Are you at war with the Orioles?
It sounds a tad dramatic sure, and I’ll acknowledge it’s an overstatement at the least, but make no mistake about it; the Orioles are at war with you.
The Orioles at war with you, they’re at war with Major League Baseball, they’re at war with the players and they’re at war with anyone standing between them and their next dollar. And the sooner we can all acknowledge that simple truth, the sooner we can put our collective heads together and forge an amicable solution.
In order to assess our collective position, let’s understand the means by which we arrived here. As I’ve said throughout this drama, in my lifetime (coming up on 39 years) the early part of the Angelos tenure was surely the best of times.
Camden Yards was fresh and new, the Orioles were playing to packed houses and were the only ticket in town, and unlike the Eli Jacobs regime that preceded his, the Angelos regime was ready to share that wealth with big names on the field and in the front office. Everyone it seemed was happy.
Then the Ravens came to town and we quite simply lost our way. Art Modell came to town with a questionable business reputation (fair or not) at best and the city threw money at him, lent him more money at favorable terms on top of it, and provided cushy lease terms at an adjoining downtown ballpark to his palace. The argument could certainly be made that in Oriole Park at Camden Yards the city gave Angelos quite a gift too, but that wouldn’t be altogether fair, as Angelos picked up the O’s after the advent of Camden Yards and therefore absorbed some of that benefit in the purchase price. The city “gave” the stadium and all of its inherent benefit to the Orioles (the Eli Jacobs Orioles) and Jacobs essentially walked away with those benefits by way of the inflated purchase price. *Remember that precedent by the way.
So back to Peter’s perspective:
Here’s Angelos in 1995, spending like hell to field a winner and we the fans begrudge (and even blast) him for silly things like talking too long at Cal Ripken’s 2131 ceremony. He squashes the 1996 trade that would have jettisoned Bobby Bonilla and David Wells and watches the team surge in the standings and actually make the playoffs and still couldn’t get love. He even brought back Eddie Murray. Then he watched the city bend over backward for and celebrate an NFL owner whose bad decisions in running his team necessitated a quick bailout. As I remember, Angelos spoke up about what he saw as disparate treatment then, but was mostly dismissed.
In 1998 the team began to show its age (after a wire-to-wire division title) and the fans quickly turned on the talent at hand. I remember the calls flooding the radio shows begrudging our mercenaries and clamoring for young talent that “played like they wanted to be there”. The O’s began churning the roster and the Ravens began turning a page of their own and winning and the fans had alternatives, and decisions to make with their entertainment dollars.
By 1999 it was evident that the Expos were leaving Montreal, and for those that were paying careful attention, there was nowhere to put them but DC. Angelos was at war with his TV network, CSN, and while his best interests were served by keeping a team out of DC, the network saw dollar signs and the potential of another team on their network therefore putting their best interests in direct opposition with Angelos and the Orioles. Coincidentally, see MASN for the results of how that battle turned out.
Additionally it seemed that the state of Maryland would have had a legitimate and vested interest in compelling a DC team to build their stadium in Maryland, therefore there was no support from the state or the Stadium Authority to be expected for the O’s.
The fight to keep the Expos out of DC was Angelos’ to fight alone.