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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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hardy

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Orioles should copy Mets’ plan for David Wright with one of own

Posted on 15 February 2016 by Luke Jones

Last spring, the question was whether shortstop J.J. Hardy would bounce back from a season in which he hit only nine home runs, by far his lowest total in four years with the Orioles.

A year later, the Orioles would gladly take his 2014 production — which still included a .268 average and a .682 on-base plus slugging percentage —  after the worst season of his 11-year career in the majors in 2015. Playing all year with a torn labrum in his left shoulder and also dealing with back and groin issues, Hardy hit just .219 with eight homers, 37 RBIs, and an anemic .564 OPS.

The 33-year-old was a shell of the hitter who clubbed 25 homers and posted a .738 OPS just two years earlier as an All-Star Game starter and the AL Silver Slugger winner at shortstop.

With Hardy still owed $26.5 million over the next two years, manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles must figure out the best way to maximize the veteran infielder’s production, especially after he elected to rehab his shoulder in lieu of surgery this offseason. Hardy told reporters at FanFest in December that he underwent labrum surgery on the same shoulder when he was playing in the minor leagues and didn’t want to repeat a process that took 12 months until he felt like himself again.

The Orioles would be wise to adopt a plan similar to what the New York Mets intend to do with veteran third baseman David Wright, who is also 33. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said over the weekend that Wright, who missed more than four months last season due to spinal stenosis, will play a maximum of 130 games in 2016 in hopes of keeping him fresh with scheduled days off.

Hardy’s shoulder injury coupled with chronic back issues over the last few years should make it an easy call for the Orioles to treat their shortstop in a similar fashion. Though he missed 48 games in 2015, 39 came with Hardy on the disabled list and he rarely received routine days off that weren’t related to injury, evident from the 59 consecutive starts he made from June 5 through Aug. 11.

With Gold Glove third baseman Manny Machado more than capable of playing his natural shortstop position and utility man Ryan Flaherty filling in at third, there’s no reason not to give Hardy routine days off over the course of a 162-game schedule at this point, especially if it helps keep him more productive at the plate.

More rest doesn’t mean Hardy will return to his pre-2014 levels of offense, but his strikeout rate increased from 11.3 percent in 2013 all the way to 20.1 percent in 2015. He’s also not pulling the ball (40.1 percent of the time in 2015 compared to his 44.5 percent career mark) or making hard contact (23.7 percent in 2015 compared to 29.9 percent in 2014) as frequently, according to FanGraphs.

Hardy’s rapid decline probably isn’t all because of injuries as middle infielders don’t age well historically, but the Orioles would be wise to do everything they can to keep him as productive as possible at the plate and in the field. That plan should no longer include the expectation of him playing every day.

If the Orioles can slow Father Time’s impact and Hardy can post numbers at least closer to what he did in 2014, the club will be better for it as he was worth 3.3 wins above replacement that season, according to Baseball Reference. The three-time Gold Glove winner posted a 0.0 WAR last season, and only his above-average defense (a 1.1 defensive WAR) neutralized his negative offensive value.

Even Hardy acknowledged that more scheduled days off would “probably” help his production when asked about the possibility in mid-December.

“It’ll be up to Buck,” said Hardy, who reiterated that he wants to play as much as he can if healthy. “If he puts me in there, I’m going to do what I can.”

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Barry Bloom discusses the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals

Posted on 03 November 2015 by WNST Staff

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Jim Williams recaps the 2015 World Series

Posted on 03 November 2015 by WNST Staff

 

 

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MLB 2015 Postseason

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Tom Gatto talks 2015 World Series Champion Royals

Posted on 02 November 2015 by WNST Staff

 

MLB 2015 Postseason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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MLB 2015 Postseason

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Ken Belson on 2-0 Mets series lead over Cubs

Posted on 19 October 2015 by WNST Staff

MLB 2015 Postseason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bristol, CT - May 23, 2013 - Studio A: Doug Glanville on the Baseball Tonight set.(Photo by Joe Faraoni/ ESPN Images)

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Doug Glanville breaks down thrilling first week of MLB playoffs

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff

Bristol, CT - May 23, 2013 - Studio A: Doug Glanville on the Baseball Tonight set.(Photo by Joe Faraoni/ ESPN Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unlikely hero Urrutia provides feel-good moment for Orioles

Posted on 20 August 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Henry Urrutia may never hit another home run and the Orioles still may not qualify for the playoffs despite his dramatic game-winning blast in a 5-4 win over the New York Mets on Wednesday.

