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Orioles Magic and 666: The Number of The East

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Orioles Magic and 666: The Number of The East

Posted on 27 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been six years and six days since we launched the “Free The Birds” campaign to speak out about the awfulness that the Baltimore Orioles had become under the stewardship of Peter G. Angelos. Coincidentally, today the Orioles “magic number” to clinch a playoff berth in the American League is 6.

It’s absolutely astonishing that we’re going to the Ravens’ fourth game of the season tonight and the Baltimore Orioles are playing meaningful baseball games every night. It’s almost awkward and overwhelming, the energy we’re all feeling for sports in our community.

So as 70,000 gather downtown and bring the purple love for the 2-1 Baltimore Ravens on national television, has all been forgiven and “fixed” according to the customers of the Baltimore Orioles?

If you’re counting the tens of thousands of empty seats this “Orioles Magic” show has played for over the last month you’ll see that the franchise and the 2012 Orioles still have a long way to go to undo the untold damage to the psyche of its own fan base. Even worse, there are many potential baseball fans who are unaware – or uninterested – in coming back to the ballpark and soaking in the love of Birdland, which right now is just about the happiest place on earth.

Fill in any reason you’d like: price, distance, inconvenience, HDTV, love of Jim Hunter, blah, blah, blah.

Bottom line: it ain’t a tough ticket.

I’ve never stopped going to Orioles games. I’ve been to eight games a year every year since 2003 when they proved to be awful business partners and 2006 when they took away my press pass (I’m the only person in history of Baltimore media to be “banned” from Orioles games). People give me free tickets and I use them.

I’ve flown to Sarasota twice to see them play in spring training. I’ve seen the Orioles play in New York three times a year every year for 8 years. I’ve seen them play in Boston, New York, Cleveland, Tampa, Philadelphia.

I’ve been going back to the ballpark this month and I’ve reached into my wallet to do it.

I purchased two tickets for the Cal Ripken Statue Thursday night extravaganza. I bought four tickets for this Monday’s DH for $4 each. I checked the credit card receipts. I spent $18.80. Because of the scarcity of the Ripken tickets, it cost us $47.80 for a pair of standing rooms that we turned into sitting rooms in the back row of Sec. 380.

My total investment in the Orioles so far in 2012? That’s right: $66.60.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or @WNST on Twitter, you know that I’m at the ballpark because I’m sending up pictures, observations, analysis and some dark humor.

I turned down offers for free tickets the past two nights because I had other obligations for work.

I woke up early on Saturday morning and chased down a pair of tickets to every postseason game the Orioles could play this October. And then I realized that I’ll be in Kansas City for the Ravens’ game next weekend.

And I have to ask myself the same question many Baltimore sports fans are asking themselves – am I a bigger fan of the Orioles or the Ravens? And if I had to pick just one…???? Hmmm…

I’m asking Baltimore sports fans these questions all month here in our GREAT BALTIMORE MEDIA SURVEY. Take it for a chance to win a trip to Cleveland in November!

For me choosing between the Orioles and the Ravens is like picking between whether you love your

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An open letter to Adam Jones (and anyone else who doesn’t like Orioles attendance)

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An open letter to Adam Jones (and anyone else who doesn’t like Orioles attendance)

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It was only a matter of time before Adam Jones started popping off on Twitter regarding his feelings about the lack of people standing behind him in centerfield at Camden Yards. It wasn’t as juicy as last year’s advice to “knock the s**t outta the Yankees fans” but he made his feelings well known yesterday about the worst crowd of the season to see the season’s most significant game to date.

It’s very apparent that Adam Jones cares more about whether the good people of Baltimore come to Orioles games than his bosses and owner do but still not enough to vest himself in our community enough to recruit people to come and pay to see the team play.

 

It must be a bummer for any Orioles player to endure the emptiness of the home ballpark while finally playing meaningful games and quality baseball.

In 2012, the price to pay for 15 years of losing and the worst owner in the history of professional sports is what Adam Jones now sees with a fantastic view from centerfield every night: an empty stadium in downtown Baltimore and plenty of green seats to backdrop every fly ball.

It’s been very clear that the prescient message I sent with “Free The Birds” in 2006 – “if you’re not careful, Mr. Angelos, we might leave and never come back” – has now become a prophecy. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are everything you’d want in a local sports team to follow – interesting, fun, lively and relevant – and a grand total of 48K came to Camden Yards over four days to watch the best baseball this city has seen in 15 years.

