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NEW YORK, UNITED STATES:  Baltimore Orioles' owner Peter Angelos (2nd L) talks at a press conference with Chicago Cubs' CEO Andy MacPhail (L), Major League Baseball President Bob Dupuy (2nd R) and MLB chief negotiator Rob Manfred (R) 16 August 2002 at baseball headquarters in New York. The baseball players association set 30 August 2002 as a strike date if an agreement is not reached with the current contract.  AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Being Thrift with mounting debt and wringing the Belle with an insurance policy

Posted on 16 August 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 12 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.)

 

12. Being Thrift with mounting debt and wringing the Belle with an insurance policy

 

I’ve been very productive in my life in baseball. I’m not going to be taken as some amateur or semi-pro trying to build a resume to get a job somewhere else, like a lot of my colleagues have done over the course of time. We really have had a plan of where we’re going, how we’re going to get there, what we’re going to do. And so far we’re very pleased with the progress that we’ve made with this team.”

Syd Thrift

April 2000

 

 

THE LOSS OF MIKE MUSSINA in November of 2000 came as a massive blow to the fans of the Orioles, whom by and large, were still loyal to the team and more so even to Cal Ripken who was clearly coming to the end of the line of what had been a legendary career.

The Orioles not only missed the playoffs the previous three seasons but really never spent a day anywhere near contention despite the many contentious vibes the team had been casting off in the shadow of an owner who had lost his way and was getting attacked on every front in the public eye.

Peter G. Angelos bought the Orioles in 1993 because he was nouveau riche and starved for attention and the power that came along with controlling a civic trust for the local sports community. He wanted to be important. He wanted to be famous. He wanted to be loved.

Now, he had the eyes of the metropolis on his every move and was wilting under the pressure of trying to follow through on his promises to make the team a winner every year. There was little doubt that Angelos wanted to win. He just had no idea how to do it and simply throwing money at players wasn’t the answer to chasing down George Steinbrenner and the New York Yankees, who were the reigning champions and winners of four of the previous five World Series. And now, the damned Yankees took the only thing the franchise had left that was worthy of pillaging – ace pitcher Mike Mussina, who led the evening news in a pinstripe uniform and a dark NY hat because Angelos had essentially botched the negotiations and demeaned him publicly.

Angelos refused to pay Mussina the going rate.

It was never brought to light or reported – mainly because after being transparent regarding the finances of the Orioles in the early days of his ownership, Angelos went silent and became evasive – but the team began truly hemorrhaging money during this era of ineptitude on the field. Angelos admitted that the team wasn’t making money in 1996 and 1997, when wins on the field didn’t translate to profit for the club. The Orioles had the third highest payroll in Major League Baseball in 1997 and led the sport in 1998 and were still massive spenders vs. the marketplace in 1999 and 2000.

Angelos inherited a team with a $27 million payroll in 1993. By the turn of the century, the Orioles were spending $84 million per year despite seeing revenues dropping sharply over the previous three seasons when losing affected everything about the bottom line for the team. Fans who had tickets through corporations began not using them. Concession sales suffered. And attendance was falling because it had nowhere to go but down after the halcyon days of Camden Yards as the stadium approached the decade mark and many other cities had seen their own new stadia and downtown renaissance.

Angelos was quietly writing checks, privately, to fund the tens of million of dollars of losses of the Orioles. He acknowledged to other investors that it was his decision-making – and his alone – that had guided the team into a predicament where it wasn’t profitable and was bordering on dreadful on the field.

And as much as Mussina was one check that Angelos refused to write for $14 million per year, he had another similar check with three more years on the line and $39 million of team payroll still committed to Albert Belle, who struggled mightily during the summer

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 10) – Syd Thrift, Confederate money and the new Oriole Way of 21st century

Posted on 08 August 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 10 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.)

 

10. Syd Thrift, Confederate money and the new Oriole Way of 21st century

 

 

“Mr. Angelos feels the term general manager is obsolete and I agree with him. We’re going to keep working to turn this thing around and we’re all going to be working together.”

