Saturday, February 20, 2010

Orioles: Sleeping Giant?

Hey, I didn't say it. Brian Cashman did:
The Oriole way is coming back real quick. I went to high school and college in the DC area, so I know how important the Orioles are to that area. It's a sleeping giant that will emerge again, I promise you.
As soon as I read this, I knew I had read it somewhere before, and it didn't take me long to track down the source, The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty by Buster Olney. Here are a few excerpts, quotes beginning on page 179 if you're following along at home:
The balance of power in the American League East seemed to be at stake after the 1995 season...The Yankees were gaining strength but still not fully reestablished, the Boston Red Sox were a playoff team lacking depth, and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos was intent on turning his club into a powerhouse...During the run of championships, the Yankees' greatest good fortune may well have been in sharing a division with rivals infected by crippling dysfunction. Yankees officials viewed the Baltimore Orioles, the Boston Red Sox, and the Toronto Blue Jays with fear and fascination: they were dangerous franchises, with high payrolls and formidable potential for developing revenue streams, but they never consistently challenged the Yankees...The Orioles were a cash machine, thriving because of the popularity of their home field.
Olney goes on to detail the folly that was the Orioles of the late 90s (and remember, he covered the O's beat in 1995 and 1996), but he does close with this line: "Baltimore never finished closer than 13 1/2 games to the Yankees from 1998 to 2001, and before they would rebound, Angelos would have to learn to trust others, it seemed." Given that immediately following this statement Olney describes the Red Sox failures under Dan Duquette--and that we know how a GM change worked out in Boston--I can only hope that Olney's words about Angelos ring true.

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