But it was a moment to savor as the 28-year-old Cuban outfielder became the fifth player in franchise history to club a walk-off shot for his first major league homer, joining Chris Hoiles (1990), Dave Criscione (1977), Jim Hardin (1969), and Merv Rettenmund (1968) in Orioles lore. Of that group, Criscione became one of the great one-hit wonders in club history in hitting a game-winning homer against Milwaukee despite receiving only 10 plate appearances in his major league career.

If we’re being honest, Wednesday was more likely to be Urrutia’s 15 minutes of fame rather than the start of a long run as the Orioles’ left fielder, but it was easy to feel good for a man who defected from Cuba in 2011 and eventually signed with the Orioles. After a disappointing run that included 58 major league plate appearances in 2013, Urrutia faded from the Orioles’ radar with an injury-riddled 2014 at Triple-A Norfolk and was having a solid but unspectacular season with the Tides before being recalled last weekend.

With Urrutia frequently being criticized for his inability to consistently pull the ball, there was something fitting about the left-handed hitter sending one into the left-field seats on a 1-2 pitch from Carlos Torres to give the Orioles their third walk-off victory of the homestand. As if the congratulatory pie to the face from Adam Jones wasn’t enough, Urrutia was later greeted in the hallway outside the Orioles clubhouse by a Mets fan who had come away with the home run ball.

Emotional as he described what it meant to receive the ball, Urrutia revealed he plans to share the souvenir with his 16-month old son, also named Henry Alexander.

“Wow, that’s the best gift for me tonight,” said Urrutia as he paused to compose himself. “Now, I can give that baseball to my son, and my son one day can say, ‘This is the first homer for my dad in the big leagues.'”

For the Orioles, Urrutia’s homer helped them to another win in a long season now having 43 contests remaining. But the accomplishment meant more to a man described as having high character and a good work ethic by countless members of the organization.

The mild-mannered Urrutia even apologized for the quality of his English — which is really quite good — during his post-game interview, admitting he was nervous while reflecting on his big moment.

In a performance-driven business where we frequently lose sight of the human beings behind the numbers, fans could not only enjoy a win for the Orioles, but they could recognize and celebrate the top moment of a young man’s career.

Regardless of whether it ultimately leads to anything else for him or the Orioles.

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Jerry’s Used Car Superstores Presents WNST Orange Baseball Bus to CitiField for Mets-Orioles (May 5, 2015)

Posted on 08 December 2014 by WNST Trips

Come see some Baltimore baseball in the “other” stadium in New York. We’re headed to Queens to see the Baltimore Orioles take on the New York Mets at CitiField in The Big Apple on Tuesday, May 5, 2015.

Tickets: $99 per person

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Orioles sign former Cy Young winner Santana to minor-league deal

Posted on 03 March 2014 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Orioles came to an agreement on a minor-league deal with two-time former Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana on Tuesday.

The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training in Sarasota and is worth $3 million plus performance bonuses upon making the major league roster, according to CBS Sports insider Jon Heyman.

Santana is coming off a second shoulder surgery that cost him to miss the entire 2013 season. The Mets chose to buy him out after the season, making him a free agent.

Santana had previously missed the entire 2011 season and went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA for the New York Mets in 2012 between surgeries, including the first no-hitter in franchise history. Santana was brilliant from 2003-2008, winning the American League Cy Young Award twice with the Minnesota Twins and being named an All-Star four times in his career between the two teams.

For his career, Santana is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.132 WHIP.

Originally signed by the Houston Astros as an amateur free agent in 1995, Santana was acquired by Minnesota via Florida at the 1999 Rule 5 Draft. He will wear No. 57 with the Orioles.

Rumors/reports of the deal began midday Monday when the lefty was spotted at the Birds’ Spring Training facility in Sarasota by multiple media outlets. Top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez posted the following picture of himself with Santana on Instagram.

Santana recently threw for MLB scouts and reportedly topped out with a velocity of 81 MPH. Many believe he would not be available to pitch until well into the 2014 season.

A report from MLB.com suggested the O’s could view Santana as a left handed option out of the bullpen. The Birds have again been looking at reliever Brian Matusz as a starter during Spring Training and have no options left with fellow lefty Zach Britton. Additionally, lefty reliever Troy Patton will miss the first 25 games of the season after testing positive for a banned substance.

The Orioles recently acquired veteran starter Ubaldo Jimenez and Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon. The team was still in talks with free agent starter Ervin Santana as recently as last week.

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