Angelos deserves credit

November 13, 2008 | Drew Forrester

You all are a tough group, I’ll give you that much.

Earlier today on The Comcast Morning Show, I brought up the question about Peter Angelos’ involvement in the return of “BALTIMORE” to the team’s away jerseys and wondered aloud if, by chance, that could change our opinion of him.

After all, the team’s PR chief was quoted extensively over the last few days in saying that it was Peter Angelos who stepped forward last winter and instructed the front office to “take the steps necessary to return Baltimore to the jersey”.  According to the front office, it was Peter Angelos that set the wheels in motion for what we saw yesterday at the Inner Harbor.

So, I asked on the air this morning, “if you believe Angelos spearheaded the change, does it alter your opinion of Peter Angelos at all?”

We took 62 texts via the SunTrust text service.

I have to admit – I was pretty shocked at the result.

52 of you said, “No, it doesn’t change how I feel…”

10 of you said, “Yes, it does — somewhat…”

I was one of the ten.

No one came out and exonerated Angelos for all of his transgressions as the team’s majority owner since 1993.  But only 10 of 62 said yesterday’s developments were at least good enough for an “atta boy”. 

Tough crowd.

I know it’s VERY difficult to believe the Orioles organization, particularly when any kind of PR spin is applied to a topic.  They did, after all, publicly claim that 2,500 people were at The Gallery yesterday.  Sort of hard to believe anything they say just based off of that, alone…but I digress.

Because the team has become unreliable over the years, it’s a strain to think they’re telling the truth about Angelos laying down the law and demanding his front office folks give-in and return Baltimore to the jersey front and incorporate a more aggressive marketing campaign directed at the Baltimore baseball fan. 

But what if – just pretend for a second – what IF Peter Angelos really did initiate what happened yesterday. 

What’s that do for his legacy as an Owner?

Remember, Edward Bennett Williams owned the team from 1980 to 1888 and Eli Jacobs owned the team thereafter and neither of them did the right thing.  It might have taken Angelos & Company 15 years of ownership to find religion, but the fact of the matter is that Peter Angelos – as the owner – is the man of record for having returned the word “BALTIMORE” to the team’s jersey.

If true (and it’s hard for me to believe mainly because the team’s PR people can’t be trusted), I think Angelos deserves some legitimate praise.  Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t.  If you think it IS true, though, Angelos should be applauded.  Loudly.

For years, the team has refused to give in to the fan’s wishes.  In May of 2007, a front office genius was quoted as saying, “we’re not going to give in to a vocal minority” (of fans who are clamoring for the word BALTIMORE to go back on the jersey).  18 months later, they gave in.

Make no mistake about it, once you get past the glitz and glamour of yesterday — the balloons, the pocket schedules, Jim Hunter, Boog Powell and all the rest — it must have been EXTREMELY difficult for the Orioles to actually pull the trigger on yesterday’s function.

They spent the better part of the last 4-5 years refusing to let the fans be right.  Refusing…flat out…refusing. 

And yesterday, finally, they had to give in.

Mea culpa’s don’t get passed around much at The Warehouse.

So it strikes me that maybe you all aren’t taking into consideration how tough it was yesterday for the O’s to stand up, put on a happy face, and try to tell everyone how they were “moving forward with new branding and more direct connection to Baltimore” when they spent the last 4-5 years avoiding even the discussion of such a move.

So I think Peter Angelos deserves some credit.  He made the RIGHT decision on this one.  Was it too long in the making?  Sure.  Has the team lost a great deal of its local fan base over the last half dozen years?  Absolutely.  Will putting BALTIMORE on the front of the jerseys bring those folks back right away?  Not a chance. 

But you can’t blame Peter Angelos for all of the bad things (and not all of the bad things that have happened over there are directly his fault) and then not give him some credit when something good takes place.

Of course, if ALL of the media members in attendance yesterday had been permitted the opportunity to engage in a question-and-answer session with the O’s front office, we might have a better angle on what Peter’s involvement really was with this whole change of heart.

Typically, though, as always, only the media members either directly or indirectly on the club’s payroll were afforded red carpet treatment when it came time to talk to the front office brass. 

The rest of us there – interested in asking REAL questions, as opposed to “So ‘Cakes…how’s it feel to wear that uniform again?” – who wanted to know more about the decision to change the club’s marketing strategies were ushered down the escalator and out the door along with the other *ahem* 2,500 people in attendance. 

It’s a shame that Angelos isn’t getting more credit for this.  Really, it is.

To me, it’s the most monumental OFF-FIELD occurrence in his ownership tenure other than the hiring of Andy MacPhail and the development and start-up of MASN. 

If they proceed correctly from here, embracing Baltimore’s baseball community might once again lead to packed stadiums and winning baseball.

I doubt the current front office personnel has the ability to pull that off, but that’s a story for another day.

In the meantime, Peter Angelos sits in the background and continues to be maligned by the sports fans of Baltimore.

Yesterday, for better or worse, he deserved a day in the sun.

Yesterday, Peter Angelos did the right thing.

It’s a shame more of you don’t realize that.