Orioles' Angelos Doesn't Deserve Bad Rap

Sports Illustrated recently named Peter Angelos, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, as the worst owner in the game. Having played for the Orioles for 14 seasons, nine during the Angelos era, I feel I am qualified to speak about the topic. I find it laughable that someone who has achieved the type of success that enables one to purchase a Major League Baseball team can be casually dismissed by many as a "meddler." I have never understood this complaint of meddling; he owns the team. Indeed, this idea runs counter to the way that just about every other business in the world is run. I am certain many people would find it odd if their bosses sat by passively and idly as they ran the business anyway they chose. The article states that after allowing general manager Pat Gillick to assemble a stacked roster that went on to play in two consecutive American League Championship Series, Mr. Angelos began his "notorious meddling" by firing manager Davey Johnson. That is not what happened. Mr. Johnson resigned; he was not fired. The dispute between Mr. Angelos and Mr. Johnson began when Mr. Johnson fined Roberto Alomar, unilaterally, and without the owner's knowledge or consent, for missing a mandatory team function. I was really bothered by the Johnson resignation. I loved playing for Davey and believe the Orioles would have continued to compete for championships had he stayed. I also think that if Davey had really wanted to stay he was more than capable of convincing Mr. Angelos to retain him for many years. I would point out that part of Mr. Angelos' "meddling" during Mr. Johnson's tenure included not allowing David Wells or Bobby Bonilla to be traded away for prospects during the middle of the season. Had Angelos agreed to trade Mr. Wells and Mr. Bonilla, both of whom were productive, star players and an integral part of our success, we most likely would not have rallied late in the season to make the playoffs, the first one the Orioles had made in 13 years.

Among the other criteria mentioned in the SI survey were the stability and capabilities of the front office. Had this article appeared two years ago, a valid argument could have been made against Mr. Angelos, and I am certain that he too would have acknowledged that the front office lacked stability. However, with the arrival of Andy MacPhail, one of the most respected men in baseball and the owner of two World Series rings, this criticism is off the mark as well. According to MacPhail, Angelos has given him full latitude to run the club. The article cited amenities at the ballpark as another area in which the owners are judged. Certainly even those most biased against Mr. Angelos would not use this against him. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is one of the most beautiful parks in all of baseball and the model for every stadium built in the country for the last 16 years. His refusal to sell the naming rights to the ballpark speaks volumes about the respect he has for the team and its fans. I am not an expert on the owner's or ownership's interaction with the fans, but I am aware of a few things that fall under this category. In a time when fans are barred from bringing their own bottled water into the stadium, Mr. Angelos allows fans to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to the ballpark, which they can enjoy in the bullpen picnic area provided for just this purpose. The Orioles average ticket price is below the league average, while their payroll has consistently been in the top half of baseball. With the recent signings of stars Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis to guaranteed deals worth $106 million, there is no sign that the Orioles are not willing to spend the money to put players on the field worth watching. The Orioles also received national acclaim for a recent promotion giving every fan a free ticket on their birthday and for granting all children age 10 and under free admission for Thursday games. I know Peter Angeles, and I have always considered the attacks on him unfair and malicious. I have met him in his office and had dinner with him on several occasions. During our conversations, I recall thinking that this is a compassionate, loyal man who truly cares about the Orioles, the fans, and the people of Baltimore. He is the son of Greek immigrants who came to America with little more than their aspirations for a better life. Although his great successes allow him to travel anywhere in the world, he rarely strays for long from Baltimore, the city that he loves. He is an American success story, a man who purchased the team in the city where he grew up, where he continues to donate millions of dollars to local causes. My former teammate, Eric Davis, recently told me that when he was being treated for colon cancer, Mr. Angelos would visit him in the hospital and they would watch the Orioles' road games together. "He was an owner who cared about the players and the fans," Eric said. Perhaps one day another article will be written attempting to name the best owners in baseball and a little more research will be put forth and Peter Angelos will be on that list, where he rightfully belongs. Brady Anderson played for the Orioles from 1988 to 2001 and is a member of the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame. Have your own opinion about Peter Angelos' tenure as the Orioles owner? Send your comments to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Click here to see what other readers are saying. Discuss this story and others in our talk forums Most recent news talk forum topics: More news talk forums: Local | Nation/World | Business | Health/Science | Computers/Technology

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