Holiday wishes

A `sorry' history

Forgive us, but here are apologies we'd like to hear

December 20, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

Give Brian Roberts credit for one thing. It took him only four days to process the revelations in the Mitchell Report and come out with a heartfelt apology for his fleeting experimentation with anabolic steroids.

Even the Orioles moved quickly to e-mail an apology to season ticket-holders Monday after their renewal mailers failed to mention a modest hike in the price of some seats.

It is the holiday season, which is a time for celebration and - now more than ever - the spirit of forgiveness, but you generally don't get forgiveness unless you ask for it. That's why Roberts made the right decision to throw himself on the mercy of Baltimore sports fans while so many others have tried to get by on lame excuses or tortured silence.

Imagine if everyone who ever wronged Baltimore sports fans had handled things in such a forthright manner. We'd probably still be moaning about that loss to the Miami Dolphins, but I think we'd all feel just a little bit better knowing our local sports figures were so upright and honorable.

Here's a look at some notable apologies we're still waiting for:

"I should have at least left a note on the bedside table."

Colts owner Robert Irsay will always lead the list of Baltimore sports villains for uprooting the team and slipping out of town on that snowy night in 1984. Nothing he could have said at the time would have made local fans think kindly of him, but there was one big thing he could have done that would have allowed Baltimore to - if not forgive - at least try to forget the indignity of losing the franchise.

He could have left the history and the horseshoe here.

"It wasn't broke, so I shouldn't have tried to fix it."

Orioles owner Peter Angelos built a pretty good team and a very good front office in the mid-1990s, but he couldn't leave well enough alone while the Orioles were reaching the American League Championship Series in 1996 and '97. He meddled in the front office dealings of near-certain Hall of Fame general manager Pat Gillick and feuded with manager Davey Johnson. He also allowed popular broadcaster Jon Miller to blow town for a better deal in San Francisco.

Angelos likes to point out that he didn't fire any of those guys, and that is true. Each of them, for his own reasons, walked away from the organization. Trouble is, in all three cases Angelos was a major factor in the decision to move on, and the organization has never been the same.

Just once, it would be nice to hear the owner, without qualification, take responsibility for the devastation of this once-proud franchise.

"Hey, he got to go to Disneyland, what more do you want?"

The fans, and many of his teammates, wanted Trent Dilfer back to lead the Ravens' title defense in 2001, but the front office outsmarted itself and made Dilfer the only Super Bowl-winning quarterback to be dumped before the start of the ensuing season.

Dilfer and Ravens coach Brian Billick made peace this year, but it was Dilfer who did most of the apologizing. He decided after several years of bitterness that it was time to bury the hatchet with his former team.

Now, I'd like to see the Ravens do something to honor Dilfer at a halftime ceremony during the first season he's out of uniform, which will probably be next year.

"If you don't like my Halloween candy or the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk."

OK, the whole trick-or-treat thing happened well before Albert Belle signed that five-year, $65 million contract with the Orioles, but Angry Albert never warmed up to the fans of Baltimore, played only a couple of years before suffering a career-ending hip injury, and still got all that money (albeit mostly from an insurance company).

Maybe he doesn't owe us an apology, but he could have been a little nicer.

I'm not asking Angelos to apologize for signing him - even though the decision had far-reaching negative implications for the team - because his heart was in the right place even if his head wasn't. He thought the New York Yankees were going to sign Belle and didn't want them cornering the market on all of baseball's big stars.

"It seemed like a pretty good idea at the time."

Orioles fans still wonder what might have been if the team had not made the ill-fated deal for first baseman Glenn Davis 17 years ago. The team gave up Curt Schilling, Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch - a big chunk of the team's young talent - for a player who was never healthy enough to keep up his end of the deal.

The brain trust in those days was club president Larry Lucchino and general manager Roland Hemond, who felt the team was one big bat away from a run at the AL East title. To be fair, just about everybody - including a certain handsome baseball writer who now impersonates a sports columnist - thought it was a great deal the day it was made.

For the record, I apologize for that.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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