Tag Archive | "andy"

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Sure, Angelos is at heart of Orioles misery but 25 others are accountable, too

Posted on 23 July 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

This inglorious 14 years of misery, lies and ineptitude for fans of the Baltimore Orioles all over the world has been hard to watch at every level. I’m exasperated with the media corruption, lack of integrity and pure filth of heart of Peter Angelos and his profiteering and lack of civic pride for something that this community held near and dear to its heart — bringing tens of thousands to literal tears in 1991 when the memories of 33rd Street moved downtown.

But circa 2011, on a night-to-night basis, the only ones who can change the course of the franchise “in the moment” are the players Peter Angelos is paying millions of dollars, Andy MacPhail has hired and the ones Buck Showalter has morbidly signed up to manage this summer.

Sure, Angelos is to blame for this entire mess — that much is self-evident at this point — but that does not exonerate alleged Major League Baseball players from being able to produce in the glare of the bright lights in the eighth inning of a one-run game.

Take Friday night’s multiple fiasco-fest with the game on the line vs. the Angels. Nick Markakis came to bat with two outs and two on and the Orioles a single away from a tie game and a gapper away from potentially winning the game. Markakis — the team’s “franchise” player — clipped the ball about 45 feet down the first base line to end a rally.

I’m a Nick Markakis fan. He’s quiet, he’s professional, he’s Greek, he lives in Baltimore, he’s not a Twitter jackass and last-place loudmouth like his outfield mate. But, he’s also making $12 million per year to win baseball games and put up a better fight in that baseball circumstance. It’s fair to say, his career has been a disappointment vs. the salary and the expectations that he would be the “face” of the Orioles. Like when they put him six stories high on the Warehouse wall a few years ago.

Of course, seeing the Orioles kick the ball around and bring in the likes of overpaid Kevin Gregg in the 9th inning to give up a grand slam to Vernon Wells in an eventual 6-1 loss makes it all seem trivial.

They’re the Orioles. They can’t win, anyway. So what difference does a few outs with RISP mean or a few more blown saves and missed chances by a bunch of arsonists who no one else wanted but the Orioles were forced to over pay.

I opine often about the sins of Angelos and they are more than warranted. But in the few rare instances when he’s done the “right” thing by the franchise, it then becomes incumbent upon the players to produce or face tough questions.

There’s no doubt that fans always want a “fall guy” — a horse to beat when the team loses. Every Monday morning in every fall the players and coaches in the Ravens organization take the weight or the world onto their backs like a civic grand piano.

In some ways, playing for the worst franchise in the history of modern sports in the toughest division in sports and given the lack of financial balance in MLB it somehow seems to exonerate the actual Orioles players.

I’m not willing to make that concession.

Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Luke Scott, Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and the rest of the well-paid professional baseball players need a mirror for their last-place woes as well.

But I have a feeling, in the end, this will get blamed on MacPhail and Showalter.

But then again, the fans seem to put the blame everywhere but where it belongs.

If you want to find the Orioles’ REAL magic — the meaningful games, the community activism, the late-summer wins, the memories and a potential World Series parade — you really need look no further than Angelos’ pockets.

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Here’s the truth: Baltimore doesn’t want to be told the truth about Angelos and Orioles

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I bite my tongue a lot when it comes to the Orioles. Go back and read the last two or three years’ worth of material I’ve produced when it comes to Peter Angelos and you’ll see that while the losing hasn’t subsided one iota in the standings, my bile, venom and anger have dissipated publicly for lots of reasons. Here are a few:

1.    I’m older and a tad more mellow and I openly realize that while Angelos is one day closer to not owning the team any longer, I’m also one day closer to death. I sincerely hope I outlive him and the losing but as the tragic death of WNST’s No. 1 fan Fergy Commodari taught me last week, life is short so I focus on things I can control.
2.    I’m so insanely busy building WNST.net and all of our web platforms and initiatives that writing blogs every night about why the Orioles suck just isn’t a quality use of my time, energy or ambition.
3.    It’s hard to justify writing these “anti-Angelos” blogs when I have no energy to write about it and you really have no energy to read it.

But, that said, it’s during times like these when the football team has essentially suspended all operations and I see our web traffic get the annual June and July “Bird Flu” due to your complete lack of interest in the Baltimore Orioles that I get truly sickened enough to write a missive.

So, while I’d love to hold a 5-year reunion for Free The Birds and do something righteously fun and charitable to continue our protest of the ownership reign of terror that Peter Angelos has profited from to the tune of a half a BILLION dollars, I realize it would be me, Drew and 14 drunks because no one in Baltimore gives a rat’s ass about the Orioles.

And no one seems to care that the Orioles are ripping off the community with this sham of a product and the likes of CBS and WBAL and WJZ and PressBox and 98 Rock and The Baltimore Sun are all on the take for advertising money and won’t be telling you “the truth” about the Orioles.

