This is how I felt all over again…

August 01, 2007 | Nestor Aparicio

I went to Cooperstown. The videos are just a click away (see the wnsTV to the right >>>>>)

I also bore witness to — and captured on video for all of you to see for YOURSELF — the disgusting sight of 40,000 Yankees fans overrunning downtown while the rest of the "real" Orioles fans were all in Cooperstown.

And I felt lousy about the Orioles and what’s missing ALL OVER AGAIN!

Wasn’t Sunday just great? Wasn’t it AMAZING for US to ALL be together again in that magical little town in upstate New York?

Don’t you CRAVE THAT AGAIN…that chance to all get together, wear orange, talk about the old days and actually have some HOPE that we’ll EVER feel that way again? That 33rd Street feeling?

Tomorrow at 8 a.m. I will make a significant statement about FREE THE BIRDS on WNST-AM 1570…

Earlier tonight I went to the www.freethebirds.net website and read the letter I posted to the website after the Rally…I wrote this piece in mid-October, about three weeks after the Sept. 21st rally…I still feel this way…

Do you?

Here it is, unedited (pulled from www.freethebirds.net)

What Free The Birds is all about

I’ve had almost a month to take things in, digest just what the heck happened on September 21st downtown, inside and outside of Camden Yards.

My first thought is this: I will ALWAYS be proud of what we did, going back to tell management how lousy we think they’ve been.

From how lousy, WE, the fans have been treated to how our past heroes have been treated to how the team stinks not only out on the field, but more importantly, out in our community where WE live. And how our hearts aren’t in it anymore, but we really DO want to feel connected again, especially as a mere handful of us are watching the baseball playoffs every night in our living rooms.

The arrogance, the mean-spiritedness in regard to everything from Elrod Hendricks back to Jon Miller and everything in between should be the indisputable evidence of the incompetence of this ownership group.

And if this were anything other than baseball, I would just give up the fight, much like I had done for the previous 28 months when I just sneered, closed my wallet and my heart, and stayed away. Like I’ve said all along, when a restaurant makes bad food, you stay away, but when it’s something like baseball — something my family has participated in and supported and adored and taken to heart since I was born in 1968 — I now believe you have to stand up and fight to get it back.

Staying away from the ballpark clearly wasn’t working.

The day after the rally, as you can imagine, I got a boatload of phone calls from just about anyone and everyone who has ever been in my life. Old friends, inside the media and outside, as well as many, many people who I’ve come in contact with in one way or another since I grew up in Dundalk and started taking the No. 23 to the No. 22 en route to Memorial Stadium back in 1973 with my Pop.

I had promised my wife and even my employees that we’d do one event — The Rally on Sept. 21st and do it in a grand way — and just go away, hoping that the impact of headlines alone and the subsequent media pile-on would force Peter Angelos to think very humbly and hard about what he’s done to this community because of his mismanagement of the baseball team.

How it’s NOT about him, anymore. It’s about Baltimore and what’s good for the city and the state.

I thought that perhaps he’d finally realized the destruction and pain he’s caused. I thought he’d realize how many jobs have been lost through his mismanagement. About how the Inner Harbor is deserted on most game nights, when an Oriole home game should be bringing upward of 50,000 people to downtown Baltimore 81 times a year to spend money and enjoy all that the most beautiful city in the world has to offer.

I thought maybe we give him a peak of how incredibly unpopular he is and how people don’t really care much for his ownership or management style. (Some people have used the word hate, but I DON’T "hate" Peter Angelos. I don’t even know him, so how can I hate him?). For the record, I HATE what he’s done to baseball in Baltimore, the Orioles and my social life, both behind the microphone and in "real" life. For me, baseball was never a "job" — it was an extension of my life and my passion! Spring training, Opening Day, holiday games, the 4th of July, the All Star Game, the pennant race, the playoffs, the World Series, the hot stove season and the promise of another spring.

My biological clock revolved nearly 100 percent around baseball.

