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

August 16, 2017 | Nestor Aparicio

unique group of community heroes, the Orioles were clearly slipping in the eyes of the public.

Angelos, who didn’t mingle much in Baltimore on the social scene, either didn’t realize it or refused to acknowledge the appeal of the football team.

On Opening Day 2001, the Baltimore Ravens were not invited to participate in any aspect of the Orioles’ big day at Camden Yards. It was almost unprecedented in American sports – the baseball team’s lack of acknowledgement and sense of shared pride in having a championship team. Baltimore sports fans took notice and didn’t look kindly on the petty attributes of Angelos, who reportedly didn’t want employees watching the purple parade outside of the windows of The Warehouse in February when 250,000 local sports fans poured their civic pride into the streets of downtown Baltimore in the rain to feel what a title did to the community.

The Orioles won their 2001 opener 2-1 over the Boston Red Sox but much like the previous three seasons, it was a rare victory in an otherwise tumultuous season. Two days later, the Birds were no-hit by Japanese righthander Hideo Nomo. “It was a nightmare,” said Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston, regarding the embarrassment of such an ignominious start to the season and in a Camden Yards jammed with 30,000 Red Sox fans jeering the home team. Of course, resident starting pitcher Sidney Ponson, who allowed only four hits in 7 1/3 innings as the Orioles’ starter felt good about his effort. “I’m pretty happy, but we lost, so I’m happy and sad,” said the Aruban who became a favorite of Angelos and his wife during his tenure in Baltimore, while consistently proving his immaturity and stupidity off the field over the years.

To show how much the pride had slipped and how clueless the organization had become, the Orioles placed an ad in The Sun days later with an offer to buy a “commemorate unused ticket” from being no-hit by the Red Sox. The Orioles front office wasn’t unashamed of the evening. Instead, they tried to sell memorabilia from a dark night in franchise history to turn a buck on what previously would’ve been a civic sports disgrace for any club.

On April 12, the team slipped to 4-5 and never approached .500 again. They gave up 36 runs during a three-game series in Philadelphia. They won five games in month of July. Jose Mercedes went 8-7. Sidney Ponson was 5-10. Pat Hentgen, Josh Towers, Calvin Maduro and Willis Roberts all made starts for the 2001 Orioles. Mike Trombley and Buddy Groom, two of the promised improvements in the Orioles bullpen, were decent but couldn’t protect leads that didn’t exist for a team that featured an anemic offense.

The summer of 2001 became the year when local fans began staying away in droves. The team finished 63-98 and routinely began padding attendance numbers on a nightly basis to meet the promises made to sponsors regarding signage