Silent treatment ends…but the edict doesn’t

December 20, 2007 | Drew Forrester

Baby steps.

That’s almost too much of a connection, now that I think about it.

But…last night, after 7-plus months of not having a member of the Orioles organization return a call, e-mail or text message, the Holiday spirit must have overwhelmed him. And, much to my surprise, an out-of-the-blue text message that I sent around 7pm was returned.

"Any chance I can get Andy MacPhail on my show this Friday to talk about the off-season?" I sent it out hoping beyond hope that maybe, just maybe, we could stop this silly tug-of-war and work together to help get people in Baltimore excited about baseball again.

My phone buzzed: NEW TEXT MESSAGE

Response: "Who is this?"

I was stunned…A RESPONSE!! For the first time since May 8, someone at the Orioles responded to me. It’s not the first time I’ve been contacted by the them since May 8 – there’s more on that below – but it’s the first time since May 8 (after at least 30 attempts to have someone return an e-mail, call, text, etc.) someone at The Warehouse responded to me. I was pumped.

I sent:  "Drew…WNST…hoping to get Andy on for a few minutes on Friday…I’m excited about what’s been going on with you guys in the off-season and thought it might be a good time to hear from Andy about it all."

Minutes later, another response:

"Can’t do it…sorry, Drew"

And that was that.

So, while the silent treatment came to an end (probably by accident more than anything else), the edict to keep WNST listeners from learning about the happenings of the baseball team remains firmly intact.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess this: I have filed a formal grieveance/complaint with Major League Baseball against the Orioles and selected members of the organization for the unprofessional manner in which they treated me throughout 2007. I’m sure MLB officials have contacted the Orioles by now, which most certainly won’t endear me with the powers-that-be at The Warehouse, but the onus of their behavior and unprofessional treatment of me is on THEIR books to explain, not mine.

Meanwhile, the off-season rolls on, the O’s are making news – and I believe, strides, even – and the club continues to NOT allow any members of their organization on WNST.

I know Andy MacPhail can’t build Rome in a day (and, in all fairness, Andy hasn’t been willing to return e-mails either), but he has to look at this situation between the Orioles and WNST and be able to say to someone over there, "Guys, we might have to stop having recess everyday if you’re all going to continue with this silly behavior of not treating the media like grown men and women." Either that, or hand out dunce caps to the ones carrying on this petty game.

Ready for a hilarious "inner-peek" into the way the club thinks about WNST? Someone affiliated-with-but-not-employed-by-the-team told me earlier this week that the O’s intend to "stall you (WNST) out…they feel like you’re either going to close up shop someday soon…or you’ll just get frustrated with everything and completely stop talking about them."

Well, for starters, WNST’s not closing up shop. So, that option is out.

And what does it say for the rational thinking of supposed-intelligent business people when a professional sports team has on its wish list that the ONLY station in town that has 12 hours of LIVE, LOCAL daily sports talk might someday just completely stop talking about them?

They’re averaging about 15,000 actual warm bodies in their seats for 60 of their 81 home games and they’d rather have the city’s busiest all-sports station NOT talk about their team?

I wonder what Wharton School grad thought that one through?

I have written – as recently as last week – and said – during today’s show, in fact – that I think Andy MacPhail is doing a good job in his new position in Baltimore. I believe that. It might take a while and it will certainly feature more losing and more non-playoff baseball before it gets better, but it WILL get better here…someday. And I think Andy MacPhail might very well be the guy to orchestrate that improvement.

But this bush-league treatment (and, as Rob Long likes to say, that’s actually doing injustice to "bush league") has to stop. Calls, e-mails and text messages need to be returned. The information exchange has to be a two-way street. There needs to be a quid pro quo that exists between the Orioles and WNST. And everyone else in town as well. You see, it’s not just pesky little WNST that continually gets ignored by the O’s. WBAL gets it as well. So does COMCAST SportsNet.

Oddly enough, when the O’s WANT me to talk about something they’re doing, I get e-mails out the ying-yang. Free Poncho Night…Hat Day…Brian Roberts meets kids at the ESPN Zone…O’s players give out turkeys at Thanksgiving. I get ALL of those.

I’m on the "when we need FREE P.R., e-mail these people" list.

Evidently, I’m on another list too. Yeah, THAT list.

Because when I need THEM for something – and, ironically, anytime I need them it’s actually to try and help their product – I never get any cooperation.

I can’t have Andy MacPhail on my show.

But I sure as hell can talk about Free Poncho Night if I so choose.

Peter Schmuck absolutely belt-whipped them on Monday in The Sun over their attempt to raise ticket prices without telling anyone. There were orange and black tail feathers scattered up and down Calvert Street Monday morning. I wonder if Schmuck’s calls and e-mails will get returned in the upcoming weeks and months?

So, here’s another offer for the O’s. If someone over there at The Warehouse has some sense (and I know FOR A FACT that people working in that organization DISAGREE – strongly – with the way the Orioles treat WNST), they’ll cut and paste the following paragaph and slide it under Andy MacPhail’s door tonight.

Let’s get a reality check, shall we. The Orioles franchise is NOT going anywhere. And neither is WNST. They’ll be playing baseball at Camden Yards in ’08, ’09, ’10 and so on…and we’ll be doing sports talk at WNST (and sports media at WNST.net) in ’08, ’09 and ’10 and beyond.

So, we’re here – and I’m here – and we’re more than willing to talk baseball, talk Orioles and help foster a relationship between the club and the fans.

Someone over there – Andy MacPhail, maybe – has to be willing to answer some tough questions along the way. But he’s a pro, I’m sure he can handle it. But, with the tough questions also comes an exchange of information that will not only give us at WNST a better grip on why the Orioles do some of the things they do, but we’ll be better served to provide our listeners (potentially, their fans) with information on the club as well.

We can try that in 2008. Working together…

Or the Orioles can continue to "stall us out".

Smart people would try the working-together angle, don’t you think?

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