This is a sick admission (as were the 19 chapters of embarrassing, shameless, geeky love of the Orioles): Baseball occupied a significant portion of nearly every day of my life for 35 years!

Now, most baseball insiders consider the Orioles and Peter Angelos’ ownership to be an industry-wide joke, if not a total disgrace. And this comes from a group of geniuses who have all conferred and honestly believe that playing ALCS and NLCS games simultaneously at 8:30 p.m. on school nights is a grand idea. And from folks, like the Oakland A’s front office, who think NOT allowing fans to buy tickets into a half-empty ballpark last night during an ALCS game is another good idea. The entire upper deck looked like my backyard pool did on Bank Street between Labor Day and Memorial Day.

Yet, much like the Orioles, the A’s would tell you business is just fine. Yet, clearly, baseball’s problems extend way beyond the Chesapeake Bay.

Baseball is a total mess as an industry, but let’s fix one problem at a time, huh?

Many of the few Orioles’ corporate sponsors who still exist do so because they fear Angelos politically, not because they truly want to support the team or spend money. Some feel an obligation, others just do it because they always have.

And once they buy their season books, most folks can’t give the tickets away, except when the Red Sox and Yankees come to town.

LITERALLY!

If the Orioles attendance numbers are on the up and up — and who can ever think they’re honest again after giving us "blue" Brian Roberts bobbleheads three months ago? — then there are CLEARLY thousands upon thousands of full, unused tickets in some executive’s desk in Ruxton. Maybe as many as a half a million of them!

Those are tickets that are PAID FOR ALREADY and no one wants to use them! AND THEY’RE THE GOOD, EXPENSIVE SEATS!

The unused tickets don’t affect Peter Angelos’ life. But it affects the bellhops at the Sheraton. It affects the bartenders at the DSX. It affects the waitresses and waiters everywhere from Hooters to the Hard Rock to Ruth’s Chris. It affects the cabbies. And it affects the mojo of the city I love and the place I call home.

Anyone who is even remotely connected with anything in this city can get free tickets for an Orioles game almost any time with a mere phone call — and tickets many nights are only $5 if you actually have to buy them — and WE STILL DON’T COME!

But our message about why we don’t come was completely lost on Peter Angelos when we finally DID come back on Sept. 21. He didn’t even take the time to try to understand why a few thousand people would come down to the ballpark on a Thursday afternoon and raise hell and hold up signs disparaging what was, until he got involved in baseball and the Orioles, a good name in the community.

Instead of awakening on the Friday after the rally feeling like we’d accomplished something significant because the media was creating a story with "legs," I honestly felt bad.

I was pissed — yet not surprised — at the media cover up by some organizations, like David Ginsburg and the Associated Press, who reported the crowd at "nearly 1,000" throughout the country and the world when it was clearly in excess of 2,000 people and any of the videos or pictures will absolutely back that up.

I was actually amused that WBAL Radio — Maryland’s NEWS Leader — was in the middle of the biggest NEWS story of the day in the city at 5:15 in rush hour traffic with a live microphone and NEVER, EVER alluded to the fact that there was a major and clearly audible protest going on. Not even when the chants of "Elrod Hendricks" and "Jon Miller" and "FREE THE BIRDS" were ringing through the AM band on anyone’s radio who was tuning in.

Is that funny or just, flat-out pathetic and sad?

Does Peter Angelos own the team or the radio station’s news department?

And, as the great Scott Garceau taught me very early on in my journalism career, when I was his intern at Channel 2 running for Little Caesar’s pizza and logging Washington Bullets games in an editing suite — "You only get one chance to lose your credibility!"

As least Channel 2 and Jamie Costello had the stones to acknowledge that there was going to be a significant civic rally to protest the Orioles before The Rally happened. The other three television stations — all vying to get weekend Oriole games for their stations next season and beyond — pretended there was no Rally, just like WBAL Radio.

And, of course, our "competitors" over at Infinity are so busy cozying up to Angelos and MASN in an attempt to steal the flagship rights from WBAL to offset their loss of the Ravens’ rights, that it’s a transparent, daily embarrassment so profound I don’t even need to comment on it.