The empty seats are a glaring reminder of what’s gone wrong with the franchise and the city’s passion for the Baltimore Orioles since Peter Angelos bought — and then wrecked — the franchise.

Once Adam Jones stops talking out of the side of his mouth and at the end of this run of success in 2012 – and I’m not betting it won’t end in a parade just yet because I’ve seen stranger things happen — it’ll then be time to invest himself in our community the way he likes to on his Twitter account.

He got the $85.5 million deal back in May and it’ll be his turn to become a Baltimore resident or not. If he’s really interested in people coming to the ballpark then I hope he’ll spend the offseason with the fans here and be Mr. Oriole all winter.

Where will he be in November…and December…or January?

Will he be shaking hands, kissing babies and attempting to become a guy who eventually gets one of those shiny statues out on the patio that no one is visiting these days?

Will Adam Jones be in the community trying to win back the fans of Baltimore?

I’m not talking sitting at a table in a card shop or swag store charging $50 for an autograph. I’m talking about being a true ambassador for the community.

This isn’t about the marketing department. This isn’t about buying more billboards or state-run MASN ads. This isn’t about popping off on Twitter or mandating “sitdowns” with people like me who are still pissed about the entire tenor and arrogance of the Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos over two decades.

If the players on the field are embarrassed by an empty stadium, it’s my belief is that THEY – directly – are the only ones who can do something about it. We have to care about them and want to invest our money

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Ravens fans vs. Orioles fans – are we two birds of a different feather?

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Ravens fans vs. Orioles fans – are we two birds of a different feather?

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It goes without saying that Baltimore isn’t quite yet embracing this 2012 version of Baltimore Orioles pennant fever. No matter how dramatic the victories or how unlikely this late August run for postseason glory seems, nothing about The Birds has moved the sports fans of Maryland.

Even into the great beyond via the long reach of MASN – not to mention the reach into your pockets every month like a public utility – for whatever reason people aren’t coming back in droves to give King Peter Angelos their money to watch the likes of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and even boy wonder Manny Machado, who has been worth the price of admission alone this week.

Oh, I know I’m being “Negative Nestor” by even writing this blog when the Orioles are winning baseball games and on the verge of a sweep of the hated Boston Red Sox. But every time the TV cameras pan the more than half-empty stadium, I can’t help but thinking the same thing you’re thinking: “I wonder why people aren’t going to Camden Yards to support this winning team?”

Yeah, we all thought Camden Yards would be packed once the Orioles started winning. And as the team closes a 10-game homestand tonight in full control of a wild card berth and still within striking distance of the New York Yankees, a true “pennant fever” atmosphere has yet to emerge in Baltimore.

It seems that a few months of prosperity hasn’t wiped out 14 years of bad vibes, bad baseball, steroid needles, lies from the owner and the emergence of the Washington Nationals as the regional team with marketing legs and, dare we say, “Natitude.”

And here’s where we’ll piss off both side of the Baltimore fence.

I have one question for you: “Are you excited about the Baltimore Ravens’ upcoming season?”

My gut is that you just yelled, “YES!”

My gut also says that your neighbor is excited, your cousins, your co-workers, the folks in your social group – wherever your friends and loved ones reside — they’re ready to don purple and are counting down the minutes until the 7 p.m. kickoff on Monday, Sept. 10 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

I’m not sure when it became sort of fashionable to only support one of the two teams in Baltimore and perhaps for the younger generation there has never been a good time to embrace the Orioles. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ready for Ravens’ season and that my love for the purple guys has superseded my spirit and energy for the Orioles. But I do love them both. And I will support them both equally for what it means for Baltimore to have a winning sports team and a chance to hang red, white and blue bunting here in October.

And, somehow during this emergence of the purple birds of Baltimore since 1996, this weird kind of divide has occurred here in the Charm City where some folks only have enough “love” – if not dollars and time and energy – for one of the two teams.

Do you know people who love the Orioles and have no use for football or the Ravens? Almost to the point where they root against the purple birds in football season?

I do.

And, conversely, from what I can tell there are a myriad of people everywhere around town who are fervent Baltimore Ravens fans and have long-since given up following the Orioles on a nightly basis, even now that the team on the field is representative of the community’s desire for hard work, overachieving and beating the Yankees and Red Sox.

I know many, many people who have purple “Man Caves” – an entire kingdom and closets dedicated to all things Baltimore Ravens. There are whole stores like The Raven Zone dedicated to selling merchandise year-round.

