So, the 2008 Orioles season is upon us, and alas, here we go again!
It’s another March.
And another spring training of obvious less than mediocrity.
This just in: the team is REALLY going to stink this year.
And the team is spending yet ANOTHER spring training in that slum in Fort Lauderdale while their other minor league facility remains a distant three hour trip across Alligator Alley in Sarasota.
And it’s been yet another spring training where a 22-year old pitcher loses a season to something or another having to do with his pitching arm.
And now reports are that No. 1 starter, Daniel Cabrera, has decided to blame the media for the fact that he can’t throw a strike.
Where have you gone Sir Sidney Ponson?
It’s another March with broken promises, no hope, endless and blind hope for the few left who are still imbibing the orange Kool Aid at the hands of the misguided ownership group apparently led more these days by John Angelos than by Peter.
Buy media. Control the message. Ban anyone who has a legitimate question. Get rid of Aparicio and Forrester. Make Steve Davis and Peter Schmuck’s lives miserable. Blah, blah, blah.
It’s just fundamentally wrong and against every principle of free speech this country was based on, but who’s arguing anymore.
Certainly not me. I’m almost done being angry, actually. I just feel sorry for them and I honestly pray for them. And I truly pray for any of the businesses in this community – many just a few blocks from that desperately empty, beautiful ballpark that should be the pride and joy of our community – that have struggled beyond belief because of Angelos’ ineptitude and inability to make anyone in the city care about the team.
I really do pray for them.
And talk about uniquely marketing this young, seemingly hopeless group of young Birds of 2008, seems to be as absent as any hope of this sham ever coming to resemble anything any of us would refer to as BALTIMORE Orioles baseball.
Even the Baltimore Business Journal poked at them the other day for their zero-ambition policy of marketing the team to the community that is supposed to “love” and “support” the home team.
So, this morning, Drew decided to “ban” them from his airwaves from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on WNST AM 1570. I’m sure they’re laughing at the Warehouse and maybe some of you who hate us are laughing, too.
But we’ve been trying. We’ve always tried, even LONG after we said we wouldn’t any more.
We’ve attempted to contact them at least 100 times this year. We’ve made calls, we’ve written letters, we’ve appealed to MLB to get involved.
Hell, I’m STILL trying!
I sent Greg Bader a text a few months ago. He responded with a “who is this.” I responded “Nestor from WNST” and then it was a like a scene from a movie where the phone is hanging, dangling in the phone booth.
And there I am, in that tiny voice, saying:
“Helllooooo. Helllloooo. Is anybody there? Hey Greg, it’s me, Nestor Aparicio – the guy who’s covered the team since 1986 with a press pass. Yeah, the guy who has covered 12 World Series and 13 All-Star Games? Yeah, the ONLY guy who used to self-STAFF American League playoff games every October with reports from the field. Yeah, the ONLY guy in Baltimore to go to spring training and set up remotes from the team hotel from 1993 through 2005, when your organization all but chased us away from the franchise with its arrogance, insolence and downright mean-spiritedness. I’m the guy who loves baseball more than anyone!”
But – in an homage to Bob Haynie, who I must say has probably the healthiest perspective of anyone in the marketplace on what the Orioles are these days — I digress…
Sure, I’m a little wound up today.
I’ve managed to avoid the Orioles like the plague most of the offseason.
The other purple birds that people in the city actually care about had – errr, ahem – a little “turmoil” the past few months. They’ve been keeping us plenty busy and I’ve got better things to do running WNST than bitching about the pathetic Orioles twice a week.
We’ve been busy working, doing Baltimore sports better than anyone else.
Meanwhile, the Orioles’ manager made exactly zero appearances anywhere in Baltimore during the offseason. It’s like an organization of freaking ghosts.
If Dave Trembley walked through White Marsh Mall I bet he’d walk a LONG way before anyone would stop him and say: “Hey, aren’t you the manager of the Orioles!”
Let’s recount the offseason in a paragraph or two.
Let’s see: they traded their two best players for a bunch of whos, maybes and might bes. Their last remaining worthwhile tradable player and All Star is BEGGING to get outta here and the Chicago newspapers light up almost weekly wondering when Brian Roberts will be a Fuzzy Cubby.
Yet VERY few people ever discuss the Orioles with me and not many call the radio station to talk about the team. I don’t think most Baltimore sports fans could name their starting rotation right now. And even as recently as last week, they were boning their only bonafide hope as a “star” player with an insulting “industry” contract, no doubt pissing him off, which will cost them later (as someone wrote in The Sun last week, that’s an Orioles specialty, pissing off their players, employees and business partners).
