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Mad Mark

Thirty years on...

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Are you no longer saying it was "completely destroyed," as you have for several pages now?

What came through the pipeline, of significance, in the five years prior to Williams? Ripken, Bod****er and who? Should I make the excuse that Williams *aw shucks* just didn't fix what had been broken?

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Are you no longer saying it was "completely destroyed," as you have for several pages now?

The great advantage that the Baltimore Orioles had because of their great organization and history of great success was completely destroyed during EBW's tenure.

They drafted a couple P's who turned out good. So what? According to your "logic", that means PA fixed the system because we got Erik and BRob. Even the worst franchise in baseball signs a good player now and then. That doesn't prove anything. I don't see you defending PA's tenure because we got Erik and BRob (nor would I expect anybody to do that). Same exact thing.

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He basically did something very similar to what the Orioles did in the early 2000s. The team had a great nucleus from 1979-1983, but that nucleus got old. In 1983 or shortly thereafter, Bumbry, SIngleton, Lowenstein, Roenicke, Belanger, Dauer, Dempsey, McGregor, Palmer, Tippy, Stanhouse, Stoddard, Flanagan, Stewart, Stone -- ALL either retired or started significant age-related decline. DeCinces would have had more left but he had been traded. Dennis Martinez was battling alcoholism. So our nucleus was down to Eddie, Cal, and Bod****er, essentially. Yeah, a 20 game winner and 2 HoFers but still not enough to build around. Storm Davis didn't quite live up to his promise. Our farm system was producing nothing (Ken Dixon, Ken Gearhart, Larry Sheets, Mike Young, Eric Bell, etc).

So EBW went out and signed veteran free agents. Lacy, Lynn, Aase, Juan Beniquez. Some still had some productivity left but they were certainly on the downside of the age curve. Just like in the 2000s, the attempt to patch up a team that had too small a nucleus of good talent and not enough coming through the pipeline, failed miserably.

My question is, what trades did the GM want to make that EBW vetoed? What free agents was the GM forced to sign because EBW decided the Orioles had to have them? What players weren't retained because EBW refused to open his wallet? What hirings and firings of front office personnel or managers were done by EBW?

There are so many decisions that Angelos had a direct hand in that were just idiotic - firing Oates, hiring Regan, non-renewing Jon Miller, alienating Gillick, firing Johnson (essentially), firing Wren, hiring Thryft and leaving him in way too long, alienating star players with his negotiating tactics, and on and on and on. I don't think we have nearly as many specifics we can pin directly on EBW.

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The great advantage that the Baltimore Orioles had because of their great organization and history of great success was completely destroyed during EBW's tenure.
It was not completely destroyed but we agree that it suffered by the continued employment of Hoffberger's GM.

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My question is, what trades did the GM want to make that EBW vetoed? What free agents was the GM forced to sign because EBW decided the Orioles had to have them? What players weren't retained because EBW refused to open his wallet? What hirings and firings of front office personnel or managers were done by EBW?

I think we have little-to-no information about the specific ways that EBW influenced things, decision by decision. Did he micromanage decisions, or simply set a direction that led the O's into the crapper? Don't know, don't care. How he put them in the crapper is footnote stuff. The important legacy is that he started with the best franchise in baseball and it got ruined on his watch. The details of exactly how he did that don't interest me that much.

There's a big difference between judging an owner based on how the franchise evolved (devolved) during his tenure vs. judging an owner based on whatever "inside tidbits" we happen to know. Results matter, tidbits not so much. Basing it on tidbits is a PR-thing, not a baseball-thing. If we want to make the issue a PR-issue instead of an actual baseball issue, then I completely agree nobody holds a candle to PA's crapitude.

I just don't understand what PA has to do with EBW. EBW screwed things up way before Oriole fandom heard of PA.

