Angelos will make changes, but Oates shouldn't sweat it

John Steadman

October 01, 1993|By John Steadman

Changes will be made in the lineup, as many off the field as on, when Peter Angelos takes command of the good ship Baltimore Oriole, which of late has been bashing itself against the rocks and taking on water.

Angelos is to assume control of the team on Monday, at which time Gov. William Donald Schaefer will have a role in a ceremony that formally introduces the new ownership.

Manager Johnny Oates should relax. His job isn't in jeopardy. He's deserving of a one-year contract extension and will probably be so rewarded. Take a ticket on it. You can't tie a tin can to a man who has had more injuries to important players than any Orioles manager in history.

As for Angelos, he's not going to come in with broom in hand. He'll wait to assess the situation. Maybe he'll want to cancel the deal and ask for his money back. Under no circumstances will he conduct a purge of players and front-office employees. This would be out of character; he doesn't shoot from the hip.

His judgments will be made with sensitivity because that's the reputation Angelos created during 40 years of running his own law firm, several area restaurants and a racing stable.

At the same time, there's the realization he didn't bid $173 million for his hometown franchise and then be willing to let the incumbent president, Larry Lucchino, or anyone else make the calls. It won't work that way. Angelos will be in charge. He's not going to be a faceless owner.

There's much speculation about what is going to evolve with Lucchino. He's still associated with the law firm of Williams & Connolly in Washington, but Lucchino said his preference is to remain with the Orioles. That's possible but unlikely.

The expectation is that on or before Dec. 1, when Lucchino's contract expires, he'll be elsewhere. There is no bias against Lucchino but merely a fact of corporate baseball life that, barring an upset, he doesn't figure to remain with the Orioles.

Angelos isn't tipping his hand so here's one scenario:

Roland Hemond, the general manager, will become a special consultant to Angelos. Then Doug Melvin will assume Hemond's former position as general manager. This would provide more than a thread of continuity from the old to the new and provide Melvin the opportunity, for the first time, to be in charge of a baseball operation.

The Orioles have so many vice presidents listed you need a scorecard for purposes of identification.

There are Tom Daffron, senior vice president; Calvin Hill, vice president, administrative personnel; Bob Aylward, vice president, business affairs; Aric Holsinger, vice president, finance; Janet Marie Smith, vice president, planning and development; Lon Babby, vice president, general counsel; and Sven Erik Holmes, vice president.

Daffron was an appointment of Eli Jacobs, the Orioles owner who relinquishes his position when the torch is passed to Angelos.

The only vice president preceding the ownership regime of Edward Bennett Williams and then Jacobs is Aylward, who will find out in a hurry the club's decision to take the printing of the Orioles' program from a union shop, French-Bray, a reliable Baltimore firm and longtime supporters of the team, and award it to a non-union house in Virginia was a blunder that must be corrected.

Angelos is a champion of the working man. Reflective of the fact is he is one of the city's leading union lawyers. The number of Orioles vice presidents will be reduced. Angelos, as any new boss with the right to ask, is going first to want to know what all of them actually do.

There will not be an exodus set off with Angelos' arrival. He most definitely will want to know how large a staff the Orioles have and, of course, what the payroll is -- both on and off the field.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, when he was marching outside the ballpark Opening Day, reported the team had 176 front-office employees. If that figure is correct then the Orioles are on their way to establishing the largest bureaucracy this side of the Capital Beltway.

Angelos should not have any problem with civil rights protesters. The record shows when he was a Baltimore City councilman that he drew up, proposed and worked for the passage of an equal accommodations law at a time when he represented a district with a constituency that was 95 percent white. He said his only regret is it didn't happen 130 years before.

The Orioles, with Angelos' arrival, will be under a new sail, which is what the record sale of the team for $173 million was all about.

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