For the past quarter-century, John and Louis Angelos have participated in the upper management of the Orioles franchise in a variety of ways, but only on rare occasions have either one of them done so in the public eye.
Louis helped organize the effort that resulted in the historic home-and-home goodwill series between the Orioles and a group of Cuban all-stars in 1999. John has served as executive vice president of the team since that same year and has also overseen the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network since its inception in 2005.
Both were essentially ownership apprentices while their father, managing partner Peter Angelos, retained full authority over the Orioles franchise, so they largely remained in the background until their father’s declining health made it necessary for them to assume control of the team about a year ago.
Still, both sons continued to maintain a low profile until they sat on either side of new executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias at a well-choreographed introductory news conference Monday in the home clubhouse at Camden Yards.
The slick and savvy presentation seemed to signal a new era of both Orioles baseball and O’s management. Elias was the center of attention, but the event also had the feel of a coming-out party for the two men who worked so hard to find the perfect candidate to turn the organization back in the right direction.
John seemed to hint at that when he was asked late in the question-and-answer period whether the brothers would be more visible now that they have put their stamp on the baseball operation.
“I characterize this forum as ‘transparent,’ ” he said. “I look at this as a conversation that we’re all having. Obviously, it’s occasioned by the very exciting happening of bringing in Mike as the GM of the O’s. So, that’s a great reason to sit down and have a conversation, but does that mean we’ll be more available? We live here. We grew up here. We’ve spent our lives here. We’re not going anywhere. So, we’ll be available, yes.”
Whether that means there will be more on-the-record interaction between ownership and the media remains to be seen, but that statement cleared up a few questions that have simmered while the club battled through a team-record 115-loss season, saw attendance fall to a 37-year low and the MASN dispute with the Washington Nationals inch toward a conclusion.
John seemed to be saying he and his family intend to own the club for a long time and they have no intention of moving the franchise out of the region. That should come as a relief to any fans who sensed a bad outcome from the MASN arbitration might force the team to leave town.
He went even further to put everyone’s mind at ease, saying the outcome of the MASN case would have no effect on the resources available to Elias to carry out his mission to modernize the baseball operation and return the Orioles to prominence as quickly as possible.
What also seemed apparent was the way in which John and Louis Angelos will divide their supervision of the franchise. John has always seemed more interested in the business side. Louis, who also has played an important role in his father’s successful law firm, has been more focused on the team in recent years.
During the news conference, John talked about the importance of maintaining the team’s positive “influence and impact” on the community. Louis focused some of his comments on the importance of the Orioles fully integrating 21st-century analytics into the club’s long-term strategic vision.
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“We had the great benefit of meeting with so many qualified candidates and learning about some of the different operations and ideas,’’ Louis said. “What came through, and as we all have heard so much about, is the move to quantitative analysis in baseball. … We learned from all the candidates that it was essential that, as we reinvest in our baseball operations, that we work diligently to get our staff up to speed, that we work collaboratively to move in that direction.”
Perhaps the message that resonated most with fans was not delivered at the news conference, but in the press release announcing Elias will have “full autonomy to build his staff and make decisions on all baseball matters that he believes will make the Orioles successful on the field, entertaining to fans and impactful in the community."
That was in the very first paragraph of the release and it was re-emphasized Monday.
“Fundamental organizational management is about everybody playing their position, much like team sports,’’ John said. “The idea is that ownership has a role to play and that’s a very discreet role. The obligation is to get the best people in each discreet position, to get the absolute best business operations head, get the absolute best baseball operations person involved and give them the resources and let them do the job.”
If that created tremendous pressure on the team’s new managing partners to get their first major hire right, John said they tried not to look at it that way.
“We want to be sitting here talking with Mike about all the great things we’ve accomplished as an organization five, 10, 15 and 20 years from now,’’ he said. “This isn’t something you do and hope you do it again. Sure, pressure, but obligation is the way we looked at it.”
Note: The Orioles have agreed to terms with infielder Chris Bostick, right-hander Jeffeson Medina, infielder Jace Peterson and infielder Zachary Vincej on 2019 minor league contracts.