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The Peter Principles (Ch. 6) – Wire to Wire, champagne and the Dumb Dumb divorce

Posted on 19 June 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 6 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 4 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

Chapter 13 is available here.

 

6. Wire to wire, champagne and the Dumb Dumb divorce

 

“There is no threat he’s going to lose his job. He has a contract that is binding, and I plan to fulfill the conditions of that contract. One thing is for certain: I have never said that Davey (Johnson) would be fired. I have never said he had to get to the World Series to keep his job. Yet the focus of this is on me. That I don’t understand. None of this has come from Peter Angelos.”

 

Peter G. Angelos – October 24, 1997

 

IN 1997, SOMEHOW, AMIDST ALL of the chaos, drama and incredible mixed emotions of the fan base toward the emerging megalomaniac, micro-managing, all-powerful Peter G. Angelos, the one thing that remained constant was his ability to buy the best baseball players in the world and get them to the field at Camden Yards.

All the team did was win games in 1997. The team started 4-0 and had a winning record in every month of the season. They went wire-to-wire in first place, finishing 98-64, and a runaway winner of the American League East.

Other than Mike Mussina having a no-hitter broken up in the ninth inning on a warm night in May and Roberto Alomar spending parts of the second injured, most every aspect of the team on the field was perfect. The Yankees finished 96-66 and were forced to visit the loaded Cleveland Indians and lost in the ALDS. The Orioles were dispatched to Seattle in the first round of the playoffs, where they quickly won a pair of games in the thunderous Kingdome, only to lose Game 3 at Camden Yards before Mike Mussina vanquished Randy Johnson in Game 4 to lead the Birds back to their second straight ALCS.

Once again, all of the sins of Peter Angelos seemed to be forgotten. The Orioles were four wins away from the World Series. It had been a magical season, bringing back memories of the Earl Weaver teams of the 1969 to 1971 era when great pitching and defense won championships.

The Orioles had defeated the Indians in 1996 and the Cleveland disdain for all things Baltimore had grown exponentially as the Ravens played into their second fall under Art Modell. But the O’s couldn’t get the job done against the Indians, who won four one-run ballgames in the series, including a 1-0 heartbreaker in Game 6. Mike Mussina threw eight innings of shutout baseball before watching Armando Benitez give up an 11th inning home run to light-hitting Tony Fernandez to extinguish the Birds’ dreams of its first World Series since 1983.

The series with Cleveland was a classic, but one that went the wrong way for Orioles fans.

Despite the success on the field, the turmoil behind the scenes was palpable if mostly

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 4) – The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

Posted on 09 June 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 4 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

Chapter 13 is available here.

 

4. The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

 

“I don’t think any boss, anybody in charge should ever criticize subordinates publicly. That is even in this business here that Frank Sliwka operates [at The Barn in Carney]. If he has a problem with one of the employees I think he should take them in the back room quietly and tell should tell him or her what he objects to. I don’t think anyone should publicly chastise an employee. When you’re a boss you keep that kind of thing to yourself. And that’s what I said to Davey Johnson. And I’ll repeat it again and I’ve told him that since then. He’s a great manager. He’s a great guy. I love him like a brother and we get along fine. Except I’ve said to him, “If you have to criticize someone, you take him in your office, shut the door and let it be between you and the player.”

 – Peter G. Angelos on WWLG Budweiser Sports Forum

March 1997

THERE COULD BE NO ENCORE for an act and a night as emotionally charged as the Cal Ripken 2131 night at Camden Yards in September 1995. Once again, there was no postseason baseball in Baltimore for the 12th consecutive year and Angelos, aided by the immortal Iron Man streak and the intense, family-like local passion for baseball, had enough revenue coming into the franchise to afford any baseball player he wanted in the marketplace. The club was swimming in money vs. its MLB foes. Plus, given his pro-player stance in the contentious labor dispute, many believed the Orioles would be a haven for free agents who wanted to sign with an owner who saw their side and wanted to win and put the best team on the field.

