Orioles fans lash out because I won’t ease up…

December 18, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Shawn in Rosedale started a firestorm today when he called the show and initiated a scrap with me over the treatment I provide the Orioles.  One of his arguing points was that the Yankees have spent a ton of money in the last decade and they haven’t been successful…so why should the Orioles spend an abundance of money and follow that same trail as the Bronx Bombers?

I, of course, countered with this: “If going to the playoffs for 13 straight years and selling out your stadium every night is “not being successful” then, yes, the Yankees haven’t been very successful.”

It’s laughable to think that someone who believes they know sports would call the Yankees unsuccessful over the last 13 years.  You’d be a fool to think that.  I pretty much said that on the air.

Glenn Clark had to have five arms to field all the calls that came in following Sean’s on-air battle with me.

“Drew’s unfair to the Orioles.”

“Drew doesn’t like the team so he uses the airwaves to spew his agenda.”

“The only reason you guys talk about the Orioles negatively is because Nestor tells you guys to.”

“Give the Orioles a chance and let’s see what they accomplish.”

Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Let’s give them MORE time to not spend any money and trim their payroll by another $20 million and lose another 90 games and have the crowds diminish to 10,000 per-game.

And let’s see what THAT accomplishes.

I’m unfair to the Orioles?  UNFAIR?

Unlike the folks at 105.7 and MASN who can’t EVER question the team’s daily happenings and business decisions, I can.  Thankfully.

And if the O’s don’t spend a reasonably large sum of money in this off-season (money that they have at their disposal) I think we all own the right to say, “Are you guys still trying to hoodwink us into believing you’re REALLY trying to win?”  There’s nothing even remotely unfair about that.

They spent roughly $95 million on salaries in 2007.  Last season, that number decreased to approximately $65 million.  This year, it looks like – unless they get a Teixeira or Lowe or Dunn or some cominbation thereof – that they’re going to have a player payroll of $55 million or so…and by a $55 million payroll, I’m talking about the salaries for players that play.  I’m not talking money the on-line “numbers” show for guys like Fernando Cabrera, Carlos Quiroz or Ryan Bukvich or Lance Cormier – all of whom are on the books but won’t play in Baltimore in ’09).

Let me get this straight:  The team hasn’t won in 11 years.  Their crowds are down to 12,000 real, live, human beings in the stadium for any home game not involving Boston or New York at OPACY.  They created a TV network in 2006 for the specific purpose of generating new revenue to invest in player salaries and compete with the Yankees and Red Sox (THEIR words, not mine…here it is if you don’t believe me…)

If you don’t want to spend time reading it all (you should, but I know you’re all busy) – here’s a direct quote from Peter Angelos from that 2006 Pressbox article that says it all:

“In answer to your question, now that we have an RSN and we can move forward with it…that is going get us on a more even plane with Boston and New York, and that was the purpose. It was even more desperately needed when a team dropped right into the area you have been drawing a very substantial number of fans from for many years.”

And another quote directly from Angelos:

“Now, I have heard some of them mention that this MASN development might really generate some real funds which would permit the Orioles to spend more money. That’s a pretty strong acknowledgment that the key to all this, to get off the losing years and so on, is more money invested on the field. And obviously, with that becoming available, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to do that because we are hometown and we are sensitive to what the public is thinking. I know a lot of Baltimore fans, and, just personally, I want them to feel like I am responding to their wishes.”

The development of MASN was done in direct response to the Yankees and Red Sox having their own network and using that money to beef up their playing rosters.

The Orioles have CUT their payroll by approximately $40 million or so over the last 18 months under Andy MacPhail.  So not only have they not SPENT any of the MASN money they’ve generated (they wrote themselves – and the Nats – a $26 million dollar check in ’08) they’ve cut their payroll at the same time.

If you think me pointing that out is unfair, then so be it.

But it’s not unfair at all.  It’s merely asking the team to do what they’ve told us all along they were going to do which is COMPETE with the Yankees and Red Sox by increasing their payroll upon the development of their regional sports network.

I realize – having basically been banished by the team because I’ve been too critical of them (in their mind) – that few people in the media are as passionate about the Orioles and their demise and, hopefully, their rebirth, as me, but that’s because just about no one else in town went to 300 home games in their teen years like me.  Why would someone from – *ahem* – Florida or Wisconsin or Virginia bleed orange and black?  Answer:  They don’t.  Unless, of course, they have to leak orange and black because they’re affiliated with a station, paper or media outlet that mandates such “bleeding.”

I want nothing more than to see the Orioles return to their glory and restore some civic pride and economic stability to the city they call home.

As I said earlier this week, if given a choice right now, I’d take the Orioles signing Teixeira over the Ravens making the playoffs in 2008.  And I love me some purple.

I don’t see a need to address the other rabid callers who vomited stuff like “Drew doesn’t like the team and that’s why he criticizes them…” – It’s the exact opposite, actually.  I’m not a Washington Wizards fan…therefore, they’re not on my radar screen to discuss or blog about.  I love the Orioles – always have, always will, and because they’re so top-of-mind with me, I talk and write about them every single day, just about.  But “LOVING THEM” and blindly accepting their business practices are not linkable…to me, anyway.

Nestor never tells anyone at the radio station what to say about the Orioles.  Bob Haynie has opinions on the good and the bad of the franchise and so does Rob Long.  Their respective thoughts on the team (and mine) are not at all guided by what Nestor thinks.  Enough said there.

So I’m not going away and I’m not going to soft-peddle what I think because some people out there think I’m unfair.

When the Orioles improve on the field and start putting people in the seats and engage in marketing and public relations efforts that allow us all to embrace them again then – and only then – will I…embrace them.

As the late, great Charley Eckman would say: “It’s a very simple game.”

We deserve better from our baseball franchise.

They’re running the club with OUR money.

It’s our right to question them.

It’s our right to expect more from them.

It’s our right to stay after them until they get it fixed.

Now, go sign Mark Teixeira!

Prove us wrong.

Or, at the very least, prove me wrong.

Give me a reason to not be “unfair”.