I don’t know anyone who has a basement that is an homage to the Orioles these days, despite the fact that you get 162 chances to enjoy games vs. just 16 that count.

I also admit that the amount of hours necessary to follow the Orioles is extraordinary. It’s a lifestyle commitment to watch four hours of baseball six nights a week for six months. It’s almost like a full-time job if you’re going to vest into MLB fandom.

And certainly this isn’t a new phenomenon for sports teams anywhere in America. It seems that there’s plenty of love for all four sports teams in places like Boston, Philadelphia, etc. where the seasons and the reasons all seem to blur together into a full calendar of activity and passion.

But it might be time to ask, “Where’s the emotional investment for Baltimore fans?”

Is it possible that you only have room in your heart — or wallet — for one successful local team?

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Orioles are finally in pennant race — but where are Baltimore baseball fans?

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Orioles are finally in pennant race — but where are Baltimore baseball fans?

Posted on 08 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve argued with WNST morning show host Drew Forrester for a decade about this. He’s always said – much like everyone in the Angelos family – “When the Orioles win they’ll ALL come back!”

Well, in case you haven’t noticed while you were dusting off your purple gear this week for tomorrow night’s meaningless and mostly unentertaining Ravens game in Atlanta, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles are just about everything you’d want in a MLB team in a “small market” where the owner is pocketing over $100 million in profit every year.

They have young stars. They are exciting every night – including last night’s 14-inning marathon victory over the Seattle Mariners that unfolded like The Ilyiad. They seem to play sudden death baseball a lot. It’s almost like they WANT you to fall asleep on them.

And these days, it appears, that most Baltimore sports fans have in fact “gone to sleep on the Orioles.”

By and large, most of you are not coming to Orioles games right now. The Orioles haven’t inspired you to buy a ticket, despite their good fortunes and entertainment value on the field.

This is a perfect day for me to write about going to Orioles games because I’m going to the game tonight.

Why?

Well, I got free tickets.

My complaints and reasons for not giving Peter Angelos my money are legendary and well-documented. The incident when the team stiffed me on a $30,000 sponsorship, then attacked me at a game in 2004 and sent an apology note signed, “The Bird.” Then, after 21 years of covering the Baltimore Orioles through three ownership groups, they took my press pass in 2007 and have summarily lied about why, which is standard operating procedure from the Angelos family.

Hell, four months ago at a charity cocktail function, Brady Anderson told me I “should leave Baltimore if I don’t like the way the team is being run.”

But I still watch them every night – which either makes me a sucker, a fool or an eternal optimist. Or maybe just someone who loves Baltimore and the Orioles and remembers how much fun baseball was for the entire community before Angelos wrecked the franchise for anyone who takes the time to examine all of the facts.

Oh, here’s one more warm and fuzzy — this Friday will mark the one-year anniversary that one of their legendary players, broadcaster and caring front office man Mike Flanagan put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.

The Orioles have played 110 games this year. I’ve watched about 95 of them in their entirety. The other 15 I’ve either fallen asleep (like last night) or kept track via my mobile device on WNST’s live box score feature.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might find five games where I haven’t been live tweeting most of the evening from my couch. So, I’m qualified to bitch in many ways because I’m the biggest Baltimore Orioles fan you’ll ever find.

And, again, I’m not giving Angelos my money – not tonight or any night.

In Dundalk, we would simply call him a scumbag and leave it at that.

But he doesn’t care about whether you or I come to the ballpark. He’s sucking that $3.00 per month from my cable bill and yours, 

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Season of “Moneyball” begins for Angelos, Duquette, Buck & Orioles of 2012

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Season of “Moneyball” begins for Angelos, Duquette, Buck & Orioles of 2012

Posted on 13 July 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

The second half of the Baltimore Orioles’ re-awakening 2012 season is about to begin and the local baseball fans are a bit befuddled by it all.

As a Baltimore sports fan, I’m never allergic to exciting wins and a 12-game over .500 start to any baseball season. We’ve seen a manager who not only channels Earl Weaver in his size, stature and mannerisms but also with shrewd use of role players and borderline big leaguers. It’s been three months of watching guys who are trying hard no matter who is called up from Norfolk or who hits the disabled list. We’ve witnessed the blossoming of a true superstar in Adam Jones, who signed a record contract in mid-May against all previous precedent given by the Angelos family.

And, for the first time since 1997, this version of the Baltimore Orioles has stirred fans’ awareness – if not necessarily their emotions or beliefs – that this could be a dog-days-of-summer presentation that will bare watching as the fellows in the purple sweaters practice in Owings Mills in two weeks.

