This blog was originally published two years ago. We’ll be revisiting this with a three-part series and updating these thoughts with a new 2012 WNST “State of Baltimore Sports Media” survey later in the week while we broadcast live from Indianapolis. This is Part 4 of 5: The State of Baltimore Sports Media (circa 2010).
Art Modell made an incredible first impression upon me. The first time I was formally introduced to him was in mid-1996 at the Signet Tower downtown in the original Ravens offices and we had a “getting to know you” conversation in his office when he was still reeling from the Cleveland media fallout from the move of the Browns to Baltimore.
Six months after he was portrayed in a cartoon on the cover of Sports Illustrated as “kicking the dawgs,” Modell — a complete stranger to me — made an incredibly telling pronouncement to me about the kind of guy he was and his philosophy on the media and credibility.
Being an old TV guy, he looked at me with incredible conviction in the first 20 minutes that I knew him and said: “You NEVER be afraid to criticize me! Say what you feel and think and try to be fair and honest. If all you ever do is praise me they’ll know you’re a phony and they’ll never believe a word you say. You HAVE to criticize and question me to be credible.”
Imagine that coming from Peter G. Angelos?
Just think about that statement – and the wisdom of it – for a moment.
And then tell me how you can POSSIBLY dispute the premise?
I loved Chuck Thompson. I loved Rex Barney as a person. I like “nice” guys. Hell, I threw a banquet for the nicest guys in Baltimore sports every year for nearly a decade raising more than $200,000 for local charities until the Orioles decided to stop participating. (And if THAT isn’t rich with irony, I don’t know what is? The Orioles decided that a “Nice Guy Award” was something they didn’t want to be associated with…)
But it’s my opinion that guys in the media who are “too nice” all the time are not only a poor source for real information, but in many ways they’re same people that I never read, listen to or respect because they don’t have an opinion or a credible view on a topic. I’m assuming they all HAVE opinions but they’re too afraid to share them for fear of the kinds or reprisals and criticism that I get every day here in the comments at WNST.net.
But as I always say, if you want to piss someone off, just offer your opinion. It’s the way of the world.
But at some point, a member of the media has to have a little bit of a spine for me to pay any attention to him or her or to give them my valuable time in hearing their message. (On the flip side, if you’re only schtick is trashing people 24×7, I’m not at all interested in that, either.)
I found it fascinating that Jon Miller finally made it into the Hall of Fame earlier this week. Thirteen years ago, Miller attempted to bring Peter Angelos into the world of the 21st century where to have credibility with a mass audience you need to have freedom of speech and the ability to opine with conviction. Especially when you’re doing nine innings a night, more than 150 nights a year.
For this – Jon Miller, the greatest baseball broadcaster of our generation — was fired. In hindsight, I have to believe it was the greatest thing that ever happened to Miller, not having to be a eunuch for the last 13 years as the franchise has disintegrated into a last place, civic disgrace.
But the Angelos Orioles didn’t care then and I’m sure they don’t care now. They went and got Jim Hunter – a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees – who’s been “bleeding a little orange and black” for the last 13 years while polishing up 13 consecutive years of meaningless baseball games.
Here’s a clip from that fateful interview I did with Peter Angelos in 1997 when he opined about Jon Miller, Baltimore on the road jerseys, baseball in Washington and a variety of other issues. Other than the “I’m a very available individual” comment, my favorite and most telling part of the interview came when we discussed the role of broadcasters and broadcast partners and their role as “not being journalists.”
It’s only a minute long. I edited down so you can listen for yourself:
So if you think I was a little “hard” or “honest” or “ballsy” in the words that I wrote in Monday’s blog about the current state of Baltimore sports media, this clip is for you. As always, I wrote the truth. This is how Peter Angelos