This summer, Angelos rejected preliminary terms of a deal that had been negotiated between MASN officials and the Ravens, creating a public perception of tension between him and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti. In fact, sources on both sides say, Angelos simply didn't see the Ravens as essential to his network and thought the preliminary agreement was too favorable to the football team.
Angelos waited to submit his revised terms until just before the Ravens had to pick a programming home for the 2010 season. Such brinksmanship has worked for him ever since the asbestos settlement, which came only after Angelos had rejected numerous smaller settlements over the years. In this case, Angelos was willing to let the Ravens sign a deal with Comcast SportsNet rather than accept terms he found unfavorable.
Of all Angelos' Orioles activities this year, none received more scrutiny than the hire of Showalter.
MacPhail began the search for a new manager by handing Angelos a book of more than 30 potential choices. He told the owner he wanted a more-seasoned hand, and Angelos agreed, noting his own desire for a more disciplined manager who would command instant respect from players. Together, they quickly narrowed the pool, also agreeing that the manager should start during the season so he could get a jump on assessing the club's talent.
Angelos, who never formally interviewed previous manager Dave Trembley, sat in on meetings with Showalter, former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine and former Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge. But MacPhail says, "He was in Buck's corner from the start."
Showalter remembers Angelos letting MacPhail ask most of the questions. "He's a very good listener," the manager says. "But he has a lot of passion for the Orioles and getting us back to where we were. He's a competitive man across all aspects of life and if that doesn't come through to you, you're just not very perceptive."
MacPhail and Angelos spoke often as they neared a decision. "Peter is a lawyer," MacPhail says in describing the nature of their talks. "He likes to argue. And you better make a good argument, but if you do and you marshal your facts, he hears you. We talked as two lawyers might talk."
The candidates asked some questions about MacPhail's working relationship with Angelos, though "maybe not as many as you'd think," the team president says.
"I've been here 3 1/2 years," he recalls assuring them, "and I've talked to the guy less than I talked to [Carl] Pohlad in Minnesota or the Tribune guys in Chicago."
By agreeing to sign a high-profile former manager, current and former players say, Angelos showed how badly he still wants to find a fix for the franchise.
"I think people think that he doesn't care, but when you talk to him, you realize that he does," says Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts. "You realize that he pays attention, and he follows everything. I think people sometimes get the feeling that he doesn't even know that he owns the team. That's the word I hear around often and that's so far from the truth."
Showalter says this about his few months of working for Angelos: "I think he's a guy who hires people to do a job and then gets out of the way. That's my perspective on him. He just expects you to keep in mind what the end game is."
Actually, MacPhail and several team leaders say they would like Angelos to show his face at the ballpark more often. Players get a kick out of meeting the owner, they say, though only a few, such as Markakis and Roberts, have spent extended time with him.
Over the years, Angelos has let players fish the pond at his Baltimore County farm and sent gifts when they have children. He takes a particular shine to Orioles who put down roots in the city. For example, he staunchly defended Roberts when the player admitted using steroids, citing the second baseman's extensive work for the University of Maryland Children's Hospital.
"Was he disappointed?" Roberts says of the owner's reaction to his steroid admission. "I'm sure, he probably was. But he was just there for me … I'm not saying he condoned anything and obviously, I didn't either. But once you got past the initial, 'I made a mistake,' it was, 'let's move forward to see what you can do to handle this in a positive way. Let's turn a negative into a positive and start right now.'"
When Roberts battled back trouble this season, Angelos, who was enduring back pain himself, offered to fly the second baseman to California on his personal jet to see a specialist who had treated the owner.
"He was obviously in pain and struggling," Roberts says. "Yet, he was thinking about my back when he was [in California]. That said a lot to me."