December 14, 2003

O's fans should worry about wins, not payroll

The fans' and media's preoccupation with the cost of major league baseball players is bewildering.

Unless they believe that Orioles owner Peter Angelos is going to send them a dividend check if the team makes a profit, player salaries and other operating costs should be irrelevant to fans.

All we want is a team that is competitive each year and occasionally contends for a championship. When Mr. Angelos bought the team, he knew he was going to be in a division with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, two teams that have commitments to winning.

In addition, when he acted, as reported in the media, as an architect of the current labor agreement, he knew there were no limits on what an organization could spend to build a winning team.

It is not dissimilar to the problem we face when we have a toilet that doesn't work. We call a plumber and agree on a price without long discussions as to what each washer and bolt costs. If the toilet does its job, we're happy with the plumber. In that sense, the fans should think of the toilet and the Orioles in the same way - either they work or they don't.

It's a fact that unless the Orioles are able to win more games than the Red Sox or Yankees, they can't be in the playoffs. It's Mr. Angelos' job to put a product on the field that is competitive regardless of cost. Our job as fans is to back the team by buying tickets and supporting the advertisers who sponsor the broadcasts.

Ken Gelbard Baltimore

O's must show they're serious about winning

I have watched for six miserable years the decline of the Orioles, and I am tired of being silent.

It seems that whomever Peter Angelos appoints as general manager or president of baseball operations or whatever he calls these people these days, they just don't get it.

You have to woo and spend to convince any free agent that you're serious about contending, and they just won't do it.

How could Ivan Rodriguez possibly turn down the Orioles last year to go to the surprising, but certainly not expected to be world champion, Marlins? The answer is simple - Rodriguez and other free agents aren't convinced that the Orioles are serious about contending.

If you want to win the game of Monopoly, you've got to let someone know you are willing to deal. So far, the Orioles haven't made this apparent to anyone but themselves.

David Pinder Baltimore

Bechler deserves share of blame for his death

Now that the case surrounding the death of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler has taken a new twist ["O's outraged as ephedra maker names team in Bechler lawsuit," Dec. 3], I feel it may be time to lay the blame for this death where it belongs, and that is at the feet of Steve Bechler himself.

I realize this may sound harsh, but somewhere in all of the accusations and lawsuits, one must somehow understand that Bechler willingly came to training camp out of shape, in no physical condition to perform the job for which he was being paid, and then tried to use a tragic shortcut to mask his irresponsibility.

It seems to me that if someone is given the choice between a job for $20,000 per year at the local Wal-Mart or a $200,000-per-year minimum salary as a major league baseball player, that person should possess enough common sense to keep himself in shape during the offseason.

If Orioles vice president Mike Flanagan wants to crusade over the death of a young man, he should use this incident to preach the dangers of taking shortcuts to young men and women. While ephedra may eventually end up being banned, some other supplement will come along to take its place. Educating young people to live up to their personal responsibilities will have a far greater impact than banning questionable supplements.

Rick Wonders Glen Burnie

Staying at home will save money, too

A letter writer last week ["Don't like noise? Don't come to games"] is correct in her cautionary advice to individuals who are sensitive to noise, particularly when this exposure costs $71 per clip at Ravens games.

The fan who does not want to endure noise, inclement weather, boisterous fans and high prices for snacks and drinks at football games has the option of staying at home and enjoying a varied selection of food at leisure while watching the game on television.

The money for tickets could be better spent in taking the wife or husband out to a satisfying dinner, play, concert or a musical.

The only one poorer from this solution to the noise problem will be the owners of the Ravens, but I am sure that there are sufficient fans waiting for tickets so that the financial fallout will be negligible.

Nelson Marans Silver Spring

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