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Draft picks signed by Hank Peters

1987 - Pete Harnisch, Anthony Telford, Chuck Ricci, Jack Voigt, Steve Finley, David Segui,

1986 - Blaine Beatty, Gordon Dillard

1985 - Craig Worthington, Brian Dubois, Jeff Ballard, Pete Stanicek

1984 - John Hoover, Jeff Tackett, Mike Raczka,

1983 - Bill Fulton, Mark Leiter, Bob Milacki

1982 - Dave Otto, John Habyan, Ken Gerhart, Eric Bell, Bill Ripken, Jim Traber

1981 - Tony Arnold, Jeff Schaefer

1980 - Mike Young, Al Pardo, Ken Dixon, Carl Nichols, Mark Brown

1979 - Bob Melvin, Allan Ramirez, Storm Davis, Bill Swaggerty

1978 - Cal Ripken, Larry Sheets , Mike Boddi-cker

1977 - Drungo Hazewood, Mark Smith

1976 - Dallas Williams, Jim Smith

1975 - Dave Ford, Steve Lake, Jeff Rineer, Darryl Cias

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The Orioles in my opinion were at their peak in popularity when Angelos took over.

Camden Yards was 2 years old and crowned the best ballpark in baseball.

Cal Ripken Jr the hometown hero was in the middle of his streak.

No NFL team existed in Baltimore.

A competitive team in 1992 and 1993 that averaged 87 wins and was in contention in September both years.

All those factors lead to a team that ranked second in attendance in 1992 and 1993, before Angelos took over. Angelos spent money on players like Palmeiro, Surhoff and Alomar that hepled us reach the playoffs twice. Yes, we got an NFL team, Cal had to retire sometime and the allure of Camden Yards would diminish over time, but that doesn't excuse the ineptitude that we have seen. How anyone can blame an owner that has been dead for almost 20 years and was dead for almost 6 years before Angelos started is beyond me. Two franchises that didn't even exist when EBW died, in Florida and Arizona have combined for 3 World Series titles. Both franchises were completely blown up with different Front Offices and Owners and got back to the playoffs. We can't even have a competitive team into the month of June.

When it came time for Angelos to stand on his own feet and not piggyback what he inherited he has failed miserably. If he didn't know the importance of hiring quality people to run the baseball operations department and how important a minor league system is then he had no business buying the franchise. This will be Angelos' 15th season as an owner and I hope I am wrong but another losing one it looks like. If we have a losing season that would be 12 of 15 years, which is 80%. At some point in time you have to look in the mirror. I had no problem with Angelos fighting for his rights when DC got a team but he didn't have to alienate so many DC area fans in the process.

All any owner can ask for is a strong fanbase and good stadium situation. We have both plus only one other pro team in town and a great history and tradition. Everything is and has been in place to win just not the right people running or owning the team. Baltimore is a goldmine franchise and EBW didn't damage that.

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The Orioles in my opinion were at their peak in popularity when Angelos took over.

IMO, baseball is about being successful at the Baseball Contest, not at some Popularity Contest. For example, when the O's had those killer teams in '69-'71, their popularity at the gate was 5th, 6th, and 3rd in the league. What's important? The gate? Or being the best franchise in baseball?

But, OK, I'll play along anyway. Let's pretend that popularity is what's important. If you go by that, then:

  • The O's were at their peak in '97 when they drew 3.7 million fans. That was best in the entire league, and 2nd-best in MLB. That was a PA year, and that was PA's team. It was also about 1.5 times as many fans as came to OPACY in PA's first year. His first year they drew about the same as they did in their last year on 33rd St, when it was a 5th place team. So, their popularity went up by almost 50% because of what PA did in his first few years.
  • Meanwhile, under EBW, their attendance peaked at 2.1 million in '85. That was 6th in the league, which is the exact same ranking they had in Hoffberger's last year. Baseball attendance went up across the board in MLB between '79 and EBW's peak attendance in '85. While EBW's marketing wizardy did improve his *peak* attendance over Hoffberger by 27%, that kept the O's in 6th place in the league, just like they were before.
  • So, EBW increase attendance by 27%, but kept the team in 6th place, attendance-wise...
  • While PA increased attendance by 46% and made the O's the most popular team in the whole league.

