Unlike most sportswriters and “journalists” around Baltimore, when you begin one of my masterpieces on sports ownership and civic expectations, at least you know where I stand. As a lifelong fan of the Colts, Orioles, Bullets/Wizards, Capitals and Ravens, it’s been my experience that nothing affects my fan experience more than who currently owns these franchises.
I have made it my life’s work via owning WNST.net to study these sports owners and how these local teams operate, function, thrive and compete.
And oft-times, checking their sobriety level and true intentions, goals and desires for their ownership becomes a guiding force for their popularity, success and profit. Somewhere deep inside of every Bob Irsay, Abe Pollin or Edward Bennett Williams, there’s a hunger for something intangible that their millions of dollars of U.S. currency can’t really buy – not that feeding their egos and wallets simultaneously would be turned down by any of these men.
But they want to be heroes. They want to be winners in a way that no court case or big sale or transaction can be felt in the traditional business world. They’re sportsmen. They want to save the city. They want to have that “one moment in time” feeling of watching the confetti drop while they toast a championship and host a ticker tape parade. Billy Joel once sang about them in a song called “Big Shot.”
No one associated with big-league sports ever lost money owning a team in Baltimore, with or without championships or competitive teams. The Colts, Orioles, Ravens all sold for more than their original purchase price. So, making money comes with the territory, even if you wreck the franchise for the fanbase, as has been witnessed here with Peter Angelos since 1993.
But I’ll also say this much: I also personally know some very good, civic-minded people who lost hundreds of thousands – if not MILLIONS of dollars – trying to run minor-leagues sports franchises in Baltimore since 1968, when I entered the planet and the local sports scene. The losses of Skipjacks, Clippers, Bandits, Lightning, Spirit, Claws, Blades, et. al. means there were some nice guys like Bill Stealey, Tom Ebright or Mike Caggiano losing a helluva lotta money on a hobby and sports dream gone wrong.
These are businesses. And as a business owner who has taken on immense risk buying and operating WNST over the years, I respect and honor the amount of work it takes to make a profit and keep customers and the community at-large happy.
I respect that Peter Angelos once bought the Baltimore Orioles to win championships and be the local hero owner. I also have watched him humiliate and degrade a whole generation of passionate Orioles fans and piss on the brand for better part of two decades with equal parts wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
This week, Steve Bisciotti, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens maneuvered quite heavy-handedly behind the scenes to oust offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, while head coach John Harbaugh took the podium to make an announcement that it was pretty clear he was uncomfortable with in just about every way.
As a fan, all I’ve ever asked for is accountability and knowing what the intentions of the owner are so I can tell Baltimore sports fans what’s really happening.
It really speaks volumes when you watch the way the two franchises in Baltimore weave through a sports calendar with incredibly expensive, risky and “no turning back” decisions.
And let’s make this really clear: Steve Bisciotti and Peter Angelos run their franchises and make the last call on virtually every decision. They’ve earned that right because they took the