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Orioles CEO John Angelos Honors A Civil Rights Icon Through A Fit Of Bullying

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

John Angelos chose to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by being a bully. 

Angelos, the country music-lovin’ son of ailing absentee Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, made a rare appearance before the press yesterday to announce the team’s participation in a college scholarship program. John Angelos has been put in charge of the team in his dad’s prolonged absence, and along with other family members he’s currently playing a leading role in the top soap opera in sports, one that has exposed the ownership group as disorganized and dysfunctional. On Monday the team was hoping to push the drama to one side and bask in a little goodwill through the announcement of a $5 million donation to the CollegeBound Foundation, a group that helps students from Baltimore Public Schools attend college. All that was required was for Angelos, sitting alongside Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, to say a few positive words and face the local media gaggle on the holiday honoring the late civil rights leaders. That last part may have been a bridge too far for Angelos.

Trouble began when Dan Connolly of The Athletic briefly referenced the lack of media availability during this tumultuous time for O’s ownership while asking Angelos to lay out “your vision, your plan” for the local team. 

“That’s not an appropriate subject matter for this day,” Angelo said. "It's really not important at all in the grand scheme of things to people that are clear thinking and who mean well and have a perspective.” 

Angelos, who just before laying into Connolly had said that "Dr. King would appreciate" if the media stuck to non-sports questions, continued demonstrating the level head and business acumen that has benefited the O's. Here's a representative and needlessly testy exchange between a guy in charge of an MLB franchise and a reporter covering it, a sort of "Who's On First?" if either Abbott or Costello were being a real dick:

Angelos: Do we understand each other? Do you understand my complaint?

Connolly: Well…

Angelos: Wait a second. I want to finish my comment because I'm going to answer your question. 

Connolly: You just asked me a question, so I was gonna comment, but you go ahead. You finish yourself. 

Angelos: I find that to be highly inappropriate and I think that your focus is completely out of touch and has no perspective whatsoever on what real world people face and what the real pillar and role of an organization like the Orioles and Ravens ought to be.

Connolly didn’t deserve condescension and insults. The lack of contact between the Angelos family and the public has been an issue for some time. The utter invisibility of O’s ownership, in fact, was a hot topic in the last baseball press gaggle arranged by John Angelos, and that was back in 2018. John Angelos and younger brother Louis Angelos had stepped out to introduce Michael Elias as GM. Their father, Peter Angelos, hadn’t talked to the press in four years at that point, and unspecified health problems were cited at that presser and ever since for the patriarch’s absences. At the Elias presser, John Angelos and brother Louis Angelos were asked if they would be more “transparent.” 

“We live here. We grew up here. We spent our whole lives here,” John Angelos said, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun (Connolly’s former employer). “We’re not going anywhere, so we’ll be available, yes.”

But he never lived up to that availability pledge. Most of the dealings any Angelos has had with the press in the four-plus years since the Elias press conference haven’t been to discuss baseball, but have been related to the fascinating family feud that has all Peter Angelos’s heirs—John Angelos, Louis Angelos, and their mom, Georgia Angelos—waging war in courts of law and the court of public opinion over control of the estate. What’s more, according to several reports, John Angelos didn’t even live in Baltimore full time when he made the we-live-here boast; he and his wife, Margaret Valentine, bought a mansion outside Nashville in 2014 and moved in. Angelos’s mingling of team business and his wife’s country music promotion career over the last several years were what instigated rumors that Nashville was a potential future home for the O’s. (Had Connolly asked Angelos a question about Garth Brooks, the response would likely have been less whiny.)

Angelos tried playing the Baltimore bona fides card with Connolly yesterday, also. He briefly interrupted his phony diatribe against talking baseball on MLK Day to ask Connolly, “Are you from here?”

“Yes I am,” Connolly said. (If he were as big a weenie as John Angelos was, Connolly could have pointed out that Peter Angelos is actually from Pittsburgh, not Baltimore.)

Angelos went on to once again pledge accessibility and transparency on the Oriole's financials and governance. No one should be holding their breath on that. Connolly held his own not only in the moment, but when he got back to his keyboard. His account of his run-in with Angelos, which ran in The Athletic this morning, pulls no punches. He even gets in a line from little brother Louis about how John is the only male in the historically litigious family to never pass the bar exam. Damn!

No bully has fared worse since the Gatlin Boys in “Coward of the County.” As John Angelos could surely tell you, that’s a classic country song from Kenny Rogers that says the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice. 

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