouting tips on Hammel (at least last year), and traded for a #4-type in Feldman. But like other GMs, he’s showing that he’s working within a strict budget in the 80-90 range. When it comes time to make a move for a World Series by signing that big FA SP or lock up Davis, will we return to bemoaning Angelos when Duquette is hamstrung by the budget? For now, we don’t have to worry too much about it, but you can see it coming..

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    i know it’s not this simple but i swear to god i would lock machado up right now with 15-18+ a year money. davis i’m not so sure about and i can’t even explain why. i just have a gut feeling that someone that big won’t be able to stay healthy unfortunately. machado just looks like a damned hall of famer, much like jeter did to me his first year and a half (to my disgust). the kid has an aura.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    i also think (hope) that salaries will (should) come back to earth after teams really start feeling the financial telephone poll up their asses from signing the likes of arod and texeira. and come to think of it, arod even has a good nickname as a reminder.

  • Mark61

    Many alleged O’s fans I know never forgave PA for firing Davey Johnson, letting Jon Miller leave as broadcaster because of insufficient homerism, blocking certain mid 90s trades proposed by then-management (Palmeiro and Alomar for Jeter and Soriano being the most infamous), signing Albert Belle in a media-whipped panicked frenzy, and hiring Syd Thrift.

    Notwithstanding that ALL of those misdeeds occured over about a 2-year window, they did both bankrupt the franchise (“Players won’t sign here. It’s like we have confederate money.” – Syd Thrift) and tarnished Angelos perhaps forevermore with the fandom.

    As a lifelong Orioles fan (I am 52 years old and personally attended all three World Championship wins), I had the choice to join the majority and blame PA for even existing, to sit on the sidelines and pout over a desire for a time machine (or a new owner), or to remain a fan the make the most of the situation.

    By about 2004 or 2005 (about when Flanagan became GM), I became convinced that Angelos no longer was unduly meddlesome and that he was like any other owner (a non-baseball guy with both a financial and emotional desire to win, and who made more money daily than I will make in a lifetime).

    I credit Andy MacPhail, Dan Duquette, Buck, the Law of Averages, and Angelos (in that order) for present successes. But in (say) 2000, I was blaming Albert Belle (for fleecing us)and Mike Mussina (for leaving), a whole bunch of bad luck in scouting and player development, and the law of averages, more than I was blaming Angelos.

  • Mark61

    @ Big Ben’s Motorcycle:

    I also think salaries should come back to earth. Baseball should cost no more to attend, in an average seat, than a movie. Achieving that would require a sharp reduction in player salaries, which also would reduce or eliminate the incredible financial incentive to cheat. It would be a game again, and not a business quite as much.

    Let’s establish the minimum salary for a major league player as double the mean income for the U.S., which (according to Wikipedia) was $60,000 in 2004. So let’s make it $120,000.

    Now let’s double that again (to $240,000) and make that the league mean. Multiplying that by 25 players on a team brings us to $6,000,000. The average team’s payroll would be just that. Note that is is about 10% of the current average team payroll.

    Now let’s say that no team can spend more than about half again on its payroll – establish a $10,000,000 per team salary cap. And let’s say that no player can earn more than 10% of his teams’ salary. This caps individual player contracts at $1,000,000 per year.

    Getting there would take another bloody player’s strike, but it might just be worth it. For the good of the game, as Bowie Kuhn used to say.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    mark61 i really appreciate the sentiment but it’s probably more likely that a player will break dimaggio’s hitting streak, the home run record, and hit .400 in the same year (and pitch a perfect game).

  • dan the man

    For the first time EVER, I’m excited to watch the Home Run Derby. Probably with the TV muted though, because Jesus, Chris Berman.

    But it’s going to be amazing if Davis somehow doesn’t win it, right? I can’t imagine there’s anyone better at launching soft tossed baseballs.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    chris berman sounds like a trombone full of mayonnaise.

  • Big Ben's Motorcycle

    seemed like baseball was gone for two weeks. stoked to watch urrutia take some swings!

  • dan the man

    Hell of a sweep!

    Anyone else find it funny that Erik Bedard took himself out of a no-hitter? Of course he did.