It’s another interesting spring weekend for the local baseball aficionados in the area who bring their civic report cards as well as a copy of the MLB standings with them to the ballpark. The Baltimore Orioles are once again visiting the Washington Nationals and this time one set of fans finally cares about the vaunted “Beltway Series” that Peter Angelos swore over and over would never happen.
And it’s not Baltimore…
Angelos, while sitting with me at The Barn in 1997 and then again various times in the ensuing years, opined that the “Baltimore vs. Washington rivalry” would never happen in my lifetime.
Today, with the Nationals beginning to flourish in the NL East in their sixth year of existence and Angelos pocketing upward of $40 million per year off of the transaction, the owner of the Orioles finally spoke out.
Angelos was asked in a rare appearance in the daily fish wrap this morning about whether the “rivalry” would ever catch on to be local Hatfields and McCoys.
His response: “You never know. It’s kind of early to say if that will happen.”
Actually, Mr. Angelos, it’s been six years. The Ravens won a Super Bowl for Baltimore in their fifth year of existence.
The Nationals have the greatest prospect in the sport, pitcher Stephen Strasburg, coming to their ballpark every five days in the midst of what could be a first-ever pennant race this summer for D.C. on the backside of a major first-round flop by the other team in town that wears red, the Capitals.
With the Redskins living in an almost Angelosian world of their own under the reign of Danny Snyder and the Wizards being just as dreadful as the Orioles have been for almost three decades now, the people of the District are waiting for a winner.
And if the Nationals provide that, the people will come and support them in that beautiful new ballpark just off the Metro east of downtown. And they will wear red. And the Senators will be a faded memory just like the Colts were here the first time we celebrated Festivus and decorated our Christmas trees purple in Baltimore.
All of the rhetoric – and believe me I’ve heard plenty of it this week from all walks of life after Free The Birds 2010 – is a waste of time.
For the fans it’s not really about money or players or even love of baseball. It’s really about civic pride.
And what self-respecting Baltimorean wants to go down to Washington D.C. to watch the former Montreal Expos — a team that the ineptitude of Angelos’ ownership birthed — kick our civic asses while the owner of OUR team cheers them on?
As Angelos said today: “”What’s good for the Nationals is good for MASN. That makes me happy, and that makes Mr. Lerner [Nationals managing principal owner Ted Lerner] happy. They are partners in the MASN network. The better they do, the more interest it generates.”
So in a season when the Orioles are 13-29, it almost BEHOOVES Angelos to allow the Nats to take three in a row here and gain ground on the Phillies and all of the other NL Wild Card contenders.
(Everything I say or do or write regarding Angelos is considering “piling on” these days but 13-29 is 13-29. Thirteen years of losing is thirteen years of losing. And 1,200 in the ballpark will always get you a comparison to the Expos. What’s happened here is nothing short of a civic disgrace, especially in the same generation that gave us Bob Irsay.)
But I’ve saved the best for last – and this was Glenn Clark’s favorite quote today for a different reason.
“I’m sure the Washington team will continue to improve, and I made the side comment that I’m hoping the Orioles will get their act together,” Angelos said.
(As Glenn said, he is DIRECTLY responsible for the Orioles but can only “hope” that they’re on the mend and his speaking of the Orioles in some “third person” way is as sad as it is maddening. He’s gutless to disassociate himself with this mess but such is his pretzel logic and ill manner.)
Angelos is SURE the Washington team will improve because when they make more money this summer on ticket sales, suite sales and advertising revenue instead of MASN house ads, they might actually SPEND it – like they did on this kid Strasburg who will make them a lot of their money back in his first five starts, which will almost certainly be sellouts given that the team will actually MARKET Strasburg and welcome folks down to see him play the way Matt Wieters created a stir here last spring.
Honestly, this is probably my favorite Angelos quote of recent times because it could be MY quote, too.
Read it again:
“I’m sure the Washington team will continue to improve, and I made the side comment that I’m hoping the Orioles will get their act together,” Aparicio said.
Spoken like a fully-vested, responsible, “hopeful” C.E.O.
I “hope” we get our act together.
Yes, Mr. Angelos, so do I.
I’ve been hoping for 13 years now.
And as much as you think you can refer to the Orioles as “they” when you own the team and get away with it. You’re not going to have that happen here.
Maybe your “partners” at CBS Radio and MASN and PressBox and the like won’t take you task on this quote but this might’ve been the dumbest thing you’ve ever said in the media.
Call around town to our competitors and ask them what THEY think about the owner of the team referring to the Orioles in the third person.
Maybe one day Cal Ripken will get involved and we’ll be so lucky!