Looking ahead to the 1996 season, Peter G. Angelos was obsessed with one thing: bringing a World Series to Orioles fans.

Immediately following the 1995 campaign, Angelos fired manager Phil Regan and “accepted the resignation” of Roland Hemond, who was actually forced out, along with Frank Robinson, who was glad to leave the Orioles at that point and wound up working for commissioner Bud Selig in the MLB office.

Angelos was clearly running every aspect of the Baltimore Orioles at this point and was quite brazen in the media regarding his daily involvement. He bragged that he had enough time to run a law firm that was netting more than $15 million per year in personal income for him at the time and a MLB team on the side. Now with all of the “baseball people” gone except for his self-appointed farm director Syd Thrift, Angelos needed a new manager and a new general manager. He had already developed quite a reputation in the insulated, incestuous world of baseball men and lifers. He had owned the team for less than 24 months and had already pissed off every one of his 27 MLB partners, upstaged Cal Ripken on the biggest night of his life on national television and chased off two managers and a total of five baseball men: Roland Hemond, Frank Robinson, Doug Melvin, Johnny Oates and Phil Regan. Together they spanned three generations of baseball and touched virtually everyone in the industry with their true stories of an owner who called a manager into his office and demanded – among other things – which third basemen would be in the lineup on any given night.

A year earlier Davey Johnson, a former Orioles second baseman and World Series champion as manager of the 1986 New York Mets, was interviewed by Angelos and his internal committee that included Joe Foss and team lawyer Russell Smouse, but they instead selected Phil Regan, who they thought would be a hot commodity the previous year and whom never was given much of a chance under Angelos.

Johnson, who had a storied reputation for being snarky, cunning and anti-authority, took a shot at Angelos 12 months earlier when he didn’t get the job: “I heard they wanted an experienced manager and a proven winner. That’s why I interviewed for the job. But I guess that’s not what they wanted, right?” he told the media when he was clearly disappointed that he wasn’t selected in October 1994.

Now, after a disastrous year on the field in 1995 under Regan, Johnson’s name surfaced again and Angelos wasted no time in complementing the decorated yet difficult managerial prospect stating, “His baseball knowledge is impressive, and his strong background with the Orioles came through.” Johnson, meanwhile backtracked from any contentiousness in an effort to get the job: “I enjoyed meeting Peter,” he said. “You read stories about the Big Bad Wolf, but he was really nice.”

On October 30, 1995, Johnson was named manager of the Baltimore Orioles, the club’s third skipper in just 18 months under the Angelos regime. “This is a move in the direction of producing a winner,” Angelos said. “We are committed to building a winner in Baltimore, and Davey is a vital part of that effort. He has a winning attitude. He’s a very down-to-earth, forthright baseball professional with an extensive knowledge, and his record clearly establishes that.”

Was Johnson still sore about being passed over the previous year? “I do have a lot of pride, but I don’t have a big ego,” Johnson said. “Maybe I was hoping they’d offer the job so I could say no, but I discarded that idea in about two seconds because Baltimore represents my baseball roots. I thought it was a good fit a year ago, and I still do.”

Angelos allowed Syd Thrift to represent the Orioles at the MLB meetings in Arizona while he remained in Baltimore to interview a bevy of candidates to be the next general manager. Kevin Malone, a former Montreal Expos general manager, and Joe Klein, who had local roots and had been the GM of the Detroit Tigers, were considered to be the front runners but much like with every baseball decision made by Angelos, time wasn’t considered a pressing concern.

And despite most legitimate general managers wanting the opportunity to hire a field manager, Angelos did it backwards. The new manager, Davey Johnson was sent off to the MLB winter meetings along the farm director, Syd Thrift. Both were encouraged by Peter Angelos to recruit an appropriate general manager and working partner that would bring the Baltimore Orioles a World Series title.