But here’s the problem: the 2012 Baltimore Orioles roster — as currently assembled on July 13th — is either in parts of tatters, simply unproven or just flat-out stinks.

I’ve been watching baseball for 40 years and I can’t think of any situation that compares to this.

The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are 45-40, now just five games over .500. However, if the season ended today they’d be in the playoffs. It’s officially the second half of the season – I watched the All-Star Game on Tuesday night even if none of the rest of you did – and the Orioles have a legitimate chance to play at least one postseason baseball game in October.

In the new Bud Selig fantasy world of more October baseball and profit, the Orioles are truly contenders in a way we couldn’t have imagined in March and haven’t seen since the Clinton administration. And no one else in the American League East looks to be galvanized to go on a tear, either.

Meanwhile the young guns of Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter are all in Norfolk after repeated self-inflicted shots into the bleachers after a series of “Ball Ones” and long, hot innings of ineffectiveness and blown leads.

The now-rested bullpen will attempt to continue to atone for the sins of the many failed starts over the past eight weeks.

The offense is in tatters. Despite the trade for a post-40 Jim Thome – yet another acquisition a player who is in the December of his career ala Sammy Sosa and Vladimir Guerrero — the Orioles are at least making some attempt to get to October after such an encouraging start.

Will Brian Roberts be a factor in the second half? Is Nick Markakis fully healed from his hamate bone injury? Can J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters provide more offense in the second half? Is Xavier Avery a star or just another so-so-outfielder from the Orioles’ depth chart?

There are far more questions than answers heading into the second season of baseball.

The Orioles have been irrelevant for 15 years. This year it appears we’ll have the first-ever Ravens’ training camp opening where the orange team will be the ones making summer headlines.

Will they trade? Who will they trade? What will they get?

One thing we know: trades for legitimate pitchers and hitters who can help the Orioles will not only cost some prospects but will involve large sums of money to pay these proven

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Orioles get offensive with Cook, Red Sox in 8-2 win; go for sweep Sunday

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Orioles get offensive with Cook, Red Sox in 8-2 win; go for sweep Sunday

Posted on 05 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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The Orioles will be better next year — and more new lies after The MacFailure

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Our cool, growing (and still free!) sports media company had another great B2B-Business To Business event last week in Towson with @CoachBillick and an old friend and reader of WNST.net approached me and asked the eternal Orioles question:

“So, Nasty, I’ve read all of the issues regarding the Orioles and Mike Flanagan and Andy MacPhail and Free The Birds, but what are we as fans going to do? You need to offer solutions…”

Well, virtually every human being I’ve spoken to over the last three years – and I still have a ton of friends in upper management at Major League Baseball and all over the league — has concurred: this just isn’t going to change on the field as long as Peter Angelos is involved in Baltimore baseball ownership.

But, of course, I came to that conclusion five years ago when I did the original Free The Birds rally and campaign because in my mind – and time has proven me correct – this was long past the point of no return with the local community and most people of integrity within the baseball community in 2006.

And what I’ve come to realize is that this REALLY bugs the hell out of my internet critics – the fact that I’ve been right and honest and accurate all along.

I don’t think it took any “orange Nostradamus” or 19 chapters and 75,000 words worth of my book to predict that this civic nightmare would continue given Angelos’ tactics, mindset, age and propensity through his 82 years on the planet to want to fight with people. He sues people for a living.

I knew a long time ago that it was getting worse and not better. I knew it was going to become an easy $50 million annual profit center given the deal that Angelos negotiated with Major League Baseball once the Washington Nationals were hatched. I wanted to believe he was telling the truth in 2006 but he clearly wasn’t honest and indeed got the “last laugh.”

But I must say my worst fears of where this sick tale was going in 2006 never really factored in the possibility that Mike Flanagan would be committing suicide five years later in the middle of a fifth consecutive last-place season.

But I’m not at all surprised that the team has finished in last place every year since Free The Birds.

And I’ve now spent four full years without a press pass for this last-place debacle and sick civic disgrace while the team’s head of baseball operations runs away from me at public functions when I ask a few questions.

I’ve been asking myself for a month how the Orioles are going to handle this offseason of obvious unparalleled despair. Despite the kid gloves Captain Profit Andy MacPhail has been treated with here by his local media co-workers who are disguised as journalists — his tenure here is now complete and was a large, profitable “MacFailure” .

