“...[The Orioles are] clearly never not going to suck again.”
Believe it or not, there was once a time when the Baltimore Orioles mattered, even enough to write an encyclopedia article about them. Though this is no longer the case, and never will be again, I make this effort by way of a kind of nostalgia.
The Orioles, for those readers living in this century, are a Major League Baseball team. No, for real. You will find them locked in the cellar of the American League East division, if you ever cared to look. Steeped in a largely betrayed tradition of beauty, success, and glory, the Orioles history shines like a lighthouse on an abandoned shoreline. Even a third generation Ripken could not save them now.
Glory Years: 1965-1983
Oh, those days, when the Oriole Way governed the team's dedication to perfection, and prompted trades like Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson in 1965. Imagine trading a used toothbrush for a new Ferrari. Such was the trade that ushered in the Orioles' old glory days, in which World Series appearances were nearly annual, and in the years when not they were always in sight of it.
Great players and great human beings graced the rosters of these Orioles teams, and great stats came with them. Stats like four 20-game winners on the mound in 1971, five seasons with more than 100 wins, eleven with more than 90. Seven division championships, six pennants and three World Series championships. For two decades, arguably no team was greater on the field, and by all accounts certainly no team was greater off the field. Fan-friendly to a fault, the Iron Man Cal Ripken Jr and the great Eddie Murray made going out to Memorial Stadium the great life experience that baseball ought to be. Damn it, you got me all teary-eyed.
Futility: 1984 and on until judgment day
But those days are long gone. Their history since the mid-eighties is the stuff of abject tragedy. Only two playoff appearances since 1985, and none since 1997. Thirteen straight sub-.500 seasons. A revolving door of managers and players. A culture of losing, vitriol and frustration.
So what happened? To what may we attribute the demise of a once proud and stately franchise? To answer this question, it is necessary to make an appropriate but childish and idiotic joke. The responsibility for the decline and fall of the Baltimore Orioles, rightly stated as incontrovertible fact, rests squarely on the shoulders of a money-grubbing, three-piece-suit-wearing, baseball-not-understanding sheister by the appropriately altered name of Peter Devilos.
The evil owner, Peter Devilos
Devilos is by profession a vendetta-crazed trial lawyer personally responsible for the gross infringement of American corporations' rights, such as the rights of innocent tobacco companies to keep the truth out of their advertising, the rights of pharmaceutical companies to sell diet pills that only occasionally kill people, and the rights of asbestos manufacturers to even simply manufacture their product.
But he was not satisfied with ruining American businesses. He looked around and saw thriving sports franchises all around him. Then one day the owner of the great and mighty Orioles found himself facing bankruptcy, and being the slimy snake of a lawyer that he was, Devilos snaked his slimy way into the proceedings and somehow fooled the state of Maryland into giving him the franchise. He rubbed his grubby devil-fingers together with malicious glee and set about ruining the team.
How has he implemented his diabolical plan? He has routinely nixed good trades, and pulled the trigger on lousy trades. He has unceremoniously fired eleven managers for strictly personal reasons. It is well documented in the anonymous user edit history of the team owner's Wikipedia article that everyone hates him and wants him to die as soon as possible:
Angelos [sic] is the worst owner in the history of professional sports and is hated by all Orioles fans for the joke of a product put out year in and year out. Orioles fans pray for this old bastard to die.... -22.214.171.124, Oct 26, 2009
Most damning, however, is this from the respected and definitive Sports Illustrated in May of 2009:
Peter Angelos [sic] is the worst, most worstest, most baddestest sports owner in the history of bad sports owners of the whole wide entire universe of sports history, bar none, flat-out, straight up, no-contesties. Plus, he worships Satan and eats babies.
Devilos' Sycophantic Defenders
The evil lord Devilos is not without his defenders. But they all work for him and suck on his teats every day, and it is very easy to refute their points in his defense.
Ignoring the most obvious fact of the team's pitiful performance on the field, which they apparently don't think matters, these putrid little sycophants claim that the greatness of his ownership of our beloved Orioles is evidenced by "the robust payroll, low ticket prices, liberal food policy, and model ballpark - to which Angelos refused to sell the naming rights".
Fine. Let's look at these factors.
First, the so-called "robust payroll". Sure, there was a time when the Baltimore Orioles had the highest payroll in the entire Major Leagues. And for this price, we got bupkis. No championships, no division wins, not even any close pennant races. Since when does the highest cost-per-victory in the league evidence great ownership? Since never. And besides, today the Orioles payroll is smack-dab in the middle of the league. Robust, my ass. And this decline is simply due to our illustrious owner giving away our best players to the Red Sox and Yankees.
Second, low ticket prices. OK, well, yeah. But apparently you get what you pay for. I'd pay twice what I pay for my season tickets today if I know they'll be contending. We all would. God, this hurts.
Third, liberal food policy. Oh, well, OK, this one's true. Boog Powell's BBQ? Don't get me started. 3rd Street Deli, and those amazing roast beef sandwiches, wow. And the prices! You can just about feed your whole family for less than a McDonald's run. Or, if you want, you can go to McDonald's before the game and bring it in with you. Now that's liberal. But, Evil Lord Devilos, if you think that's going to make up for all the losing, well then you're... uh... mmm.... Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about a brat I had there last summer. It was fantastic, and less than $8.
Finally, model ballpark. OK, I can't refute that one either. Camden Yards, still known by real Oriole fans as Oriole Park, is hands-down the greatest baseball park ever built. And if you ever do sell the naming rights, Mr. Devilos, I'm personally climbing a ladder and tearing the name off of it myself. Watch yourself.
There is hope, however
Despite the sentiment of resignation that permeates the introductory section, there is hope for the Orioles' future. Dude is 80.
- This is the idiotic childish joke - his real name is Peter Angelos.
- A paraphrase that nonetheless retains the spirit of the referenced SI article, in which the Orioles owner was lambasted for, actual quote now, "stripping down one of baseball's proudest franchises."
- OK, I know this little photochop is unoriginal, but this is its strength here. This is the first picture you get when you image-Google for Peter Angelos. That's how much fuck him.
- Orioles Hall of Famer Brady Anderson. "Viewpoint: Angelos doesn't deserve the bad rap", June 2, 2009.