Not that I think that proves anything, I'm just trying to play along with you, that's all.

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IMO, baseball is about being successful at the Baseball Contest, not at some Popularity Contest. For example, when the O's had those killer teams in '69-'71, their popularity at the gate was 5th, 6th, and 3rd in the league. What's important? The gate? Or being the best franchise in baseball?

But, OK, I'll play along anyway. Let's pretend that popularity is what's important. If you go by that, then:

  • The O's were at their peak in '97 when they drew 3.7 million fans. That was best in the entire league, and 2nd-best in MLB. That was a PA year, and that was PA's team. It was also about 1.5 times as many fans as came to OPACY in PA's first year. His first year they drew about the same as they did in their last year on 33rd St, when it was a 5th place team. So, their popularity went up by almost 50% because of what PA did in his first few years.
  • Meanwhile, under EBW, their attendance peaked at 2.1 million in '85. That was 6th in the league, which is the exact same ranking they had in Hoffberger's last year. Baseball attendance went up across the board in MLB between '79 and EBW's peak attendance in '85. While EBW's marketing wizardy did improve his *peak* attendance over Hoffberger by 27%, that kept the O's in 6th place in the league, just like they were before.
  • So, EBW increase attendance by 27%, but kept the team in 6th place, attendance-wise...
  • While PA increased attendance by 46% and made the O's the most popular team in the whole league for the very first time.

Not that I think that proves anything, I'm just trying to play along with you, that's all.

You might want to look at "PA's first year" again, because there is a slight detail you are missing there...:)

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You might want to look at "PA's first year" again, because there is a slight detail you are missing there...:)

OK.

What did I do wrong? Whatever year somebody buys the team, I'm figuring the following season is their first year. I've been doing that nomatter who we're talking about, just because it takes a new guy some time to do anything much. I thought PA bought the team in '93, so I was using '94 as the first year that counts. Did I get it wrong?

EDIT: Ooops. Strike. Brain damage. Sorry. So, the percentage-increase I gave for PA was worthless because of the strike. My bad.

It remains true that under PA the O's rose to 1st in attendance (from 2nd), whereas EBW's peak attendance kept the O's at 6th-place in the league, just like in Hoffberger's last year. Prior to Hoffberger's last year, the O's finished 10th in attendance for a few years. Whatever we might say the cause was of the improved rankings of O's attendance, it jumped up just prior to EBW. Throughout EBW's tenure as owner (80-88), the O's rank in AL attendance went 6-8-8-5-5-6-6-9-10. That doesn't seem like progress to me. The raw numbers were up some, but that was true across all of baseball, not just in Baltimore.

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When comparing attendance with the previous season, only once in the last seven years (2004) has Baltimore done better than the average team in either the MLB or the league. 2006 really stands out as a year when Baltimore fared very poorly in the comparison.

Attendance

Baltimore vs (MLB*)

2001 - 6.50% (+0.09%)

2002 - 15.37% (-6.45%)

2003 - 9.29% (-0.13%)

2004 +10.55% (+7.19%)

2005 - 4.54% (+2.14%)

2006 - 21.90% (+2.82%)

2007 + 0.53% (+4.51%)

2001-2007 -42.96% (+10.16%)

Attendance

Baltimore vs (AL*)

2001 -6.50% (+0.60%)

2002 - 15.37% (-5.47%)

2003 - 9.29% (+0.76%)

2004 + 10.55% (+5.23%)

2005 - 4.54% (+1.31%)

2006 - 21.90% (+5.71%)

2007 + 0.53% (+2.90%)

2001-2007 -42.96% (+10.37%)

*not including Baltimore

Note - I would have gone back further, but the league-wide data through 2000 was all that was readily available.

