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

March 30, 2012 | Nestor Aparicio

and we’ll be exposing many facts about this civic mess and the far-reaching political ties that bind all of this together.

You can be angry about the team being in last place every day and irrelevant. But you’ll be even angrier when you understand how this is the most profitable way for Angelos to run the team in 2012 and Major League Baseball has all but willed the Orioles into the cellar by giving Angelos a profit stream that is a virtual fountain of free money no matter how lousy the team is on the field.

There’s no doubt that the existence of the Washington Nationals has played a major role in the this mess. We’ll show you the MASN money machine that you fund through your cable bill. EVERY ONE OF YOU are in on the payment plan.

It almost seems unfathomable that it’s been nearly six years since our initial “Free The Birds” foray into shining a light on the greed, avarice and disgusting business practices employed by the Baltimore Orioles and owner Peter G. Angelos.

But, for the more than 2,500 who participated in the “walkout” back in September 2006, it was a statement about where we were at that point – disgusted by a decade of losing, ineptitude and excuses.

Now, six years later – three general managers and four field managers later – the only thing that never seems to change is the profit line in the column of #winning for Angelos and his ownership group, which has continued to fleece all Marylanders out of their cable television revenue that turns on a green spigot of profit that stands to nullify any reasonable goal of putting a competitive baseball product on the field.

Or as a Dundalk bachelor once learned: Why pay for the cow when the milk is free?

This open greed and profiteering being displayed inside of a publicly financed facility and the open buying-and-selling of media coverage by the Orioles is an affront to not only modern-day “journalism” but it’s a reality that no one will unearth except WNST – the one media entity that has been banned from fairly covering the Baltimore Orioles while all of the other Baltimore media entities come around with their hands out for advertising money in exchange for “inside interviews” with Orioles’ top brass and management.

No one in the media in Baltimore ever dares to ask a real question about why the team continually lingers in last place in the American League East. (Or as the MASN folks would call it “fifth place” because “last place” would be a bit unflattering, now wouldn’t it?)

I’ve written for years about this ongoing scam with Baltimore baseball – that next year the tooth fairy or a descendent of Felix Pie or Omar Daal are going to deliver a summer in the sun and a miraculous turnaround of an organization that’s become the laughingstock of every North American sports franchise and fan base.

Documenting the transgressions of Peter Angelos dating back to 1994 is a daunting task. I’m sure one day I’ll be asked to write a book about it all but it’s only a tale to be served once the team starts winning again and Baltimore sports fans begin caring about baseball on a daily basis.

At this point, many locals truly can’t see the end of this madness. And many wonder if the Baltimore Orioles will ever recover in the community and become a legitimate civic partner that engenders good feelings.

Every thinking American sports fan who has watched this catastrophic fall over the past two decades is asking the same question: “How can the Baltimore Orioles consistently be this bad, this dreadful and awful on the field every spring and summer?”

The answer is simple: pound for pound, the Baltimore Orioles might be the most profitable sports franchise in all of the four sports and are owned by a man who is profiteering at a record pace in recent years.

That’s when losing equals winning in the only place most American businesses judge “winning” – the balance sheet and the P&L statement.

It’s quite the system, isn’t it?

Just take money from the citizens via their cable TV bill – Orioles fans and otherwise via MASN — keep kicking sand in their faces on the field and continue to charge top dollar off the field.

I must say for the few of you left on the internet who continue to sully my good name because I have the audacity to point out unarguable truths – like 14 years of losing, fan attrition and continue to site example after example of why I’m PISSED about all of this and why YOU should be too — alas, the only people who seem to pay attention are the handful of Orange Kool Aid drinkers and amateur sabermetricians who somehow annually find this charade to be “acceptable” or “the way that it is” or “well, they’ll get better next year.”

My personal favorite credo of recent times was: “Andy MacPhail will fix it!”

Yeah, but over time, that’s all been proven lip service and lies.

The Orioles won’t fix it because it’s NOT BROKEN from their eyes. Because of MASN’s money machine, Angelos is making almost $100 million per year in profit on this venture in totality by running it on a skinflint budget while MASN prints money out of the collective pockets of everyone in the state and NO ONE says a word except, because we’re the last bastion of any journalistic integrity left in town who isn’t making money or drinking from the orange media till.

I’m also the only reporter in Baltimore who has had his press pass and privileges rescinded after 21 years on the beat for telling the truth.


Despite the annual disgrace on the field, Peter G. Angelos has seen his profit soar with the invention of the Washington Nationals and the monthly subsidies from six states and the District of Columbia and the hundreds of millions of dollars of profit that the tidy deal with Major League Baseball has accrued for the franchise and its television arm of MASN.

The malaise of the Orioles has become so endemic that most people don’t even remember when the fall began. We all remember the Armando Benitez pitch to Tony Fernandez but that was October 1997 – nearly a generation ago – but the baseball world has changed dramatically since then and the parting of the ways with Pat Gillick and Davey Johnson created a free fall that Baltimore baseball fans have never recovered from.

You can’t name a team that’s been this bad in possession of a fan base that’s gone from mad to sad to nonexistent all while the owner has already pocketed upwards of $250 million of pure profit and continues to hold the team as a civic hostage while its total value now towers near $1 BILLION dollars.

If he were to cash out of the deal tomorrow, he’d probably walk with more than $1 BILLION in PROFIT over the last 19 years while systematically wrecking the franchise in every conceivable way for the citizens and the people who minted him this money.

Angelos’ initial cash outlay was believed to be $32 million in August 1993. Many have said he put as much as $100 million of fresh money into the deal during the sour years of 2000-2005, when he has already begun to earn a reputation around MLB as a guy you didn’t want to work, play or negotiate with in Baltimore.

Angelos has a floor price for the franchise that’s twice what he paid and Forbes last week said that even that $365 million estimate is now low. Most analysts believe the Baltimore Orioles are worth between $400 and $425 million. MASN, which is reportedly spitting out $158 million in revenue per year, splits about $58 million to the Nationals and Orioles and the rest is Angelos’ to use for his personal needs and skinflint expenditures on talent and operations.

The real problem ON the field under Angelos’ regime is this: no one competent or with any integrity will come and work for this family and this ownership group.

The word is out.

The road is littered with people who have felt the wrath and intimidation of Angelos.

Why do you think that I don’t have a press pass after 21 years?

I assure you that it’s not because of the size or reach of my brand (which is now endless given the mobile the device you’re probably reading this on) or because I’m not a real media member anymore.

It’s because this is how Peter Angelos treats people…

Salesmen inside The Warehouse come and go. Management people come and go. Players and coaches come and go. But many old-timers who fear for their jobs or who are reaching the years in vesting in the MLB employee pension programs hide under their desk