Free The Birds & Peter Angelos: Where are the Orioles 6 years later?

March 30, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

As you know, it’s not without a lot of soul-searching that I write or talk or act in regard to the Baltimore Orioles. It’s no secret that I have a vested interest in the team being relevant in many ways – spiritual, financial, family-related, community desires – I share the dream of a better day for the baseball team in our city. I still live three blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards so it actually affects my neighborhood, community, business, life and joy.

I’m here with a very long and detailed blog but a very succinct message direct from Jim Valvano: “Don’t give up! Don’t EVER give up…”

This is not the time to give up hope for a better tomorrow and better baseball experience in Baltimore just because the last 14 years have been catastrophic under the iron-fisted reign of the Angelos family. (I always use the Chicago Blackhawks’ miraculous turnaround as an example of a franchise’s triumphant return to relevance and parades.)

In my opinion, it’s the time to be heard. It’s time for you — the fanbase and the citizens of the state — to speak up and stop writing about it on Facebook and talking about it at work and waiting for Peter Angelos to die or sell the team.

This blog is about ACTION and YOU getting involved and being heard…

Hence, we are planning several events next Thursday and Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards to “Be Heard By The Birds.”


Let’s be honest, if the fans of the Baltimore Orioles don’t speak up on Opening Day, what’s the point and who will hear it? No one seems to hear or say anything of relevance regarding the team after the first 24 hours of the baseball season.

Do you think this version of the Baltimore Orioles is acceptable? Do you think a team that’s continues to add zeros to its guaranteed profit center at the direct expense to the community should be allowed to empty downtown on summer nights and spend entire season wallowing in last place as the worst franchise – and most profitable – in Major League Baseball?

What we’re calling for with @FreeTheBirds12 campaign and via our Facebook Free The Birds 12 page is a public referendum on baseball in Baltimore.

I think the fans of the Baltimore Orioles should be heard and we’re encouraging a loud, full-scale and personal protest in anticipation of Opening Day. And as I’ll write next week, this is really so Major League Baseball hears our message as a community. They’re really at the heart of the “blame game” if you want to know why this whole thing stinks, point your initial finger toward Bud Selig, who berthed the Washington Nationals and gave Angelos a platinum orange parachute.

And if you don’t want to protest this sham that’s been perpetrated on the fans of the Baltimore Orioles then don’t bitch about the team being in last place every year with a scandalously low payroll and even lower reputation in the baseball community where no one but the desperate or wayward come to take employment as players, coaches or front office personnel.

Quick, name the last time a player, coach or management person took at a job in Baltimore when they had any other option in the sport?

We’ve seen the results of having the great Andy MacPhail was on board. He sold the orange Kool-Aid via pathetic videos like THIS and pitched it over to Buck Showalter, who is now saddled with a guy in Dan Duquette that 29 other teams thought was essentially “un-hirable” for a dozen years in an industry that continues to get younger and more competitive and cutthroat every year as the cost of doing business skyrockets and fan interest is waning or has hit a plateau in many markets.

Of course here in Baltimore it’s in free fall that for most of us was unthinkable a dozen years ago and is now so bad that the sheer math means they can’t fall much further. Where do you go from 14 years of irrelevance, six consecutive years in last place and the inability to lure any players of substance to Baltimore to annually compete with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees?

There will be many nights in April and May when less than 6,000 people will watch the Orioles play in person. And no matter what directives the MASN Sports crew follows from Peter Angelos, you can’t hide an empty stadium night after night.

But the one thing that MASN and the media trail of Angelos’ negotiations during the Washington Nationals’ birth has done a great job of doing is hiding this incredible revenue stream he’s amassed – a annuity worth tens of millions of dollars annually – for simply “owning” the team. He’s collecting and siphoning money off of your cable TV bill every month. Like clockwork.

Drip, drop…

Clip, clap…

More pennies for Peter…

It’s been my experience that most citizens have no idea that they’ve become a welfare provider for the Baltimore Orioles, MASN and Peter Angelos.

All while downtown rots on summer nights and the Orioles become a brand known for losing, profiteering and turning its back on the community that birthed the franchise and built them a temple in the middle of downtown that has become a sad reminder how great baseball used to be in Baltimore.

It’s a profound sadness that has ensued for our community and anyone who has ever worn a Baltimore Orioles hat feels when the team’s record – on and off the field – is discussed by anyone who’s watched this reality show gone awry over the past 20 years.

Yes, we did Free The Birds in September 2006 and it was a very simple message: “Please sell the team or fix the team.”

Clearly, Peter Angelos has done neither. If anything, he’s done his personal best to make sure neither of these is possible.

It’s probably Angelos’ worst nightmare but it’s very, very easy for me to look any Baltimore Orioles fan in the eyes and say: “I was right…but I wish I was wrong.”

The Baltimore Orioles have been firmly ensconced in last place almost every day since Free The Birds on Sept. 21, 2006. It’s been 2,022 days, 817 games…and their record has been 338-479 or .413 baseball.

Oh, and the Washington Nationals have strangely become relevant and competitive while Angelos has taken his hundreds of millions of dollars of MASN money and pocketed it while watching downtown Baltimore get more vacant every year while his pockets are lined with profits that he couldn’t have dreamed imaginable when he bought the team in 1994 with 18 other investors (many of whom have departed) for $173 million.

This week our WNST staff will be outlining and discussing the reality of the Baltimore Orioles’ place on the local landscape