Some advice for Orioles owner, even if he doesn't care to hear it

September 24, 1995|By John Steadman

Since Peter Angelos is in obvious torment over the state of the Orioles, historically a rich and pride-honored team, it is time to rally to his cause.

He needs help in all areas. Although reluctant to accept advice, he's herewith going to get it -- ready or not.

The club owner, after receiving positive advance notices when he bought the franchise, has been a particular disappointment to this reporter, the same sportswriter he claims was indirectly responsible for his buying the team. If need be, we'll take the blame, but the Good Ship Oriole needs attention.

* On the general manager: Roland Hemond deserves to be retained. To make him the scapegoat, by inference or blatant blame, is an injustice. Leave him in place because one of the talked- about successors, Dan O'Dowd, isn't capable enough, in a baseball way, to shine Hemond's shoes.

* On the manager: Ditto. Let him be. Phil Regan shouldn't be a one-year project. If he fails the second time around, then get the hook.

* On a future manager: Consider Cal Ripken, who knows the game and has the qualities to be a successful player-manager, as happened with two other Hall of Fame shortstops, Joe Cronin and Lou Boudreau. Don't rule it out.

* On changing the ballpark name: It should be called Ripken-Ruth Stadium, after the two most prominent Maryland- born players in the history of the Orioles. To have the name of a British nobleman, the Earl of Camden, on the facility, is an insult. The Earl of Camden never set foot in America and died before baseball was invented.

* On the Washington/Northern Virginia threat: This is a much talked-about subject in the inner sanctum of the front office. The Orioles don't want it to happen because it would create what they perceive as serious competition, yet they refrain from going public with their objections. Putting a National League team in the nation's capital is for the betterment of the game. It will enhance area baseball interest, not hurt it, with one team or the other always playing at home.

* Comings and goings: At last count, unofficial as it is, the Orioles have either fired or lost 65 men and women from front office positions in the two years of the Angelos regime. A return to stability is necessary without again having seven vice presidents, as existed under former owner Eli Jacobs.

* Training camp: Anything is better than nothing, which is what they have now. If the Orioles go to the Fort Lauderdale facility vacated by the New York Yankees, it will be an improvement. Where they should be, for all the right reasons, is Orlando. This would provide a central location within easy proximity of teams on both coasts of Florida.

* Uniforms: Restoring Baltimore to road uniforms makes such good sense you can only wonder how any rational person would possibly think otherwise. Certainly the owner can't be so ashamed of the support he has received from his hometown that he won't rectify a serious omission.

* Hiring: No previous Orioles owner has appointed so many immediate family members to front-office jobs. It's Angelos' prerogative but hardly qualifies as a comfortable situation when it comes to general perception.

* Public relations: Players not in the starting lineup should be required to give autographs at a designated time after pre-game practice. Give them a chance to change from a wet to dry sweat shirt and then begin to sign their names and mingle with the fans. A sure winner for Angelos.

nTC * Starting time: All night games should commence at 7 p.m. to make it easier on working men and women since it would allow them to return home at a reasonable hour. Another plus is that newspapers would be able regularly to carry the Orioles' final score in more editions.

* Selling the team: If Angelos becomes disillusioned with ownership, the first two men he should consider as buyers are Steve Geppi, a popular partner; and Peter Kirk, the man who has done an admirable major-league job in his operation of minor-league clubs in Frederick and Bowie. He will soon have a team in Salisbury.

* Press box: Don't move it to a higher level, as has been talked about, for the purpose of adding seats to the park. Of course that would put more cash in the team's exchequer.

The present Orioles ownership, admittedly, is just 2 years old and has yet to enjoy a season where labor problems didn't deplete the schedule and damage continuity. But it's hardly an excuse for some of the unfavorable impressions that have been created.

To his credit, Angelos isn't by nature or intent a malicious person; he just lacks a sports background, and it shows. Suggestions, even those offered for his own good, don't play well with him. He resists and maybe even resents being told what he should do with his baseball team. It's a case of a lawyer keeping his own counsel.

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