Steinbrenner, Angelos spend, but only one uses heavy meddle

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- It's a natural comparison that doesn't quite hold up in the end.

Peter Angelos and George Steinbrenner?

OK, they're both rich guys who have spent millions trying to build the best ballclubs money can buy.

OK, they're both major-league owners with strong opinions and unwavering belief in them, to say the least.

OK, they're emotional guys with big egos who don't exactly run from the spotlight.

On a superficial level, it's almost impossible not to compare the owners of the Orioles and Yankees, the teams that will open the American League Championship Series today -- if it ever stops raining.

But they're not as alike as you would think.

Not nearly.

True, they were both born on the Fourth of July, they both raise and race thoroughbreds, they don't mind doing the general manager's job at times and they don't blink at spending whatever it takes to win.

One New York tabloid was so moved by the similarities that it ran an Angelos-Steinbrenner "Tale of the Tape" yesterday.

But are they really two peas in a pod?

Not even close.

And not just because Angelos is a Democrat and Steinbrenner is a Republican.

Their differences run far deeper than that, particularly in the baseball sense. Why? Because one is George Steinbrenner and the other is not.

As much as Angelos is known around Baltimore for impressing his forceful personality on the Orioles, he can't touch Steinbrenner's long-running circus act.

All Angelos has done is run off some obscure front-office types and block a couple of trades.

Peanuts!

Steinbrenner is just getting warmed up at that point.

Angelos hasn't kicked some opposing players' wives out of a luxury box or almost gotten into a fight with one of his team's legends on a bus ride to the airport.

Steinbrenner found the time to do all that while the Yankees were eliminating the Rangers last week.

Nor has Angelos been suspended by baseball for his involvement with a gambler, as Steinbrenner was in the early '90s.

Angelos hasn't called a news conference during the World Series to announce he had been mugged in an elevator by Dodgers fans, as Steinbrenner did in 1981.

Maybe Angelos isn't the easiest guy to work for, considering that he has owned the Orioles for three years and already fired two managers.

But that's stability according to Steinbrenner, who has changed managers 20 times in 23 years.

This is a guy who fired the same manager five times!

Angelos has the potential to follow a similar course, but he's still a rookie-leaguer by comparison.

Maybe it's just a function of the size of the stage Steinbrenner works on, but no owner in any sport can come close to matching his track record for blustery meddling.

Angelos almost comes off as a hands-off, low-profile guy by comparison, which he certainly isn't, as Johnny Oates will gladly testify. (Poor Johnny was so shaken by his tenure with the Orioles that he can't even call them by name. He calls them "my former employers.")

Still, Angelos is no Little Boss.

Angelos doesn't hang around the players; he had never even met many of them until he finally went on a trip to Seattle in July.

Nor does Angelos blatantly avail himself to reporters around the ballpark, as Steinbrenner does.

Steinbrenner charges into the press box night after night to issue "statements" designed to keep the Yankees on the back page of the tabloids.

There really is no comparison.

The Yankees are making a run in the playoffs for the first time since 1981, yet Steinbrenner still can't stop making nutty news off the field.

Last week, he kicked the Rangers' wives out of a luxury box at Yankee Stadium because, he said, they were making too much noise during the first game of their series. The tabloids called it WifeGate.

Then, as the Yankees were preparing to go to Texas last week, Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson boarded a team bus and wound up in a shouting match with Steinbrenner.

According to the New York Daily News, Jackson, who works for the Yankees as a special adviser, was told by Steinbrenner, "You don't go anywhere unless I tell you."

To which Jackson replied: "I'm sick and tired of being embarrassed by you. I'm sick and tired of being humiliated."

When Steinbrenner asked Jackson to explain what he meant, Jackson said, "You treat me like an animal. I'm sick and tired of you treating me like an animal."

Angelos may get input from "nonprofessional" baseball sources, fulminate privately in his box and drive his front office nuts with his strong opinions, but he can't come close to matching Steinbrenner.

There is only one of those.

Pub Date: 10/09/96

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