Peter Angelos’ specter of mortality is keeping the Orioles from doing what must be done

The following are true:

1. Peter Angelos, majority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, is 88 years old. This coming 4th of July, he will be 89.

2. The Baltimore Orioles’ current window for contention is almost entirely closed. Barring a miracle or a sudden change of heart, this will be the last season that Manny Machado, their best player, will be on the team. Adam Jones may also soon be gone. Chris Davis is still in for the next few years, but is no longer the slugger he once was. The pitching continues to be uneven at best, although Dylan Bundy still has some promise. The bullpen is better, but is still hurt by injuries and free agencies. The farm system, while not as bad as some say, is still poor, especially compared to most of the Orioles’ AL East rivals. Oh, and those AL rivals, especially the Yankees and Red Sox, seem to be headed towards another one of those 5-10 year stretches where they will be fighting for the top spot while all other teams fight for third.

3. The Orioles are doing nothing to set the groundwork for another run. They haven’t traded Machado, they haven’t had any significant talks with Jones, and to the best of my knowledge they haven’t stepped-up scouting or tried to get any top international prospects.

Those preceding points are, again, all true. And they are all related. To be more specifically, they all have to do with point number one: Peter Angelos is 88 years old. Every owner in sports dreams of two things (although the order may differ depending on the person): to win a championship, and to make a ton of money.

Angelos has succeeded in the latter. He is a billionaire, and the value of the Orioles has skyrocketed since his group first bought them in the 90s. No championship has come, and Angelos, in his old age, no doubt recognizes his chances of seeing one are numbered. It does not take a psychologist to recognize what is happening in his psyche: he wants to win one before he goes, and he has decided that he has a better chance if he stays the course, as opposed to committing to a long rebuild that he may not be alive for the end of.

It isn’t completely insane. To be sure, the Orioles aren’t anyone’s pick to win the World Series in 2018. Or even win the division. Or even the wild card. However, it isn’t totally insane to think that maybe Buck Showalter can work his magic one last time and that the team could overachieve its way into some type of Wild Card spot. And then, it’d be the playoffs, and who knows? Maybe they could somehow get hot at the right time and come home as champions. It isn’t likely at all, but it isn’t totally impossible.

However, it should be noted that there is an error with this theory: if indeed this was a case of wanting to win now before Machado leaves, the Orioles would be doing a lot more. To the best of my knowledge, they have made no major overtures to any of the top free agents still left on the market. They outright admitted they made no serious attempt to get Shohei Ohtani, citing organizational philosophy. With the exception of a few minor moves, they have made no indication that they are going for it, no-holds-barred.

Perhaps this is because of the climate of baseball this hot stove season, where the movement has been so slow that some are speaking of collusion and flaws in baseball’s financial structure. However, it seems unlikely that Angelos, probably the most pro-labor owner in baseball (during the 94/95 strike he refused to try out scabs), would go along with collusion, at least explicitly. No, more than likely it is just that the other part of being an owner: the money. Quite simply, Peter Angelos is trying to have it both ways: he wants to win a championship before he dies, but he also doesn’t want to put the money in the game that would let him do it.

In other words, he is trying to do two things at once, and in the end, he may end up with nothing at all.

Advertisements

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2016): The Orioles Physicals

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post (of varying amounts of seriousness) about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2016 season. Earlier installments can be found here. Today, I talk about the most trying trial in sports: the Baltimore Orioles’ physical process, which has infamously torpedoed several deals in the past.

From: Peter Angelos

To: Orioles Training Staff

Subject: Physicals

 

Gentleman,

As you know, we here at the Baltimore Orioles pride ourselves on having players who are in top physical form. We cannot risk somebody getting injured, we are putting too much money into them to have that happen. Therefore, I’d like to remind you of our process:

  1. The usual stuff the other teams do. They don’t go far enough, but they are on the right track.
  2. We then do the usual stuff again a second time, just to make sure.
  3. The doctor shall slowly toss a baseball to the the player. They must catch it. We need to make sure that they have good reflexes!
  4. There is a heavy bat in the clubhouse that only the truly healthy can lift. The would-be acquisition must lift this bat to prove their vigor. Yes, even the pitchers. Especially the pitchers.
  5. Crabcakes. They must eat them. No Baltimore Oriole can be expected to not eat crabcakes. If they cannot eat crabcakes, or are allergic to them, they are not worthy of being Baltimore Orioles.
  6. We then do the usual again for a third time, again to make sure.
  7. 10 push-ups. No exceptions.
  8. Sadly, we have been told we can no longer have would-be signings swim across Baltimore Harbor naked. In lieu of this, we’ll just have to do the usual stuff for a fourth time.
  9. They must allow us to stare into their souls. It’s awkward to just sit there while a doctor or trainer stares at you, but it is necessary.
  10. Ask me if I actually want to pay them that much money or for that many years. If I say no, just say you found something wrong.

