Dear John and Louis Angelos: Are you a Rocky – or a Bullwinkle?

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The sons of Peter Angelos got a “Dear Orioles” letter from Nestor back in July 2018 encouraging them to step forward and run a legitimate franchise. In the aftermath of the Kevin Brown fiasco at MASN, any sensible fan would realize what we’re up against as a community with a born-on-third and thinks he hit a triple Fredo with a penchant for punishment like his old man.

 

(This letter was published at WNST.net back on July 6, 2018. In retrospect I was a fool to ever believe this pair of family Fredos was ever going to run a legitimate franchise. But, hey, I gave them a chance and was mostly polite in this post. In the aftermath of the Kevin Brown fiasco, some of this has aged quite well, however.)

 

 

Dear John and Louis:

I write to you to gentlemen with complete candor today because that’s what you deserve and that is my role as a journalist. You know who I am and I know who you are. I know (and care) very little about your backgrounds and your personal lives over the last quarter of a century other than being the somewhat semi-famous children surrounding the least popular local sportsman in recent Baltimore sports memory.

You have a lot on your plate, not the least of which is an 89-year old father who is ailing. I lost my Mom last year at 98. Aging is never pretty, never easy and never without incredible emotions and unique challenges. Yours is more unique because it’s playing out in the front of the community because your father chose that fate when he purchased the Baltimore Orioles 25 years ago and summarily wrecked the franchise.

He chose to be famous. You boys have now been drafted into it.

Your last names are Angelos – so as a community and fan base, we’re just assuming that whatever becomes of the Baltimore Orioles moving forward is going to fall to you. And your names are next on the corporate flow chart. Louis, I know you’ve been representing the team at MLB meetings, where you feel the heat of 29 very agitated and angered partners. John, I know you consider yourself an expert on the MASN deal and all things new media and the business side of the operation, so I know you guys don’t just fly in these days to make decisions from a pool somewhere.

I also understand your mother to be a very involved person within the organization and the decision-making process. Very quietly, she’s always been involved. So is her brother.

Like I said, you’ve got a lot going on.

I have very publicly been in Baltimore and discussing sports all my life. It’ll be the 20th anniversary on August 3rd that I founded WNST – the city’s first sports radio station at AM 1570 that was literally dedicated to promoting your family business around the clock. I’ve written books about the Orioles and Ravens. This is what I do. Baltimore sports is the story of my life. It’s all I’ve ever cared about. It’s all I’ve ever talked about. It’s what has fed my family since I was 15 years old with a pregnant girlfriend in Dundalk.

I get around. I’m from the east side and live downtown but my company is not limited to east or west or black or white or rich or poor and certainly not Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative. I have no bubble. I get all around Baltimore in all sorts of ways – music, politics, art, events, charity work, hospitals, networking, business, oh and sports – and I don’t think I’ve been in a room with either of you more than a handful of times over 25 years.

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I know you don’t remember this, John, but I waved at you with an offer to come join me in the dugout in Fort Lauderdale one chilly morning in 2003 when WNST was broadcasting and promoting your family’s business for Baltimore sports fans – justifying over the airwaves why it was so important to be an Orioles fan and to care about baseball with your spare time on a cold day in February on the beltway.

You waved me off.

Other than that, we’ve never spoken. So, I guess we’ve still never spoken.

And, Louis, well other than a guy who I saw almost reluctantly dedicating statues on my television from Camden Yards a couple of years ago and maybe I’ve seen from afar once at a Living Classrooms event, I’m not sure I’d even know what you look like if I walked past you at Wit and Wisdom or on the streets of Harbor East.

Plenty of folks tell me I’d recognize you because you’d be the ones standing next to Brady Anderson trying to plot the next course of action for your family’s baseball franchise that has made you fabulously wealthy since your childhood.

Fellas, if the Peter G. Angelos era of Baltimore baseball ownership is not over, it’s certainly entering the last phase of dusk. I write to you today with many concerns about the future of the city and your role and that of the team you are apparently about to try to take control of and lead into whatever that next phase will be.

And if you don’t like my questions, wait’ll you hear from Rob Manfred and the old fellows up in New York once they get to pass the gavel on whether you guys are “fit” to be Major League Baseball owners. You can choose to ignore me. You can choose to hide in Baltimore. But I assure you they will have an even more stringent barometer of your worthiness for their club if they ever get that opportunity.

As I was inking this letter to you gentlemen, I saw that you hired a once-local guy named John Vidalin to “run some things.” I’ve seen his resume. Nice Canadian fellow. He’s been a lot of places. A friend of mine who once worked in The Warehouse and works in the industry sent me a text regarding his fate: “That poor bastard!”

