A New Day? Or Status Quo?

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, June 18, 2007 | 0 comments »

As you no doubt know by now, Sam Perlozzo was dismissed as manager of the Baltimore Orioles today. I don't think anyone that follows the O's found it much of a surprise. Having three losing streaks of worse than five games will pretty much seal any manager's fate. The O's have alot of problems, and lots of people are talking about all of them today. What makes me wonder is if Peter Angelos really understands any of it.

By all accounts, he's a tremendously successful lawyer. And since I know a little bit about the personalities of some pretty tremendous lawyers first-hand, I'll give you a tip: good lawyers are good lawyers, and need to surround themselves with good business, management and technology people to make their law practice work. Because it takes a tremendous amount of energy to be a tremendous lawyer. There's a good reason that turnover is so high at the biggest law firms. It's freaking hard work. Not many people survive it to have long, fruitful careers. Burn-out is as common as the sun rising and it really takes a particular personality to succeed as a lawyer.

All of which brings me back to Angelos. I think what makes him a great lawyer might be the very things that keeps him from being a great owner, and in turn, keeps the Orioles from being a great baseball team. He is noted for being competitive and involved in all aspects of the team. He is accused of undermining his baseball staff in personnel matters. He keeps his personal business out of the paper, and he never shows his face in public. And recently, has become more controlling of the content being released to the media.

Now at its very core, baseball is a business that needs the public buying a product to show a profit, both monetarily and performance-wise. Teams need people to come to the games. Teams need people to watch games on tv. Teams need people to buy hats and t-shirts. Teams need people to buy popcorn and beer and hot dogs and crab cakes and whatever else artery-clogging food they sell at the ballpark. Anyway, does it seem like it makes good business sense to then limit public exposure, either to your team or, if you're the owner, to yourself? The media likes to criticize Mark Cuban for his sometimes outlandish behaviour. But you know what, every time his face pops up on tv, he's selling the Mavericks.

I guess the point I'm trying to ake is that if Peter Angelos is looking for advice on how to run his ballclub he should surround himself with better people with experience in running a ballclub. I'm sure his sons and Joe Foss were good people and had great intentions, but I hardly think being lawyers made them good candidates to run a baseball franchise. If the rumors are true that Angelos is bringing in Andy McPhail to be the COO, that is a great step. O's fans can only hope he'll have the authority needed to make the important baseball decisions and let Mr. Angelos continue to do the things he's done for so long to become a great lawyer and running his practice of law. Because he has certainly proven, without a shred of doubt, that he is incapable of running the practice of a major league baseball team.