Sometimes they write letters. Brady Anderson, for instance:
- Sports Illustrated recently named Peter Angelos, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles, as the worst owner in the game. Having played for the Orioles for 14 seasons, nine during the Angelos era, I feel I am qualified to speak about the topic.
Among the other criteria mentioned in the SI survey were the stability and capabilities of the front office. Had this article appeared two years ago, a valid argument could have been made against Mr. Angelos, and I am certain that he too would have acknowledged that the front office lacked stability. However, with the arrival of Andy MacPhail, one of the most respected men in baseball and the owner of two World Series rings, this criticism is off the mark as well. According to MacPhail, Angelos has given him full latitude to run the club.
I am not an expert on the owner's or ownership's interaction with the fans, but I am aware of a few things that fall under this category. In a time when fans are barred from bringing their own bottled water into the stadium, Mr. Angelos allows fans to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages to the ballpark, which they can enjoy in the bullpen picnic area provided for just this purpose. The Orioles average ticket price is below the league average, while their payroll has consistently been in the top half of baseball. With the recent signings of stars Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis to guaranteed deals worth $106 million, there is no sign that the Orioles are not willing to spend the money to put players on the field worth watching. The Orioles also received national acclaim for a recent promotion giving every fan a free ticket on their birthday and for granting all children age 10 and under free admission for Thursday games.
It's been 12 years since the Orioles finished at .500 or better. In most of the years since, they haven't come close. I have a friend who's been following the Orioles for many years, and when I used to ask him what was wrong with the O's, he would simply say, "A fish stinks from the head."
I do believe that the SI piece might have been a bit too backwards-looking, which is why I didn't mention it earlier. But I also think it's fair to consider an owner's entire tenure, and a good stretch of Angelos' tenure has been pretty miserable, and many people who spend a great deal of time around the game will tell you that Angelos is the No. 1 reason for all that misery.
That said, Anderson's got a point. The world is a complicated place. We can demonize Angelos and Jeffrey Loria and Tom Hicks if we like, but all these men have their supporters. And some of these men probably even deserve them.