Angelos ought to get in bed with Infinity. They deserve each other!

All you need to do is put on MASN on any afternoon — why not, you’re paying two bucks for it in your Comcast bill every month, right? — and you can see where Anita Marks and her employers are so busy downing the orange Kool Aid and trashing an effort that is so rooted in honesty and civic concern that only an out of towner or a fool couldn’t see how on the take for money they all look.

I got one phone call in the aftermath of The Rally that shook me up and has brought me back to you today with an extension of FREE THE BIRDS.

A friend called 24 hours after The Rally and laid down the same gauntlet that the original Berlin Wall guy did. He asked me if I had accomplished what I wanted, basically pointing out that if all we wanted to do was embarrass Angelos, have him say more mindless and mean things in the media and get some notoriety, that we were pretty successful on that front. We had a giant story in the New York Times. We were all over ESPN. We were in every major newspaper in the country. It was a major media blitz.

I literally got 3,000 emails the day after The Rally.

And I never, ever thought about The Rally as a publicity stunt when it was in progress. I looked at it as a conduit for positive change for Baltimore — the first step in righting a major, major wrong in our community.

But then my friend challenged me. He said, "If we really want to enact real change — as in a new owner for the Orioles and a way for all of us to go back to loving the team and supporting it and enjoying it like we do the Ravens and putting some gusto back into our collective summers — and we MEANT it on Sept. 21, then we still have more work to do."

Maybe a HELLUVA lot of work, if Angelos’ initial intimate feelings about my character and our intentions are any indication of how he will combat what will inevitably be thousands more of you the next time around when we have "The Rally: Party Two" at Camden Yards again next spring.

Look, you all know that I wrote 19 chapters and bored many of you to death my stories of baseball, my life, my childhood and how it begat this crazy little radio station.

I don’t just think this is kinda, sorta important — I’ve devoted my entire life to it over the past three months.

And I don’t need this fight. I really don’t.

My life is good and happy and my little radio station is successful and profitable beyond even my wildest dreams as a kid. I have all of the money and respect that I need to fill five lifetimes.

And back in June, I was happy just waiting out another dog summer until the Ravens’ season started, just like the rest of you. But I’m tired of doing that. And I’m tired of feeling crappy and negative and miserable about the Orioles.

They’re here, we paid for them, that stadium is beautiful, this city is amazing and we deserve better than we’re getting. And now we’re demanding what we feel entitlement to: a baseball team and an organization and ownership group we can support and love and be proud of, in victory or defeat!

I feel very galvanized to create change based on the incredible, heartfelt feedback I got in the days following Sept. 21. I was very moved, especially after meeting and touching so many people who feel the exact same way I do — only they don’t have a voice or a microphone or radio station or a rallying point.

Well, now you have a place, a place that my Pop would’ve come to like he did to WCBM and Charley Eckman and Colts games and trivia contests back in the 1970’s when I was a kid in Dundalk.

And then I keep thinking about you incredible people who came downtown and followed a silly idea that took on an ocean wave of support in the most grassroots way possible. And I owe it to all of you to not let this thing die on the vine, especially since so many of you told me not to, that you had my back and that you feel the same way I do and you’re ready to fight and rally and protest until we get the BALTIMORE Orioles back.

I’ve had a dozen letters that have made me burst into tears, stories of friendship and love and mothers and fathers and 33rd Street and how much baseball means to them and how much the Orioles mean to them.

And I can’t imagine a more joyous celebration of our city’s love of baseball and the Orioles has ever been staged anywhere, including 33rd Street, on that day last month.

THAT was some SERIOUS "old school" Oriole Magic on Sept. 21. And if you doubt me, just go watch the video and look at the pictures.

Most people who were there said it was the most fun they’ve ever had at a baseball game at Camden Yards.