Syd Thrift

Orioles Director of Player Personnel

January 2000

 

 

BY NOW ONE OF THE biggest problems Peter G. Angelos was discovering was his inability to lie or buy his way out of the dilemma of the very public and ongoing accountability of running a Major League Baseball team. By all accounts, those around him would say that he had very little natural interest in baseball at all before he bought the Baltimore Orioles. He was a boxer as a kid and a bookish, nerdy, difficult, know-it-all political aspirant who was least likely to get a player autograph or spend a free day at a lowly baseball game on 33rd Street as a kid.

 

Mr. Angelos was far more interested in ruling the world than being a peasant local sports fan.

Angelos was much more serious and interested in law, government, politics and pontificating for anyone who would deem him significant enough to listen to him drone on about his expertise in the world and his world view. Buying the baseball franchise bought him an audience to listen, and an initially fawning media that hung on his every word. Angelos was once called a “windbag” by a rival politician during his City Hall-aspiring days and six years into his reign of terror with the sputtering Orioles, his many words and lack of success with people would lend some credence to that claim.

Now, with an evolving track record and many knee-jerk executive decisions, his fingerprints were all over every aspect of the Orioles and the fan experience. His check and report card was coming due in the media. There was no way to avoid the humiliation and daily soap opera of despair that the team generated – on and off the field.

Angelos wanted everything his way.

And, now, he had his wish.

And he couldn’t handle how miserably his strategy – if you could call it that – was failing. And how unpopular a guy who was wrecking baseball for lifelong Orioles fans could actually become and how quickly the “Marylander of The Year” accolades could be under siege from the fan base and a media that was simply reporting the bizarre nature of every unorthodox transaction, while watching competent baseball people come in the front door of The Warehouse and get pushed out the side door like yesterday’s rubbish.

The franchise was without a true leader, without a plan and without a clue. But the team still had a legion of disappointed and disillusioned fans. Tens of thousands of Orioles fans turned to the team on a daily basis as they’d done with their parents and in some cases their parents’ parents. Baseball in Baltimore felt like a birthright, like an appendage or a member of the family.

For local fans, the franchise was a “we” not a “them.”

That was the lure and allure that drew Peter G. Angelos to the team to begin with – the significance and royalty of the Baltimore Orioles. It wasn’t his love of a spring afternoon at a baseball stadium or a hot summer night in a pennant race. It wasn’t because he loved a well-pitched game or keeping score with a No. 2 pencil. It wasn’t because he had memories during his formative years with Brooks Robinson or Jim Palmer or even Jim Gentile and Gus Triandos. It wasn’t because he entered debates about Eddie vs. Cal or Frank vs. Brooks.

Angelos bought the team to be loved. He certainly didn’t need the money. He craved the power, the status it would bring. He sold the very concept that ONLY a local owner could make the franchise better and

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Fidel Castro Albert Belle

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 9) – Albert was not the Belle of Baltimore

Posted on 03 August 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 9 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 who loves the team.)

 

9. He was not the Belle of Baltimore

 

“We know [the media’s] intentions are good, but we can’t let you substitute your judgment for ours. We don’t think you know it all. We think there are times when you’re wrong just like we know there are times when we’re wrong. I tell you what: You can trust in our judgment. It’s pretty good. We’ve gotten this far. We’re going to go even further. Just be a little patient, I think you’ll be delighted with the results.”

Peter G. Angelos

  October 1999

 

 

IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR the Orioles and new general manager Frank Wren to feel some foreboding bumps en route to the 1999 season-long collapse. First, Albert Belle was thrust into the situation ­– signed, sealed and delivered totally at the whim of owner Peter G. Angelos. This complicated matters for literally everyone on the team, including manager Ray Miller who was told to figure out how to manage an unmanageable personality. Then, during the first week of spring training, newly signed second baseman Delino DeShields suffered an injury.

Then, the losing began almost immediately in April.

It wasn’t anything specific for the 1999 Orioles – it was everything. But it all started with poor pitching and the ominous tone that surrounded every move of the team’s new poster boy: No. 88 in your scorecard program and No. 1 with his middle finger, Albert Belle.