I don’t know Nick Markakis at all. I think I might’ve had him on the show the week he was drafted. (There’s actually A DIFFERENT Nick Markakis in Baltimore…a guy who always called and emailed BEFORE the Georgia Nick Markakis was drafted…strange?)
I sense he’s a quiet kid, wants to be left alone, doesn’t have much to say.
But I’m PULLING for him now. I’m pulling for him in that “Major League” us vs. them kinda way. Peter Angelos screwed him last week. Basically, Angelos bet AGAINST Markakis, instead of “on” him.
I hope Nick Markakis hits 50 home runs and drives in 132 runs this year. And I’ll root for him with every at bat just because he’s in that long list of us who have been screwed by Angelos’ reign of terror as Orioles fans.
Now, Aubrey Huff is a whole different story.
What he did this offseason in calling Baltimore a “horseshit” town on a national radio show while he was clearly not thinking in a lucid fashion…well, that’s just about the worst thing any athlete can possibly do while earning upward of $8 million per summer playing a boys’ game in our city.
Talk bad about us behind our backs. Pull into town on April Fools Day and make sure you have your bags packed on Labor Day for the moving trucks. And go down to Florida and count your money and play golf and chase girls and order porn online and “jack off” (his word, not mine) ‘til your heart’s content.
But don’t call Baltimore horseshit. Not now. Not on the radio. Not to a newspaper writer.
Not ever ANYWHERE except when you’re playing poker somewhere and we don’t know about it.
It’s bush league. It’s callous. And that “apology” delivered on the Anita Marks show was just pathetic.
And worse, yet, it’s just WRONG! Baltimore was NEVER a bad place to play baseball.
This was the BEST city in BASEBALL to play. Ask ANYONE who watched the game in the 1980s and early 1990s anywhere in the league and the writers, the umpires, the players, the coaches, the media – they’d ALL say BALTIMORE!
The crab cakes. The love of baseball. The traditions of Earl Weaver, Brooks and Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer and the transfer to Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken. We lived it here but the traveling insiders of the game of baseball – the people who comprised the game of baseball on every level at MLB – thought Baltimore was the greatest baseball city of them all.
And in actuality, maybe Aubrey Huff is right. If he can call the town “horseshit” and no one even CALLS him on it, maybe it IS horseshit.
He called our city and hometown “horseshit” on national radio and is going to roll in here in three weeks, put on the same jersey that Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken wore, make $8 million this summer, and people are actually going to CHEER for him.
And Andy McPhail, Peter Angelos and the entire organization is basically ENDORSING his return!
For this alone, they should be ashamed beyond words.
This might be the lowest of the low (and they’ve done some stupid stuff over the years). Click the FREE THE BIRDS banner on the top to see the list of the transgressions that have led to an empty stadium and a downtown ghost town on summer nights.
Of course, this is being done to a “ghost-like,” dwindling fan base who are the same people who cheer for a team that REFUSES to even ACKNOWLEDGE that BALTIMORE EXISTS!
So, the town’s fans that the privileged player is calling horseshit is too horseshit to even care that the team won’t put its own CITY’S NAME on the road jerseys, the letterhead or the website.
What gives? Wasn’t it not long ago when we were all better than that and prouder of our city and our Orioles than that? Don’t we go ballistic at the mere mention of Cleveland or Pittsburgh football fans?
And to see the Red Sox and Yankees fans march into Baltimore every few weeks and take over the city like the Vikings taking over ships at sea.
The signs hang downtown like “get well soon” cards in a hospital ward:
RED SOX FANS WELCOME!
YANKEES FANS WELCOME!
So, then, what is Aubrey Huff left to internalize about his “experience” as a “Baltimore” Oriole.
(Take a few second to think about it…)
Either way, the whole thing is a travesty that makes me sick to my stomach.
At every turn, they seem to manage to bring out the worst in the city, because the city ignores them and stays away in droves.
All of the purple passion of the fall and offseason somehow seems to have a leprosy effect in that parking lot.
Think they’ll have John Harbaugh throw out the first pitch?
I know one thing: if we at WNST ENDORSED it, it’d be the last thing on earth they’d do!
So, there. They SHOULD have John Harbaugh throw out the first pitch.
Now let’s see what happens!
Either way, I’ll be here.
I’ll be watching the team play, riding out another 162 games of the imperfect storm, another season of meaningless, hopeless and joyless baseball, our 11th in a row.
Maybe they’ll celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the 0-21 start with a “Fan Appreciation Night” on May 1st when Tampa Bay comes to town for a 12:35 start.
“It was 20 years ago today…”
Opening Day is just days away.
Orioles Tragic…feel it happen!