January 26, 2003

Baseball team in D.C. good for Baltimore, too

In last week's letters, William Chatman called Washington baseball fans "greedy" for "complaining about not having a baseball team." Yet he ignored the history and facts about baseball in Baltimore and Washington.

When the Orioles came into the major leagues in 1954, the Washington Senators could have blocked them from getting the franchise, but they chose not to because they recognized that Baltimore was a city deserving of major-league baseball.

Now it is the Orioles' turn to return the favor. Instead, your greedy, selfish owner is using every trick he can in a futile effort to block baseball's return to Washington. No wonder many Washington baseball fans are boycotting the Orioles.

The Montreal Expos have been at the bottom of the league in attendance for several years. They have not hit 2 million in 18 years, more than half the life of the franchise. They are owned by Major League Baseball, an untenable situation that is causing many owners to demand quick action. An auction of that team is inevitable, and the only viable groups are based in Washington.

Peter Angelos claims that a team in Washington will harm his attendance. Yet two studies have been done that show a team in Washington will have no negative effect on the Orioles if the Orioles increase their marketing penetration in Baltimore just slightly.

The best way for the Orioles to maintain and even expand their fan base when baseball returns to Washington is to field a competitive team. That sells tickets anywhere, except perhaps Montreal.

From 1954 through 1971, Baltimore and Washington co-existed as major-league cities with no noticeable negative effect. Why? Because for much of that time, the Orioles were a competitive team. When they are a competitive team again, they will have no trouble selling tickets.

Returning major-league baseball to Washington would not only be good for Washington; it would be good for Baltimore as well.

Tim Phares Laurel

O's ticket incentive is worthy of praise

While the baseball writers seem to have given new Orioles vice presidents Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie a honeymoon period, they still don't miss an opportunity to bash the team's management.

They couldn't wait to report negatively on the Orioles' Orange Carpet Program ["O's make pitch to boost slumping season-ticket sales," Jan. 6].

OK, so maybe this kind of program should have happened a year or two ago. But give the marketing people credit for packaging 15 benefits to add value for season-ticket holders.

Sheldon K. Caplis Baltimore

Fan boycott of O's is the best solution

It seems that the Orioles are desperately seeking to increase season-ticket sales. However, they seem to be ignoring two realities.

The team stinks and has made no significant strides to get better, while the Yankees and Red Sox look like All-Star teams.

And the owner has taken one of the greatest franchises in sports and destroyed its ability to win.

The Orioles still sold 2.7 million tickets last year, a 14 percent drop from the year before.

Perhaps Peter Angelos will start to understand how bad a job he has done if we simply stop going to see his cheap imitation of a professional baseball team.

Nearly 30 years ago, when the Orioles were still a great team, their slogan was, "A million or more in '74," to top the 1 million mark in attendance.

As a lifelong Orioles fan, I advocate a new slogan for this year, "Fan-free in 2003."

Let's take back our team and teach Angelos how you really play hardball. Don't buy a single ticket!

Dan Gainor Bethesda

Ditching the DH would help the sport

Sun columnist Laura Vecsey thinks Bud Selig's idea to make the baseball All-Star Game mean something is a bad idea ["All-Star Game proposal doesn't sound advantageous," Jan. 21]. Up to this point, the game was an exhibition, which was comical at times, but meaningful? No. I may actually watch it now.

If Laura wishes to change something that really stinks about baseball, besides the ridiculous salaries, she should support getting rid of the designated hitter in the American League and getting back to the game the way it was meant to be played.

If you don't play the field, you can't bat. If you play the field, you have the right to bat. Put strategy back in the game.

Bob Melhorn Baldwin

Greatest switch-hitter? Stats support Mantle

There's no doubt Eddie Murray was a great ballplayer and truly deserving of baseball's Hall of Fame on the first ballot, but the greatest switch-hitter of all time?

Look at the career stats. Mickey Mantle surpassed Murray in runs scored, triples, home runs, stolen bases and bases on balls, but more importantly in the more meaningful percentages such as on-base average, slugging percentage and batting average.

Yet Mantle played three fewer seasons and fought crippling injuries during a good part of his career.

Charles F. Siford Jr. York, Pa.

NFL owners can hire whomever they wish

Ken Murray says the NFL hiring process for coaches is flawed because it's totally dependent on the whims of the owner ["Jags liked Del Rio, but why not Lewis?" Jan. 19]. Obviously, Mr. Murray has always received paychecks and never had to write one.

I'd scarcely call the right of an owner to make hiring decisions based on what he or she thinks is best for the team a flawed process. It's called capitalism. I plunk down a hundred million dollars, so I get to make the decisions.

How would you have the decision made? Fan balloting that produces a now-marginalized All-Star selection? The league office that denied Baltimore a team for 12 seasons?

I'm not saying owners don't make stupid decisions. You can't be a Baltimorean and deny that. But before you deny them that right, write a paycheck to someone you don't want on your staff.

Vince Clews Reisterstown

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