I’ll be writing John Vidalin a #DearOrioles memo welcoming him to Baltimore very soon. He can rest assured that I’m a very available individual with delusions of grandeur. I’ll offer him what I’m offering you: a lot of valuable history and a little friendly advice.

It’s because I care a lot.

I hope you guys are better at this “running a baseball team” thing than your father but some of the early warning signs are less than encouraging. If Brady Anderson is the general manager, Buck Showalter is a special consultant to the president and Mike Bordick or Rick Dempsey are managing on Opening Day, I’m going to say there’s not a lot of hope for you guys making any significant “change” in the direction of the franchise.

Make no mistake: there will be a tomorrow for the Baltimore Orioles. And who will be running that show and taking on the enormous responsibility and challenge of repairing and rebuilding an enormously damaged legacy brand that is wayward ­– if not lost? – is now a daily part of my conversation all over town.

And if you just scoffed or bristled at that last sentence then you’re already in a state of denial that will be your continued demise.

Damaged. Wayward. Adrift. Last place. Historically bad.

Machado and Jones leaving. Brach and Britton about to go. Duquette and Showalter gone.

And the Red Sox and Yankees will be playing baseball in October and it looks like a trend.

And along with the Chris Davis contract, the one thing we’re certain is that you two gentlemen will be holding the decision bag.

So many questions without question marks.

And never any answers.

The Oriole Way. The Angelos Way.

“What’s going to happen to the Orioles?” has become a refrain as this eternal shitshow has hit rock bottom once again for a franchise that has experienced a crustacean-like grip on the ocean floor of the American League East.

Your family needs to acknowledge that this needs to greatly improve and that you are responsible for improving it. You need to speak up and say that this isn’t good enough. You need to reset and reestablish what your brand is and who will be a fan of your franchise in the future – and why they will want to support your baseball team?

As a fan, a citizen and taxpayer and one of many semi-unwitting MASN-paying participants who have lined your family’s pockets for half of my life, I have a lot of questions about the Baltimore Orioles and the franchise’s role in the community.

And here is the first one: moving forward, who is going to run the show and be held accountable in a franchise that has sorely lacked that public attribute and human touch for a quarter of a century?

Is that John Vidalin? Is that you? Is that your brother? Is that Brady Anderson? Or whoever replaces Buck Showalter and will lose 100 games in the dugout next year and perhaps long beyond if you don’t choose wisely and find better human beings to be a part of your organization?

Every one of our mutual friends – and you’d be surprised at the company I keep, fellas – tells me that I should portray you two sons in an extremely sympathetic light. Lord knows, my son should never, ever be held accountable or responsible for any of my words, actions or deeds. (Or vice versa if you’ve seen the color of his hair lately!)

As far as I’m concerned, you gentlemen are your own men.

I’ve always heard you are nice, quiet people and greatly removed from your father’s philosophies in many ways. I know for a fact we are very politically aligned so that’s one fight you’ll be having with 90% of your current fan base that you won’t be having with me.

And if I’ve already admitted that I feel sorry for your father at this point, well, at least you guys have enough time, money and power to fix this shitshow if you have the competence, patience and fortitude to pull off a miracle and make the Baltimore Orioles something even I can be proud of moving forward.

That would begin with my legitimate media credential and access to ask legitimate questions to the people who run your baseball team on behalf of the community.

That would be the day I know you have the integrity aligned with the NPR speeches and YouTube videos in front of City Hall discussing free speech and civic responsibility.

It’s your show now.

The Baltimore Orioles are your responsibility.

This is a letter and a challenge for you to seize the day!

Maybe one day you guys will get the statues downtown that your father so sorely craved for himself?

You don’t own the past but you’ll control the future. And my guess is that you have cringed many times when your positive, well-intentioned suggestions have fallen upon the deaf ear of your father – hell, just like all of the rest of us.

I have no idea – nor should I guess all of the politics, family-related disagreements, money, power struggles, egos, etc. inside the walls of your code of arms – what goes on in your world or what ghosts you have as your parents age and leave you guys as very wealthy men. Clearly, from that aspect, you have been well cared for because your father made a fortune suing people.

And, who knows, maybe you’ll just very wisely sell the damned team and move on?

If that’s the plan, to bleed the team of money for another couple of years and flip the team to some billionaire scumbag who might someday pilfer the team to Nashville or Portland or Montreal once the MLB legal boogeymen finally catch you, then read no further.

If the plan is to “cash out,” then good for you and I suppose it’s good for us because the next owner will undoubtedly read everything below and act upon it because they will have invested a few billion in cash to make the Baltimore Orioles great again and to send you back to private citizen status with more money and less responsibility than any of us has ever dreamed of in our retirement.

