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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 Angelos feels the term general manager is obsolete and I agree with him.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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Report: Orioles intend to extend Showalter beyond 2013

Posted on 07 November 2012 by Luke Jones

In what doesn’t exactly qualify as news by any stretch, the Orioles intend to negotiate a contract extension with manager Buck Showalter this offseason.

A report from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman Tuesday night said owner Peter Angelos has informed individuals of his plans to extend Showalter, but no timetable appears to be in place for finalizing a new contract. The Baltimore manager recently underwent knee surgery and is recovering at his home in Texas. Showalter’s contract expires after the 2013 season, but it was elementary that the Orioles would want to keep the 56-year-old in Baltimore after he guided the club to a 93-69 record and its first postseason appearance in 15 years.

Whenever asked about the possibility of receiving an extension, Showalter has repeatedly downplayed any urgency by reminding media he was already under contract for the 2013 season. Arriving in Baltimore with a reputation of being a control freak who wore out his welcome quickly in previous stops, Showalter has drawn affection from players and has enjoyed his time with the Orioles.

Showalter has developed a good working relationship with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette despite the latter being hired more than a year after the manager took the gig in Baltimore. The two worked in tandem to construct a roster that won the inaugural American League Wild Card Game before taking the New York Yankees the full five games in the AL Division Series.

“If [he’s] interested in staying, nobody’s more interested in keeping him than I am,” Angelos said in the Orioles clubhouse following the Game 5 ALDS loss at Yankee Stadium. “And, certainly, I speak for everyone in the organization. They had Buck as the manager, Dan Duquette as the GM and you certainly couldn’t ask for a better, better combination.”

Any outcome other than a new contract for Showalter will be met with negative reaction, so the Orioles would be better served to get something done sooner rather than later in the offseason. After completing their first winning season in 15 years, the Orioles can finally sell Baltimore as a viable destination for free agents and Showalter would be a prime selling point in that process.

It won’t prompt free agents to offer their services at a discounted price, but a long-term assurance of Showalter being in Baltimore could go a long way in the Orioles being able to sign premium talent at fair-market prices as opposed to the long-held perception of needing to vastly overpay notable free agents.

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