The Elrod cheers. The "Eddie, Eddie" chants. The O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheers, reverberating off the concrete. The walk out of the bowl of the stadium and feeling those walkways shudder and rock with the echoes of the sound of "FREE THE BIRDS." And, of course, the walk through the bowl of the stadium, which took more than 30 minutes.

The pictures and the videos will last a lifetime, but there’s still plenty of work to be done and more messages to send.

The whole day was kind of surreal, right down to me sitting out in front of the stadium waiting for my lawyer to arrive because the word was that I was going to be arrested at the front gate. The rumor was that they were going to drum up some goofy charge to try to put me in jail so I couldn’t enjoy the rally myself. And they also brought in the S.W.A.T. team! (For the record, I’ve never been arrested for anything…not that I couldn’t have been arrested at different points, but so far, so good!)

I have promised myself that throughout this fight to FREE THE BIRDS, that I was going to be the bigger guy, to take the highest road possible because it’s time for me to grow up personally and be a role model, especially considering the owner of the team has lacked the class and dignity to answer questions, let alone understand how you and I think and why we love his baseball team.

And the arrogance and mean-spiritedness in his most recent interviews and his lame actions make every stupid gesture I’ve ever made toward FREE THE BIRDS seem sorta worthwhile.

It wasn’t easy waking up on Friday morning after attempting to do something good for our community and having the owner of MY baseball team taking almost comical personal shots at me, especially when it’s so clear that he’s so devoid of the facts that it’s almost kinda frightening. He doesn’t know me, or you and doesn’t appear to want to get to know any of us anytime soon.

He came off as the mean-spirited, miserable, fabulously wealthy and out of touch old man we all think he is.

And this happened on the same day that I wrote an honest, passionate and damn-near adult-like letter with the facts about what’s happened in our community regarding baseball. If you doubt that baseball’s dying in Baltimore, just ask anyone you know or work with or are related to just who is playing in these playoffs or to name any of these players. Ask around and see if anybody even knows the names of the starting pitchers for any of these remaining four teams.

And, it’s my belief that once you lose interest in a sport as a whole, it’s doomed. Especially with no hope at all on the horizon as long as Peter Angelos owns the team.

I personally believe the biggest reason is that the best players in the game will NOT come here to play. Just wait another 60 days, once free agency is in bloom. The current regime will say that all of the MASN money — money that you and I are footing the bill for every month when our Comcast bill shows up, basically baseball "welfare" for this ownership group — will assure that they’ll get the big names. I’ll believe that when I see it. I’m not convinced that Miguel Tejada won’t ask for a trade yet again. And I believe that come spring training all the leaks in the boat will once again reappear, even when the Orioles offers appear to be well above market value for second-tier free agents.

Even Alex Rodriguez, who has to be DYING to get out of New York, would never, EVER agree to come here, even if Angelos kicked more money IN for him!

And, as most of you know, I’m pretty much an optimist by nature.

(Think about my Ravens coverage — have I EVER been pessimistic about the Ravens?)

I haven’t called Peter Angelos names in years. But, I’ll gladly take his name calling in the newspapers and laugh as long as he doesn’t come and demand my lunch money. He’s already squeezing me for two bucks a month on my Comcast bill and that’s plenty.

I’ve decided at 38 that I’m going to allow my honest, positive actions to speak louder than any of my words.

And the rest of the media who have behaved like flip floppers or just plain cowards can take all the potshots and dole out all of the personal abuse and attacks they feel necessary over the winter in my direction. I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and I’m not afraid.

And I generally post my honest and heartfelt feelings all over my website, so there’s no agenda here other than trying to support Baltimore sports in a positive fashion and have a fun, full and productive life.

And I’ll gladly lay it out as honestly as I’ve always done during my 15 years on radio.

So, just why am I bothering to keep this FREE THE BIRDS thing going?

There are probably a zillion reasons why I’d want FREE THE BIRDS to succeed in getting the eventual goal of the sale of the Orioles to another ownership group. But here’s a short list:

I love the Orioles and I’ve always loved the Orioles.
This city needs the Orioles to be strong. It’s hurting Baltimore economically and everyone is scared to death to write the story or report the facts.