The Orioles still had a vibrant national hero in Cal Ripken, and stalwart mostly quiet All Stars like Mike Mussina, Brady Anderson and Scott Erickson, but it was Belle who set the tone and who made the news seemingly every week for some infraction or some social behavior that was less than exemplary. But Wren had been around baseball and knew to expect this from Belle. Miller knew the day of Belle’s signing that there’d be a change in the demeanor of his locker room, which wasn’t particularly stellar to begin with in 1998 after the noisy and disruptive departure of Davey Johnson the previous fall. But Peter Angelos believed that a MLB player making $13 million per year would be better behaved and easier to control because of the investment ownership made in him.

Once again, it showed that Angelos didn’t know much about people and he certainly didn’t know much about Albert Belle or the egos of baseball players.

It didn’t take long after signing Belle on Dec. 1, 1998 for the saga and drama to begin.

On Christmas Eve, as a goodwill gesture to his new city and attempting to play

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Bud Peter Ch 3

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 4): Sue, sue, sue for the home team – Angelos v. Everyone

Posted on 22 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“If we hadn’t reached a resolution with him, there is no doubt in my mind he would have sued,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s former president and chief operating officer. “He told my people he would sue and his professional background suggested that he was willing to sue.”

Bob DuPuy

Former MLB Chief Operating Officer

The New York Times

Aug. 19, 2011

 

 

Over the past decade, it’s clear that the script of “How to win the war with Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals over $298 million” reads directly from the Peter G. Angelos law firm playbook.

There’s not one step in this process where litigation wasn’t threatened or, inevitably, enacted. The money – as we’ve outlined in the previous three chapters of this “MASN Money For Dummies” series – per this unique arrangement with Bud Selig and the MLB owners, has all been designed from the outset to funnel into his pockets.

And anyone not named Angelos who believes they’re entitled to it can line up with their lawyers and watch his legal team dance – all while dangling the hundreds of millions of dollars that’s currently sitting in his coffers. Later in this series, I’ll examine the world from Angelos’ point of view and what it’s meant to the baseball operation of the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s very clear to anyone watching this epic legal struggle that there’s an astonishing amount of money at stake.

Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals are circling like buzzards to see what they can get – knowing they made a vague deal with a megalomaniac who has no intentions of ever giving any of them a nickel of the now billions in real money and value they’ve funneled his way since 2005.

If you want the money, you can deal with all of the aggravation, testimony, documents, discovery and lawyering up that Peter G. Angelos can muster and try to come and get it. Bud Selig left his throne without getting any closer than his successor Rob Manfred is getting. The dispute is now into its fifth year of absolute acrimony.

It was a fascinating admission on the part of Bob DuPuy, who was the foil in the Angelos-MLB negotiation at every turn in 2004 and 2005, that Angelos might be litigious. Some joked that DuPuy kept Amtrak in business, back and forth to Baltimore from New York to get a deal done for “Buddy,” who somehow thought he could strike up a reasonable agreement with Angelos after he crossed him by bringing a team to Washington.

Many make the mistake in believing that Angelos only likes asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits.

Au, contraire.

Angelos stormed about legal action against Albert Belle and voiding his contract after he gave a fan the middle finger at Camden Yards, and eventually saved $30 million with an insurance claim that the team went to great lengths to enact.

He got the city to threaten to sue MLB back in 1994, after he walked away from his fellow owners in the labor stoppage in 1995 when they wanted to field replacement players.

He threatened the NFL when he tried to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even drew the attention of Art Modell before the Ravens came to Baltimore.

He’s fought with Ed Hale over billboards, aesthetics and advertising revenue at the then-First Mariner Arena.

He famously brought Russell Smouse, his lead lawyer, into the Orioles front office to keep things in order.

He threatened litigation and breach of contract with Dan Duquette in 2014, which is why the guy who’s currently running the team is still “running the team.”

Angelos wound up in a dispute with former GM Frank Wren over $400,000 after doing everything possible to publicly humiliate him with “causes” for his firing in the media. And that was 17 years ago.