He’s slithering out of town in the dead of the night after changing exactly NOTHING about the Baltimore Orioles in real terms, other than the profit line. Oh, and there’s the spring training home in Sarasota that was 15 years overdue – and now another publicly-aided profit center — I don’t see anything about the farm system, the future or the current state of the roster that’s appreciably better than before.

I know this much: four years, four last-place finishes. That’s the record. It is what it is.

The whole franchise stinks.

What happens to Buck Showalter is anyone’s guess but word is he’ll be the new poobah in charge of “baseball operations” at 10:07 p.m. after Red Sox playoff magic leaves the Charm City – and all that really means is that he’s the next victim who will make a few million and go back to where he came from (in this case Dallas) a few years later with a tainted resume and some more losses and evenings of angst.

Of course, if he really thinks Angelos is committed to winning a World Series, angst is only the beginning.

Just 13 months ago Showalter said he knew what he was getting into with Angelos

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Here’s why Adam Jones and anyone who thinks like him is a nitwit…

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Two weeks ago Adam Jones, the starting centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles who also fancies himself a free spirit, world social media maven and loose-lipped athlete, repeatedly told our local fans to come back to the ballpark in 2011 and “knock the s**t outta Yankees fans” when they bring their money to Camden Yards.

Being the only real journalist left in Baltimore with a free voice (and, conversely, no Orioles press pass), I wrote a scathing blog here about this very public pronouncement made by Jones on video at www.baltimoresun.com that cost me a local sponsorship and got me roundly slammed by the morons, apes and trolls on various “hangout” message boards and web blogs for “being too negative” about the Orioles.

Well, it turns out, a couple of Los Angeles Dodgers fans took the “advice” of Adam Jones and now a 42-year old paramedic named Bryan Stow – same age as me, by the way – is in a coma in a Los Angeles hospital and his two children might never have a father again.

Think I was a little too hard on Jones now?

Or were the other local “media” members, afraid for their jobs and press passes and encouraged by their bosses to “just pretend Jones never said anything that dumb,” a bunch of cowards in not writing the truth about Jones’ overt and brazen stupidity in recommending that our fans get violent with Yankees fans in Baltimore?

This has been the biggest sports story on the West Coast this week, with Giants and Dodgers fans speaking out about the  violence and the senseless pain of this not-so-random attack.

Today, perhaps I come to you as a blogger or entrepreneur or social media critic or washed up sports talk show host, but just know one thing: I’m a REAL fan. I’d be willing to bet you any amount of money that I have sat with visiting team gear on in the upper decks of more out-of-town ballparks and arenas than you have in my 42 years on the planet – 27 of them covering sports as a journalist and fan.

And I’ve seen it all. I’ve had dog bones thrown at me in the upper deck in Cleveland. I’ve been punched in the back of the head in New York while standing at a urinal. I’ve been cursed and MF’ed in Philadelphia. I even somehow managed to find a**holes in Green Bay and Nashville, who made it thoroughly unenjoyable to watch a football game in their “hospitable” stadiums with purple gear on in the stands.

As recently as four days ago in my home ballpark with the same black and orange jersey on as the home team I was accosted by a fan, who crossed the line between passion and abuse.

On Sunday afternoon in the bucolic and mostly empty confines of Camden Yards, as I was exiting the stadium in Sect. 32 with my Baltimore jersey on, holding hands with my wife and walking next to my son and his girlfriend – in seats amidst Orioles wives, families, etc. in a stadium where you can literally hear a pin drop most of the time – I was accosted by an angry Orioles fan who stood up, pointed at me from five feet away and screamed in his loudest voice, “Nestor you’re a F**KING JERK!”

As I wrote two weeks ago when the largest media conglomerate in the country (if not the world) had one of its pathetic, in-over-her-head employees sue me and two of my employees for

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Adam Jones advice to Orioles fans: “Knock the s**t outta Yankees fans at Oriole Park”

Posted on 25 March 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Orange diarrhea of the mouth is apparently running rampant in Sarasota as Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has now served up a spicy “raw” video in an exclusive interview with The Baltimore Sun that should make any fan really think about the mindset of the modern-day athlete.

Here are his words and “advice to Orioles fans in Baltimore” verbatim:

“It’s annoying hearing ‘Let’s Go Yankees.’ (at Camden Yards in Baltimore). All our fans do is (mockingly and politely) ‘Boooooooooo…’ We should knock the s**t of of them! If you’re against them, then knock the s**t out of them! And if it’s really that important to you that you want them to leave, then knock the s**t out of them! Then at the same time it comes to our part again, if we beat the hell out of them on the field more of our fans would come.

