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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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Chapter 6 pic

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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. 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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