There’s nothing for a fan that’s quite like the looming dark cloud of family members from the team’s ownership involved in a legal battle against one another. The Orioles appear to be headed into a fun era, and the Angelos family drama was this big uncertain thing. That’s over now, The Baltimore Sun first reported, noting that court filings show that the web of lawsuits and the string of accusations has come to an end.
According to the filing, a motion that included both brothers, John and Louis, and their mother Georgia, agreed that the parties would “dismiss with prejudice all claims, including all counterclaims and defenses.” The “dismiss with prejudice” phrasing indicates that these suits cannot be simply refiled.
Everyone involved is agreeing that it’s over. The Baltimore Banner’s report on the story notes that a settlement, if any, is not listed in the filing, so what, if anything, prompted this resolution is not clear. Neither attorneys for either party nor a spokesperson for the team have yet commented, the Banner’s Tim Prudente and Dylan Segelbaum said.
My completely wild guess is that the recent development in the series of lawsuits that led to a judge placing the Angelos Law Firm in conservatorship - rather than confirming Louis Angelos’s control of it - led the younger brother to contemplate the futility of pursing this whole thing further. You could come up with another guess that fits the available facts that could be just as valid as mine.
The end of the lawsuit at least takes the whiff of Shakespearean tragedy out from the Orioles ownership situation. We’re out of King Lear territory here where a family is fighting over what belongs to a mentally incapacitated man with the result that they all lose out. Peter Angelos, who led the partnership that bought the team in 1993, has been reported to be in advanced stages of dementia.
My own quiet, irrational fear with all of the lawsuit stuff is that the tragedy might take on a more modern form, as in the Lear-inspired Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres. In that take on the story, the “kingdom” is a farm that is left in the oldest child’s control. The novel’s late-20th century take on Lear involves a lawsuit filed by the younger child that cripples the farm’s profitability and leads to its going bankrupt and being sold, with no one happy.
Map that over to the Orioles, who have been investing in the front office to improve their analytics and scouting apparatus, and who will hopefully soon be investing in the major league payroll to sustained success, and you can see an equal potential for tragedy - which we as fans all would have suffered less directly - if the Elias plan was ground to a halt for Angelos family lawsuit reasons before it reached its fruition.
The end of all of the lawsuit drama effectively confirms John Angelos’s control of the Orioles. It does not do much to quiet anyone’s John Angelos-based concern about the future of the franchise. What we know now is that Louis Angelos is not going to butt in and prevent anything from occurring, and that’s about it.
The lawsuit ending does not mean the long-term lease is signed. It does not answer any questions out there about the future of MASN and whether it can be the source of revenue the Orioles hoped for before MLB started trying to weasel out of the agreement over Nationals television rights. It doesn’t sign Gunnar Henderson to a large and lengthy contract extension tomorrow, or anything you would like to see that would lock in the Orioles as an ascendant team that’s not going to go anywhere once they get into the top tier, either geographically or in the standings.
The now-infamous Martin Luther King Day dustup between John Angelos and an Orioles reporter, in which Angelos made a since-broken promise to allow Orioles reporters to inspect team finances the following week, has not enhanced anyone’s trust in John Angelos.
One might reasonably wonder if he’s going to transparently lie about something like that, what else might he be lying about? The regular proclamations by Angelos that “as long as Fort McHenry is standing watch over the Inner Harbor, the Orioles will remain in Baltimore” (talk about potential for tempting Shakespearean tragedy, though that’s more Macbeth than Lear) are no longer so reassuring.
As far as that goes, my feeling is there are lies and there are lies. Angelos’s not following through about the financials will leave at least one reporter hating his guts and the rest suspicious of him. That’s only a problem for him if he shows up publicly where they can grill him again.
The larger lie, if it were to be revealed to be a lie by the Orioles either moving at Angelos’s direction (as his brother Louis accused could occur earlier in the lawsuit drama) or being sold to new owners who would move the franchise, would mark John Angelos as the greatest heel in the existence of professional sports in Baltimore.
I don’t believe Angelos wishes to be that heel, and he’s not acting like he wants to be. A truly squirrely guy who was looking to exit town at the earliest opportunity would not have made the show of the long-term college education investment at that same MLK Day press conference, nor issued the recent statement with Governor Wes Moore about development to the Camden Yards complex. I understand some skepticism will remain until the lease is signed.
Hopefully that’s resolved soon and we can all think about something else, like whether the Orioles starting rotation is going to be good enough to compete for a playoff spot this year. In the meantime, the Angelos family members aren’t suing one another any more and that’s no longer a cloud potentially hanging over the baseball team we all love, so at least we’ve got that going for us.