“I’ve seen a lot of people, in Baltimore, don Orioles gear, wait like normal Orioles fans after the game, try to get Orioles autographs. But as soon as Yankees and Red Sox come in, they put on Yankees and Red Sox gear. I have seen that with my own two eyes. One thing about me, I don’t forget faces. I might not remember your name but I sure as hell won’t forget your face. But I might forget your name. But I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it…too much.”

He then tells the story of a fan that he told in Sarasota last week: “I ain’t ever signing s**t for you again!” after the alleged Orioles fan showed up in a Yankees hat.

So, no wonder Chick-fil-A isn’t offering the Kid Club anymore!

“Hey, little Johnny, here’s some good sportsmanship! Since our team on the field can’t beat the Yankees go over to little Jenny with the Yankees cap and knock the s**t outta her!”

Great…just great!

I gotta admit that when I saw the video I cringed. For him. For anyone in The Warehouse with a brain cell. For anyone who has ever really sat at Camden Yards amidst Yankees fans and been outnumbered 20-to-1.

Look, I want to like the team. I want to respect these players. I know there’s a faction of idiots out there who are “loyal like a real fan” who think I’m never allowed to root for the Orioles again because I’ve objected to their two decades of embarrassing, boorish behavior and bullying.

That I should spout the company/Tom Davis/Jim Hunter/Greg Bader line and be “a real fan.”

To that, I say, “Bollocks!”

I’ve ALWAYS been a REAL Orioles fan but I’m also a civic-minded business owner who realizes the real value of the Orioles lies in what it does for our city. And lately, that ain’t been much.

And it’s my job as a journalist and Baltimore-lover and resident to point out the lies, deceit and 14 years of losing and to hold Peter G. Angelos and all of his well-paid servants accountable for this civic train wreck since 1998.

But you can’t cover up the lies. And, apparently, you can’t stop athletes and their kind from saying truly ignorant things

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As purple Festivus season is upon us, alas the real Grinch continues to be Peter G. Angelos

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As purple Festivus season is upon us, alas the real Grinch continues to be Peter G. Angelos

Posted on 24 December 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been 51 months now since the initial “Free The Birds” campaign that we launched at WNST.net in “Year Nine of The Black Cat” and motivated more than 2,000 other brave souls who said “enough is enough” to Peter Angelos and the losing and nasty ways of the Baltimore Orioles.

The holiday results are in yet again for another sad orange offseason and I’m feeling pretty confident — as is Las Vegas — that the Baltimore Orioles will not be a playoff team in 2011.

And the real reason the team won’t win this year is the same as last year and the year before that: they won’t (or can’t) spend all of the millions of dollars they have managed to extract from this community via their incredibly wealthy and lean “regional sports network” called MASN.

Angelos

We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in direct profit that was allegedly to be spent on improving the baseball team for the community to enjoy. But instead of the $150 million payrolls that were promised to “compete with the likes of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox,” that previously earmarked U.S. money donated by Middle Atlantic cable subscribers is in the pockets of Peter G. Angelos. Along with about $20 million more each year since Andy MacPhail took over in 2007 and slashed the payroll, bought off the local media and preached “young” to the fans while winking “cheap” at the owner that he just made a cool, clean profit for and shared in the financial windfall.

And like any other billionaire businessman without a soul for the pride of his own company and what it represents in the community, all of a sudden it’s very hard for any of them to part with “guaranteed money in the bank.” Especially when there’s no financial upside to giving the likes of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre or Cliff Lee tens of millions of guaranteed money when winning is so far from being a reality in the AL East that even the once-prideful Angelos has clearly quit on trying to win for the fans of the Baltimore Orioles.

Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee? This is what it’s come down to for the Orioles as Santa brings goodies and toys and playoff-caliber baseball elsewhere to even the likes of Milwaukee.

If you’re trying to be a .500 team signing the “leftovers” and “growing the arms” might be a strategy. But, really, is the bar a World Series title for Baltimore or is the bar set at being in third place and making $50 million in profit?

The Orioles are so grossly pathetic at this point that no credentialed Major League Baseball player with any other option this side of Pittsburgh will elect to come and play here. And the remaining few lost souls in the fan base are so desperate for any morsel of progress that they’ve even given Buck Showalter a hall pass for lying

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