My summers aren’t the same because I’ve loved baseball my whole life.

My job is NOT any fun six months of the year, which is really why I retired two years ago from a daily show.

I own a sports radio station that has not spent one nanosecond of airtime in nine years discussing anything of substance regarding baseball and the Orioles. The situational baseball talk — the stats and the actual strategy of the game — has long been an afterthought. What difference does pulling a pitcher or batter in a late-inning circumstance make when the team hasn’t played in a meaningful game since October 1997?

Being that major league baseball is half of MY business too, it’s depressing for us to consider having a baseball team that has mistreated virtually everyone in the city and no one cares about them…most people almost hate on them privately, really!

Oh, did I mention I love the Orioles.

It’s funny how many media people (and even Peter Angelos’ best friend) have referred to FREE THE BIRDS as a publicity stunt. I suppose if it WERE just a stunt, I’d have claimed victory and gone home.

But, NOT ONE FAN — not ONE! — has come up to me and called it a publicity stunt or said even one mean-spirited thing. But you either get it or you don’t. And many, many people can see for themselves that I’m the real McCoy and our radio station is the real McCoy because we are just like you — we ARE the community, so we’re angry like you are and we don’t have to conjure up any phony portrayal of what’s happened with baseball over the past decade here in Baltimore. We FEEL it in our lives because it was always a significant part of our lives and all of our friends’ lives and it just isn’t anymore. It was the HEARTBEAT AND THE PRIDE of this city really for my entire life until Peter Angelos bought this team — and as Phil Jackman would point out, the two cats before him were no great shakes either.

And as for the media here in Baltimore, other than Keith Mills and Brent Harris and Joe Platania and the guys at my joint, what could any of them POSSIBLY KNOW about OUR Baltimore Orioles?

Look, I like Peter Schmuck and Mark Viviano and Scott Garceau and a bunch of the people who weren’t raised here — they’re nice people — but they will never be like us and have the same thing we have with the Orioles. Their childhoods were spent differently, and that’s cool. Schmuck went to Angels games as a kid with his Mom, who loved the Red Sox. Viviano was in St. Louis bleeding red. And everyone knows Garceau has a Ravens’ Super Bowl ring and the only thing that could have made it better would’ve been to be green and gold with a ‘G’ on the facing.

They get IT…but they don’t get the Orioles.

The Orioles have been the absolute focal point of my life longer than any other thing in my life besides my mother.

And what I found out on September 21st was that there are THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of people who feel the same way I do.

And we really don’t need John Eisenberg, who lived and died with the Cowboys and even wrote a book about it (as well as the Birds!), or Rick Maese, who simply worships Peter Schmuck instead of any sports franchise, to explain it or understand it fully.

And you can’t expect the out of town media people to understand it. You just can’t and it’s not their fault. It’s not THEIR team to save — and they feel as though it’s not their job to save the team — it’s OURS!

But Vince Bagli and John Steadman and Charley Eckman and Chris Thomas are long gone from the airwaves and newspaper. So, someone needs to do something and I’m not going to wait any longer until we have some tragedy like what happened to the Colts or the Bullets happen again to this town or this baseball team.

And if that’s arrogant, oh well, I’ve been called much worse.

Like an "instigator" or a "demagogue" or a "fool" or "a very unimportant person with delusions of grandeur."

And, in reality, Peter Angelos wasn’t calling ME those names. He was calling YOU those names. Because I am, really, just like you: I’ve loved the Orioles my whole life.

As much as Peter Angelos talks about Baltimore and sports and the Orioles, what do you think he really knows about Orioles baseball and its history that you and I haven’t already forgotten?

How many times do you honestly think Peter Angelos rounded up the kids in the station wagon outta Highlandtown and went to an Orioles games? Or rose to his feet in an O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheer?

How do you think HE’D fare in a conversation about the 1979 Orioles or the 1983 Orioles or where he was the night Gregg Olson uncorked the wild pitch in Toronto?

