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Orioles’ John Angelos on how the system is failing Baltimore

Gwen Ifill talks to John Angelos, executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles, about his defense of protesters, the economic factors behind the city’s anger and frustration, as well as why the baseball team closed to the public during a game Wednesday night -- a first in Major League Baseball history.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    One of the more remarkable scenes in Baltimore in the past two days was a first. The Orioles hosted a baseball game against the White Sox yesterday. They won 8-2, but in front of an empty stadium, without any fans. That has never happened before in Major League Baseball.

    The Orioles will not be back at Camden Yards for a while. This weekend, they’ll play scheduled home games at an away park in Florida. John Angelos, the team’s executive vice president, has weighed in on the unrest on his business and on his hometown.

    He joins me now from outside Baltimore’s city hall.

    Mr. Angelos, there were front page pictures coast to coast today of an empty park yesterday in Baltimore.

    Was it a good idea?

  • JOHN ANGELOS, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, BALTIMORE ORIOLES:

    Gwen, thanks.

    It’s great to be here under these difficult circumstances.

    It was an idea that was the best of a difficult situation. The authorities, the governor’s office, the state of Maryland, the city of Baltimore in protecting public safety, felt that nor — that they could deploy their resources throughout the city and protect everyone in the city made the most sense to not have the game open to the public.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    What kind of business hit, however, did you take, and more importantly, did all the other businesses around the park take?

  • JOHN ANGELOS:

    Well, there’s no question that all the businesses in Baltimore are positively impacted when there are major events like an Orioles game or a Ravens game and other such entertainment events. And when those things don’t happen, people plan on them and they lose income. That’s un — an unfortunate repercussion of a much larger problem. And this — the contextual problem for the community at large is more significant than any losses we’ll have.GWEN IFILL: Well, I want to talk to you about the contextual problem, because you took to Twitter and you said very forcefully that you laid the blame on the needless suffering government is inflicting upon ordinary Americans. It seemed like you were making a very specific point about who was to blame.

  • JOHN ANGELOS:

    Well, I think by that, what I meant is my personal opinion that it is absolutely incumbent upon government and public-private partnerships to create equal opportunities for all communities and sub-communities throughout the cities of this country and throughout the entire country.

    And in order for the United States to continue to hold itself out as the greatest country in the world, in order for it to hold itself out as a country that stands for democracy, equal opportunity and civil and human rights, it needs to provide equal economic opportunity for all people.

    And if the system if failing some of us, then it’s failing all of us.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Well, so what was it about this instance, this uprising, this conflagration, which is connected to the point you’re making about jobs being shipped out of the U.S. and other points you made in your commentary?

  • JOHN ANGELOS:

    Well, having grown up here and lived here my entire life, I have not grown up or spent time in the neighborhoods where most of the unrest has occurred, I certainly have — they are my neighbors. They are part of this city fabric.

    And there’s no question that the diminution of manufacturing jobs and good, high-paying quality jobs in cities like Baltimore and regions throughout the country, including the Hudson River Valley, Rust Belt, the Pittsburgh River Valley and throughout the entire country, that the massive loss, the exportation of good, high-paying jobs for working-class people has been a tremendous source — in fact, the most significant source of civil unrest, civil misery and occasionally you see people expressing their frustration, hopefully lawfully.

    And, you know, you have to say in Baltimore, several hundred arrests, yes, a population of 2.25 million people in the metropolitan area and 700,000 in the city itself, that is really not evidence of a violent society or society that are lawbreakers but more of one that is abiding the law, and the same is true of the police. You have police that, you know, will break the law or may — if that’s proven to be the case, but the majority of police officers like the residents who they police are well meaning, law-abiding people. So I think —

  • JOHN ANGELOS:

    Go ahead.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I’m sorry. Do you worry that your comments are politicizing a tragedy at all?

  • JOHN ANGELOS:

    I don’t think so. I don’t think this is about politics. I don’t think it’s about Democrats and Republicans or about anything. I’ve been very careful to not talk about politics, and this really isn’t anything that I’m saying on behalf of baseball or the Orioles. I’m just going grown up here as a native and seeing the difficulties of factories moving from Baltimore, the shipyard areas, the manufacturing areas, relocating to foreign parts of the globe, it’s difficult to ask people to work hard and pull themselves up when the jobs that used to be here for their prior generations no longer exist. GWEN IFILL: That said, when will the Orioles be back at Camden Yards?

  • JOHN ANGELOS:

    We’ll be back in May after the road trip, and we hope that we’ll be able to put on high-quality games and entertainment and that will — that’s what we’re charged to do.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    John Angelos, executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles — thank you.

  • JOHN ANGELOS:

    Thanks, Gwen

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