I love Sam Zell, owner of the Tribune, guardian of my career.
Direct. Funny. Articulate in his own way.
Born to Jewish immigrant parents who fled Poland before the Nazi invasion. Worked his way to the top.
Blah, blah, blah.
That's the sound of an employee with lips to boss's cheeks. Doesn't sound much different than former Oriole Brady Anderson's defense of Peter Angelos in yesterday's Baltimore Sun.
Anderson, major league heartthrob and one of the rocks on which the 1996-97 playoff teams were built, took exception to a recent Sports Illustrated piece that named Angelos the worst owner in baseball.
"He is the son of Greek immigrants who came to America with little more than their aspirations for a better life," wrote Anderson, as if that has anything to do with fielding a franchise with a record of 11 consecutive losing seasons.
What a head scratcher. If Anderson is mad at SI, why is he writing to The Sun? That's like complaining about a bad Domino's pizza to Papa John.
But the weirdness goes beyond the forum he chose.
First of all, it's somewhat comical that Anderson rushed to the defense of a millionaire lawyer. Like Peter G. Angelos needs help. Quite frankly, if I needed help, I'd be praying for Angelos to ride to my defense.
Second, there's some of Anderson's questionable arguments. Sure the owner has the right to stock his club with anyone he wishes, and if he wishes to load up with with minor-league characters and stand-up guys like Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and Miguel Tejada, that's his business. Just don't expect fans to show up.
Yes, unlike mean owners, he allows us to bring our own soft drinks and snacks into the ballpark. But most of us would rather have a 20-game winner and blowtorch closer.
And please don't give credit to Angelos for Camden Yards. He took over in August 1993, more than a year after the ballpark opened. (By all means, however, give thanks for not having a field named Enron or Hooters).
Debating the Davey Johnson "firing" or "resignation" is like picking sides in a squirting contest between two skunks. Everyone's gonna smell bad when it's over. Curiously, Anderson seems to have forgotten what Angelos said at the time: "The timing [of Johnson's resignation] might not be accidental."
It's also curious -- or not -- that while discussing labor relations, Anderson did not mention one Jon Miller, best broadcaster to call Orioles games, who was uninvited by the Angelistas. Huge loss.
Aside No. 1: As a union member, I'm very appreciative of Angelos's strong commitment over the years to organized labor.
Aside No. 2: I'm amused by the fact that SI knocked Angelos for "burning through ... five managers," but placed "Boss" Steinbrenner and family on the best owner list. How many employees did the Boss humiliate and fire? He picked on Yogi Berra, for chrissakes.
Finally, there's the issue of $41 million. That's about what Angelos, the owner, paid Anderson, the employee, from 1993 until 2001. (Anderson was on the roster from 1988 on, but Edward Bennett Williams and Eli Jacobs paid the tab). That buys a lot of loyalty. I'd be a lot more impressed if fired managers Phil Regan or Ray Miller penned the defense.
Zell, who acquired my rights two years ago, pays me considerably less. But just to be on the safe side, I repaid him with today's compliments.
That's how it works, right?