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Orioles reset: David Rubenstein has a low bar to clear following John Angelos. The expectations should be higher

Jacob Calvin Meyer, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Baseball

Following John Angelos as the control person of an MLB team is like presenting a class project after a fellow student flunked his.

All David Rubenstein has to do to be better than his predecessor is not repeatedly have bottom-five payrolls, not use Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a shield against questions, not lie to reporters about opening the Orioles’ books and not cry poor to the country’s largest newspaper about the cost of signing young stars to extensions.

The bar for Rubenstein to clear is so low it’s almost the floor, but the expectations should be much higher. Instead of comparing Rubenstein with Angelos, he should be judged against other owners across MLB and the American League East — just like his team is in the standings.

To Rubenstein’s credit, he’s seemingly off to an excellent start — from declaring his goal is to win a World Series to promising not to interfere in baseball operations to interacting in down-to-earth fashion with fans at Oriole Park. Even other members of his ownership group did a stellar job of pandering by purchasing a round of beer for fans at Pickles Pub before opening day.

However, these early days, as Rubenstein acknowledged during his introductory event Thursday on the sixth floor of the B&O Warehouse, are not difficult, especially with the Orioles coming off a 101-win season. Baltimore fans grew so weary with the Angelos family’s ownership of the Orioles — first the late Peter’s meddling and ego-driven decisions, then his elder son’s lack of spending and handling of Camden Yards lease negotiations — they would have applauded anyone with a different last name purchasing the club.

“Today is an easy day to say everything is great,” Rubenstein said.

 

To be clear, Rubenstein and company deserve this honeymoon period, and so do Baltimore fans.

Buying an MLB club is no small feat, and it cost them a pretty penny with a deal that values the club at $1.725 billion. By purchasing his hometown team, the 74-year-old private equity billionaire and Baltimore native is providing an energized fan base excited about the present a reason to be so about the future.

But, like a marriage’s actual honeymoon, this one shouldn’t last long. The time to win — and spend — is now.

The Orioles have the fifth-lowest payroll in the major leagues, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, at $97.4 million. They’ve ranked in the bottom five each of the past six seasons since executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was hired.

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