And the Orioles continue South with more “neighborly” love for Sarasota…

October 31, 2009 | Nestor Aparicio

I just got pinged by a friend who tells me that WBAL slipped out a quiet report a few days ago that the Orioles have again made one of their more outlandish moves of 2009. (And that’s saying something, when you consider the kind of season they slept-walked through this summer.)

Remember a few years ago, when Angelos and the boys set up camp in Farragut Square near their “Orioles Store” in downtown Washington, D.C., to feign interest in the market after holding it hostage for five years in exchange for the MASN TV rights that were supposed to buy the Orioles some semblance of respectful balance on the playing field in the AL East. That day — with a 7:05 game looming in another summer of distress — they shipped the entire roster on a bus down to a big city square and served free ice cream and hot dogs and soda to everyone in the park.

We, of course, opined that the Orioles have NEVER given away free hot dogs and ice cream in Baltimore. And Angelos’ true interest in D.C. extended about as far as how much he could extort out of Bud Selig and MLB, then Comcast, then pass it along to each and every one of you who pay a cable TV bill in the state of Maryland. Angelos is in your pocket for a few bucks a month and 90% of people in the Free State don’t even KNOW it.

The result: the Orioles lost 98 games this season, will spend nearly NOTHING on free agents this winter, Andy MacPhail will pocket a big “bonus” check for his role in the profiteering and Angelos and Co. will make upward of $40 million in profit this calendar year while continuing to eschew common decency toward its own community and heroes and continuing as the worst franchise in North American sports.

Now, after holding Fort Lauderdale up for well over a decade and playing a political shell game with half of the real estate from Orlando to the Florida Keys — at long last Sarasota, Florida is getting the Orioles for spring training. I’m not sure if that’s considered “good fortune” or stupid politicians who will live to regret working with this ownership group, like everyone else in their wake.

Here’s a dream photo of what the project is supposed to look like at its finish:

So WBAL via an Orioles press release announced that an offseason “Fan Fest” will be held in two weeks in Florida with a bunch of Orioles players and dignitaries.

“In celebration of their new spring training home, the Baltimore Orioles will join with The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau to host Orioles Family FanFest-a free event for the entire community-at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, November 14 from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. The afternoon will feature autograph sessions with current and former Orioles players, Orioles giveaways, fan forums, a variety of kid-friendly family activities, including Kids Run the Bases, and a free hot dog and soda for every person in attendance.”

So, for all of about 250 people who might be interested in seeing the worst team in MLB over the past decade with the WORST reputation for hijacking Floridian communities in modern sports, come to their town to bring “civic spirit and cheer.”

Fact: there are a LOT of pissed off Sarasota residents that this deal was ever done and a lot of speculation about its merits in the community. The Orioles already have a problem before they dig dirt at Ed Smith Stadium. (Not to mention their reputation in their own community, which is apparent to everyone but the local “journalists” — or propagandists — who look the other way past the stench to draw a paycheck).

Maybe, the Orioles could ask that everyone brings a covered dish?

The report says that “Orioles Manager DAVE TREMBLEY, centerfielder and 2009 All-Star ADAM JONES, outfielder NOLAN REIMOLD, pitchers BRAD BERGESEN and JIM JOHNSON, and Hall of Fame pitcher and current MASN broadcaster JIM PALMER, are expected to attend the event. The Oriole Bird will also be on hand to greet families throughout the afternoon. Free parking will be available for all fans.”

Well, a little civic spirit might’ve been nice last Monday night here in their “branded hometown” of BALTIMORE when the most celebrated Oriole of all time was being honored for the final time of his life at the Meyerhoff and the franchise couldn’t find a way to get one single heartbeat to the event to speak on behalf of the current players and their respect for the brand and franchise that Brooks Robinson and his ilk built for our parents that’s now been left for dead by the Angelos family and this last 15 years of civic-hostage baseball.

Meanwhile, they’ve taken what formerly was a weekend-long, sold-out, line-down-Pratt-Street event in Baltimore known as “Fan Fest” (and before that, “Moonlight Madness”) and destroyed every ounce of goodwill guys like Brooks Robinson spent their entire adult lives dedicated to building and preserving and turned it into a half-assed, thrown-together “day before the season begins” chilly disaster that isn’t cheap, but somehow FEELS cheap. Like an “obligation” before the season begins…and the same refrains of “improvement.”