Sincerely,

P. Angelos

(Blogathon ’16) Stacey Folkemer: Baseball is more than a game, it’s part of the family

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

Baseball has always been a part of my family life. I can’t remember a time when summer evenings didn’t include the ballgame on the radio or television, or when a holiday passed that my uncle didn’t offer his opinions on how to fix the rotation while my grandfather complained about a slugger who strikes out too much.

For most of my life, the Baltimore Orioles have been a bad baseball team. They’ve had their moments, but I was born after their glory years. And for my entire adult life until four years ago, the Orioles weren’t just bad, they were a laughing stock. But it was during those years that they became an even bigger part of my familial relationships as I grew into adulthood and my grandparents, especially my grandmother, advanced in age and became less a part of the everyday world.

If you have spent time with someone who doesn’t often leave the house, you understand how difficult it can be to come up with new and fresh things to talk about. My grandmother spent many of her last years confined to her home, limiting her ability to speak about things that she didn’t see on TV or hear about from someone else. But thanks to baseball, we always had plenty to say during our visits. She watched every game from her living room and had strong opinions on every player.

She and my grandfather were two very different types of fans. She was the ultimate pessimist. The Orioles were never good enough, they’d never going to return to their former glory with these players or this manager. It was an extension of her personality at large, where she was often times harsh but passionate for those people and things that she cared about. But she never gave up on them, even if she expected them to lose. If the game was close in the ninth inning, she couldn’t take it. She’d take refuge on the patio, smoking a cigarette and waiting for me to come out and tell her who won. If the answer was the Orioles, she’d smile but comment on how it’s just like them to almost throw it away.

My grandfather, on the other hand, has always been a baseball optimist. Even in the darkest years, as the O’s losing streak stretched across a decade, he always believed they could win. Every year during Spring Training, as reports flooded in that players were in the best shape of their lives, my grandfather believed them all. “They’ve got the hitters, the pitching might come around,” he’d say, as my grandmother and I disagreed and told him he was crazy. He and I had a conversation before the 2012 season in which he repeated the same optimism he’d shown every year prior, and I laughed at how misguided he was. We made a bet on their record, with him claiming they’d be over .500 and me stating that they didn’t have a chance.

Well, if you recall the 2012 season, the Orioles won 93 games, captured the Wild Card, and made it to game five of the ALDS before their season came to an end. I heard a lot about my pessimism that year, let me tell you. I still hear about it sometimes, almost four years later.

As a fan myself, I have to admit that I’m more like my grandmother. Even now, with the Orioles having four straight non-losing seasons and two playoff appearances since 2012, my natural instinct is to think the worst. The starting pitcher will always implode, the offense will never get a hit in the clutch, the Orioles of 2012-15 were a fluke.

I wish I didn’t have that attitude. Outwardly, I have tried to take on the more optimistic view that has always been modeled by my Granddad. Over the last few years I have argued on Twitter and my internet home of CamdenChat.com about how the Orioles are better than people think. When the game is on the line late I profess my faith in my team despite a sinking feeling in my stomach. I am trying to fake it until I make it, basically, but I don’t think I’ll ever be fully successful.

We lost my grandmother to cancer in 2008, so I was never able to share the winning Orioles with her as an adult. As the O’s participated in the 2012 playoffs, I thought about her a lot, wondering if she would have changed her pessimistic ways after watching the magical 2012 team. Probably not. We are who we are, after all. I imagine that she would have seen Jim Johnson’s implosion coming from a mile away (or at least claimed she did). She wouldn’t have witnessed Brian Matusz giving up a walk-off home run to Raul Ibanez in game three of the ALDS (she would have been on the porch, unable to take it) but she never would have forgiven Matusz for as long as he was in an Orioles uniform. But she still would have been ecstatic for our guys even as she cursed them, and I’m sad I didn’t get to experience that with her.