It just leaves me even more sad now, that he somehow sees FREE THE BIRDS as a one-person vendetta, like the loudmouthed kid from Dundalk who loved the Orioles since birth has somehow become some sort of Jim Jones, selling anti-orange Kool Aid to the poor people of Baltimore.

(For crissakes, he called me a "demagogue!" Imagine my wife and I laying in bed with the laptop at 6 a.m. the morning after the rally going to www.websters.com to look up what the word even meant! THAT ALONE is a priceless memory of FREE THE BIRDS! And it somehow makes me feel better now that I’ve shared it with a wider audience because it’s TRUE!)

Here’s the saddest story I have from The Rally, and it happened 10 days before event.

In the weeks leading up to The Rally, I went around to the local vendors outside the ballpark on Conway and Howard Streets and distributed shirts for the cause (because I’m such a "huckster," according to one media source. I just call it common sense!)

There was a young African-American kid in his mid-20’s who was selling peanuts, water, soda, that sort of thing. He was wearing a Red Sox jersey because Boston was in town on that Monday night.

Like I did to each and every vendor around the ballpark, I offered to give him a FREE THE BIRDS shirt if he’d just agree to wear it that night and promote the cause.

You know what he said to me?

"Nasty, I’m with your cause, I really am," he pleaded with me. "But if I wear a Red Sox shirt tonight, I’ll make another hundred bucks I wouldn’t make if I wear your shirt because the Boston fans all want to buy from me. And, man, I’ve got three kids at home to feed."

I immediately acquiesced and understood.

And if THAT’S not the saddest story that’s come out of this mess that Peter Angelos is responsible for, then nothing is.

What the hell good is having a team that no one in the community is proud of or feels represents what the city and area are all about?

And now Stan Charles and Pressbox have decided to do a letter-writing campaign to get Baltimore back on the jerseys.

Here’s a prediction. At some point soon, the Orioles will announce that Baltimore is back on the jerseys and Stan will take his fair share of the credit. Good for him! I like Stan, listened to him when I was a kid, even called his post-game show a few times when I worked at The News American.

So now Stan and our very own Drew Forrester will finally claim victory for something so stupid, yet so unbelievably sensible, but it won’t mean ANYTHING to the bottom line of the way this franchise does business, the way they treat their own employees and certainly won’t do anything to help their identity in this city or with prospective free agents that it will take to make the team competitive again.

For me, the ship has sailed on silly, cosmetic things like BALTIMORE on the road jerseys.

After all, they only wear the road jerseys ON THE ROAD…and no one watches the damn games on TV anymore anyway!

It won’t bring back the first pitch that Brian Billick and Ray Lewis never threw. It won’t rewrite the "2131" night when Angelos made a mockery of the event with his speech. It won’t appease Elrod Hendricks’ family, who is still awaiting a phone call. It won’t bring back Pat Gillick or Davey Johnson or Jon Miller or Mike Mussina. It won’t bring back the years from 1993 on when this ship has slowly sunk to the bottom of the sports world.

My Pop believed in democracy and free speech. He would have told me to speak up and fight the power. My Pop belonged to unions all his life, walked picket lines, fought the man. He was the kinda guy Peter Angelos would’ve represented back in the day at Bethlehem Steel.

So, with the urging of several thousand people via email and several thousand more that I met at the three Ravens preseason games, I decided to have a little courage to be the one person who spoke up and rallied the fans of Baltimore baseball to Camden Yards on Sept. 21.

We brought a peaceful, wonderful civic message, but a very stern one.

And, sadly for Mr. Angelos and much to his chagrin, I am but one small voice — truly a "very unimportant person with delusions of grandeur."

Art Modell told me that if I ever see Angelos I should tell him that everything he said in The Sun on Sept. 22 "was absolutely true, but I still resent him saying it." You gotta love Art Modell!

But I’m one of very, very many who are — just liked my quote in the AP story — fed up with the embarrassment that the Orioles have become.

Look, it’s not like I’m some deranged Hunter S. Thompson kook.

