Seven years ago, the three-word theme for all things Orioles was “Free The Birds”.
On September 21, 2006, nearly 2,000 die-hards of the team strolled upstairs in Camden Yards and watched the first few innings of a meaningless Orioles-Tigers game from the upper deck to show the baseball team there are still people in town willing to put their money where the mouth (and feet) is, as the saying goes.
Later on that afternoon, the upper deck was empty when everyone walked out to show their protest for how things were going with our beloved Birds.
There will always be varying opinions on whether or not that one-day rally made any impact on Peter Angelos and his disciples at Camden Yards, but there will never be a doubt about the fact that it got pulled off in All-Star fashion and got folks both in Baltimore and across the country interested in a bubbling fan rebellion.
We’re all “big boy enough” to also acknowledge that the Orioles got their feelings hurt that day and essentially pulled the plug on any future professional treatment of most things WNST Radio. Funny, though, WNST has survived that bush-league treatment from the Orioles and the Orioles have survived “Free The Birds”.
Well – we’re now coming up on 2014 and it’s time for a new three-word phrase to be the bumper sticker for those of you in Baltimore who still care about the team, buy the merchandise and go to the games.
Three new words — Open. The. Books.
It’s time for the Orioles to man-up and open their operating books and give the public a real glimpse into their day-to-day operational costs, revenue, expenses and financial obligations.
I am NOT saying to literally have a press conference and distribute a 9-page booklet with every single line item on the revenue and expense side exposed and explained. I wouldn’t expect that.
What I am saying, though, is the club should provide a “general overview” of their revenue and expenses to give everyone in town an idea of their business approach and why, for example, the (insert team here) will be able to give Shin-Soo Choo $90 million for six years but the Orioles can’t afford to do that.
Tell everyone — the people in town who keep your business afloat — how much you’re spending on scouting. Is it $8 million? $15 million? $22 million? Tell everyone what your travel costs are. $3.2 million? $6.1 million? Give us an idea of what you’re spending in the minor league system. $11.5 million? $14.2 million?
Give us a general update of the revenue: Tickets, sponsorship sales, concessions. We already know the TV money. Those numbers ARE public, which I’m quite certain drives the Orioles completely bonkers. They’ll be taking in somewhere around $85 million in 2014 just from television revenue alone when you combine their national “take” ($55 million) and local haul ($30 million).
And, for those of you who are going to say “no team in baseball would open their books” you better READ THIS RIGHT HERE from the owner of the Colorado Rockies.
Why is “Open The Books” important?
No one believes the Orioles when they say, “We don’t have the RESOURCES (that’s the word Dan Duquette uses these days when referring to money) to compete with these BIG MARKET franchises.”
I know I certainly don’t believe it.
Unless you’re from Old Mill High School or you’re naive or you’re a dummy or you’re an apologist, you don’t believe it either.
Some baseball fans in Denver didn’t think the Rockies were doing all they could do to win based on their financial formula, so their owner said, “Well, we’ll show you how our business works. If you don’t believe us, we’ll prove it to you.”
I’ll remind everyone that about twelve or so years ago, Peter Schmuck of The Sun floated this idea about “opening the books” and the Orioles brass went completely ballistic. They cold shouldered Schmuck, refused to do interviews with the Sun, tongue-kissed the Washington Post and, in general, did what they always do when things don’t go their way — treated him unprofessionally.
Speaking of Schmuck, the piece he wrote yesterday at The Sun will absolutely result in a phone call (already has, likely) from Greg Bader of the Orioles who will go to great lengths to point out where Schmuck was wrong in his opinion that the Orioles look like they don’t know what they’re doing.
If you think that’s just Drew being paranoid or picking on the Orioles, get a glass of wine with Schmuck one night and ask him how many times the Orioles PR folks have accosted him over the years about something he wrote in the newspaper. I know the truth.
I implored the Orioles to put BALTIMORE on their road uniforms for the better part of two seasons (they angrily called it a “crusade” in-house) and they took my daily press credential from me in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
That’s what they do.
And yes, there’s a risk that being the self-called
campaign crusade-manager for the new “Open The Books” request might get me mistreated even more than I already have been…but they stole my press credential in September and I didn’t even do anything wrong, so I’m not in danger of losing anything else of importance.
The Orioles should open their books and show the people who FUND THEIR BUSINESS where their money goes.
If they spent money on baseball players and tried to compete with the rest of the big boys, we wouldn’t need to peer in their closet.
The baseball team in Baltimore has gobs and gobs of money. A lot of it comes from you and I. We’d just like to know what they’re doing with it, that’s all.
Open the books, Orioles.
We’ll officially call it: Open the books 2014.