The team follows it up with disgraces from Aubrey Huff to the manager calling out the organization’s professionalism during a post-game press conference. And MASN shows goofy house ad after goody house ad. I’m glad the season ended just so I could regroup after seeing those two chicks trying to hit on the Oriole Bird six times a night for six months. And that’s BEFORE they lost 98 more games…

And the owner never shows his face, never spends money, never answers questions and the team never wins. And Red Sox and Yankees fans take over the city (and, once again, THIS is the biggest disgrace in the whole dreadful fiasco of the last 15 years — just disgraceful!). And the downtown business district — sorely in need of assistance — is left for dead except when half of the Northeast quadrant of the United States descends upon the Harbor for the routine of pinstripes and chowder.

Oh, and while Daniel Snyder is down the B/W Parkway banning signs and threatening the media and suing the fans, Angelos is here doing the same thing here and no one dares talks about or ask questions of any substance.

I wonder when Snyder will tell The Washington Post they no longer have media access. (But, apparently that wouldn’t happen because the NFL wouldn’t allow it.)

Shame, shame, shame…

I watched Bud Selig squirm in David Letterman’s chair the other night and it’s no wonder MLB is a damaged brand despite the innate greatness of the game of baseball, which has been decimated over the last 15 years since the strike in many ways (steroids, Hall of Fame, bad pitching, greedy owners, sleezy agents, difficult “heroes” like Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle and their ilk, All Star fiascos, Pete Rose, World Series games in November, etc.) but is printing money. Just like Angelos is here.

They’re all ringing the cash register so that justifies it all.

Just like MacPhail — a leading candidate in baseball’s collusion in the late 1980s and whose sole function as President of the Chicago Cubs was to field cheap baseball teams to make the Tribune money (yeah, that company once wasn’t in bankruptcy like they are on Calvert Street these days) for fans who were too drunk to care and who were addicted to Wrigley Field and lore of the loveble, fuzzy, loser Cubbies. The Cubs fans ACCEPTED losing a birthright and a way of life as MacPhail padded the pockets of the shareholders.

It’s all pretty well documented but here’s the worst-kept secret in Major League Baseball:

MacPhail is reading Selig’s cue cards for the direction of the game so as to be able to take the throne when Selig decides to walk away from his $18 million-a-year job. (We’ve written many times: Selig doesn’t own a computer, doesn’t have email and doesn’t have a Black Berry. Just take a second and THINK about that in 2009 if you’re the C.E.O. of of of the biggest brands in America?)

Think Andy MacPhail would be interested in an $18 million-a-year position in 2012? (Me too…)

But as we’ve pointed out many times, they have no shame. Or common sense or decency. But they DO know how to make money. And they do have anti-trust exemptions by our federal government that are so laughable it completely masks the corruption.

Just look at the product on the field here in Baltimore. And look at the empty stands. And the amount of “house ads” on MASN.

To STUPID people, they look “broke.” But they’re not. FAAAAAR from it!

And watch all of the “Confederate money” that MacPhail won’t be waving in free agency in a few weeks. All of sudden, they’re “building through the farm system” which is the code word for “pocketing the goodwill of the Maryland people.”

The REAL money is going in their pockets and no one sees it or talks about it or writes about. And more $$$ is about to come out of the pockets of the good people in Sarasota. Just wait. This will end badly. It always does.

Not a low blow, just a fact.

UPDATE: 1:01 — Searching the web, I found a wonderfully delusional blog here from a Sarasota newspaper columnist named Doug Fernandes:

We’re getting two renovated public assets that desperately need rehabbing, we’re getting the Orioles to pay for their operation and maintenance, we’re getting it funded primarily through tourism tax revenue, and we’re getting it far south of Baltimore’s original demand.

I don’t know about you, but I call that savvy negotiating. And to those who label the $31.2 million expenditure as too exorbitant amid this crummy economy, I respond thusly:

The economy will turn, it always has, and a far greater burden would have been the cost of losing spring training.

So it appears safe for stadium czar Pat Calhoon to begin purchasing gallon upon gallon of black and orange paint.”

We’ll see how “tourism dollars” equates in Sarasota. The Orioles can’t get people to come to BALTIMORE to see them for $1 on summer nights. How the hell are they gonna get fans to Sarasota in March? Mark my words: the crowds will be DOWN from Fort Lauderdale, and that’s really saying something…

Just take a look at the comments under this blog. People in Sarasota are apparently VERY up in arms about the $32 million sweetheart deal that Peter Angelos got from the good people of Florida.

One more city about to be held hostage…just wait and see!

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