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Friday, April 12, 2002

Peter Angelos Joins the Owners’ Team

Can this Oriole change his plumage?

Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos is an interesting addition to the Major League Baseball owners’ Player Relations Committee.  He is considered a dove in labor relations matters and was, I believe, the only owner to vote against unilateral implementation of the owners’ collective bargaining proposals in 1994.  This may be the case of keeping your friends close, but your enemies closer.  But, as the years have gone on, Angelos has gone from a compete with the Yankees owner, to a sock-away profits owner.  The Orioles are still a very good draw at the box office and yet their salary expenditure has been halved over the past three seasons.  Angelos failed to convince Abe Polin, owner of Washington’s Capitals and Wizards, to form a jointly owned cable sports network.  Instead Angelos’ Orioles signed with the newly formed Comcast Sports Net, which replaced CBS owned, but somehow Fox Sports Net affiliated Home Team Sports or HTS.  Perhaps a lost advantage in profitability has changed Angelos from a “have owner” to a want to be perceived as a “have-not owner.”

The number one thing coming out of Peter Angelos’ mouth lately has been that the Orioles could not compete—as if they’ve been trying over the past two years—if a team were relocated to Washington, DC.  There have been talks of buying Angelos out of the market with a lump sum settlement, something Angelos is famous for in the legal world.  As of yet, there have been no real proposals as to what value would be placed upon the Washington market share currently under Orioles control.  Perhaps this coming together of Selig and Angelos is a bargain—as corrupt a bargain as imaginable.  Angelos agrees to try to stick it to the players win-or-lose and Selig agrees that no team is transplanted to Washington, DC.

Angelos is not only a dove based upon his vote not to unilaterally implement the owners’ last offer in 1994, a decision that led to the strike being declared an Unfair Labor Practice Strike, protected against permanent replacements with a return to the status quo ante or former Collective Bargaining Agreement, but he also was one of the owners to vote against the then new rule that created a necessary 75% super-majority for the owners to agree on a CBA.  He appears as well informed on the legalities of baseball’s labor relations positions as anyone including the MLBPA, despite his ineptitude in putting together a competitive team on the field.  Remember that Angelos is one of the most successful attorneys in the country in taking on corporations, and settling with a large gain for his clients as well as himself.  Perhaps its this settlement and negotiations experience that Selig is putting to use.

Angelos made the majority of his practice and money representing plaintiffs, including unions that were involved in asbestos work.  He worked at Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore as solo practitioner and that led to a strong relationship with the Baltimore Building and Construction Trades Council and the Steelworkers’ Union.  He sued on behalf of thousands of steelworkers after finding out that many of them had been unknowingly exposed to the latent effects of asbestos.  I believe he also pursued claims on behalf of Union health care funds.  This experience in toxic torts led to lead paint litigation as well as representing the State of Maryland in the recent tobacco litigation.  Many construction trade unions visit Camden Yards to view how it was constructed and use it for training.  Also, several unions advertise on Orioles broadcasts and at OPACY.  Angelos has a very good relationship with labor and understands how union leaders think.

I think that addition of Angelos to the PRC can be viewed as a positive sign since he does have a much more positive view of unions than do the majority of owners.  Additionally, in the past, he has voted against a lot of the mistaken labor policies his fellow owners have pursued.  Angelos’ experience in high pressure negotiations can also be considered a plus.  But, one always has to wonder if a deal was cut between Selig and Angelos that puts a stranglehold on baseball in Washington.  As with most Selig maneuvers secret deals and lies are the order of the day.  I fear Selig may have silenced a powerful enemy with this latest move rather than moved the parties closer to settlement.  Until Selig states that Washington and Baltimore couldn’t sustain two teams I will consider this a positive move, but I’m not holding my breath.

Eugene Freedman Posted: April 12, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Michael Posted: April 15, 2002 at 12:28 AM (#605127)
How did the Orioles acquire a legal right to have exclusive access to their local marketplace (supposedly including Washington, D.C.? Must have happened since 1972 I suppose. I understand how putting a team there disrupts profit expectations, but how does that equate to having other owners compensate the Orioles? Or is this just a bunch of bluster and there really isn't any legal right to compensation?
   2. brian Posted: November 03, 2002 at 01:00 AM (#607023)
I cannot understand how Peter Angelos's arguments against a team in D.C. are not challenged by anyone. His statements are ridiculous. His main argument has always been you can't have two teams in the same market and still perform well economically. In a recent Washington Post article, he uses examples of Boston, Atlanta, and St. Louis. What large(r) cities are near these cities? What about New York, Chicago, the Bay area, and L.A./Anaheim? He even suggests moving the Expos to New Jersey. Wouldn't that interfere with the New York markets? Thats possibly the most hypocritical statement ever.
The fact is the D.C. metro area is at least twice as large as B'More's. The D.C. area is in the top 3 of average salary per person and has two of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., including Fairfax County, Va which is in the top 3. Even recall that that for 14 years or so, B'more had no football team but then they stole the Browns. Washington, D.C., contrary to Angelos's view, is not a suburb of B'more. Its the capital of the U.S., making it the most important and powerful city in the world. There is no reason whatsoever that it should have to support a loser team in another city. Selig could try to restore his tarnished image by moving the Expos to D.C. thus providing an up and coming team a major market.

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