I may catch some flack from some O's fans for saying this. I don't mean to offend those of you that this post addresses, it's just that... well, we've gotten lazy. You see, I've been watching the Orioles lose for the past 14 years just like the rest of you.
I've been listening to Orioles fans curse the name of Peter Angelos for years now. After all, it's his fault for not putting a winning team on the field, or so the logic goes. Now listen, I'm not here to say that Angelos is without blame.
The truth is, I honestly don't know the full extent to which the Angelos family is involved in baseball / business decisions. I would imagine it's safe to say they have significant input given their positions within the organization:
Peter Angelos - Chairman of the Board / Chief Executive Officer (Owner)
John Angelos - Executive Vice President
The problem is, we don't know what input or decision-making power the Angelos' have in baseball or business decisions. There has been A LOT of speculation, but at the end of the day we just plain don't know.
The most egregious complaint in my mind however, is about the money the team spends. Fans often claim that Peter Angelos doesn't want to spend money, that all he cares about is pocketing revenues. To address this, let's look at some data from the past few years...
FACT 1 - The Orioles were the last team not named Yankees to lead MLB in payroll.
According to this website the Orioles outspent the New York Yankees by about $6 Million in 1998, spending a total of $71,860,921 on player contracts. To give some context, that would be the equivalent of $101,070,212.38 in 2012 dollars.
FACT 2 - In 2000 the Orioles spent the equivalent of $108,451,977.36.
The Baltimore Orioles 2000 payroll came in at $81,447,435 putting them in 4th place behind the Yankees, Dodgers & Braves. That doesn't sound like an owner pocketing money to me.
FACT 3 - The Orioles have spent over $90 Million on payroll within the past 5 years.
Hard to believe, but in 2007 the Orioles payroll came in at $93,554,808 according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. In today's dollars that comes out to roughly $103,489,831.86. Even at $93 Million the O's weren't among the top five in the league, coming in at 10th overall in terms of payroll.
Listen, I get it. Payrolls of $67 Million, $73 Million, and $84 Million don't exactly make us believe that they're putting in a full effort to build the team. The facts though are that as the team gets younger, more of the players are cost-controlled and will receive big raises when they are closer to free agency (a la Adam Jones). The team likely can and very well might expand payroll as attendance picks up and the roster demands it. I just don't see using player salaries as a good point of emphasis when complaining about the team's leadership.
So, sorry Orioles fans. You're going to have to find something else to complain about because the facts just don't support your opinions here. If you're interested in looking at inflation adjusted values, I'd recommend using this pretty cool & intuitive tool: Inflation Calculator.