In Phoenix, Johnson tracked down former Toronto general manager Pat Gillick, who was his old minor league teammate from

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Dear John: Why is now the right time to fire Cam Cameron?

Posted on 10 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

At some point this morning all hell broke loose in Owings Mills. It’s not often – or I’m not sure it’s ever been done before successfully – that an offensive coordinator of a 9-4 football team that produced 21 points of road offense in the first 21 minutes of a game is fired less than 21 hours later.

But it happened this morning. Tony Dungy got a leak from Jim Caldwell and gave it to Dan Patrick, who then gave it to Mike Florio. And then we learned that Cam Cameron was fired and told his friend Jamie Costello at ABC2.

Word is that there were some rather harsh words exchanged, feelings hurt and that Cameron was shocked by everything about the decision, which wasn’t made solely by John Harbaugh. WNST has also learned that Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was directly involved in the decision as well.

The Baltimore Ravens were 53-24 & 5-4 in playoffs during his tenure as offensive coordinator. He also inherited a rookie QB, RB & first offense without Jon Ogden at left tackle in 2008.

WNST.net monitored it minute to minute on Twitter and we’re all still sorting through everything but what’s obvious – the Baltimore Ravens are struggling in lots of ways right now to win a game and Cam Cameron obviously worked his way through the doghouse of John Harbaugh and was shown the door this morning.

It might never be reported what happened last night in the mind of Harbaugh and/or Bisciotti or how long this change has been brewing – and don’t expect him to be forthcoming in his press conference when questioned about the change – but it’s now done, and veteran offensive mind and QB guru Jim Caldwell will take over a sputtering offense that he’s had almost a calendar year to dissect and learn with Joe Flacco at the helm.

What will really change this Sunday vs. the Denver Broncos?

Who knows?

But Cam Cameron didn’t have false starts. Cam Cameron didn’t put the offense in 1st & 23s, 2nd & 17s and 3rd & 11s. Cam Cameron didn’t miss blocks and assignments. Cam Cameron didn’t throw high and long or short and low to Torrey Smith. Cam Cameron didn’t have separation issues or troubles finding holes in the running attack. Cam Cameron didn’t let Ben Grubbs walk away last offseason.

Cam Cameron calls plays. Now Jim Caldwell will probably call a lot of the same plays.

This Broncos game can now be deemed a “must-win” game given the Ravens’ stated desire to have a first-round bye that was looking so likely eight mornings ago when they were 9-2 and coming off a heady, miraculous win in San Diego.

Perhaps Caldwell was headed to the open market in a few weeks to become an offensive coordinator or even a head coach in the coming weeks? Maybe Cameron and Harbaugh had a falling out? How involved did Steve Bisciotti get last night after an embarrassing loss in D.C.?

Feel free to speculate away because you will anyway…

But however you slice it, it’s a very radical move this morning by John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens organization.

Sometimes these things take root and championships are won.

And sometimes, it’s the first chair off the Titanic..

Harbaugh will be asked a lot of questions. He will wish Cam Cameron well. And in six days the Denver Broncos are coming to town to play a team that clearly hit the panic button this morning.

Harbaugh won’t call it the panic button and would berate me if I asked him that question but I’m not sure that under any circumstance that this is the desired pathway for a Super Bowl team.

His brother Jim Harbaugh endured heavy media and fan heat three weeks ago for changing starting quarterbacks while in first place. Now, in the midst of December with a 9-4 team flailing in many phases of the game and after the defense and special teams floundered in D.C. with the game (and a lead) in the balance, John Harbaugh has guillotined his offensive coordinator with three games left on the 2012 calendar.

I always laugh when the fans scream to fire the coach or bench the QB in the middle of any season.

It looks like John Harbaugh has finally succumbed after hearing the chants of the radicals and fired his O.C. on a Monday morning.

Some of you finally got what you wanted – heads to roll when the team is 9-4.

 

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