I have been able to spend the last four seasons of good Orioles baseball with my grandfather, and for that I’m grateful. Finally, he has seen a return on his optimism. The ultimate payoff would be a World Series win (though he, unlike me, has at least gotten to see three of those for the Orioles in his life), and maybe he’ll soon be rewarded for his faith in his team.

I wouldn’t count on it, though. Have you seen the starting rotation?

Stacey Folkemer has been writing for Camden Chat, SB Nation’s Baltimore Orioles blog, since 2008. You can find her there or follow her @StaceyMFolk. She lives in Maryland with her husband, who is also a sports writer. In the winter she dreams of baseball. In the summer she watches it from section 334 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer were not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

(Blogathon ’16) Matt Taylor: Adam Jones Is a Difference Maker for Baltimore

This guest-post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the Blogathon to raise money for the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. Like most everyone, it seems, I have a close personal connection to cancer. I lost my mom to the disease many years ago. I’ve also worked at the American Cancer Society, which helped me understand how much progress was and is being made in the fight against cancer.

I do my Orioles blogging over at Roar from 34. When I think about charity in relation to the Orioles, Adam Jones comes to mind. Jones received the 2015 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award back in November. The award, which is part of the Major League Baseball Players Choice Awards, honors Jones’ efforts on the diamond and in the community. 

If you’re not an Orioles fan, you might not know about Jones’ charitable work. After receiving the Marvin Miller award he said the following: “I do a lot of stuff in the dark. I’ll do it on my own time and with my own resources and it’s great to have it thrive that way.”

In addition to the Marvin Miller Award, Jones has received the Governor’s Service Award in Maryland, the MLB Players Association’s Brooks Robinson Community Service Award, and has twice been nominated for baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award.

It’s easy, and often wise, to cast a cynical eye toward athletes’ charitable efforts. Jones isn’t one to worry about polishing his image, however. You might guess as much if you’ve ever witnessed his candor on Twitter (he introduced me to the term slapdick) or read some of his locker room quotes. The guy takes big cuts on the field and off of it.

Jones’ charity of choice is Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He benefited from the program while growing up in San Diego and now gives back to clubs there and in Baltimore.

Giving back to these kids, letting them understand that there are people out there who really care about you in terms of your education and well-being. These have been the kind of places that always have been safe havens for youths,” Jones explained in a 2014 Baltimore Sun story.

Jones combines his love for food and for charity with an annual #StayHungry Purple Tailgate at a Baltimore Ravens game to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of Baltimore. In addition to raising money, the event allows fans to interact with Jones in person. The 2015 event featured Biz Markie.

Adam Jones has got what we need in Baltimore to make us proud.

Matt Taylor has been blogging about the Baltimore Orioles at Roar From 34 since 2006. Roar From 34 is the oldest independently operated Orioles blog. The site, which focuses on humor, history, and homerism, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this season. Matt was the first credentialed blogger to work in the press box at Orioles Park at Camden Yards and has participated in the MidAtlantic Sports Network’s (MASN) guest blogger program since its inception in 2011. 

This guest-post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page. Also, please note that the opinions and statements of the writer are not necessarily those of the Baseball Continuum or it’s webmaster.

(Blogathon ’16) CONTINUUM CLASSIC- The time I wrote an obituary for the 2012 Baltimore Orioles’ playoff hopes. Whoops.

This piece from the blog’s archives is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

The Playoff Hopes of the Baltimore Orioles passed away last night at the age of 89 games, dying shortly after a 19-7 trouncing at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, who sometimes don’t even seem to score 19 runs during a single month. Although Hopes, who had not been seen this late since 1997, is still technically alive, doctors confirm that the prognosis is extremely grim and that it is only a matter of time before it is overtaken and destroyed by the American League East and the tough competition for the AL Wild Card spots due to a lack of starting pitching.

The Orioles’ Playoff Hopes leaves behind it’s brother, fellow Baltimore native Michael Phelps Olympic Hopes, as well as it’s distant cousin, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Playoff Hopes.

Services are the rest of the season. In lieu of flowers, send quality starting pitchers.

This piece from the blog’s archives has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

(Blogathon ’16) Rochester Red Wings Programs of the Past: 1990

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

The 1990 Rochester Red Wings program was, in a word, a bit boring, at least relative to the previous two I’ve looked at. It is not a giant leap like going from 1981 to 1989, and it doesn’t have anything too weird or amazing either. As a result (and also of my blogathon process with these later posts), this one is a bit shorter than the previous installments.

