Angelos' new role bad news for D.C.

ON BASEBALL

April 14, 2002|By Peter Schmuck

If you're a Washington baseball conspiracy theorist, the recent announcement that the Orioles' Peter Angelos has joined ownership's bargaining committee has to make your head hurt.

The outcast owner is now part of the management collective bargaining team that hopes to revamp baseball's troubled economics. The maverick who stood apart from the other owners during the disastrous labor war of 1994-95 is now on board with the game's power elite.

This can't possibly be good for the prospects of baseball in the nation's capital, can it?

Angelos, as everyone knows, remains steadfastly against the relocation of a major-league franchise to the Washington area because of its probable effect on the revenues of the Orioles.

The future of baseball in Washington might depend on whether his fellow owners really care.

Until this week, there was plenty of room to speculate that residual resentment of Angelos from the previous labor fight might be enough to cause baseball commissioner Bud Selig and some other influential owners to dismiss his concerns about the negative impact of a team in Washington.

Now, with Angelos possibly playing an instrumental role in the current labor dispute -- which likely will drag on into next year -- the likelihood of a divisive fight over relocation to Washington appears to be diminishing.

No doubt, there still are some owners who haven't warmed to the Orioles' managing partner, but that will change if he is able to employ his labor background and considerable bargaining acumen to help them stabilize the industry.

This is what the owners should have done eight years ago, but Angelos was new to baseball and his fellow owners really didn't know what to make of him.

Angelos can be stubborn and combative, but he also proved in his early years of ownership to be a surprisingly far-sighted individual. He was advocating contraction long before there was a nifty term for it. He also was an early advocate of increased revenue-sharing and public/private stadium construction partnerships.

It has taken him awhile to work his way into the management mainstream, but his presence on the all-important bargaining committee might be proof that he finally has arrived as a truly influential owner.

If that isn't enough for the conspiracy buffs to chew on, Angelos' status as one of the Democratic Party's biggest contributors would appear to provide another subtle line of defense for Selig if the commissioner decides to back away from his January statement that Washington is a "prime candidate" for relocation.

Washington Expos in 2003?

Guess again.

New-look Indians

There were a lot of skeptics when new Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro moved during the off-season to rebalance the roster and increase the emphasis on pitching. After the departure of offensive stars Roberto Alomar, Juan Gonzalez and Kenny Lofton, experts came out of the woodwork to pick the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox to win the American League Central.

Maybe they'll end up being right, but Shapiro is having the first laugh.

The Indians entered the weekend 9-1 and the starting rotation was a combined 9-0 with a 3.36 ERA, while the predicted downturn in offensive production has yet to materialize. Cleveland was leading the league in scoring with 66 runs.

"I was surprised at how many people jumped ship on us as soon as we got rid of Robbie Alomar, Juan Gonzalez and Kenny Lofton," said veteran third baseman Travis Fryman. "I kept asking myself, `Are they looking at the same thing I'm looking at?' ... I think we might be better than people give us credit for."

Cubs cursed?

The Chicago Cubs already were reeling from the spring injuries that have cost them outfielder Moises Alou, infielder Bill Mueller and closer Tom Gordon, but they really have to wonder what fate has in store for them after losing reliever Kyle Farnsworth on Wednesday night.

Farnsworth broke a bone in his right foot while warming up in the bullpen.

No, he didn't stumble or step in a hole. His foot just snapped while he was delivering a warmup pitch.

"I was warming up and, after about 10 pitches, I felt something pop," Farnsworth said. "It went downhill from there."

The injury is a stress fracture more common to runners. Doctors have told Farnsworth that it was a freak injury that should not recur after a four- to six-week recovery period, but that's small consolation to the banged-up Cubs right now.

"Our biggest fear was health, and that's what we got," said Jim Hendry, the Cubs' VP of player personnel. "He's an integral part of our pitching staff, and we're certainly going to miss him."

Both sides now

New Montreal Expos manager Frank Robinson proved the other day that you can have it both ways.

Remember in 1989 when the California Angels vehemently -- and unsuccessfully -- protested Mike Devereaux's game-winning home run that appeared to sail foul at Memorial Stadium? (You ought to, since it has been replayed countless times on the video scoreboard at Camden Yards.)

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