When Mike Flanagan passed away last Wednesday, I really wanted to write something. In fact, I started writing a piece. I wrote about how we should all embrace Flanny by embracing the O’s. Yes, the Orioles were a losing team, but they were still our family, just as they were Mike Flanagan’s family.
I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about the Orioles. Listening to Rick Dempsey and Jim Palmer reminisce about the good old days was heartwarming. It was apparent to me just how much the Orioles meant to that generation of players, and I yearned for the days when the Orioles players were that tight again, and when the community cared as much about the Birds as they did back then.
I had my angle. My piece was done.
And then the whispers tying Mike Flanagan’s issues to his perception of the way O’s fans viewed him started circulating around. We all know the story by now. WBAL reported that Flanagan was “despondent over what he considered a false perception from a community he loved of his role in the team’s prolonged failure.”
Of course, there has been backlash from a portion of the media implying that Sandusky was wrong to report such information. I happen to believe that Sandusky did the right thing, but that is a discussion for another day. The bottom line is the information was reported, and the floodgates were opened.
My mood changed.
No longer was I all warm and fuzzy about the Orioles family. I wasn’t thinking that fans should stick with the O’s through thick and thin anymore.
I was angry.
Now, I want to be careful here. I am in no way saying that Mike Flanagan committed suicide because of anything involving the Orioles. I am clearly in no position to make such a judgement, and it would be highly ignorant of me to do so. Truth is, no one will ever know exactly what was going through Flanny’s mind when he decided to end his life.
I wasn’t angry because I felt the failures of the Orioles were the sole cause of his death. I was angry because it became apparent in the immediate aftermath of Flanagan’s death just how poorly the Orioles are viewed, not only throughout the rest of baseball but also by their own family.
In short, it hit me: The Orioles are really, really screwed up.
One by one, skeletons that have been buried deep inside the Orioles family and organization began to show themselves.
Jim Palmer making comments on the telecast about Mike Flanagan feeling like he wasn’t allowed to do what he wanted to do. Lee Mazzilli sharing how Flanny told him that it wasn’t his fault.
Bill Madden writing how Flanagan was “jerked around” by the Angelos family over his broadcasting contract after returning to the booth in 2010.
Among the other distressing stories going around Thursday was that Flanagan never got over being jerked around by Angelos and the owner’s son, John, over his broadcasting contract – one that apparently never was consummated – last year. That, too, conceivably contributed to the financial distress his friends say he was dealing with.
Lee Mazzilli implying that Flanagan wasn’t allowed to do his job…
“There’s no question the Orioles would not be where they are if they’d allowed him to do his job the way he wanted to.
Mike Flanagan’s comment to Ken Singleton in July…
‘This is no way for this team to be.”
I especially liked hearing Drew Forrester talk about his own memorable encounter with Flanny.