Nobody appreciates Angelos

May 17, 2001|By Glenn Small

IMAGINE WHAT it must be like being Peter Angelos.

You've amassed a fortune helping people. You've given back to your city more than probably any other local philanthropist of your era. You even rescued the baseball team from out-of-town ownership and spent millions in salaries trying to field a winner.

In fact, under your leadership, this particular baseball team went to the American League Championship Series for two successive years.

But you wake in your beloved hometown and all you get is grief. The fans bash you on sports talk shows endlessly. Columnists and other "experts" take shots at you in print. Even the lousy state of Maryland tries to cheat you out of money they agreed to pay for your successful efforts to secure billions from the tobacco industry.

To top it off, there's this other sports team owner, a guy who broke millions of hearts when he moved his team to Baltimore and yet he is celebrated as a hero!

What's a misunderstood sports team owner to do?

It's right there, as obvious as the nose on Mr. Angelos' face: Move the Orioles to Washington.

Why not?

Ever since Edward Bennett Williams turned the Orioles into a regional franchise, the team has claimed both cities as being part of its market and thwarted efforts by Washingtonians to get their own baseball team. We know that without the fan support of both regions, Baltimore becomes just another way of saying "Milwaukee" or "Kansas City" in terms of the Orioles' ability to earn enough revenue to compete.

Whatever the Orioles' official spin, they can't afford to let another team move into their back yard. But is it then fair to claim such a large region as your own and not concede that the team belongs to Washington as much as it does to Baltimore?

You can't have it both ways. Because just as the Redskins' efforts to keep the NFL out of Baltimore failed, so will Mr. Angelos' efforts to keep baseball out of the capital area. So the clock is ticking.

Move and be proclaimed a conquering hero while preserving your investment. Stay, and watch the team spiral into something slightly better than a farm club for the Yankees and other big-spending teams.

The downside to moving the team is that Mr. Angelos would be considered a non-person around here, but he's approaching that status already, with many baseball fans viewing him as our home-grown Bob Irsay.

But in Washington, he'd be the man who gave baseball back to deserving fans. They'd embrace him.

Let's just hope they'd never let go.

Glenn Small is a lifelong Orioles fan and a former reporter with The Sun.

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