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So, is it now the groups' consensus that the rot set in before 1978? Or does that still work as a point where we can say the ship began to go off course?

There's actually a very interesting bunch of phenomena concerning your questions. I'd answer it this way:

  • The "rot" most definitely began with EBW. He was the first terrible owner in the history of the franchise, and we haven't had a good one since.

    .

  • The decline from the glory years is due to more than just rotten owners. Beginning in the last year of Lee MacPhail's tenure, the rules of success started changing and kept changing. Each change made it harder and harder to be a killer franchise. So, the end of complete Oriole dominance isn't anybody's fault, it's just how things changed. It's impossible to build franchises the way AM's Daddy built the Oriole to be the best one in baseball for 30 years.

So, it's really two things: crappy owners and an ever-more-difficult problem. Both things are true. The problem in discussing it is that there's been a handful of different phases, and each phase meant something, and talking about that doesn't fit in the length of post that anybody wants to read.

Maybe we can take it in pieces. Here's the first two phases:

  • The 1st Phase was when AM's daddy built a killer organization. It started a little before Lee MacPhail, with Paul Richards signing good young talent (like Brooks). But all Richards knew how to do was sign kids and think about crazy trades all the time. He didn't know how to build a system, he just thought about wheeling-and-dealing. After a while, the owners got fed up with that junk because they were business men who wanted their franchise to work right. So they kicked Richards out as GM, kept him as manager (because he was actually pretty good at that part, he just *thought* he knew how to be a GM), and replaced Richards as GM with AM's Daddy. Lee MacPhail did even better at signing guys, plus he built an actual system that developed players. Because of those 2 things, he built the best franchise in baseball, bar none. They had the best farm system and the best ML team. According to my 15-Player Team theory, by the time Lee MacPhail's work matured in '69-'71, they were off the charts. They were 16- or 17-Player Teams. I don't think we'll ever see teams like that again from anybody.

    .

  • The 2nd Phase started near the end of when AM's Daddy was constructing baseball's best franchise. It happened when MLB invented the Amateur Draft in the mid-60's. Before then, the whole U.S. was like the D.R.: you could sign any amateur you wanted. No effort at parity, let the best team win. The Amateur Draft was a great equalizer. It meant that the O's couldn't just do a better job of signing-and-developing guys. Because they could no longer just sign whoever they wanted. The Amateur Draft was a very anti-Oriole thing. It was not intended that way (it was intended just to save owners money by preventing them from competing for kid-talent) but it worked out to be an anti-Oriole thing by accident. It lessened one of the O's advantages: finding and signing guys other teams didn't.

    .

  • The killer O's teams were populated by guys who the O's signed in the 1st Phase, before the Amateur Draft existed. From '59 through '63, here are some guys Lee MacPhail signed before the Amateur Draft put limits on who you could sign: Boog Powell, Dave McNally, Andy Etchebarren, Eddie Watt, Davey Johnson, Mark Belanger, Wally Bunker, and Jim Palmer. Any of those names ring a bell? Those guys lasted through the killer teams. But the Draft dried things up some, because the O's had to start going through the Draft like everybody else. The Draft made them take turns and share. That's why it's a different phase. The 2nd Phase didn't make itself known until well after it happened. It wasn't until after the killer teams that you could notice. The O's were still good. But it was harder now. The great '71 team was the last gasp of the pre-draft era. The 70's was when the 2nd Phase became visible at the ML level, but it really began with the draft in the mid-60's. It just took a handful of years for the effects of it to trickle up to the ML club.

The O's stayed good in the 70's and early-80's, but they weren't as dominant because the Amateur Draft made them take turns and share. Scouting still mattered, but it mattered because of the Amateur Draft. Different rules. Because of the Amateur Draft, everybody had a more-equal shot. So the talent supply wasn't as strong. It couldn't be. In '62 they signed the middle infield for multiple WS: Davey Johnson and Mark Belanger. In '63, they signed 2 of the 3 guys who started games in the '66 WS: Jim Palmer and Wally Bunker. You just can't do stuff like that anymore (except in Latin America) because the owners rigged things by creating the Amateur Draft. So, because the owners didn't want to compete against each other for signing talent, doing things the right way and outsmarting everybody else got a lot harder for the O's to do. But the O's still made good use of the talent they got because of The Oriole Way: they developed their guys properly.

