AS THE new baseball season warms up, the Orioles and their new, free-spending owner, Peter G. Angelos, are bound to get a lot of attention from national sports writers. One of the first entries is from Tim Kurkjian, one-time baseball writer for The Sun who now works for Sports Illustrated. Some of his comments:
"No city needs or deserves local, caring ownership of its team more than Baltimore, a neighborhood-oriented, blue-collar town whose citizens are still somewhat paranoid after losing the NFL Colts and the NBA Bullets. This is a convivial, crab-cake-and-beer town, and it made for a horrible match with the aloof, reclusive [former owner Eli] Jacobs.
"He screamed at underlings for the slightest transgression and showed little regard for the team's heritage -- he once gave Jim Palmer, the greatest Oriole pitcher ever, the cold shoulder at a Washington restaurant . . .
" 'Eli didn't care if the ball club won or lost,' says one Oriole employee, 'as long as the food was on time.'
"By comparison, Angelos is Baltimore. He's an engaging little man (although he's 5'6", he likes to point out that 'I weigh 175 pounds, I wear a 43 jacket -- I'm not little') who drives his own car, works 14-hour days, eats lunch at his desk and seems at ease with everyone.
" 'I've spoken more to Peter in four months than I did with Mr. Jacobs in four years,' [manager Johnny] Oates says. At a Baltimore restaurant this winter Angelos gleefully engaged in a debate with an 11-year-old boy on ways to improve the team. He even discusses trade possibilities openly with the media, claiming that 'the more the public knows, the better.' "
Quite a contrast, not just with Eli Jacobs but also his predecessor Edward Bennett Williams, whose passion for baseball was more cerebral than from the heart, as it is with Mr. Angelos.