As we wait for the promised word on what happens with the Baltimore Orioles’ coaches and front office staff, I read a very interesting article yesterday. Peter Angelos, while in ailing health, is the owner of the Orioles. In reality his sons John and Lou have been running the team from an ownership perspective for much of the year, and appear to be the heirs apparent when their father passes away. But will that truly be the case?
Thom Loverro of The Washington Times published this article in Sunday’s newspaper. You can read the article if you’d like, however the gist of it is that there appears to be no guarantee that the Angelos brothers will be allowed to own the team. And if Loverro’s to be believed, odds are actually against those ends.
Thom Loverro’s a well-respected journalist who’s covered MLB for some time. He works for the Times, as well as WJFK radio in DC – which happens to be the flagship station of the Washington Nationals. But while the Nationals claim they have an ax to grind with the Orioles/MASN, again keep in mind that Loverro does have credibility attached to his name. He also knows a lot of mover’s and shaker’s in the league office; so he might not necessarily be speaking off the cusp.
In short, the Nationals feel that they got a raw deal in the MASN contract. The fact is that they did – but they agreed to it. You can’t go back on a deal just because you wake up one day and realize it’s unfair. However it’s also become evident that the league itself not only wants the Nationals out of the deal, but has potentially been working behind the scenes for that to happen since the beginning.
MLB didn’t want to face Peter Angelos in court (can’t blame them there). So one has to wonder if it’s mere coincidence that this starts to come up in earnest now that he’s in failing health. But that aside, Loverro’s point is a very valid one. 75% of current owners have to approve either a transfer of ownership from Peter Angelos to his sons, OR approve the sons as the new owners upon Peter’s death – assuming that they inherit the team per his will. (For the record, Peter Angelos is simply the majority owner. There are minority owners as well, his partners.)
So the message may well be that the league wants the Angelos’ to play ball in the MASN deal, or MLB could force a sale. Peter Angelos in his prime would tie something like that up in court, and perhaps justifiably so. But his sons may not be him. They may be great people for the record, but they may not be the lawyer that he was.
This is all speculation, of course. But as I said, Loverro is in fact a reputable source. He isn’t the type of journalist who would pick a topic of this severity off the top of his head just to write about it. Incidentally, MLB tends to approve heirs as owners – for the most part. The Steinbrenner brothers of course got approved as owners of the Yankees, and just this year none other than the Washington Nationals formally changed ownership. Ted Lerner (who’s still alive) transferred the team to his son Mark (and it was approved by the necessary 75% vote).
There’s a lot involved in this, and not one party is 100% guilty or innocent. There are a lot of fans who are probably hoping that the league takes the team away from the Angelos’. However there is a flip side; what if it’s sold to a person or group who has no loyalty to the city? There are Baltimoreans such as Steve Bisciotti or Kevin Plank who could probably afford to purchase the Orioles. But…is there a guarantee that’s who would buy it?
Look no further than the Baltimore Colts for what could happen. Robert Irsay, and out of town businessman with no loyalty to the city, owned the team. Eventually he proves his disloyalty to Baltimore by moving the team. A local could certainly do that as well. But it would seem far less likely.
At the end of the day, this is a pretty heavy topic. My personal stance is that it wouldn’t surprise me if part of the whole “cutting payroll” idea is a move being made for the eventual sale of the team. Loverro actually said it could happen as quickly as this winter. That seems awful quick, but at the end of the day who really knows? From the standpoint of the fans, so long as the team heads in the right direction and most importantly remains the Baltimore Orioles, that’s all that’s really important.