And then FA happened. I don't think FA was just one phase either. I think it spanned about 3 phases so far. Each one made it harder to do the right thing. Not impossible, but harder. Too bad that it got even harder right about the time when our streak of good owners was ending and a new streak of terrible owners started.

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Draft picks signed by Hank Peters

1987 - Pete Harnisch, Anthony Telford, Chuck Ricci, Jack Voigt, Steve Finley, David Segui,

1986 - Blaine Beatty, Gordon Dillard

1985 - Craig Worthington, Brian Dubois, Jeff Ballard, Pete Stanicek

1984 - John Hoover, Jeff Tackett, Mike Raczka,

1983 - Bill Fulton, Mark Leiter, Bob Milacki

1982 - Dave Otto, John Habyan, Ken Gerhart, Eric Bell, Bill Ripken, Jim Traber

1981 - Tony Arnold, Jeff Schaefer

1980 - Mike Young, Al Pardo, Ken Dixon, Carl Nichols, Mark Brown

1979 - Bob Melvin, Allan Ramirez, Storm Davis, Bill Swaggerty

1978 - Cal Ripken, Larry Sheets , Mike Boddi-cker

1977 - Drungo Hazewood, Mark Smith

1976 - Dallas Williams, Jim Smith

1975 - Dave Ford, Steve Lake, Jeff Rineer, Darryl Cias

I'm not sure what point you're trying to prove here, but I'll play along.

If you're saying Hank Peters was no great shakes, I agree.

I already said that he had his best GM years under Hoffberger, and your list just proved it.

What criteria do you want to use?

I figure that a decent return on a draft pick is getting 3 or more good ML years out of him.

Maybe your criteria is different, but that's mine. Using that, here's what your list boils down to:

  • Under Hoffberger for 5 drafts:
    • Cal: HOF and Forever Oriole.
    • Larry Sheets: 3 good years, 1 of which was great.
    • Mike Boddicker: Several good years, including 3rd in ROY, 4th in Cy Young, led the league in ERA, won 20, All-Star, then traded for Brady and Schilling
    • Storm Davis: Gave us 5 years, 4 of which were good. Then we traded him when he was just 24.

      .

    [*] Under EBW for 8 drafts:

    • Billy Ripken: 1 good year, a few mediocre years, and 1 famous baseball card.
    • Bob Milacki: 1 good year.
    • Craig Worthington: semi-good rookie year, then nothing.
    • Jeff Ballard: a couple mediocre years and 1 good year.
    • Pete Harnisch: 2 mediocre years then we traded him to Houston, turned out to be a league-average semi-innings-eater.
    • Steve Finley: Turned out to be a very good player, but we traded him before he did squat.
    • David Segui: a long and mediocre career, with *all* his good years after we traded him, then we paid out the wazoo for him at the very end.

      .

    [*] Comparison:

    • Under Hoffberger:
      • 4 guys in 5 years.
      • If you want 1 guy per year, then the O's were just 1 guy shy under Hank Peters despite 3 crappy drafts.

      [*] Under EBW:

      • 1 good guy (Finley), 2 mediocre guys with long careers (Harnisch and Segui), and 4 nobodies over 8 years. If we count Finley and the mediocre guys, that's 3 guys in 8 years.
      • If you want 1 guy per year, then under EBW he was *worse-than-half* of that.

Hank Peters's record under EBW was way worse than it was than under Hoffberger. Under EBW, the very same guy did a much crappier job.

All of which is just more evidence than things went downhill fast during the years that EBW was destroying the tradition of Baltimore Orioles' success.

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