First, it was “next week.” Then, it was “before spring training is over.” Now, Orioles CEO and Chairman John Angelos has self-imposed two deadlines to go over the team’s finances with Baltimore reporters and has twice failed to follow through.
The Orioles played their final spring training game Monday, more than two months after Angelos initially told media members he would welcome them back to Camden Yards within the week to “show you the financials of the Orioles” and a month after he said he would instead hold that meeting before the team’s exhibition slate ended. An Orioles spokesperson did not respond to multiple requests for comment from either the team or Angelos as to why the meeting has yet to take place.
“When I say something — like I’m gonna sit down with you guys, explain the business from my perspective — I’m gonna do it,” Angelos said at the Orioles’ spring training complex in February. “I’m not gonna say it and walk away from it.”
The Orioles, though, begin the regular season Thursday, and Angelos has yet to come anywhere close to being as transparent as he claims to be. While there are undoubtedly insights to be gleaned from the team’s financial information, it’s also significant that the person running the organization has repeatedly spewed falsehoods about actions he intends to take. The leap between “Angelos lied about ‘X,’ so he must be lying about ‘Y’” is a massive one. But when Angelos has twice looked media members in the eyes, told them he would do something, then did not, it invites questions of what else he has been insincere about.
Angelos’ latest failure to follow through comes on the verge of what’s expected to be an exciting season for the Orioles; their rebuild is over, the roster is littered with young talent and more is on the way as the organization openly broadcasts that its goal is to make the playoffs. But it also figures to be an eventful year off the field.
The team had the option to extend its lease with the Maryland Stadium Authority by five years but declined, meaning it will expire Dec. 31 unless a new agreement is reached; a long-term lease would allow for $600 million in publicly funded upgrades and updates to Oriole Park. Angelos has long said the Orioles won’t leave Baltimore, and earlier this month, he and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore toured Atlanta’s Truist Park and the surrounding entertainment district to gather ideas for aspects to apply to the area around Camden Yards.
Although Angelos’ family legal drama — pitting him and his mother, Georgia, against his brother, Louis, over the estate of ailing family patriarch and Orioles principal owner Peter Angelos — has been resolved, the team’s time in court isn’t over. The New York Court of Appeals is hearing arguments between the Orioles and Washington Nationals over more than $100 million in rights fees from the co-owned Mid-Atlantic Sports Network the latter says are owed to it by the former. John Angelos is also the CEO of MASN.
Last week, Forbes reported that the Orioles were baseball’s fourth-most profitable team in 2022, estimating the team’s operating income — defined by Forbes as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization — as $66.7 million. Meanwhile, the club’s projected opening day payroll is $61.9 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Despite representing a more than 40% increase on 2022′s league-low figure, it’s still the second lowest in the majors. Last month, Angelos cited the Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Guardians and Milwaukee Brewers as model franchises for the Orioles, pointing to their “sustained success” despite their market sizes; none of those three teams has won a World Series in the past 75 years, and only once in the past decade have any of their payrolls ranked in the top half of the league at the start of a season.
The Forbes figures — which have the Orioles’ increase in value since last year at 25%, tied for the second largest in the majors — are the public’s only way to gauge the business side of the organization unless Angelos sets a third deadline to open the books and actually delivers. His initial offer to share the Orioles’ financial information was one he made of his own volition, coming unprompted within a five-minute rant about being asked a question about his family’s future owning the team on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the date the team scheduled Angelos’ first media availability in 11 months.
“I’ve been very outspoken; I’m very transparent,” Angelos said Jan. 16. “In fact, I would invite you and all your colleagues next week — not on Martin Luther King Day — you can come back in this building [the B&O Warehouse], you can meet me in this office. I’ll take you down on the third floor, and I’ll show you the financials of the Orioles. I’ll show you the governance of the Orioles. I’ll show you everything you want to know, and I’ll put all your questions [to bed]. But today, on MLK Day, I’m not answering any of those questions.”
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The following week, as Angelos left Baltimore County Circuit Court following what proved to be the last hearing in the family’s legal battle, a reporter asked whether he intended to have that financial meeting with reporters. Before giving a general response about the team’s bright on-field future that did not answer the question, Angelos laughed.
No meeting took place before the Orioles reported to their Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Florida, for spring training. After watching a Feb. 19 workout, Angelos fielded questions for nearly 40 minutes, discussing the team’s lease, payroll and ownership situation. Reminded of his offer to bring reporters back to the B&O Warehouse and asked whether he planned to go over finances with them, Angelos began his response by joking that he knew spring training was approaching and thus there wouldn’t be a warehouse to invite reporters to; the team’s first pitchers and catchers workout happened a month to the day after Angelos’ “next week” comment.
Angelos could’ve continued his response in a similar direction. The question offered him an opportunity to backtrack, to say his initial offer was guided by emotion and not logic and that he didn’t intend to have the meeting; after all, privately owned teams are in no way required to disclose their financial information. The about-face would go against Angelos’ claims of transparency, but at least it would be honest.
Instead, he doubled down.
“I’m not gonna be able to pull out the payrolls and show you everything financially, but I will give you a full picture for the business,” he said. “I can give you certainly a picture for what our objectives are on the field, but really, I want you to understand, at least my view, whether you agree with it or not, on the context of our vision off the field and in the community. I think if you don’t have to have that part of it, you’re not going to understand where I’m coming from or where the organization is trying to go, and I want you to understand that, so if it means sitting down and putting up on a whiteboard, ‘This is the club. This is how it all fits together and where we’re trying to go,’ I’ll do that. So more to follow on that. Before spring training is over, I will sit down with you guys, as I said I would.”
Angelos followed up by saying that he’s delivered on other promises both between and outside of the lines. The Orioles have enjoyed a relatively successful rebuild, possessing what’s universally regarded as the sport’s top minor league system and coming off a season in which they won 31 more games than the previous year. After Camden Yards hadn’t hosted a major concert for much of its first three decades, the venue has now welcomed music icons Billy Joel and Paul McCartney with Bruce Springsteen set to perform at Oriole Park in September.
Hopefully, The Boss is better at meeting deadlines than the Orioles’ is.