It’s impossible to address anything that has happened at WNST in our 13 years of existence without talking about the deterioration of the Orioles, the orange fan base and the interest and passion surrounding baseball in our community. And conversely, what would we be – as a company or as a sports town – without the emergence and consistent excellence of the Baltimore Ravens?
We launched WNST-AM 1570 in the summer of 1998, when the Ravens were “the other team” in Baltimore. In our entire existence as an entity, the Orioles have yet to play a meaningful summer baseball game. Not one game!
To think that hasn’t done incredible damage to our community and my business would be to just not understand the premise of what we’ve always tried to do – create enthusiasm and support and interest and passion for Baltimore sports.
Our perceived “war” with the Orioles is legendary and we’re proud of everything we’ve ever said or done in regard to protesting 14 years of losing, insolence and lack of civic courtesy shown by Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group. And every time they continue to do stupid things as an organization – and they do them so shamelessly and publicly – we’re gonna call them out on it and give the Baltimore sports fans the truth. They have done nothing to warrant “patience” or “a hall pass” on anything they do given the sheer pettiness and mean-spiritedness they’ve invoked in so many ways in the community over the past decade and a half.
Just last week, they were welcoming Red Sox and Yankees fans into the Inner Harbor in a way that’s so obviously flawed that I can’t believe it can be cogently debated. Can you imagine the Ravens selling Roethlisberger and Ward jerseys in the Ravens gift shops? Can you imagine the Ravens giving Penguins playoff updates on the scoreboard during TV timeouts so the Steelers’ fans would feel at home?
The Orioles have been pandering to visiting fans for a full decade and now wonder why “real Orioles fans” wouldn’t rush back down there, pay a fortune to see the Red Sox and Yankees and “paint the Yard orange.”
But, again, to some homers and blind loyalists, we’re just “a little too hard on the Orioles.”
To be honest, the 14 years of losing and our insistence on telling the absolute truth about why they lose so much “has been a little hard on me.” But it beats the alternate in our minds, which our competitors are seemingly always happy to do: take a check from the team and look the other way.
It’s painful when any Baltimorean would think that I would ever want anything but prosperity for the Orioles, despite the damage this ownership has done to me and my family and my employees and partners with the consistent losing on the field and in the community with lost revenue for countless businesses around the metropolitan Baltimore area. There’s nothing that would make my life better than a truly competitive baseball team.
But, someone in this community has to be honest and hold local sports decision makers accountable in 2011 and if there’s anything I’ve really learned in 20 years of education in the local media and journalism is how incestuously corrupt it all is. The “partnerships” and money flowing back and forth and the same “media intimidation” President Obama spoke of on Saturday night at his annual press dinner in Washington, D.C. is enough to make me sick. And for the most part, it’s all controlled and profited from by mainly out-of-town conglomerates who have no more respect or stake in our community than that of their employees, who come to Baltimore from elsewhere and refer to our home as “your town.”
How much do I love the Orioles?
I’ve written a 19-chapter book about my love of baseball. Find anyone else in Baltimore who’s done that? Find anyone else in the media who has shed light on what’s happened here since 1997 and explained the tens of millions of dollars of civic damage the Orioles demise has cost the community – from beer to hotels, from restaurants at the Inner Harbor to the tax base lost when 3 million people per summer disappear from the downtown on summer nights?
And, honestly, if WNST is best known for defending the honor of Baltimore’s good name via sports and saying that 14 years of baseball awfulness