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

August 16, 2017 | Nestor Aparicio

a contract once the player and agent had “agreed to terms” – pending a physical, of course.

It would happen several more time in the coming years, even as recently as 2013 when Angelos balked at signing relief pitcher Grant Balfour, even though terms had been verbally agreed to by the team representative and the player agent. He also shaved time and money off a deal with pitcher Yovani Gallardo in 2016.

Agents, of course, caught on quickly and simply stopped referring their clients to Baltimore to play baseball.

The Orioles would never again be a significant player in signing the best players in baseball when they hit free agency. And it’s hard to win when you don’t have a chance to sign the best players.

 

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NOT EVERYONE IN THE MEDIA was at war with Peter G. Angelos. It just seemed that way.

In January 2000, Angelos lost one of his biggest civic supporters in the media when legendary Baltimore sportswriter John F. Steadman died after a courageous battle with cancer. Steadman had known the Orioles owner for decades through his work in local sports and charity, especially on the east side of town. The venerable newspaperman routinely defended Angelos’ deeds because he trusted him and believed his words at a time when everyone inside the franchise in a baseball evaluation capacity was faltering and leaving abruptly with harsh words for the owner.

Angelos was an honorary pallbearer at Steadman’s funeral and said, “He’s a personality that comes along once in a lifetime. He had the ability to criticize people and make the object of that criticism rethink what they were being criticized for.”

Of course, Steadman had spent three decades criticizing former Baltimore Colts owners Carroll Rosenbloom and Bob Irsay but was “hands off” with Angelos during the first seven years of his disastrous leadership and decision-making.

Steadman never wrote a negative word about Angelos despite several more well-informed – and far better sourced – columnists like Ken Rosenthal, Mike Littwin and John Eisenberg often writing of the mass dysfunction and King-like reign of the Orioles owner over all of his employees in the baseball operations within the team.

Steadman’s final column on Angelos appeared in The Sun on March 26, 2000 and despite the obvious decline of the franchise and the meddling of the owner – something that Steadman decried often over his 50 years in Baltimore newspapers ­­­­– the praise for his friend from the Greektown community was effusive and absolute.

“Let it be said with the strongest of conviction, supported by ongoing evidence, that no owner of a Baltimore sports franchise, going back over 100 years, has ever done for his city what Peter Angelos continues to contribute,” Steadman wrote in The Sun nearly 15 years after The News American went out of business.

Steadman’s praised Angelos as a civic hero and allowed him to do what he loved to do best – pontificate.

“Work is my hobby. I enjoy it,” Angelos told Steadman for the March 2000 profile. “I try to do things for my city, and if I had a hero in this connection that I worshiped, it was the late Henry Knott, who gave and gave to education and so many philanthropical (sic) causes.”

At this point, the Orioles were becoming a personal charity for Angelos and he wasn’t as comfortable being on the “management” side of a personnel debate but he was already screaming for mercy from the growing salaries in the sport being driven by greedy agents and egotistical owners who were throwing money around that the teams didn’t generate on the field. It was one of the reasons several MLB teams were on the market and many others were struggling economically in an environment of constant turmoil between labor and management.

About the astronomical salaries in baseball, he said, “I have been on the side of labor all my life, but that doesn’t mean it has to bankrupt management. What the players make is passed on to the fans in the stands. I would hate for baseball to do what football and basketball has done in charging ticket prices that are going out of reach of the spectators.”

Angelos was routinely losing $10 to $20 million per year during this era of Orioles baseball and he was quick to realize that raising ticket prices