The rumor coming out of the LaCava negotiations is that LaCava asked for essentially full control of the Orioles, which Peter Angelos balked at and derailed the talks. I can understand that- after all, Angelos has done a fantastic job so far, as the only common thread throughout fourteen consecutive losing seasons. I don’t know if it is ego or just blindness, but Angelos still appears to believe that he deserves a seat at the table. And why not, he is the owner after all. But as BSR has pointed out, at this point it is just another embarrassing anecdote in the story of this team. However, a lot of rumors and conjecture come out of negotiations, and there is a decent chance that it wasn’t control but something else that ended the LaCava talks. The problem that the Orioles face is that at this point it no longer matters. Their credibility is such that any accusation, no matter how outlandish, makes decent sense to the majority of Baltimore fans.
The Orioles can no longer make statements like those last year when they were allegedly just two million off of the Tigers offer for Victor Martinez, or that they really did make a competitive offer for Paul Konerko and others. Whether it is true or not, the losing and utter ineptitude of the front office has set the tone. I wouldn’t even say it is simply the losing seasons, either. Each time the Orioles have put together a long-term plan it has either been rushed into place years early or scuttled before it has a chance to mature. And that isn’t the fans’ fault, I have a hard time seeing them coming to fewer games than they already do. That is due to internal pressures or a belief that this team is back long before it really is.
Baltimore does have some good pieces in place. Adam Jones is a star in the making, Nick Markakis is an above average player who might never reach superstardom but is a solid outfielder, J.J. Hardy is great when healthy, and Matt Wieters is one of the best defensive catchers in the game whose offense is improving. If some of the pitching can regain their form they might have a decent nucleus. The problem is that a lot of bad teams have some good players scattered over their roster, and those teams don’t have to play in the toughest division in baseball under some of the worst management in baseball.
Having decently loyal fans is great, but we know that attendance is slipping more every year to the point where having “great fans” is a moot point when they aren’t coming to the games anymore (with good reason I might add). Simply put, the job of General Manager of the Baltimore Orioles is the worst job in baseball. If someone doesn’t get full and complete control of the team then they are essentially hopeless; you are taking such a huge risk coming here that you need every tool at your disposal and the freedom to make your own moves.
The Orioles no longer have the credibility to deflect any rumors, because they are all too believable at this point. If you had told me that LaCava had turned down the gig because he was told he would have to share an office in the basement I would have at least paused to consider it. There is no track record to make anyone believe them anymore. The team needs to put up wins or the last remaining fans will just stop listening (most already have). But as we have seen throughout sports, no one can stop a team from its own inept management- revenue sharing will all but ensure a profit, and I am sure that thousands of fans have said “now they really have to step up” but nothing external will make them do it. Incompetence in ownership in professional sports has a way of lingering long past the time when it has done inexorable harm to the team and its brand (i.e. Frank McCourt and the Dodgers). Count me among those who won’t be holding his breath on Baltimore getting their act together anytime soon.