Nobody wants to hear it.
In fact, it’s so obvious that it hurts.
Baltimore isn’t a Major League town anymore.
Many will cringe, be mad, but it’s hard to argue the economics. Clearly, it’s the reason that this once proud franchise can’t sustain a winning situation. Worse, it just can’t compete anymore.
There is a family feud playing out with the Angelos family as we speak over full control of the team.
In part of the suit, Louis Angelos, the brother of Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos, alleged that John would consider moving the team to Tennessee if he gained full control.
The back story is that John has a home there with his wife, a country music singer-songwriter who has a Nashville-based entertainment company.
Of course, John denied the claims and issued a statement on Monday. And there was no wiggle room. He said the team “will never leave” Baltimore.
Nice. For sure, O’s fans had to breathe easier after hearing that.
But those are just empty words. The reality is that the Orioles aren’t viable in that town anymore.
They can’t compete. And it’s not going to change any time soon.
Coming into this season, the O’s were valued at $1.3 billion and had operating income of $83 million.
The reason the O’s survive is because of national TV money. Starting this season, each team gets roughly $100 million before selling a single ticket.
Still, it’s not the cure-all, because most of the bottom-feeding franchises pocket the loot and don’t spend it on talent. So, really, what’s the point?
Here is why it truly is a possibility that Baltimore could wind up MLB team-less. The O’s lease with Maryland Stadium Authority for the state-owned ballpark (aka Camden Yards) expires at the end of next year. There have been negotiations, but no extensions. Hence why the rumors about an O’s exit have persisted.
The O’s have a great tradition. We get it.
For sure, MLB would hate to see Baltimore without a baseball team. But there was a reason the game wanted a franchise in the nation’s capital.
Enter the Washington Nationals. They moved from Montreal in 2005 and won a World Series in 2019.
Meanwhile, the O’s have a hard time staying out of last place in the AL East. They’ve been to the postseason just five times since 1983. The last time was 2016.
The O’s rank dead last in payroll in MLB. Coming into the 2022 season, the payroll was about $24 million. By comparison, the Los Angeles Dodgers have the biggest payroll at $234 million.
And, of course, there have been rumors that the Oakland A’s will finally bolt the Bay Area and move to Las Vegas. Think about this. The A’s payroll is second-to-last in the game, $5 million MORE than the O’s’ and they are ready to bounce.
Baltimore has won three World Series in franchise history. They last won way back in 1983, back when Cal Ripken’s games-played streak was still in diapers.
But you can’t live in the past and believe things haven’t changed. The Oakland A’s were once a powerhouse in baseball, winning three WS in a row from 1972 to 1974. And granted, they’ve had more success in the playoffs than Baltimore recently. But no one comes to their games.
Baltimore is still stung by the Colts bolting for Indianapolis in the middle of the night in 1984. The Baltimore Colts were a legendary franchise in the NFL. Folks couldn’t believe then-owner Robert Irsay took them away.
Unlike the NFL, which has seen teams up and leave cities at the drop of the hat, MLB has been consistent with keeping teams in place. Just one team has relocated in the past 50 years. That was the Expos, who moved from Montreal to D.C.
That’s an incredible achievement. Baseball has had unreal stability.
Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark. In fact, my favorite of the current 30 MLB stadiums. There isn’t a bad seat in the place. It’s small and intimate.
But nobody goes anymore because the team isn’t any good. In 2021, they averaged just 10,000 fans and a total of 793,000 attended games there. It ranked 26th.
If MLB were really honest with itself, it would lop off at least four teams or maybe even six and get back to 24 teams, not 30.
Easily, the league could get rid of Miami, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and, yes, Baltimore.
Nobody wants to hear it. But Baltimore isn’t a Major League city anymore. Those Mayflower moving vans will return there sooner than later. Just wait and see.