But it’s pretty simple. I want my team back and I want it back while I can still chew solid food. Time is a wastin’ and the entire sport is dying in this city. I know because his customers ARE my customers. And unlike him and the Orioles, I listen to my customers.

And last I checked, SOMEONE is responsible, and every single person I’ve spoken to or dealt with who works in, or who used to work in, The Warehouse points to HIM.

And HE OWNS THE F-ING TEAM!

He IS responsible for this mess. ALL of it!

And he SHOULD be blamed.

And if he thought Sept. 21 was an embarrassment to him or his family, maybe he should go to his ballpark and sit with HIS family in the upper deck with an Orioles cap on when the Yankees come to town. Or maybe when the Red Sox come?

There’s NOTHING more embarrassing to a Baltimore fan that to have to endure an evening at Camden Yards when those teams come to town. NOTHING!

And if it gets personal and I get called some names in the paper by him or by some jackass on WJFK, then, oh well! I can handle it. It makes me laugh, honestly, because I know I’m right. And it’s easy to fight when you know in your heart that you’re doing the right thing.

But I’m absolutely, positively DONE with name calling or stone throwing and so is this radio station. Maybe it’s because I’ve done too much hot yoga, but I turn 38 years old tomorrow and I’m basically a peaceful, loving person and I’m doing my best to become a responsible grown up in my middle age.

But, to me, leading this "crusade" isn’t really about me at all. Sure, I stand to benefit, but we ALL stand to benefit by having baseball and the Orioles back in our lives in a positive fashion.

Owning a sports radio station in what has essentially become a one-sport town is not NEARLY as much fun as it should be, to be honest with you. And it’s all become a drag, dealing with the Orioles, their shenanigans, stories, tales, woes and drama. From steroids to disgruntled players to losing to excuses and arrogant and bitter statements — it’s not the losing that sucks, it’s absolute lack of EFFORT and CLASS and DIGNITY put into doing anything that any normal, struggling business would do. Especially, when it’s SO F-ING EASY TO DO, selling the Orioles and their magic and their heritage to Baltimore’s citizens and sports fans!

I suppose I’m the first one in the local media with the stones to tell him what I’ve known for a decade — that he’s VERY, VERY unpopular!

And that’s not MY fault — it’s HIS!

I know why I don’t like him or respect him and why I don’t support his baseball team, but every one of those thousands of empty green seats every night represent all of us who stay away and all of our many reasons.

It’s not ONE thing — it’s EVERYTHING!

Quite frankly, it would take more time and more space than I have here, today.

And in light of his most recent series of remarks — much of it dedicated to personally attacking me and my character and intentions (and he doesn’t know me at all and doesn’t care to) — I’m going to prove to him, beyond the shadow of a doubt, just how many people don’t like him and how many are angry with him about how the "Oriole World" and Baltimore’s downtown economy have been rocked since he entered the picture in 1993.

So beginning today there’s a whole website devoted to all things about The Rally and the aftermath of FREE THE BIRDS. It’s called www.freethebirds.net and it’s still very much in its infancy.

It will be a place for disgruntled fans to come, sign up, post their pictures and videos from the rally for the world to see.

But most importantly, beginning today, with your help and support, we will unionize!

Just go to the website and all the details are there. It’s absolutely free to join The Union.

And I suppose, Angelos will now disparage me again and The Union of Baltimore Baseball Fans and he’ll watch us walk back into Camden Yards 10 times stronger the next time with 10 times the media coverage.

And there WILL be a next time, unless he sells the team or makes a massive, massive adjustment in his management style, which I quite frankly believe is impossible given his attitude and arrogance over the past decade.

Much like many of those in those asbestos lawsuits did a generation earlier, we will unionize to symbolize our unity in a cause.

And what could Peter Angelos possibly say to disparage the same kind of union that made him a wealthy man?

We want the Orioles back and we want to feel good about wearing an orange and black cap again.

We demand to be heard, respected and treated with dignity. We are NOT your customers — we are fans! Customers buy a product — a fan devotes his or her life.

