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A new era in Baltimore: Orioles eye bright future as David Rubenstein takes over as owner

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BALTIMORE (AP) — David Rubenstein took over the Baltimore Orioles at a particularly optimistic moment for the franchise — and the new owner seems well aware of what this team could accomplish in the immediate future.

“Today is an easy day to say everything is great, and hopefully we’ll win opening day, but I don’t want this to be the high-water mark,” Rubenstein said Thursday, a day after Major League Baseball’s owners unanimously approved his purchase of the Orioles. “I want the high-water mark to be in the fall, when we go to the World Series and we show that we are a city that supports a great team.”

Rubenstein’s group closed on the sale later Wednesday and he took over as controlling owner, according to baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Robinson held a news conference hours before Baltimore routed the Los Angeles Angels 11-3 in its opener, and the Carlyle Group co-founder listed several of the reasons the Orioles are in an envious position. After a 101-win season in 2023, they’re loaded with young talent and have an award-winning general manager and manager running things in the front office and dugout.

Rubenstein’ was joined by other members of the new ownership team, plus Maryland Gov. Wes Moore. It’s been a week marked by tragedy in Baltimore after a cargo ship crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Amid the excitement of opening day at Camden Yards, Moore also talked about the bridge’s collapse, and much of the brief question-and-answer period involved queries from reporters about that.

“Baltimore is being tested right now, but Baltimore’s been tested before,” Moore said before Rubenstein spoke. “And every time, we stand up on two feet, we dust ourselves off, and we keep moving forward.”

Also in the last week, the Orioles lost longtime owner Peter Angelos, who died at age 94. His son John had taken over as the team’s chairman and was in the process of selling it to Rubenstein. The deal, which values the team at $1.75 billion, was announced in January.

Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr., who is part of Rubenstein’s ownership group, was on hand for the news conference and caught a ceremonial first pitch before the game. Rubenstein was on the field for that, wearing a white Orioles jersey with his name on the back.

“Momentous occasion,” general manager Mike Elias said. “Really appreciate the warmth that I’ve received from the incoming owners, management partners. This is a very bright day, a very bright inflection point for our franchise. We all feel wonderful about where the Orioles are right now, and where they’re going.”

It’s too early to tell whether Rubenstein will significantly increase Baltimore’s spending. The Orioles have been able to win lately with young, cost-controlled players, but a boost in the payroll could turn them into a real juggernaut.

Rubenstein was asked about the possibility of selling the naming rights for Camden Yards.

“There have been proposals for that. No decision is imminent,” Rubenstein said. “I am familiar with the proposal that came forward. It’s something we’ll take a look at, but nothing is going to happen immediately, and I have been in touch with those people that would like to do the naming.”

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said his interactions with Rubenstein so far have been “incredible.”

“He is obviously very smart,” Hyde said. “He’s extremely funny and witty, and a pleasure to talk to.”

Rubenstein showed a bit of his sense of humor, saying that when he first met Moore he was so impressed he wanted to hire him.

“I tried to recruit him to my firm. I said, ‘The highest calling in mankind is private equity,’” Rubenstein said. “He had other things in mind.”

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

By NOAH TRISTER
AP Baseball Writer

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