Media bites the hand that feeds it with criticism of Orioles' Angelos

BASEBALL

January 02, 1994|By PETER SCHMUCK

New Orioles managing general partner Peter Angelos has come under media criticism outside Baltimore because -- get this -- he talks too much to the media.

Angelos has gone out of his way to be available to reporters in the wake of the five-year press freeze-out that marked the ownership of Eli "This is a privately held company, I have no comment" Jacobs. No doubt, that has punctured the comfort zone of some of the club's more secretive employees, but Angelos said early on that he expected everyone in the organization to be more open with the public.

He has received no complaints in Baltimore, where he spent a record $173 million to bring the Orioles back under local ownership and has kept his promise to spend liberally to improve the team. But outside of Maryland, he has been compared with irascible New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and has been accused of leaking too much information to the press.

The latest broadsides came after it was reported in The Sun that the Orioles were ready to trade Mike Devereaux, David Segui and Brad Pennington to the New York Mets for outfielder Bobby Bonilla.

"Angelos talks to the press more than Martha Mitchell," quipped ESPN baseball analyst Peter Gammons last week.

Perhaps that was meant in good humor, because Gammons makes his living disseminating trade rumors that presumably come from management sources, but Angelos did not take it that way. He can understand if his front-office employees feel he's too open with the media, but he was stunned to find himself under fire from the media itself.

In Angelos' defense, he had declined to say anything about the quest for Bonilla until a local television station reported that the Orioles were offering the Mets a slightly different package of players.

"I don't know where that [the television report] came from, but I can promise you that it didn't come from me," Angelos said. "I didn't want to mention any names, but once it was on TV, if some of our players are going to think we're trying to trade them, they might as well be the right players."

This week in baseball

Orioles fans will be waiting this week to see if the club is able to acquire Bonilla from the Mets, but the future of baseball could be affected by the owners meetings Thursday and Friday in Chicago.

The 28 major-league teams will come together in hopes of hammering out the revenue-sharing plan that could shape the financial outlook of the sport and set the stage for another round of labor negotiations.

The owners reopened the labor agreement more than a year ago, but no substantive labor negotiations have taken place because the owners were unable to agree on what form of revenue sharing would be acceptable to all.

Now, it appears, they are ready to form a consensus. One member of the revenue-sharing committee said last week that the negotiations are "on the 1-yard line," and other ownership sources are confirming that there is room for an agreement that both the large- and small-market teams can accept.

That is only half the battle, of course. Once the owners agree on a plan, they have to sell it to the Major League Baseball Players Association, which has been skeptical of any idea that may lead to a cap on payrolls.

Neon Deion update

What a surprise. Deion Sanders apparently has changed his mind again. He claimed last week that he is considering giving up football once and for all, something no one who has been paying attention to the circus of his two-sport career has any reason to believe.

Sanders is a tremendous talent who figures to be successful in either football or baseball, but his indecision again appears calculated. He says he is considering quitting the Atlanta Falcons because he doesn't think they are doing enough to put a championship team on the field.

Of course, Sanders' reputation as a team-oriented player -- in either sport -- was thrown into doubt in 1992 when he insisted on playing in an NFL game on the same day the Braves were playing in the National League Championship Series. This smells like another publicity stunt.

The Braves keep hoping that he'll grow up. The departure of Otis Nixon has cleared the way for Sanders to start in center field and be the club's full-time leadoff hitter.

Olson's best option

Agent Jeff Moorad confirmed this week that there are a number of teams interested in signing closer Gregg Olson, but here's hoping that the Otter doesn't let the emotion of the moment lead him into a decision he'll later regret.

It undoubtedly stung when the Orioles chose not to tender him a contract on Dec. 20, but the Orioles are the one team that is beholden to Olson for his outstanding performance the past five seasons. That could be very meaningful if it turns out that he needs more time to recover from a potentially career-threatening elbow injury. They figure to stick with him longer than a new team.

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