By: Jacob Walters
The Baltimore Orioles were once a prominent franchise. From Frank Robinson to Jim Palmer to Cal Ripken Jr., Baltimore had some great talent. Then came Peter Angelos. Becoming the majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles in 1993, Angelos brought a once-proud franchise to ruin. Now, the Orioles are cooked birds.
Born on Independence Day of 1929 in Baltimore, Angelos should have kept his distance from MLB. He was initially a racehorse breeder and a lawyer. Since Angelos bought the Orioles in 1993, the O’s have been… anonymous. Only mustering five playoff appearances with two AL East titles. The Orioles have never been to the World Series under the Angelos regime and even suffered a stretch of 14 straight losing seasons from 1998 to 2011. Baltimore finished the 2018 season at a franchise-worst record of 47-115. The Orioles followed that up with 54-108 in 2019. Ouch! In fact, under the Angelos’ regime, only eight seasons with a winning percentage over .500. Attendance numbers for Baltimore reinforce the misery. Even having Manny Machado on your team isn’t enough to push your attendance numbers over three million. In fact, the last season where they hit such a mark was 2001, which was Cal Ripken Jr’s last season.
Angelos has forced anyone out who doesn’t adhere to his “Oriole Ways,” including Larry Lucchino and his group, who went on to become the President/CEO of the Boston Red Sox from 2002 to 2015 (he won three World Series titles with the Red Sox). In a dispute between the Orioles and their television carrier, MASN, Angelos was already agitated that the Washington Nationals were intruding on the Orioles’ territorial rights. An arbitration award to MASN ruled that the Orioles must pay Washington $296.8 million for television rights fees from the 2012-2016 seasons. Initially, the Nationals were owed only $59 million per year.
The Nationals aren’t the only ones dealing with Angelos’ wrath. The Baltimore Ravens got into a skirmish with the Orioles over MASN, mainly over broadcasting their preseason games and weekly TV shows. Initially, the two Baltimore teams had a deal until Angelos stepped in. He stated that a network should never pay a team a rights fee for programming if it isn’t live. This resulted in the Ravens getting a gradually reduced rights fee, with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti passing on the deal. It speaks volumes to Angelos’ failures not only with the Orioles, but his past attempts to buy an NFL team. Angelos tried to buy the Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and bring one of those teams to Baltimore? He failed at all these attempts!
The Orioles have a horrific deferred-payment deal with Chris Davis. Starting in 2023 and going until 2037, Davis will receive deferred payments of $3.5 million. That number lowers to $1.4 million in 2033. While not paying him as much money sounds good, it’s for a hitter who’s hit below the Mendoza line for the past two seasons. In fact, his stats have dipped since 2015, with his batting average (with the exception to 2019 with his batting average at .179), home runs, hits, and RBIs lowering with each passing year. In fact, Davis has struck out more than 190 times from 2015 to 2018. In fact, a local Baltimore bar offered free beer every time Davis got a hit! Angelos and his “Oriole Way” led to Angelos firing Jon Miller, one of baseball’s most beloved announcers. According to The Peter Principles, Angelos even accused Miller of being dishonest when Oriole fans were picketing over Miller being forced out. Now, Miller is enjoying his time with the San Francisco Giants, who’ve won three World Series titles. No wonder Angelos viewed his broadcasters “the way the Soviets viewed Pravda!”
There are plenty of reasons why Angelos is the worst owner in sports. A mediocre Orioles team is plastered with relocation rumors (Nashville, anyone?) along with television rights spats, humiliating your manager and GM, a barren farm system, and disputes with Baltimore’s beloved Ravens; That certainly isn’t the “Oriole Way”.