And that should be completely respected, if not rewarded, and it hasn’t been.

In an effort to promote a totally positive vibe and to make sure we’re sending the right message to the baseball world, this website will be a complete and total non-profit endeavor! WNST nor myself — and NO ONE and I mean NO ONE — will make any money off of FREE THE BIRDS.

The idea is to raise money that we can give to Little League programs or local sports initiatives in Baltimore. At the radio station, we always get solicited for stuff for the community and quite frankly we can’t give to everyone who asks so we find it hard to find a balance in what we do. Maybe some of those requests could be honored with some dough from the FREE THE BIRDS swag we’ll sell.

And, yes, we have plenty of ideas for T-shirts and hats and it will be stuff you’ll want to buy and wear proudly, just like the initial FREE THE BIRDS shirts!

You need to give me a week to pull it all together, but we’ll be doing our best to premier the shirts and swag next Saturday night when we host our first official Union event: The "FREE THE BIRDS Delusions of Grandeur World Series" party will be held at The Playbook on the east side of town (my side of town) for Game 1.

Details will be on the website, but the basic deal is this: we’ll sell shirts to make dough for charity, we’ll have some auction items, we’ll decorate the place in orange and black and we’ll all wear our Orioles gear and act like idiots rooting for or against New York, St. Louis, Detroit or Oakland. And we’ll high five, drink beer and try to imagine what the Orioles could be again one day if we can enact positive change.

And we’ll raise money and have a helluva lot of fun along the way.

And we’ll organize other events, mixers, etc. all with the goal of getting baseball back into the youth of our community and getting this team sold to someone who cares as much as we do.

And by joining The Union, you will be committing — and I mean beyond the shadow of a doubt, a true commitment — that you’ll be joining us in "The Rally: Part Two" next year at Camden Yards if the Orioles aren’t sold or significantly changed by April, which really means February in baseball terms.

If you join The Union, be prepared to give up a weeknight at Camden Yards and nine bucks next spring. And be prepared to walk out again at 8:44 (an obvious choice for a walkout, I think you’d agree!)

If you sign up to join the union, you MUST come and you must march peacefully and respectfully in a protest demanding positive change for the Orioles and for Baltimore. Everything that happened on Sept. 21 will happen again — and maybe tenfold the next time.

We didn’t get in Sports Illustrated three weeks ago. My goal is to get the cover in the spring.

The media tried to make a fool of me, personally, on the crowd count, but I don’t want that to happen the next time. We will have a united effort to know exactly how many people we have coming and we’ll prepare accordingly.

And we’ll go back to the ballpark completely united the next time and ready to march again.

But we need ALL of the people who feel the way we do. I honestly think there are THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of you out there, many who would fly in from wherever you are for the next event. So, please, spread the word about www.freethebirds.net to anyone you know who would want to join.

You will not be hearing about this website on any of the major media outlets (or at least I don’t believe you will) — TV, radio and print ALL basically ignored The Rally until right before the last minute.

I’m serious, I’m dedicated to the cause of a positive change for Baltimore baseball and WNST is galvanized by a strong staff. Every person you hear on the airwaves at WNST love the Orioles as much as the station owner does.

And we’re going to be heard. And we’re going to get louder and louder until our message is received. And we’re going to do whatever it takes to get the Orioles back because it’s THAT important to us.

I believe we’ll get the team a new owner in the same way that I believed that night that I sat at Bohager’s with a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for the Ravens, only to see Jacksonville get the ball.

I believe in the same way I knew that getting the Ravens would one day bring a Super Bowl championship.

I still believe that what we did on Sept. 21 will bring about change, but it won’t be easy.

But I remember those Sundays without the Colts for 13 years and I know what these past nine years have felt like every spring and summer night.

I want change. I demand change. And I need help!

I hope you join The Union on the website www.freethebirds.net and I hope you buy some cool T-shirts and I hope you stop by our World Series party next Saturday at The Playbook.

We’ve only just begun.

But we’ll get there.

You’ll see.