You guys can spread out on the beach or pool or spend your days at the track, I can come back to the ballpark as a real media member, do my job and smile heartily when I see your family name on the side of building as I get onto I-83 at my worthless alma mater on Charles Street.

But if you and your family are intent on keeping and operating the Orioles in a better way, I hope you’ll take this letter to heart for what it represents: someone who is deeply vested and cares enough to write you a letter like this with the unfiltered truth even after being treated like absolute shit for 25 years by your family and everyone around the franchise you now control.

All Baltimore wants are honest, accountable, caring, transparent and COMPETENT people running the baseball team. Local people who treat the fans with a modicum of respect that, quite frankly, I suppose none of the people left currently coming to your games really care much about because they’re still coming despite the trail of the last 25 years of what anyone in the industry would call the worst leadership and ownership in the sport.

As one of your baseball leaders once observed: “Why feed them steak when they’ll eat hamburger?”

If this was about how your father has treated this community, you probably deserve far less people at the games than you’re already getting.

Let me make this clear and I’m not even being flippant: Baltimore owes you nothing!

Zero. Nada. Zilch.

You are waaaaaaaay ahead in this game and will always be way ahead.

I’ve done the math.

And the worst thing you can do in the future is leverage the franchise and the taxpayers and politicians for another Camden Yards in the suburbs in a few years and abandon the city because it further enriches you. I assure you – that would not go well for you here, after seeing what that did to the Irsay reputation here for the last 40 years.

Hell would have no fury in this metropolis if somehow the Orioles wind up gone in 2028 because “Baltimore couldn’t support the team.”

I really hope your ethics are the polar opposite of Stan Kroenke but I’ve watched your father’s act for a quarter of a century here and the jury is out on your intentions moving forward because we haven’t heard a word from you about any of this.

This isn’t a letter berating you or blaming you for any of the crazy, mean-spirited, awful shit your father pulled during his 25 years here to me or anyone else who loved the Baltimore Orioles who has been kicked to the curb and mistreated. I’m sure there are many, many things, words and deeds that you have witnessed during your adulthood that you similarly disagree with in many ways.

(I’ve been told as much by our mutual acquaintances who care about you so I’ll just accept this as gospel. I also know the many reasons you haven’t been around the place all that much over the last quarter of a century and the various segments of “time spent elsewhere” after legendarily not-so-silent disputes. Nights in the Caribbean. Days in Fort Lauderdale. Afternoons at Saratoga. Fellas, I couldn’t care less about any of it!)

But there’s going to have to be a point where you run this thing – or someone competent runs this thing ­– in a professional and community-minded manner.

Maybe that is John Vidalin? I can only hope. I’ll write a #DearOrioles note to him later.

And judging from what I’ve witnessed over the last quarter of a century given that you are civic ghosts, I’m not sure that you gentlemen and/or your mother are the best-suited folks to run the Baltimore Orioles without some serious professional help surrounding you.

One person who was closely associated with your organization at a high level for a long time once told me: “If John and Louis were going to be running the place, they would’ve been doing it a long time ago. It’s been two decades. They’re in their fifties. Baseball is not going to be their life’s work.”

But since this $2 billion entity has landed at the feet of you and your mother, that is where the Baltimore Orioles responsibility is headed until such time that the leeches at Major League Baseball come lawyered up and looking to oust you – don’t worry, only a rumor at this point – and/or Mark Lerner’s legal team finally gets into your family for the $400 million they think you owe them and your other 29 MLB partners.

I saw the Jeff Barker story you had planted that no one read in The Baltimore Sun earlier this month. You have offered a “peace branch” where you still try to keep all of the money. The Lerner family is now going for broke the way your father did. I have always predicted that this will not end well for you or the Orioles – going to war with all of your MLB partners after they essentially gifted you about a billion dollars to put a team in Washington D.C.

Your father got the cold shoulder. You might get the shaft. And Baltimore might get screwed out of the Orioles in the end.

I hope I never live to see that day.

It’s the reason I did the Free The Birds walkout on your father back in 2006 because I saw the apathy. I still see it today. And it’s far worse! At some point, you need fans. At some point, you need to make money that isn’t off the sweat of the fan base of the Washington Nationals or the MASN miracle money tree, which as you know has started to wither.

The people at Major League Baseball hate everything about you and they barely know you.

For a dozen years, I’ve approached them about getting my media credential back for games involving the Baltimore Orioles. I’m a credentialed media member for virtually every other sporting event in America and have been since last century. It’s how I feed my family.

One MLB official summed it up thusly: “We don’t get any further with those people than you do.”

And they allegedly sanction your Major League Baseball games.

The MLB offices screw you on dates, on scheduling, on travel – on anything they possibly can to give you gentle reminders that your family is suing all of them for tens of millions of dollars and embarrassing them. You could care less about the All Star Game but

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