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Angelos Says Plenty

This is a perfect recipe for dysfunction and the Orioles repeat it year after year. Why do you think so few superior free agents want to sign with Baltimore? Why do others in baseball say that the Orioles try to compete using "Confederate money"? It's because precious few stars are going to pick a town where a 77-year-old plays favorites among his athletes and ultimately makes any goofy decision he wants. No matter how capricious, even if he's comparing home runs to hospital visits.

"It's just another Angelos story to add to the list," one baseball executive said. "He affects everything they do. They may never overcome him. Why would they want a first baseman when they can overpay for middle relievers and have four DHs?"

What elite high school draft pick, choosing between the Orioles and a career in college, wouldn't be swayed to stay in school by the universal mocking of Angelos's reputation for meddling? The grapevine buzz was dwindling about the draft day when Angelos reversed his scouting director and changed the team's top picks at the last minute. Now it'll get new legs.

What rival GM wants to spend his time, especially in trading-deadline situations, working on a complex deal with the Orioles when it's known how often Angelos has erased all the work at the last minute? How will Roberts now feel about Flanagan and Duquette? And how enthusiastic will the Atlanta Braves feel about working up another big deal with Baltimore?

What Orioles star, in his walk year, wants to put his faith in Baltimore's ability to negotiate a new contract during the season? After all, from Rafael Palmeiro to Mike Mussina, the Orioles' owner has dawdled for months on big contracts -- paralyzing all parties -- as his asbestos-wrangling background misinforms him that more time off the clock equals more negotiating leverage.

"I would like to give our fans a winner. That doesn't mean upon that happening that I would then sell the team. I have no real interest in selling the team," Angelos said. Of course, he doesn't. He wants to be vindicated -- on his terms.

"I really want to take away all that criticism you guys are able to lob," Angelos said amiably to reporters Sunday. "It's my way of getting even. Of course, it bothers you. No one likes to be criticized, but you have to deal with it. I am the managing partner, so I have to take the heat. And I make the decisions, so I should take the heat."

Sigh. How sad can it get? For the Orioles, their fans and Angelos, too. He's finally got it half right. He is the person to blame. But he doesn't understand why. His curse is that he wants to win so much, be loved and cheered so much, that he simply can't loosen control. He's the boss, so he thinks he has to rule his own fate, "make the decisions."

But he doesn't have to. And he shouldn't. He's no good at it. That's been proved. It's never going to change. Angelos doesn't have to sell his club. But he has to take his hands off its throat because, as we see again, he's still strangling to death the team he loves.

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