owner and fans as a larger voice. Columnist Mike Littwin of The Sun issued a journalistic takedown of Peter Angelos that still serves as the first thorough, global observation that was almost Nostradamus-like in its accuracy when viewing nearly two decades later.
Sure, I knew Angelos was not simply the boss from hell or some Steinbrenner-wannabe who lives only to trample on the lives of his employees. He’s always had greater aspirations than to be a character out of a “Dilbert” cartoon. This is a man — no, more than a man, a megalomaniac who, like Napoleon, would crown himself if he could find a crown to fit his inflated head — who is a danger to the community.
He fired Jon Miller, the best announcer in baseball and a local treasure, because, well, he could. And for no better reason than that.
In baseball, they like to say that nobody’s bigger than the game. These folks never met Peter “Redwood” Angelos, who thinks he is the game. And what’s so funny — not that anyone is laughing — is the only thing Angelos, the self-styled supreme commander, knows about baseball is that he owns a baseball team. Apparently, that’s enough.
Once upon a time, that wasn’t so bad. If Angelos wanted to second-guess a general manager or humiliate a shortstop, that was between him and his conscience.
But now it’s gotten personal. Now, he’s gotten in our faces. Now, he’s robbed us of the best three hours you can spend with a baseball game. Now, he’s made summer into just another season.
The Orioles have tried to make it seem that the issue was money, and that Miller wanted too much of it. The issue was not money, but hubris. The issue was all Angelos, who, by the way, as a second-guesser, makes Miller look like Billy Graham.
It didn’t take a genius to predict something like this would happen. The first thing Angelos did when he bought the team was to look into adding seats to Camden Yards. Yeah, change Camden Yards. If Angelos had bought the Venus de Milo, he’d want to add arms. He thinks he knows better. He always knows better.
He knows how to manage better than his manager, run the team better than his general manager, announce better than the announcer.
This past summer he made himself a local hero when he overruled a few trades late in the season. Never mind that he was running the team as if he were a sports-radio host, Angelos came off as the people’s owner.
The truth is a little more complex. The Orioles are a team in need of young talent. The farm system is a wasteland. These are danger signals. The Orioles are a few bad decisions away from mediocrity and with a bloated payroll that can’t be fixed.
That’s what happened to the Yankees until they caught a break when Steinbrenner was suspended a few years back. That’s when the team started to rebuild.
Can’t somebody suspend Angelos?
If the man had a whit of intelligence — and I’m willing to concede he might have one whit, no more — he would go to Miller and beg his forgiveness.
Littwin concluded his missive in The Sun with a final salvo that ended up being a prophecy:
This is how Angelos sees his role: He wants to be the last one standing. Someone ought to remind him that one should be careful what one wishes for.
Obviously, with the footprint of Jon Miller on the national level via his wildly popular Sunday Night Baseball games on ESPN, the national media was also happy to pile on Angelos over the breakup in Baltimore.
The New York Times wrote:
The team owner, Peter Angelos, who paid most of Mr. Miller’s $450,000 salary last season, responded by accusing the announcer of ”sheer dishonesty” and refusing to meet his demands for a timetable to negotiate a new contract. Several hundred baseball fans briefly picketed at Camden Yards, the ball park where the team plays, and local talk shows devoted a lot of time to Mr. Miller’s decision and its effects on civic pride. For many longtime residents, it was a setback for the city.
The debate over just how the Orioles ”let Miller get away” has been sharp. Mr. Angelos calls the dispute over ”more advocacy” a ”red herring” and insists that Mr. Miller and his agent, Ron Shapiro, lied to the public about the sequence of events.
”He says he’s leaving, and the following day there’s a five-year deal,” Mr. Angelos said. ”That’s a little fishy, isn’t it?”
But Mr. Shapiro said: ”Jon wanted to stay in Baltimore. But the club never reached out and said, ‘We want you here.’ ”
Tom Boswell of The Washington Post later wrote: “The Orioles accused Miller of wanting to skip town for the big bucks in San Francisco, despite the announcer’s protestations that he wanted to stay in Baltimore forever. To this day, the view in baseball on this basic issue of truth telling stands overwhelmingly with Miller. The announcer got canned for being too candid and critical for the tastes of ownership.”
It was also said Angelos viewed his broadcasters “the way the Soviets viewed Pravda.”
Incidentally, the other half of the Home Team Sports television crew, Mel Proctor, who had been with John Lowenstein for years and spent 1996 with Mike Flanagan, saw the handwriting on the wall and left on his own, accepting a deal from the San Diego Padres, where former C.E.O. & president Larry Lucchino had left Baltimore to find palm trees and a