"It turns out it's hard to prepare well for the season in those icy conditions," said Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail. "We've found that it has left us behind our competition when we break camp every April and start the season in the lower 48. The lack of preparation, paired with our lack of talent, is really a tough combo to overcome."
But while Baltimore's baseball staff is behind moving the team's spring training to Florida or Arizona, where every other major league team trains, team owner Peter Angelos must still be convinced.
"The reason I moved our spring training up here more than 15 years ago from Fort Lauderdale is because of the cost savings Atgasuk and the State of Alaska provided," said Angelos. "Tax breaks, no travel costs for games because there are no other teams here, zero field maintenance costs because everything is covered in ice and, of course, very cheap smoked salmon for the players to eat. Unless some Florida town can give me all of that, it will be tough to convince me to leave Alaska."
Angelos, however, has not ever visited the team's Alaska facility.
"Hell, no," he said. "It's Alaska. It's freezing there. I spend the winter in Florida."
But Angelos remains confident the Orioles are establishing a foothold in the Northern Alaskan village and feels that fact will soon pay off for the organization.
"The Dominican Republic and the rest of Latin America are tapped out," said Angelos. "And even if not, their players want way too much money these days. Whereas we now have a monopoly on Eskimo baseball talent. I've seen pictures. It looks like a land full of Prince Fielders."
The Orioles also announced today that starting right fielder Nick Markakis will miss the 2011 season after having both of his feet removed due to severe frostbite.