Orioles or Preakness…which is in WORSE shape

May 18, 2007 | Nestor Aparicio

Geez…put the f***ing press release together and make the announcement, already!

It’s CLEAR — the Orioles ARE (maybe) putting BALTIMORE back on the road jerseys (where it belongs) next year!  Just the fact that they are refuting it because WNST broke the story — and it’s hardly a denial, more of a "we’ll tell ya when we’re good and ready" — is almost amusing.

(Peter Schmuck was joking to me earlier that it’ll be forever considered "WNST’s fault"  if they NEVER put BALTIMORE back on the road jerseys. "U screwed it up for everyone," he text me earlier!)

It’s about as amusing as the fact that I’ve received media credentials from the Red Sox in Boston and the Devil Rays in Tampa Bay over the past six weeks and can openly chat with any and all of their players anytime I want, yet they have deemed me "NOT press." And that they let ALL of my employees go the games with press passes, but not me! I ran into John Patti from WBAL Radio — and one of the really good guys in our business — and he says he’s still persona nongrata, too!

It’d be really amusing if it weren’t so openly disgraceful and sad, because there is no logo or uniform change that’s going to make this pathetic franchise change its shortsighted, small-minded behavior that always leads to fourth place in the AL East. (That is, short of a sale of the team, which is what I’ve been saying all along!)

Uniforms? Puh-lease! With all due respect to Drew Forrester and anyone else who thinks couture is the cure, the uniforms are the LEAST of their problems, from what I can see.

It’s almost as sad as spending my morning around Pimlico, where I attended the Alibi Breakfast, perhaps for the final time. I just keep wondering how many years horse racing is going to continue to allow the second leg of the Triple Crown to whiter away into oblivion here at Pimlico and in Baltimore, where we used to really embrace this race as our own and treat it like the community jewel it is and should be.

Just the fact that it’s less than 48 hours before the race and NO ONE in this city seems to give a damn whether these horses run, either way, is frightening for the future of the state, gambling, slots — the whole enchilada. I live downtown and I can tell ya there’s not any sign that the race is even happening here on Saturday. It’s like Baltimore has just abandoned everything about the Preakness, which is freaky. (I heard a rumor today that Gov. O’Malley will not be attending the race on Saturday…only time will tell!)

And even for the "many" who WILL care on Saturday — they’ll report the crowd in excess of 100,000 no matter what (John Steadman accused them of "fudging" the numbers for the better part of my lifetime) — those same "patrons" (many with their tops off) will not be coming back to the track next week or ANY week soon.

It’s hard to say which is the more pathetic situation in our city right now — the self-inflicted demise of the Orioles and EVERYTHING associated with their rich tradition, history and pride OR the self-inflicted demise of the Maryland Jockey Club, Pimlico, the Preakness and horse racing in general over the past 25 years.

And I can tell you from a lifetime of first-hand experience, it’s hard to say which is the more arrogant about their demise (or is it denial?), as well!

I’ve been doing my own thing on the radio (and now on the web) for FIFTEEN YEARS! I’ve spent 23 years with a sports press pass here.

For 15 years EVERY SINGLE THING I’ve ever tried to do to HELP these people by promoting THEIR sports for them and bringing their customers together in one media outlet/community strictly outta the childhood love I have in my heart for Baltimore and Maryland and sports and heritage and how it brings the community together has been summarily dismissed, disrespected or blatantly lied about, either by or to, these Oriole and MJC people.

They tell me to "Go Away" every chance they get, AND THEY ARE THE ONES WHO ARE DYING TO FIND CUSTOMERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

THEY ARE THE ONES WITH THOUSANDS — IF NOT MILLIONS — OF EMPTY SEATS!!!!!

Each of these sports is on life support in the marketplace and, quite frankly, I TOO need both of them to survive to feed MY family and the families of MY employees!

Why in the world would I not want good things for these sports? What’s in it for me that they don’t know how to market their product or be nice to people? How could I possibly benefit from intentionally trying to damage either one of these sports when all I do for a living is SELL Baltimore sports to people?

But, I believe in telling the truth…and that’s what I do!

But my station does just fine and dandy without any help from them or any partnership from their marketing arms. Matter of fact — as you can plainly see — WNST is thriving by telling the truth, taking care of our listeners and treating our sponsors and customers with the same integrity, respect and dignity that we would treat members of our own families.

The Orioles and the Maryland Jockey Club are both represented in the lion’s share of their marketing by the Leffler Agency and Bob Leffler. Suffice to say, I’ve had my own differences with Bob Leffler, who I really AM amused by, to be quite honest with you. (He doesn’t care too much for me, but I offer to help him every chance I get…but he doesn’t want my help or anyone at WNST’s help…and from what I hear, he thinks we don’t have much of an audience anyway!)

Leffler was also in charge when the Colts left town and when the Skipjacks and then Bandits folded/left town/moved/went away…

He has also, at other points, had his hand in the pie with Towson (a perennially empty gym that we filled up in January with a super promotion thanks to a few supercool Ravens players), the Blast at the end of their first MISL run and the Spirit before Ed Hale came along and bought them.

And now poor Bob Leffler is saddled with Peter Angelos in one ear and Joe DeFrancis in the other, both wanting "results" at their turnstiles.

And when he’s not buying media in The Examiner or Press Box or CBS Radio trying to desperately deliver fannies in the seats of Oriole Park or Pimlico, he’s telling all his friends and customers about how well Navy is doing or Rutgers (he wrote the ‘R Time’ promotion that led Rutgers to a near-undefeated season last year).

Again, I’m greatly amused by Bob Leffler, and honestly, I wouldn’t want his job — having to run around trying to clean up the mess that’s been left behind and make excuses for these two institutions that are seemingly hell-bent on committing a painful, all-too-public, civic suicide.

There are plenty of days when I wake up and just thank my lucky stars that WNST is doing well and that we have cool listeners (and now readers) and that I don’t have to suck up to the folks at the Orioles and at the Maryland Jockey Club, who honestly could care less whether WNST or any of ITS customers ever patronize their sports properties.

To be honest, this weekend should be an incredible occasion: the 132rd running of the Preakness Stakes blanketed by the Orioles and the Nats squaring off in a battle of the Chesapeake and the Potomac.

A local baseball rivalry, the second leg of the Triple Crown and springtime — who could possibly ask for more, right?

Instead, it feels more like rubbing salt into the wounds of a couple of very, very sick sports properties that could affect a lot of lives in a positive fashion if they could treat people a little better, reach the public a little more positively and efficiently, and perhaps with better marketing regain their rightful hold on a captivated audience of great Baltimore sports fans.

Baseball is STILL a great game. Horse racing is incredible family entertainment and just a pleasure to be around when it’s done right (see Louisville, first weekend of May!).

Baltimore fans long for quality sports entertainment. But, like me, they CLEARLY don’t feel the love enough from either of these "businesses" to get up and support them because they don’t give us a whole lot of reasons to spend our time, money and affections on them or whatever it is they have to sell circa 2007.

So will it change?

Or will they continue their rapid assault on complete and total irrelevancy in our community.

Only time — and Bob Leffler — know the answer!

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