And while he's at it, pay the help (no, not the players) better, too.
By Christopher Heun
Twice this summer I have made the trip from New York back to the house in the Baltimore suburbs where I grew up to help my parents prepare to sell it. There are 30 years worth of memories packed into that house, and they all have to go, along with an attic full of clutter.
The house was a fixer-upper when my parents bought it, and they spent nearly three decades in a state of perpetual rehab. Just when they managed to finish remodeling the upstairs bedrooms, the dining room needed more work. They’re still wrapping up a few final projects – a little painting in the basement, some fresh plaster on a couple of ceilings – before they hang the "For Sale" sign in the front yard.
At some point during all the moving of boxes out of the attic - possibly while I was rediscovering my baseball card collection - it struck me that the house is a lot like the Orioles, a project "with plenty of potential" as the realtors like to say but nevertheless demanding considerable attention and care.
If owner Peter Angelos ever decided to remodel his own home, he would take so long to replace the plumbing that all of the rooms would fall into disrepair. That scenario is playing out on the field, too. By the time the team’s young pitching matures, players like Tejada, Mora and Roberts will be past their primes.
Imagine if Angelos and the O’s were ever a guest on "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition." The verdict would be to dismantle the roster and rebuild it from scratch. Instead, the obstinate owner has made his bed and forced O’s fans to sleep in it. Snuggling at night with Angelos’ Gollum-like puss would give even the bravest soul nightmares.
Many fans have had enough. They’re not coming out to the ballpark any more. “Through 70 home games, attendance is down nearly 6,000 a game,” Rick Maese reported in The Sun last month. “The Orioles are almost assured of finishing the year with the biggest attendance drop-off in franchise history. About 450,000 fewer fans will have bought tickets to games this season.”
Tune in Sept. 21 to see how many people are so disgusted by Angelos that they’re willing to join a formal “Take Back the Birds” protest during a home game against the Tigers, asking him to sell the team. It seems this crowd is changing the "Extreme Makeover" catchphrase from "Move that bus" to "Move that owner."
The idea sounds like a winner until you realize it’s just a publicity stunt for a local radio station. And, it asks participants to buy a ticket to that day’s game, which makes you wonder if the Orioles promotional department didn’t have a say in organizing the event.
A different sort of Angelos protest, more worthy of support and media attention, has already been taking place at Orioles games. The United Workers Association, which organized a co-op of low-wage workers at Camden Yards, has been demanding a living wage for day laborers for three years.
The group protested outside Angelos's downtown Baltimore headquarters in June. The previous month, more than 40 cleaners and supporters gathered outside of Camden Yards to demand that Angelos approve a worker-owned cleaning company that UWA says “will pay workers a living wage without costing the stadium or Orioles a penny more.”
Last year, the United Workers Association convinced Knight Facilities Management, the company paid to perform janitorial work at Camden Yards, to sign an agreement adopting a code of conduct.
The Baltimore Independent Media Center reported:
“For the past eight years workers who clean Camden Yards after baseball games have endured working without pay, sexual harassment, no breaks, blacklisting, and gone without any mechanism to voice these grievances. The Code of Conduct signed by Knight Facilities Management recognizes their commitment to putting an end to these abuses.”
The organizer of the “Take Back the Birds” protest (who shall not be named here) acknowledges: “The Angelos group purchased the team. It is a business. They bought it fair and square and, sadly, it’s theirs to tear down, destroy or sell – fans and customers be damned.”
He's exactly right. And, for the time being at least, Peter Angelos isn't following my parents' lead by putting a "For Sale" sign out on Eutaw Street. So, rather than waste their time on Sept. 21, O’s fans with a mind for protesting would be better off joining the fight for a living wage. A janitor making $7 an hour just might thank them.
An interview with a former worker at Camden Yards who powerwashed the seats after O’s games.
The Saginaw News reported that Knight Facilities Management agreed give pay raises to UWA workers.
More details about Angelos blocking workers from forming their own cleaning subcontractor at Camden Yards.
And speaking of Rick Maese, he continues building The Sun's case for Cal to replace Peter at the top.