Kevin Brown’s removal from Baltimore Orioles’ broadcasts has sparked commentary from announcers across Major League Baseball, other members of the media, and even fans (who chanted “Free Kevin Brown” during the team’s home game Tuesday). But one figure many have been waiting to hear from is San Francisco Giants’ announcer Jon Miller, as he had a prominent exit from the Orioles back in 1996 around similar discussions of the team not wanting broadcasters to be critical. And Miller weighed in to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic in a piece published Tuesday night:
Jon Miller's name is being mentioned in almost every story or column about the Orioles' banishment of announcer Kevin Brown. Miller is just like the rest of us: He wants to know the rest of the story, because what's out there makes no sense. https://t.co/b6P3wX4WFx
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 9, 2023
What is out there? Well, multiple sources told AA Monday that Brown’s removal (he hasn’t been on Orioles’ TV broadcasts on MASN since July 23, or on their broadcasts at all since July 26, but is expected to return Friday, Aug. 11) was about his July 23 pregame discussion of the team’s good record against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021 and 2022 and their poor record against the Rays in 2023. Other people and outlets including Matt Jergensen (who was first to this on Twitter), Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic, and Dan Connolly of Sportsnaut have offered their own reports with sources saying Brown’s removal was over those remarks. Here are those remarks:
Here’s the clip of Kevin Brown’s pregame comments on the Orioles’ recent record against the Rays ahead of a series finale on July 23. Sources tell AA these comments led to Brown’s current indefinite suspension from Orioles’ broadcasts. pic.twitter.com/csURU04fJU
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) August 7, 2023
Despite all of those different reports, though, the seeming innocuousness of those remarks has prompted some skepticism. And Miller’s comments to Baggarly seem to share some of that. Miller first offers high praise for Brown from his own listen to the Orioles-Rays broadcast in question, saying “he was really good” and “I never really heard anybody who sounded so much like Joe Buck,” then says Brown’s removal over this doesn’t add up for him:
“Everybody wants to jump all over John Angelos, but the team isn’t talking,” Miller said. “Kevin Brown isn’t talking. I read the stories and I kept waiting for the ‘who said this’ or ‘where did that come from.’ And I’m not getting any of that. So I don’t know. But if that is literally what happened, I don’t get it. Because it seems to me like those comments (during the Rays series) had nothing to do with it. I mean, if someone called (Brown) afterwards and told him they were upset, he probably would have a hard time even remembering what they’re talking about.
“Apparently their PR staff had that stuff in their own notes. The producer put the graphic on the telecast. What does that have to do with (Brown)? A lot of graphics go on the telecast and a lot of the time you’re just reading it off the screen. And he was underscoring how they’ve been winning this season against a team that was a nemesis. He was being positive. So it all seems like a supposition to me. It makes no sense.”
Miller is certainly right that this doesn’t seem to make sense from an outside perspective. But it does seem with a reported history of Orioles’ behavior, a history involving both owner Peter Angelos and current team chairman/CEO and MASN president John Angelos. Connolly wrote Tuesday that “Brown’s dissemination of ‘negative’ facts was something that had stood out previously to [John] Angelos.”
And, in response to some similar skepticism on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore from Rob Long (who also hosts O’s Extra on MASN), Ghiroli said Tuesday morning that “This is a pattern” and “It’s crazy that he’s in trouble for this, but it’s not because of what’s happened in this organization before. …”There is no rhyme or reason for it, but there hasn’t been a whole lot of rhyme or reason for anything John Angelos does.” There, Ghiroli brought up past controversies around Orioles’ broadcasters Gary Thorne, Jim Hunter, Rick Dempsey, and Ryan Wagner, and didn’t even get to Miller. But Mets/SNY broadcaster Gary Cohen sure did Monday night:
Gary Cohen on the Orioles/Kevin Brown controversy.
"Let me just say one thing to Baltimore Orioles management. You draped yourself in humiliation when you fired Jon Miller. And you're doing it again. And if you don't want Kevin Brown, there are 29 other teams who do." pic.twitter.com/HkKdr95hQp
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) August 8, 2023
And that Miller exit is worth further discussion here. Miller goes through it in detail with Baggarly, noting how his contract was up following the 1996 season, how his agent Ron Shapiro reached out to new Orioles’ VP of broadcasting Mike Lehr several times that year and didn’t hear back, how Miller wanted to stay in one place in Baltimore, and how Peter Angelos told Shapiro he wanted a broadcaster who would “bleed more orange and black.” But two things particularly stand out there: Miller is still bothered by Peter Angelos not admitting to that publicly, and Miller got further confirmation of Angelos’ rationale for the divorce from columnist George Will.
What bothers Miller to this day is that Peter Angelos publicly denied that he wanted Miller out.
“He said, ‘No, of course, we wanted him to stay,’” Miller said. “Everything Angelos told my agent, Angelos denied. He’s a lawyer. He said, ‘I didn’t say those things. Do you have a tape of it?’ It hit me wrong, how he lied about all of that.”
…Author and syndicated columnist George Will was distressed upon hearing that Miller was on the outs with the Orioles and asked if he could intercede. Will was friendly with Peter Angelos and often had lunch with him. Will told Miller he would get to the bottom of everything.
After their meeting, Will called Miller: “Well, I talked to him. And my advice to you is to start packing.”
Will offered to go public to dispel Angelos’s assertion that the team wanted Miller back.
“I felt like (Will) should not have to be involved,” Miller said. “But I’ve always appreciated that he offered to do that.”
So it’s certainly notable to hear Miller weighing in on the Brown situation, and offering Brown such high praise. And it’s fascinating to get some more details from Miller on how his own exit went, how that involved backlash over seemingly-innocuous comments and not “bleeding orange and black” enough, and how the Orioles tried to present their own narrative there.