Another day – another e-mail – another lesson for the listeners

October 11, 2007 | Drew Forrester

I receive 20-40 e-mails per-day, depending on the situation, day of the week, controversy-du jour, etc.  Monday, I probably had 70 e-mails in my inbox, 65 of them about the Ravens/49′ers game.  Most of the time, the e-mails are sensible, interesting and, if nothing else, they often give me a possible show topic or two if they’re outlandish or combative.

One of those e-mails arrived today from Ken.

Ken is an Orioles fan.  You’ll quickly get that feeling when you read the e-mail below.  Ken is probably not a Ravens fan.  That much will come through as well.  Ken might also be a racist.  I’ll leave that one alone for now.  There’s enough combustible material in the e-mail that I don’t need to focus on his “other” remarks.

Here’s the e-mail.  I have not yet responded to him personally.  Instead, I’ll respond to him here – in blog form.

Drew:

Nice show this morning.  It’s always interesting to hear you try and convince the listeners that the Ravens can do no wrong, even when the team sucks, the coach is a moron and about 80% of the players are more concerned with looking like they’re trying to be in a rap video or dancing on Soul Train then actually playing football.  Then again, when you hire thugs, you get thugs.  I listen to you every day and I wonder why it is when the Ravens screw up, you are always quick to paint the picture from THEIR side.  “I’ve talked to coaches over there at Owings Mills who explain things to me,” you said earlier today.  Why is it that you don’t do the same thing for the Orioles?  Instead of informing us why the Orioles do certain things in certain situations, you lead the “Bash the O’s Brigade” every morning and offer no clear cut answers to their problems, rather, you just add on to their problems.  Are the Ravens paying you?  When the Orioles sign a player or trade a player, we never hear their side of their story from your show.  We just hear you rip them for doing the wrong thing.  I hear you say the Ravens are a “slam dunk” to win the next two games.  Boy, I’d give anything to have them lose the next two just to hear how you’re going to spin the whole thing and present the Ravens side of things.

Ken in Riverside

Dear Ken:

I assume you didn’t listen to the show the morning after the Ravens lost to the Bengals.  I blasted them up and down about their decision to not run the ball in the red zone late in that game when they were inside the Cincy 10 yard line and driving for the tying TD.  I wrote a blog about two hours after that near-loss to the Cardinals – the title of which was…”something’s not right with our football team”.

But I’ll save the examples of how I criticize the Ravens for on-the-air.  When they win, I applaud them.  When they lose, I criticize them.  In your anti-Raven world, you don’t hear that.  I have, throughout this week, criticized them repeatedly for not running the football more this year.  Let me move on, though, to the real meat of your e-mail and prove you to be a fool.

Yesterday, I was at the Ravens facility on Owings Mills.  During a two-hour time period, I talked with three different members of the coaching staff and five different players.  One of the coaches sat down with me and showed me game film from Sunday’s game in San Francisco and pointed out several things that, to my untrained eye, were elements of the game that I could not have seen myself while watching the TV broadcast of the game against the 49′ers.  I watched these plays after questioning the person on certain strategies of the game and he said, “you got 15 minutes?  sit down and let me show you why we did what we did and how it happened.”

I went in the locker room, walked up to a starting veteran and said, “do you think you guys aren’t running the ball enough?” and he took me aside for 10 minutes and gave me the world according to him – and he forgot more about football last Monday night watching the Bills and Cowboys then I’ll ever know.

I saw another coach for a period of about three minutes.  I asked him what he thinks is wrong with the defensive pass rush and he gave me a brief tutorial in the differences between having Trevor Pryce in the lineup and NOT having Trevor Pryce in the lineup.  Frankly, it was so simple, I was kind of embarrassed.  But, that’s why I’m not the coach.

So, today, when someone calls the show and says, “McNair sucked on Sunday in San Francisco…he overthrew his receivers five times that I saw during the game”, I can say, with no hesitation, “actually, on one of his overthrows, wide receiver XXX (I don’t want to implicate anyone here) ran the wrong route.  On one of the other overthrows, XXX left his feet too early and mis-timed his jump.  On one of the other throws, McNair was at fault.  And on one other one, XXX was supposed to duck in under the linebacker and instead he tried to beat him into open space across the middle and the linebacker wound up making a great play and batting down a well thrown ball.”

Now, Ken, if you think that’s “protecting” the Ravens, that’s fine.  But it’s not protecting them at all.  It’s explaining to the listeners what none of us know…because we don’t have the coach’s film from four different angles like they do.  We don’t have the time or the expert eye to sit there with six other football experts and say, “this guy messed up here — he should have done this, or that.”

And do you want to know why I explain myself like that when it comes to the Ravens and NOT the Orioles?

Because the Ravens WANT the fans to know what’s going on and the Orioles don’t.

If Brian Billick didn’t want the fans to have a chance to talk to him, do you REALLY think he’d sit on WBAL Radio every Tuesday night and field phone calls from “Joe Six Pack” who thinks the team should be blitzing more?  Or throwing downfield more?  Or – ahem – running more?  I don’t want to talk finances here and I’m absolutely speculating when I say this:  Whatever Brian Billick gets to do his weekly coach’s show on WBAL — $100k maybe? – isn’t the reason he does it.  Brian reportedly makes $5 million a year.  What’s another $100k to a guy who has $20 million in the bank already?

If he didn’t want to let the fans learn football through him, he wouldn’t do the show.

When I see him at the facility and ask him a question or two, I almost always preface it by saying, “the fans want to know…” – and he always gives me an answer I can take back to you.

The same for the players.  The same for everyone in the organization.

They go out of their way – when they can and when time permits – to make sure you all understand what they’re trying to do.

I can’t get ANYONE at the top in the Orioles organization to return a phone call or an e-mail.  I’m lucky to have a press pass, frankly.  So when they make a move or they’re about to make a move, you can’t get a peep out of them.  The week of the Matt Wieters signing deadline, I tried to contact Andy MacPhail repeatedly – no response from him or any of their stuffed suits over there whose job it is to help PROMOTE the club.

So, Ken, the reason you don’t hear more detailed stuff about the O’s is they don’t want you to know.  Wait, that’s not exactly true.  If you want to know more about them, tune into their flagship station and you’ll hear everything you need to hear.  The rest of the media outlets in town, be damned.

The reason you hear so much detailed stuff from the Ravens – through me and the rest of the media - is that they want you to know.  And while they go out of their way to treat their flagship station well (as they should), they also provide any interested media member with all the access necessary for each of us to go on the air (or in the newspaper) and try and make some sense of what happens on the field every Sunday.

One organization gets it.  The other one doesn’t get it.

As Charley Eckman used to say, “It’s a very simple game…”

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