And then, of course, the Angelos standby in contract negotiations with baseball players is the “player physical,” which has become something …

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 2): The error of tyranny at Camden Yards

Posted on 30 March 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 2 of future book “The Peter Principles” that I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia. I have released the first three chapters of the book, which chronicles the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. I think you’ll find much of this already-reported information to be illuminating.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

 

2. A Tyrant Is Born

 

“Our fan support is beyond words. If we had enough seats, we’d surpass every other club. Our expenditures were long overdue in light of the fan support and rather meager compared to the expenditures of other clubs over the years. We felt we had some catching up to do, that the previous ownership had not done all it could to repay the fans, to give them what they deserve. We’re going to operate major league baseball in Maryland in a different way. We’re committed to making the club as competitive as possible, and that’s what we’re doing.”

—  Peter G. Angelos, as told to Ross Newhan of The Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1994

 

IN THE SPRING OF 1994, on the eve of a work stoppage that would cancel the World Series for the first time in the history of Major League Baseball, a book was published that became a handbook for anyone who wanted to see behind the greasy curtains of the business of baseball. This “tell all” for those who could think beyond what was on the back of a bubble gum card wasn’t penned by legendary Major League Baseball Players’ Association head Marvin Miller, but it certainly came from the somewhat sympathetic perspective of the plight of the players vs. the owners in the annals of the sport’s history in America.

The only problem with any “bias” in it was rooted, much like this Peter Principles series, in nothing but facts. Cold hard facts – all well sourced – that reflect the reality of the business of baseball. It told of the institution of institutionalized racism, classism, elitism, intimidation, coercion and lies amongst a world of wealthy all-white males doing business with an anti-trust exemption in the 21st century.

The 1994 book is called Lords Of The Realm and if you take no other advice from this manifesto about the Baltimore Orioles history under Peter Angelos, pick it up and give it a read. It’s impossible to sum up 75 years of baseball history in a few sentences here but to discuss the history and business of Major League Baseball over the last century would require a bar of soap, some disinfectant, warm water and a towel. Drugs, scandals, cheats, louses, greedy and/or crazy owners, racism, violence, civic shakedowns, and lack of government oversight have plagued baseball through the years. But the marketing machines insist on red, white and blue, the American flag, “God Bless America,” hot dogs and virtuous intentions for your children to idolize from crib to grave. Go watch the Ken Burns PBS series, Baseball, and you’ll see that there’s nothing more important in the universe than the sanctity of baseball history, records, heroes and civic connection to Americana.

According to some people, anyway.

Baseball owners have tried to control their public message for a hundred years and then journalists have come forward to expose all of the dirty laundry of the sport over the century.

By any measure of history, Peter G. Angelos fits right into the old boys club of Major League Baseball owners. Now, more than 20 years into his residency, it’s easy to measure his role in the pantheon of tyrannical, egotistical and iconoclastic baseball owners right up against George Steinbrenner, Charlie Finley, Bill Veeck, Auggie Busch or any of the other “Lords” as John Helyar put it in his book 20 years ago this month.

Peter Angelos bought the best and most valuable franchise in Major League Baseball in August 1993. It was the most expensive franchise in North America. Previous Orioles owner Eli Jacobs had hosted the Queen of England and the President of The United States in his shoddy, mezzanine hut on 33rd Street at Memorial Stadium and he had only controlled the team for less than four years. Owning a Major League Baseball allowed him the opportunity to sit with not only the rich but also the famous, infamous and influential. Angelos was a blue-collar attorney from East Baltimore who hit the legal lottery with an asbestos case that made him wealthy almost overnight. So, if his background portended a man who wanted to not only be rich but also desired to be famous and highly influential in the political space, then Angelos got his eternal wish with the purchase of the Baltimore Orioles.

In 1993, no one had ever heard of Peter Angelos outside of East Baltimore. By early 1994, he made sure that everyone who had ever heard of the Baltimore Orioles had heard his name and saw his image.

It started the day that he bought the team and returned to Baltimore a reigning hero and clearly in charge of the new Orioles ownership group. There were more questions than answers that day with so many prominent names involved and such civic interest in every facet of Angelos’ intentions. Angelos only won one election but this was akin to him giving a victory speech and outlining his platform for the future of the pride and joy of Baltimore – its baseball team.

“I’ll have ultimate authority in all matters, from the smallest things to the major things,” said Angelos, who said his title would be managing partner of the Orioles. “But I don’t brandish that as some kind of club, and I would hope it would never have to be used. I don’t think it will be.”

