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Thursday Cannon Fodder: ridiculous

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

The Baltimore Orioles, who should be the talk of baseball for all the right reasons, made themselves the center of attention for all the wrong ones this week. The O’s have the best record in the American league while trotting out a young, inexpensive roster that was supposed to be in the early stages of a rebuild. They’re on pace to win 100 games for the first time since 1980. The burgeoning success of the franchise that gave us Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gherig’s consecutive games streak should be the talk of the town.

Instead, the focus is on owner John Angelos’ petty, ego-driven suspension of beloved broadcaster Kevin Brown. At least the suspension is being attributed to Angelos, it hasn’t been confirmed that he is responsible for it.

You see Brown had the temerity to point out that the Orioles have more wins over their division rival Tampa Bay Rays this season than in the past two combined. A fact read nearly word-for-word from the team-created media guide for the day. Brown hasn’t been on air since July 23, although his absence was only recently noticed and reported by Awful Announcing.

Brown is a popular guy, a rising star in broadcasting for ESPN. He doesn’t just do Orioles games. He calls ACC football, the women’s College World Series, college basketball, the Little League World Series, and more. It’s pretty clear that he will soon outgrow broadcasting baseball for a regional sports network, so why the O’s are giving him more reasons to walk out the door is beyond me.

Announcers from across baseball and the sports world have spoken up in his defense in segments ranging from politely chastising the team to going full-on take-no-prisoners flamethrower mode.

This isn’t the first time the Orioles have intervened with their broadcasters, either. Recently, former broadcaster Jim Hunter said in an interview that he was specifically told not connect Manny Machado with the Orioles, even though the then-Padres third baseman was a fan favorite, four-time All-Star that had led the team to the playoffs three times in five years.

The story has a personal angle for me: I used to be a huge Orioles fan. In fact, the O’s were the first sports team I followed closely as a kid. I loved going to Camden Yards. I was at the Home Run Derby where Ken Griffey Jr. hit one off the clubhouse. I watched the display numbers change from the stands as Ripken moved one game closer to the record (although I cannot remember which game it was).

And then Peter Angelos ran the team into the ground. They went from a playoff team in the mid-to-late 90’s, or at least a club in the hunt, to one of the worst teams in baseball. They’ve pretty much stayed there since. And that killed my interest in both the O’s and in baseball for a while. It wasn’t until the Nationals came to D.C. that I started to follow the sport again.

I guess the Orioles ownership was right to fight tooth and nail against D.C. getting a team again. The O’s did lose fans to the Nats. I’m one of them. They must have known that with how poorly they’d run things, fans were desperate for an alternative. But who am I kidding? It was only about the fans insofar as it affected the bottom line. It’s always about money.

Of course, now the 50-65 know what, never mind. I’ll always have the 2018 World Series.

REMINDER: It seems like enough of you are interested in a TSF Fantasy Premier League group, so I made one. We’re using Classic scoring — I’m really not a fan of head to head from my NFL fantasy days. It’s super frustrating to put up the second highest score in the league but still lose your week because you happened to be matched against the player who got the highest.

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League name: The Short Fuse
League code: pkr6nw