Owners could even Angelos score in Va.

October 04, 1994|By KEN ROSENTHAL

You're Bud Selig, and Peter Angelos says on Page 1A of today's Sun that your role in trying to forge a labor settlement is "beyond my comprehension."

You add it to your little list.

The list is long, and getting longer. And when major-league baseball gets the chance to put a team in Northern Virginia, it might come in handy.

Selig can use it to remind the owners of the time Angelos said a salary cap was only an "interim" solution.

The time he rewrote their resolution canceling the season.

The time he refused to attend an antitrust hearing in Washington, then found time to do lunch with Darth Vader -- er, Donald Fehr -- two days later.

Ask the players union:

The owners know how to keep score -- and how to exact revenge.

This is only Angelos' first year as Orioles owner, but his enemies' list already is longer than Nixon's.

His criticisms of the owners are on target.

But someday, he might need someone other than Marge Schott to help him block a franchise in Northern Virginia.

True to form, Angelos scoffs at the notion, claiming he isn't worried by the prospect of the owners turning vindictive, and approving a National League club within 60 miles of Camden Yards.

Heck, he thinks they're coming around!

"As far as my position on the strike, it's one that I've taken because I believe it to be the correct and appropriate position at this time," Angelos says. "If that antagonizes one or more people, I think the ultimate correctness of that position will be acknowledged by all."

And when might that be?

When Pete Rose is named commissioner?

When Leo Gomez challenges Roger Maris?

"If they have some kind of unhappiness about what I've said, I think that will be resolved," Angelos says. "I think a substantial number agree with me who are not being heard from, and will be heard from in the future."

That's Angelos' fantasy.

In reality, the owners can't stand him.

Philadelphia's Bill Giles talks about keeping him off committees, as if that's a meaningful slap. A more serious threat would be Northern Virginia, even if it's not in the owners' best interests.

The longer the strike goes, the more Angelos will scream. And the more he screams, the angrier the owners will get.

So angry they'd imperil a successful franchise?

Who can put it past them?

Look what they've done to their sport.

Northern Virginia is a long shot by any measure, a move that would defy logic. But its prospective ownership group -- one including Baltimore CFLs owner Jim Speros -- boasts of $200 million in available funds.

Think the owners might consider such an offer to secure a club in the nation's seventh-largest television market?

It doesn't matter that Phoenix and Tampa-St. Petersburg are expected to be the next two expansion sites -- or that so many prospective buyers are emerging for small-market clubs like San Diego and Pittsburgh, franchise shifts seem unlikely.

The owners might be so desperate for cash once play resumes, they could expand by four cities rather than two. It would be a quick way to raise, oh, maybe $800 million.

Angelos probably couldn't block an expansion or relocation into Northern Virginia. The major-league bylaws are unclear, but the Northern Virginia group says it was asked by baseball to investigate the use of RFK Stadium, presumably to accommodate a franchise shift.

Speros says Angelos couldn't oppose such a move.

"I know what his position is on the relocation of franchises," he says. "He says he's willing to help teams that help themselves build their own Camden Yards. He's not willing to help smaller teams unless they're willing to move."

No doubt Speros wants a piece of Angelos. The state is delaying a $400,000 loan and $100,000 grant that Speros says was promised to the CFLs. Angelos and Gov. William Donald Schaefer are leading Baltimore's quest to land an NFL team. Everyone sees the connection.

Angelos also alienated former Orioles president Larry Lucchino, who is now trying to become a part-owner of Pittsburgh or San Diego. Lucchino would never take the Pirates out of his native Pittsburgh, but it's not unreasonable to envision the Padres in Northern Virginia.

"Is it something that worries me?" Angelos bellows. "The answer is no." Still, the Orioles draw 25 percent of their fans from the D.C. area. Inevitably, the novelty of Camden Yards will fade, the team will enter a down cycle and Angelos will need every fan.

That's why Northern Virginia makes no sense -- ironically enough, in the same way that Baltimore makes no sense to the NFL.

Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke so despises NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, he won't even attend league meetings. But when it comes to Baltimore, the two rivals unite in self-interest.

The same logic should apply in baseball, where a decline in Orioles attendance would mean less revenue for visiting American League clubs, who receive 20 percent of the gate receipts.

Would the owners forfeit money just to get at Angelos?

Probably not.

The point is, the man makes enemies.

What goes around comes around.

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