On August 4, 1993, The Sun reported this:

The baseball side of the Orioles isn’t likely to change dramatically with Mr. Angelos in charge. He said he generally supports the team’s current plan of grooming young players, rather than resorting to signing more expensive free-agent players. And he said that his goal as owner would be to give the fans a competitive team that occasionally brings home the biggest prize.

Winning a World Series “should be the goal for every team,” he said. “But that is not the sole

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

Posted on 19 March 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 1 of future book “The Peter Principles” that I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia. I have released the first three chapters of the book, which chronicles the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. I think you’ll find much of this already-reported information to be illuminating.)

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

 

 

IT WAS HOT AS HADES in that lower Manhattan federal courtroom. Jam-packed with bidders, curiosity seekers and baseball fans, the Baltimore Orioles franchise was up for grabs on August 2, 1993, and the bidding was as steamy as the air in the room once the price began to rapidly accelerate into the stratosphere.

The fact that there was any bidding at all was somewhat surprising to Peter G. Angelos, a Baltimore attorney who had begun a power play five months earlier to purchase the Major League Baseball franchise that was being sold off via an auction nearly 200 miles away from its home on the Chesapeake Bay. In the hours leading up to the auction, Angelos managed to turn his sole competitor from a previous suspended bid for the team during June into a partner. William DeWitt Jr., a Cincinnati native whose father once owned the St. Louis Browns in the 1940s and a minority investor in the Texas Rangers, joined Angelos’ celebrity-led local group from Maryland just hours before the bidding was to begin in the sweltering Custom House. DeWitt was promised a role in the operations and management of the club.

It was an amazing coup for Angelos to pull DeWitt from being a worthy, legitimate competitor into a teammate that morning, after convincing him that he’d be involved and an influential part of the eventual winning group. It was shocking that DeWitt had pulled out because several times over the previous eight months, he was convinced that he was already the winning bidder and new owner of the Orioles.

In February 1993, after six months of lengthy, arduous negotiations on a fair price, DeWitt had entered into a deal with Orioles majority owner Eli Jacobs to buy the team for $141.3 million. Jacobs, who was in his final days of semi-liquidity and quietly on the verge of bankruptcy, didn’t have the legal authority to close the deal with DeWitt once the banks seized his assets in March. Instead, the Orioles wound up at auction five months later and suddenly Angelos – with DeWitt now shockingly a member of his ownership team – believed he would emerge victorious without breaking a sweat in the summer heat of The Big Apple.

But that afternoon, after entering the courtroom in what he believed would be a rubber-stamped win, instead he found himself embroiled in a bidding war with a stranger he never strongly considered to being a worthy foil in the fray.

Jeffrey Loria, a New York art dealer and Triple-A baseball team owner, wanted badly to be a Major League Baseball owner. Baltimore native and former NFL player Jean Fugett represented a group led by TLC Beatrice, which featured a rare minority bid for an MLB franchise on that day in New York. One bidder, Doug Jemal of Nobody Beats The Wiz electronics stores, had early interest but bowed out before the steamy auction.

That August day, the bidding began at $151.25 million, which included a “stalking fee” of $1.7 million which was originally awarded to DeWitt’s team because of his vast due diligence and legal work done months earlier when he thought he had won a deal to secure the Orioles in the spring.

George Stamas, who represented Angelos’ group during the bidding process, opened the bidding at $153 million, which was seen as a good faith gesture from the combined bid with DeWitt, which could’ve been perceived as artificially deflating the sale price by judge Cornelius Blackshear. Loria, who was a stranger to the Angelos group, immediately raised it by $100,000. Stamas barked out, “One million more – $154.1!”

And for the next 30 minutes, the bids drew north from the $150 millions into the $160s. With every bid, Loria would raise by $100,000. Stamas, on behalf of Angelos, raised it by $1 million at a time. After 13 rounds of back and forth money, Angelos had the leading bid $170 million. Fugett, who had been completely silent during the auction, asked the judge for a recess.

The request was granted and the judge headed to his chambers.

And, suddenly, it got even hotter in a blazing courtroom on a sweltering day in The Big

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