A tale of two teams

August 02, 2007 | Drew Forrester

Although I’m going to analyze the way the Ravens AND the Orioles handle the “communications” with the fans/media, I’m really targeting the football team, for the most part.  The baseball team, as you’ll figure out, is so far behind the only thing left for them to do is take a refresher course – or two…or three.

Today was an interesting day.  For starters, Ravens Asst. Offensive Line Coach Greg Roman appeared on The Comcast Morning Show with me (via phone) around 7:30 am.  He spent nearly 15 minutes with me – mind you he was preparing for an 8:00 am meeting and was just about to embark on another 14-hour work-day – discussing training camp, personnel, etc.  It was, to the fans listening who crave that type of in-depth football information, a great opportunity to get their early-morning Ravens fix from someone on the inside…a member of the coaching staff.

Driving out to Westminster a little before noon today, I heard WNST’s Bob Haynie interviewing Haloti Ngata as he stepped off the practice field.  I caught a few minutes of Mark Viviano’s show on ‘JFK and I heard Mark chatting with Rick Neuheisel, Ravens offensive coordinator.

Get the picture?

The Ravens have mastered the art of “communicating” with their fans – and they do it through the media.  Sure, they have an obligation to their flagship station, WBAL/98 Rock, and those two stations most certainly get perks that WNST, WJFK, WCBM, WPOC, etc. don’t get.

But the Ravens NEVER restrict any member of their organization from talking with the media and they certainly go above and beyond the call of duty to actually ASSIST the radio and TV stations with as many interviews that are practical on a day-to-day basis.

Rex Ryan does his “Rex Ryan Report” every Monday morning with me during the football season.  Players have shows on three or four different radio stations in town.  Brian Billick was on my show last Friday morning.  I assume, sometime soon, he’ll sit down with someone over at WJFK.

All of this “open-door” stuff is the way you’re supposed to do it.

The baseball team?  Well, their idea of media relations is to only allow their players and executives on one radio station and one TV station (for any kind of “in-depth” discussion).  They still allow some of their personnel to do game-night “live shots” at the ballpark when they need to sell tickets, but those are essentially “back rubs” and nothing more.

Andy MacPhail has been on the job 6 weeks now and he hasn’t appeared on WNST, WBAL, WPOC, WCBM, WMIX – and the list goes on and on.  Eric DeCosta of the Ravens has been on more stations in the last 6 days than MacPhail’s been on in 6 weeks.  And that’s NOT MacPhail’s fault, of course.  Someone’s handing him the rules and he’s abiding by them.

Players?   They appear NO WHERE on the air – in town.  Except for the flagship station(s), of course.  The Manager?  I’d love to have 30 minutes with him…mostly to applaud him for the way he’s re-constructed the locker room and got his team to play as a team for the first time in a long time.  Can’t have him, though.  Neither can anyone else…except the flagship.

All that does is keep Orioles fans from getting information.

They (the O’s) will say, “Our fans can still get all the information they need by tuning into our flagship station where we will provide them with up-to-the-minute detailed news on the Orioles franchise.”

How come the Ravens don’t do that?

Funny, and I’ll be careful here, but it’s VERY important for all of you to know this in the matter of full disclosure.  The Ravens and CBS Radio have been embroiled in a fairly lengthy “business/off the field” battle for the better part of 15 months now.  No use getting into the ugly details, but let’s just say that CBS has gone out of their way to make life EXTREMELY difficult for the Ravens.

In fact, oddly enough, I’d liken it to the way the Orioles have tried to make life difficult for WNST over the last 10 months or so.

They’re both “off the field” battles.  The O’s battling WNST because of what we stand for and our position against their business practices and the Ravens are battling CBS Radio because of their conflicting business practices.

Yet – and this is VERY important to note – the Ravens STILL allow their players, coaches, etc. to appear on talk shows at CBS Radio owned WJFK.  As I mentioned, Rick Neuheisel was on with Mark Viviano today.  Several Ravens players have shows on WJFK during the season.  The Ravens – while battling the higher-ups at CBS Radio – still understand that Viviano, Yaffe, Marks, etc. deserve to be treated with the same fairness as the other radio stations in town.  After all, the Ravens realize that Viviano, Yaffe and Marks have nothing at all to do with the pissing match “at the top” between CBS and the football team.

If only the people “at the top” of the Orioles could see how destructive their actions have become.

People in town – members of the media, me included – WOULD LOVE TO TALK WITH ORIOLES OFFICIALS about the team, the season, etc.

Rather than follow the Ravens highly-successful “open-door” policy – where everyone in the media gets access to virtually everyone in the organization – the Orioles seem to think their method is the more suitable one to employ.

25,000 empty seats per-night tell me they’re doing it wrong.