It was a very rough 48 hours or so in Baltimore after the Ravens imploded on themselves against the Chiefs with a chance to go to a Super Bowl. The city was down and its sports fans were devastated. But then, out of nowhere, the greatest news was leaked….the Baltimore Orioles were being sold.
There was nothing better to get the fans off the couch and out of their somber state than news that we are inching closer to being done with the Angelos family.
Before we write their obituary, I do think its fair to say that they did do some good things over the years. Peter Angelos did spend prior to 2000 and he upped the payrolls to very high levels in the mid to late 2010s. The O’s were a playoff team six times under this regime and we have some unforgettable seasons that provided great memories for years to come. John Angelos also brought in Mike Elias, a move his dad would never make, and John allowed Elias to do it his way. He invested in a Dominican Republic facility, technology, development, etc…all things the father would never do. These things have helped to set up a foundation for long term success. He deserves credit for allowing it to happen, even if it was and always has been common sense to do so.
That being said, for most of the time the Orioles were owned by Angelos family, they were a terrible franchise and a laughingstock around the league. Peter felt he knew more than his baseball people and constantly meddled in things. John, a cashless, mindless and infuriating person, cut financial corners wherever he could, suspended an announcer for telling the truth and refused to spend even Tampa Rays-level money on the payroll. It has long been time for us to be rid of this family and we can all rejoice that the time is here.
Now, as the report states, the incoming ownership group, led by David Rubenstein, is only getting 40% of the team for now. This does represent a majority interest in the team, so they will be the controlling partner. The Angelos family reportedly owns another 30% of the team and, according to the report, Rubenstein and his group will take that 30% share once Peter Angelos passes away. There are various other minority owners – including, reportedly, Cal Ripken Jr. – but eventually, Rubenstein and his group will have 70% interest in the team.
So, what does this mean for the team going forward? You would assume Rubenstein, a man who is from Baltimore, is an Orioles fan and has made a lot of money in his life, isn’t buying this team just to make money. You would think he wants to win and put resources into this team that the Angelos family didn’t. You would also assume that Rubenstein is going to keep Mike Elias and his team around and pay them what is needed to do so. The organization is worth more because of Elias and you would think a smart man like Rubenstein understands this.
This is not to say that I am expecting a $150-200M dollar payroll within the next year or two. This team is full of cheap contracts and they have “expensive” vets who will soon be gone. I think Elias is also a guy who just doesn’t believe in handing out these silly FA contracts and, as such, will keep the FA spending down, while we still see a significant hike from the levels under John Angelos. This is what teams like Houston and Atlanta have done for much of the last 5-10 years, so I expect to see a similar approach.
I also believe it means they are likelier to sign guys to pre-arbitration extensions. I think its likelier that they sign someone to a 3-4 year contract. I think its likelier that they don’t get scared off because one contract doesn’t work out as planned. I think it ensures the investment into the foundation will keep coming especially with the input of Ripken, someone who certainly believes in the idea of younger players, developing from within, etc…(although I don’t want Cal meddling). Maybe it means ownership will be more transparent with the media and its fans? Maybe it means even more involvement from past players and no ill will like we have seen in the past.
At this point, we obviously have a lot more questions than answers and hopefully these answers will start to be heard in the coming weeks and months. Maybe this is a bad thing. Maybe a guy who made his money in private equity will just look to make money off the team and not care about the product. Maybe we will wish John Angelos was still the owner because he at least let Elias do his thing.
However, I think that is all unlikely. I think this is the change this organization needed, the change the fans needed and the change the players needed. I think they will feel “more supported” than they currently do.
It’s a joyous day in Baltimore today. The house has fallen on the witch and we are dancing in the streets (a few days later than we expected to be) because of it.