Orioles CEO John Angelos

On Monday, Baltimore reporters got a rare chance to ask Orioles CEO John Angelos questions in person about the state of the franchise, the ongoing legal issues surrounding the family that owns it, and the ever-present threat that they might move the team out of town. However, because the appearance was scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it seemed to provide Angelos with the cover to evade any and all of their questions.

The event itself was to announce that the Orioles were committing $5 million to CollegeBound, a scholarship organization that supports Baltimore public school students. While details were sparse, it was very welcome news that Angelos announced while sitting across from Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott.

While that was certainly great news for the city and its schools, the lack of concrete decisions and public press conferences over the years from the Angelos family meant this was an extremely rare opportunity for reporters to get answers about the franchise and the many, many, many rumors and reports swirling around it.

However, Angelos was having none of it and told reporters that he would not be answering any questions about the Orioles out of respect for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which some might see as very convenient for him.

You can watch the full press conference here but some highlights were shared on Twitter.

When a reporter asked about the long-term plans that the Angelos family has for the Orioles, John, who has apparently only provided reporters with access twice in four years, invoked MLK in order to shift focus away from the baseball franchise.

“With all due respect, I’m going to try not to talk too much between the lines today,” Angelos said. “I think Dr. King would appreciate that, if we talked about what was going on in the community a little bit more. The Orioles are going to be here for the long term. We have been here. And I’ve said many times publicly — unsolicited, unprompted — we’re never going anywhere.”

“Fear not, the Orioles will be here,” Angelos added, at least offering that.

If Angelos was hoping that would squash questions about the MLB team, it did not.

After The Athletic’s Dan Connolly asked Angelos about the franchise, given that John’s brother Louis is currently suing him and their mother Georgia over control, the CEO launched into a longer screed about how today is not about answering questions about the team.

“With all due respect, that’s not an appropriate subject matter for this day,” Angelos stated. “This day is about young people who are attempting — and by the way, I’m going to answer your question, but that’s not appropriate. Martin Luther King — I explained earlier — a very esteemed professor once presented to a group in Baltimore City that I was a part of, and she said that only next to the state of Mississippi had there been more red-lining than there had been in Baltimore City. There’s a vicious, virulent amount of racism historically through this country, and part of what we’re trying to do here is change that.

“So it’s really not important. It’s really not important at all in the grand scheme of things to people that are clear-thinking and who mean well and have a perspective to, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, while we’re talking about putting kids that don’t have a shot in hell of anything because of where they were born through college, to be talking about those kinds of things. So I’m going to object to that question today, in this forum, before the mayor of Baltimore and all these people. Do we understand each other? Do you understand my complaint?”

Angelos added that questions about the Orioles on Monday were “out of touch” with what “real world people face and what the real pillar and role of an organization like the Orioles and Ravens ought to be,” though he did take some time to mention how the Orioles have improved in recent years

“I just think that we all ought to have a little perspective on what’s important in the world, and what’s important in the world is what we’re talking about,” Angelos said after another question about the team. “What you’re talking about, you can find any garden-variety, high-value sports team or involvement, you’re always going to have some controversy, but I’ve been very outspoken, I’m very transparent. In fact, I would invite you and all your colleagues next — not on Martin Luther King Day, you can come back in this building, you can meet me in this office. I’II take you down on the third floor, and I’II show you the financials of the Orioles. I’ll show you the governance of the Orioles. I’ll show you everything you want to know, and I’ll put all your questions. But today, on MLK Day, I’m not answering any of those questions.”

On paper, Angelos is correct. An event on MLK Day in which millions of dollars are being promised to fund scholarships for Baltimore students is deserving of its own recognition and importance.

However, it’s hard not to feel like the whole thing has an air of The Office’s “Scott’s Tots” episode to it. And it’s also hard to imagine that a person who has been evading reporters for years just so happened to schedule his rare appearance on MLK Day.

Not to mention that the optics of a rich white guy invoking MLK as a shield over and over again, thereby pulling focus onto himself and away from the good causes that were meant to be highlighted, is a bit on the nose.

Angelos can easily solve this problem by following through on his offer to show reporters the team’s financials and “everything you want to know,” but we’ll believe that when we see it.

[Baltimore Banner, Connor Newcomb, Paul Gessler]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.