Still, it definitely has some neat things.

Good Stuff

First off, the cover is fantastic:

90wingscoverThat is a cool looking cover. The Red Wings should bring back artsy covers like this. Nowadays it’s usually a picture. Last year had Miguel Sano on it prominently… and then he skipped Rochester entirely. Whoops.

With the new decade, the Rochester Red Wings decided to take a look back at the 80s with an article by Josh Lewin (now the radio announcer for the Mets and Chargers, who I covered a bit on in the 1989 program lookback) that included this snippet:

90wingspieceoflewin80slookbackIt’s sort of odd that three of the five most memorable games of the 1980s were losses.

Also nice is that they finally gave the mascot his time of day, even if it was Homer, the worst mascot in Red Wings history (not counting the times when they had people dressed up as Indians):

90wingshomerFred Costello’s lists:

R90fredlist

Interesting Stuff:

Brady Anderson:

90wingsbradyJose Mesa:

R90mesaThe Columbus Clippers featuring Kevin Maas, Bernie Williams and Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens:

R90columbus

Russ Brandon, now the President of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Americans, and thus one of the most powerful people in Western NY sports:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.43.55 PM

Weird Stuff:

Okay, this Big Bird advertisement is vaguely unsettling: 90wingsbigbirdMaybe it’s the black-and-white printing mixed with Big Bird’s eyes. It’s like he’s looking deep into your soul as he asks if your child has visited his best friend today. Also, why “his”, why not “their”? Jeez, Big Bird, don’t be sexist.

For some reason, some players literally had Hagerstown baseball cards as their profiles, like Leo Gomez here:

R90LeoGomezThe many looks of Josh Lewin:

R90lewinWait… Cheers was a chain?

R90cheersFuture Red Wings GM Dan Mason with a mullet:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 9.43.42 PMAnd, finally, the horribly racist logo of the Indianapolis Indians (although the rest is pretty cool):

R90indianapolisSo how did the season go? The 1990 Rochester Red Wings, led by Leo Gomez, Chris Hoiles, David Segui and 36-year-old Danny Boone, would go on to win the Governor’s Cup after a 89-56 record. It would be the final Governor’s Cup title in Silver Stadium history.

Next time: 1991

At 11 PM: The worst post ever.

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

“30 Teams, 30 Posts” (2015): The Orioles’ fortunes depend upon the returning stars- especially Machado

In 30 Teams, 30 Posts, I write a post about every MLB team in some way in the lead-up to the beginning of the 2015 season. Previous installments can be found here. Today, I talk about the Orioles.

Keith Olbermann put it best when he described the 2014 Baltimore Orioles as being like Wile E. Coyote running off a cartoon cliff. Despite not having Manny Machado, Matt Wieters or Chris Davis, the Orioles were able to keep running on air for awhile until finally, in the ALCS, they realized they were over the cliff and then plummeted to their doom.

And, after a fairly quiet off-season that saw some major losses (Nick Markakis- although how big of a loss that is is up to some debate- and Andrew Miller) and no major additions. In fact, the biggest story of the offseason for the Orioles was likely the fact that GM Dan Duquette might leave to take a higher position with the Blue Jays. He didn’t, at least, not yet.

So, the most important thing for the defending AL East champion (!) Orioles will be how the players returning from injury/suspension will do. Manny Machado and Matt Wieters from injury, of course, and Chris Davis is returning from a PED suspension. To be sure, they could do great and the Orioles could still miss the playoffs, but it feels unlikely that the Orioles can make the playoffs if they don’t produce.

Of the three, the most important one, at least for the long-term hopes of the Orioles, is Manny Machado. Still just 22, he is the one who will be an Oriole for most of the foreseeable future, while Wieters (28 and with just one more year on his contract) and Davis (also 28, and also in the last year of his contract) could soon be on their way out. Machado has seen two straight seasons end in injury- the last thing the Orioles need is their young super-star becoming an injury-prone mess.

Because Adam Jones cannot be expected to be a one-man show, and the starting pitcher remains a bit suspect, at least on gut reaction when you look at it.

Although, on the other hand, Buck Showalter is involved, so it’s entirely possible everything goes wrong for the Orioles this season and they still make the playoffs.