The Peter Principles (Ch. 11) – Letting The Moose Loose in pinstripes

August 11, 2017 | Nestor Aparicio

men who couldn’t make it 24 months at The Warehouse under his employ. And no one knew Angelos’ idiosyncrasies or bizarre, old-world strategies or (lack of) management style better than Gillick.

Patent dishonesty, mixed messages, meddling children and relatives, and his lack of baseball knowledge or etiquette – sure, other owners certainly had these problems over the years. But the one thing everyone universally complained about regarding Angelos by his baseball “decision makers” was his inability to act quickly in a business that demanded rapid answers for rapidly changing conditions and availability.

Baseball was a round-the-clock, fluid business in the new century.

When an opposing general manager had a trade or a contract or a player available, the decision needed to be made in the next hour, not lost in a pile of paperwork on the desk of a lawyer who was making $20 million per year to win Mesothelioma cases and who thought, by and large, that baseball was a bit of a child’s game.

Certainly “intentional hesitation” had been a large and driving part of Angelos’ dirty little arsenal from his attorney office for years. It was his secret weapon. It’s how he won battles. In the legal space, he fought longer and held out longer than anyone else, often not even bothering to return phone calls. In litigation, that always seemed to net him a better deal and a desperate adversary. Angelos rarely earned mutual respect as a decent person or a man of integrity or accountability, but he always got the upper hand by waiting and frustrating his combatants and that’s how he walked the earth long before he was a Major League Baseball owner.

But, in baseball’s reality of supply and demand, there was no replacing Aaron Sele for the 2000 Orioles and Angelos had his hands full with a far more pricey and complicated negotiation with ace pitcher Mike Mussina as he entered his final year under contract.

Mussina, a very bright, Stanford-educated man, saw the team for what it was at this point – a daily circus anytime the owner got involved. And that was pretty often over the six seasons under the reign of King Peter because by now everyone in the building feared a man who famously never walked into the baseball offices. No decision could ever be made without Angelos signing off on it from six blocks away in the penthouse of his law office. And, oft times, he was hard to find to get an answer. He didn’t use email and only worked via telephone and fax machine. And once you got Angelos’ answer, you weren’t really sure if you trusted it based on the growing number of integrity-based people – from the agents to the broadcasters to the baseball evaluators and scouts to the players ­ – who had left the Orioles feeling lied to, double-crossed or blatantly deceived.

Meanwhile, Mussina was the team’s most important asset. He was a clean-living, hard-working producer who was among the best in the world at what he did. The first act of Mussina’s career was phenomenal – surpassed by only one pitcher in Baltimore Orioles history, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer. Like “Cakes” was in the previous generation, Mussina was a vision of consistency and excellence. Every year he took the ball 30 times and every time he went to the mound you knew the Orioles had a chance