Hey Orioles fans: If you’re angry, sign up for Free The Birds 2010 now…

April 19, 2010 | Nestor Aparicio

People have been asking me all week, “What’s the problem with the Orioles?” This is a recurring civic question that I’ve known the correct answer to for about a decade. It’s the only “variable” that has remained consistent in Baltimore baseball since 1993. The problem with the Orioles has been, is and will be — until he dies or sells the team – Peter G. Angelos.

I didn’t need a 1-11 start and the first sniff of a simmering feud with Cal Ripken to know the gospel truth about the Orioles or any business in America in 2010. It starts at the top. If you’ve watched “Undercover Boss,” you know what I mean.

I run a business. I spend all day, every day talking to fellow business owners. Peter Angelos has been very, very consistent in how he’s run not only the Orioles, but his law firm as well. He’s in charge and there’s only one name on the door.

Fair enough. He owns the team. He’s allowed (and expected) to be in charge.

Anyone who even implies that Andy MacPhail is “in charge” is just stupid and hasn’t been paying attention.

But at some point the people who are Angelos’ customers – current, former and future (and we’re ALL customers when you consider the MASN cable television revenue he’s siphoning from every household in the state) will rise up and speak up. We did this back in 2006 and, trust me, he heard our message.

We called it “Free The Birds” – and it was designed to create awareness of the plight of the downtown business district more than it was a “protest.” (Hundreds of thousands of people are “protesting” every night by staying away from the stadium and the city and that’s really the crux of the problem…disinterest!)

JOIN THE FREE THE BIRDS 2010 MOVEMENT HERE…

The reason the team stinks again in 2010 is Peter Angelos. So, let’s give all credit and blame where it’s due.

Angelos makes all of the decisions, does all of the hiring, firing, banning of the media and it’s been his reputation, style and demeanor that has made baseball a virtual Siberia for any player who is worth a damn. And even the ones who would consider coming here in the free agent market are “persona non grata” because the team is working under one fundamental principle: making money is more important than winning in 2010.

This is a fact: the Orioles are making more money than they’ve ever made — upward of $40 million MORE in profit in 2010 — while the stadium and the city sit empty every night and the team loses 100 games per year.

While the money has been flooding in on the MASN television side — money that was earmarked to be re-invested in the payroll — the team continues to pocket it, lose games and Angelos has zero accountability and takes no responsibility for the bush-league tactics of his franchise – on and off the field, year after year.

It’s been 13 years and no one seems to ever ask Mr. Angelos a difficult question.

One pretty fundamental question that no one on his “guest list” of invited media on Saturday who spoke with him seemed to ask him was how he feels about the early-season 2-11 start for the orange and black.

So where to lay the “blame” or “accountability” for a franchise that for 13 years can’t get out of its own way? To my mind, it’s certainly not Andy MacPhail, who told me two summers: “I just do what I’m told.”

MacPhail, who I’ll write about later in the week, is a MLB-approved corporate puppet who is surrounded by co-workers dressed as media members who defend him and deflect criticism elsewhere when things go wrong on the field. I’m sure at some point this week the seat will get even hotter under the rump of Dave Trembley, who looks to be the most lame duck manager in the history of the game. Trembley’s getting fired at some point soon – we all know that – it’s just a matter of when and what poor S.O.B. will replace him.

(If the Cal Ripken story gets hotter this week or if the MASN/CBS shills can’t deflect the attention away from the story, Angelos might fire Trembley to push the story in that direction but once the manager is fired the responsibility for the losing shifts back to MacPhail – so don’t expect Andy to be in too much of hurry to execute ol’ Dave!)

So, today, in reigniting the Free The Birds 2010 movement, we’re trying to find the other disgruntled baseball fans who still care enough about the Orioles and Baltimore to speak up and have their voices heard on the future of baseball here and in the downtown area.

We’ve created a Facebook “Free The Birds 2010” group that we hope you’ll join if you are among the people who want a better Baltimore baseball experience. That’s all “Free The Birds” was ever designed to do – create awareness that all of those empty green seats are angry “invisible” former Orioles fans who would gladly come back if the franchise and its ownership had a true commitment to winning and a partnership with the community.

I’ve never been nervous about being outspoken on this issue. I’m right. I KNOW I’m right. I know how much incredible damage has been done to the downtown business community and to the psyche of the city.

It’s been 13 years of awfulness.

And I know what a bunch of cowards and frauds most of the politicians and “business leaders” are here in Baltimore.

How in the world the Orioles could be this dreadful for this long and have NO ONE stand up and call “Bul&*%$t” on this ownership group is beyond belief?

And by and large, the Orioles could not be more awful circa 2010. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. It’s not even April 20th and the season is over in Baltimore. Ten days ago we were attending Opening Day on a beautiful afternoon and now the team’s dreadful start has ended the season before it ever began.

I LIVE HERE. I see it every single night and have for the seven years I’ve lived downtown.

My anger and disappointment of late has been directed more toward the people who defend these past 13 years of losing, somehow vilifying me and WNST for caring so much and having no idea of the harm it’s done our community – psychologically and economically, especially to the downtown area.

How many times will Angelos continue to lie to the community before someone realizes HE’S the problem?

I’ve never lost a game for the Orioles or caused them to lose. I haven’t chased away two million fans per year. I’ve simply said what’s happened is unacceptable and I’ve not been shy about using my platform to preach the truth. (Don’t expect to hear that today on the Scott Garceau Show, by the way…)

My beef and message remains consistent for Peter G. Angelos and the stewards of the Orioles: “Do right by the community, field a team we can be proud of and listen to your customers and fans. Be accountable and be community-oriented.”

This isn’t a hard concept to grasp. All they need to do is visit with the folks over in Owings Mills, who at times stumble, but always seem to find a way to be accommodating in any fashion that makes sense for them as a business.

People in Baltimore should be outraged at the Orioles’ blight, especially given the tax dollars and television money that’s being siphoned into Angelos’ pockets from the public — but they’re not.

And if Angelos really did tell Ripken to essentially “buzz off” one day last week and then publicly “welcome him with open arms while acknowledging there would be no spot for a No. 2 in his franchise” later in the week this would not at all be out of character.

Did you read those quotes? Did they even make sense?

The trust, integrity and pride have all been missing from wearing an Orioles cap for years in Baltimore. This fundamental credo is missing in The Warehouse and has been ever since the initials P.G.A. went on the front door back in 1993.

Cal Ripken clearly sees this as well. There’s little doubt that the Orioles demise has damaged his personal brand and the brand of baseball in Baltimore.

I love the team. I want to help the team. I want to recommend Orioles baseball to friends as a worthwhile civic endeavor. But truth be told, it’s just not something any thinking Baltimorean could possibly endorse. It’s not a quality investment of people’s time in 2010 in Baltimore.

And that hurts Baltimore. And that hurts WNST and Nestor. And that hurts all of my employees, sponsors, neighbors, friends and anyone who has ever loved the Orioles the way I love the Orioles.

The time has come for us to reunite as one and say “Enough is enough!”

Again.

This is a call-to-arms to all real Orioles fans who are nauseated by this consistent track of lying, losing and making obscene amounts of money off of the goodwill of the people of Baltimore and three generations of Orioles fans who are once again angry at a dismal start to the season.

Join “Free The Birds 2010” and let’s see how many people really ARE angry and want to lobby for change at the top of the organization.

Four years later nothing has changed about Peter Angelos and his Orioles.

Are you still ready to fight for the Orioles and have your voice heard?

I am.

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