As the inevitability of a 14th straight losing season hangs over the Orioles like so many other dark clouds, the realization occurs that Baltimore has now dealt with a less than mediocre baseball team for longer than the NFL’s exodus from the city lasted. And from where I sit today, the former has been far more painful than the latter.
While Bob Irsay has always been the default answer to the most detestable man in Baltimore sports history, Peter Angelos has now entered the argument in a very big way and threatens to quickly run away with the title (although likely not with the team).
Like Irsay, it seems that Angelos has simply decided that it’s a better proposition to bank the inevitable riches inherent with owning a professional sports team while spending as little as possible in fielding that team. The Orioles could spend with the big market clubs if they chose to do so, but history has seemingly taught Angelos that spending big still doesn’t guarantee success on the field, spending small however and owning your own network guarantees profits no matter how pathetic your on field product may be.
The trump card that Irsay had (and ultimately wielded) that Angelos never will was the willingness of another city to provide better facilities and the promise to sell them out. While the NFL had (and still has) markets clamoring for and capable of supporting their product, baseball has no such luxury. If baseball did, there never would have been a need to move the Expos to Washington or create MASN in the first place.
If there were a better deal out there, you could bet that Angelos and the O’s would explore it…provided of course that it didn’t compromise their stake in MASN.
It’s too bad the fans don’t have recourse.
It’s too bad we can’t simply evict the O’s.
Before you decry me for sacrilege hear me out. (And realize I know it won’t happen)
The O’s have a lease with the city of Baltimore that runs through 2024. So maybe the city’s hands would be tied until then. Or maybe they could find a way out early, a way to evict the O’s for operating in bad faith, for defaming a local and national institution and for completely misusing the grandest of attractions in baseball…Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
If the city simply had enough of Angelos and closed the doors to OPACY, where would the Orioles go? What city is ready to provide anywhere near the facilities and support for the Orioles and Angelos than Baltimore has? Who would welcome this cheapskate joker with a bad team in a stacked division with anywhere near the reception that Baltimore has given him and them before and are dying to truly care about again?
Precedents now seem to exist that would allow Baltimore to retain the name and legacy of the Orioles leaving Angelos to rename his team in addition to relocating it. Even if that weren’t possible, the Ravens have proven that it’s possible to splice together a city’s sports legacy with class and pride and dignity.
One could only guess what that would do to MASN and Angelos cushy arrangement with MLB designed (we thought) to ensure the O’s ability to stay competitive with the AL East’s big spenders.
What wouldn’t be tough to guess is that Camden Yards wouldn’t sit empty for long. Baltimore might be left to sway in the breeze for some time, maybe as long as a decade as teams use the prospect of OPACY to hold their own cities hostages, but sooner or later baseball would return to Baltimore, maybe in the NL or the AL Central, with a renewed chance to compete.
While it’s surely an unrealistic measure and one we’re unlikely to ever explore, as it relates to seeing a realistic effort at baseball in Baltimore being competitive consistently the current O’s don’t look to be getting their act together anytime soon. A ten-year exile from Major League Baseball followed by a genuine effort to compete is starting to sound a little more tempting then waiting for Angelos to start trying again or to sell the team. Even 2024 doesn’t seem too far off when viewed through the prism of the Angelos regime.
The only point really being that Angelos owes and needs Baltimore far more than Baltimore owes or needs him, yet somehow we standby heartbroken and powerless as he gets rich running our beloved institution into the ground.
And maybe too, that desperate times call for desperate measures. These are clearly desperate times.