- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Peter Angelos, the tobacco/asbestos lawyer who turned the storied baseball franchise of Baltimore into an afterthought, is playing the geography game with Washington again.

Mr. Angelos pulls out a map of the United States and sees vast stretches that belong to the Orioles. He moves his finger down Interstate 95 and points to the worthiness of Raleigh, N.C., and beyond. He sees what he wants to see, which is always subject to change.

Mr. Angelos is the person who said, “There are no real baseball fans in D.C.” Now he is the person who views the region’s support of the Nationals as a threat to his baseball empire in Baltimore.

This is a lawyerly flip-flop stuffed with nuance, which goes as follows: There were no real baseball fans in the District before the Canadian team was relocated here. Now that the team is here, the District fan base is certain to cause harm to his baseball team.

Mr. Angelos is forevermore the gatecrasher to the Washington baseball party.

Washington is atwitter with news of the Nationals in spring training, while Mr. Angelos is plotting anew to put the relocated baseball team at a financial disadvantage.

Mr. Angelos is the piece of chewing gum on the sole of Washington’s shoe that refuses to be removed. He is the grim-faced owner of the Orioles who has a bad case of geographical incorrectness. He just cannot accept the notion of Washington being anything more than a glorified suburb of Baltimore. And he will go to court to make the point, if necessary.

Instead of immersing himself in television rights, Mr. Angelos ought to be trying to field a winning baseball team. A winning team’s effect on the profit-margin line is a well-documented positive.

The Nationals are not apt to win and influence spectators with stellar play on the diamond this season. They are a work in progress that lacks the basics of an ownership group. Their goal is to be competitive and bask in what promises to be a lengthy honeymoon period. Being in Washington is certain to beat the team’s trips to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to play at “home.” All this is enough to unnerve Mr. Angelos, who believes if he can’t beat you, he will sue you. He figures someone has to pay the contract of the fading Sammy Sosa, and it might as well be the non-fans of Washington.

Mr. Angelos is hardly being neighborly. He endeavored to prevent the move of the Nationals to the District. Stymied there, he now has taken to holding out his tin cup and pleading poverty to the region.

His team apparently is several bad gates from going belly up, and Mr. Angelos is on the verge of being homeless if the Orioles do not blanket the airwaves from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.

That is his story, and he is sticking to it.

Perhaps if he were vaguely likable, Washington would try to work with him, if not hold an Angelos Relief drive.

If the poor fellow is in a financial jam, having squandered all his millions on underachieving free agents, Washington could extend its generosity to Mr. Angelos until he could meet his bills.

If each person in the region contributed a couple of dollars to the Angelos Relief fund, it would keep him in limousines for a few more years.

If we go there, however, we have one tiny request of Mr. Angelos.

We will hold a telethon in his name if he agrees to leave Washington and the Nationals out of all his future lessons on geography.

Mr. Angelos may be a skilled lawyer, but he must have struggled in geography back in the day. He is not too strong in baseball ownership either.

That is the deal, one measure of relief in exchange for the same.

Washington and the Nationals certainly would be relieved not to have Mr. Angelos lurking in their vicinity any longer.

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