Good morning, Power Readers.
Peter Schmuck lays down the wood on Peter Angelos's claim that the Orioles lost $15 million dollars last year:
Earth to Peter: There are two ways to go with this. Either open the club's financial records to an independent audit and rub my nose in the truth of those numbers ... or stop using phony, manipulated figures to rationalize the sorry state of your baseball franchise.
...Let me get this straight. The payroll was $82 million in 1999 and the average ticket price at Camden Yards was about $19. Now the payroll is, what, $70 million, the price of many field-level seats have doubled since then, the Orioles are getting $75 million from Major League Baseball to help set up the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and additional millions in MLB Internet revenue ... and they lost $15 million last year?
...It's time for Angelos to put up or shut up. I agreed with him when he insisted that the arrival of the Montreal Expos in Washington would have a negative effect on the finances of the Orioles, and I have no doubt that the Nationals have drawn away significant revenue, but the number that he threw out on Friday just doesn't sound right.
...Instead, we hear rationalizations about the cost of setting up MASN, as if it's totally reasonable to expect the fans to keep paying for a subpar product while Angelos builds a cash cow network that could dramatically increase the value of the franchise for himself and his fellow investors.
I'm not totally denying the possibility that the losses are legit. The Orioles have experienced a steady loss of attendance over the past eight losing seasons and now draw about a million fewer fans per year than they did during a seven-year honeymoon period at the new Camden Yards.
The club also has experienced a sharp drop in season tickets the past two seasons, which it relates to the arrival of the Nationals, but relocation was not an issue when overall attendance began to decline in 1999.
Everyone knows why the fans started staying home in increasing numbers, and everyone knows who steered the Orioles over the rocky course that took the joy out of one of the most beautiful ballparks in professional sports.