Dan Rodricks: John Angelos keeps trying to take the joy out of a joyous Orioles season | STAFF COMMENTARY

When your family owns the Baltimore Orioles and your team is having a great season with young stars, when excited fans are coming back to Camden Yards after five dismal years, what you want to do is cast doubt on everything.

You want to say it probably won’t last.

You want to rain on your own parade.

That’s the ticket, right?

Business 101.

You’re John Angelos, the CEO and chairman of a team your elderly and ailing father acquired 30 years ago — 30 years and 19 losing seasons ago — and you should be having the time of your life.

You should be beaming with happiness. The general manager you hired has assembled the best team in the American League — on the cheap, too — and the Orioles are the talk of the baseball world. Fan attendance is up by more than 30%. The state of Maryland has offered to invest another $600 million in Camden Yards. Your team is worth something like $1.7 billion.

Plus, there’s a Springsteen concert at Oriole Park on Sept. 9.

You are one lucky fella.

You should be sitting in the stands with the fans, hosing down everyone in the Bird Bath Splash Zone, treating all the fans in Section 312 to a hot dog, buying Dippin’ Dots for all the kids in the bleachers.

Instead, you give an interview to a newspaper in New York — not even in your hometown — to declare that the Orioles probably won’t be able to keep all the young players the fans have fallen in love with.

To keep Cedric, Adley and Gunnar in the years ahead would mean “dramatically” raising prices.


That’s like saying, “In Baltimore, we can’t have nice things.”

The Angelos administration of the Baltimore Orioles: Where joy goes to die.

I never took Business 101 — did not mean to suggest I did with the earlier reference — but I can’t imagine there’s an instruction that says: “When you’re enjoying great success and your customers are happy, make sure you hit them with some two-bit fiscal reality so they don’t get too excited.”

Angelos’ killjoy warnings about how Baltimore, as a small market team, can’t afford to keep the players who could very well form a baseball dynasty, are not only ill-timed but tiresome.

First of all, it remains hard to believe that, in the 20th largest metropolitan market, with a reach well beyond Baltimore and the surrounding counties, the Orioles can’t “load the bases” with enough revenue to move the team payroll up 10 or 12 notches, where it once was.

Where’s the ambition to defy and exceed conventional expectations — just as the team is doing on the field?

If the Orioles make the playoffs, even reach a World Series or two or three, doesn’t that count for something? You can’t tell me that, with a successful team over several seasons, the Orioles wouldn’t be a stable, profitable and sustainable franchise.

But John Angelos wants to tell us how it can’t be.

Of course, he’s the same guy who promised transparency by offering to show reporters his team’s financials — and never did.

He raised hopes that Orioles fans would read pleasing news of a long-term lease agreement at Camden Yards by the All-Star break. That didn’t happen, either, leaving the fan base jittery at a time when we should be enjoying, without these irritating distractions, the success of the team.

And then there’s all the other stuff — his demands for more and more concessions (and downtown real estate) from the state on the way to a new lease agreement. It’s great that Angelos thinks big about further developing the Camden Yards complex. But, instead of coming across as a deeply committed corporate citizen who wants his city to match his team’s resurgence, the image approaches that of a classic greedy team owner looking for more, more and more.

So that puts me — and probably a lot of other Marylanders — with Bill Ferguson, the state Senate president, who said, “I think it’s premature to talk about investments around [Oriole Park] when we don’t have a partner that is committing to be there for the next 20 to 30 years.”

One other thing: The Kevin Brown suspension. The Orioles play-by-play guy went missing from broadcasts for a couple of weeks, reportedly because he recited facts about the team’s lousy record against the Tampa Bay Rays in recent years. While it was suspected that the comments got under Angelos’ thin skin — he is president and chief operating officer of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network — he instead made it sound like some underling had suspended Brown, prompting a review of the disciplinary process at MASN. “Nothing like that is going to happen again,” Angelos told the New York paper. “It shouldn’t have happened once.”

Maybe he’s doing a self-review.

It’s probably a good idea.

I said this a few months ago, during the ugly public fight between Angelos and his brother Lou over control of their father’s assets: I will never understand guys who, born with silver spoons in their mouths, use them to dig themselves into a hole.

I don’t understand how you can own the Baltimore Orioles and not feel like one of the luckiest guys on the continent — and not want to be a big man, imaginative and optimistic, widely appreciated by fans, rooting for your team and your city from the owner’s box until the end of time.


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