And, yes, I know it’s hard to believe it’s been FIVE FREAKING YEARS since Free The Birds but it has been. And nothing – other than the more than 500 nights you’ve probably given them in your living rooms over the past 58 months and perhaps the grey in your hairline – has changed with the real structure and reasons about why the team sucks and why Baltimore will never have a winner with Angelos running the franchise.

Tonight’s blog won’t be a traditional lengthy missive regarding every transgression since 1994 – or 1997, when they played the last real meaningful inning of baseball in Baltimore – but instead just a few key “reminders” about why the Orioles continually suck.

But, my experience has taught me that you can’t handle “the truth” about the Baltimore Orioles, circa 2011.

The first point is pretty elementary and begins and ends the entire debate – the Orioles are not really interested in winning and deep down you know it.

Sure, they’d like to win with a half-assed payroll full of young prospects and washed up, last-to-sign one-year contract guys who no one else in Major League Baseball is offering a two-year deal to during Super Bowl week. Winning would be nice but it’s very unnecessary when you’re making $50 million in profit and risking none of your guaranteed future revenue to make that kind of loot.

The Orioles would like to win but they don’t need to win.

And, really, from an accounting standpoint – and with guys like Angelos and MacPhail, the descendents of The Lords of The Realm running the Orioles – it’s not at ALL an incentive to even try to win when MASN spins off more than $100 million in annual revenue for yelling “Play Ball” no matter what collection of miscreants, castoffs and bums they field between the lines.

The Orioles don’t spend money. They don’t buy the best players. They accept no accountability at all for last place every year. They ban and restrict and punish media members and intimidate everyone else who doesn’t fall in line like the Third Reich. I’m in my fifth year of banishment from having a press pass so I’m in the unique position of being able to tell the truth.

Here’s the truth: the Orioles make more money losing than they’d EVER make trying to win. That’s the deal Selig and the other owners cut with him, same as when they gave franchises like the Pirates and Royals welfare checks (they call it “revenue sharing”) that somehow never got invested back into talent on the field.

Angelos has just found a more creative way to get it done – he’s passing the bill directly to you through your cable bill every month and you suckers are getting fleeced for it and no one says ANYTHING about it.

And these are the same people who wonder why the team blows every year?

Duh…is it really all that hard to do the math on this and figure out that these are business owners, not people who are interested in bringing a parade to their hometowns?

Angelos couldn’t care less about a World Series trophy. He’s making $50 million a year in profit on the team and has grown his investment by 500% in 16 years. And he’s done giving Palmeiro and Sosa and Belle and Segui and their ilk money. And no legitimate A-list player will take his “Confederate money” (thank you, Syd Thrift for that priceless gem from up above!) so the notion that the Orioles could’ve acquired Adrian Gonzalez last year or might acquire Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols this year is just “Rex Barney call-in fodder.”

I insult your intelligence to even bring it up as a possibility. I pander to the lowest common denominator and the dumbest fan if I bring this up with a straight face.

The team has been in last place for a decade, hasn’t played a meaningful game since 1997 and they’ve chased TWO MILLION PEOPLE from downtown Baltimore every summer night.

At this point, Angelos has no pride at all in this franchise and what it’s become. I’m not sure at what point you “caught on” and stopped going to games

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Hey MacPhail: Give Guerrero the money today and tell the fans whether your salary is driven by wins or profit

Posted on 29 January 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s Orioles FanFest Day and that means that MLB Commissioner-in-waiting Andy MacPhail would love nothing more than to make that “splash” announcement sometime after noon today. Perhaps they’ll even enter the 21st century today by texting out that they’ve managed to whittle down former Hall of Fame candidate Vladimir Guererro and have gotten him into an orange jumpsuit for another run at 4th place in the AL East.

As my begging for free tickets on Facebook yesterday indicated — no, I’m not giving The PGA any of my money today — I’m still interested in the Orioles. One of the reasons I’m really interested is that at some point all of this is going to change. At some point, someone who is interested in winning for Baltimore will own, operate and fix the love of my life.

So, today, much like my trip to Sarasota back in November and our week of broadcasts in March from down in Florida is about “hope.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-bldNihn68[/youtube]

It’s not the dumb, orange Kool Aid-drinking hope that somehow Peter Angelos will change. (By the way, I’m hearing he’s changing for the worse, not the better these days as he’s disappeared from the social scene. Meanwhile, John Angelos is A.W.O.L. after being physically escorted out of the Warehouse last May.)

It’s the kind of hope that sometime in the next 10 years — hell, I waited 13 years for NFL football in my post-adolescence — there will be a massive change and someone competent and not on the take will be running the team and fixing my hometown and residence community on summer nights.

Meanwhile, they’ll continue to fight with Guerrero this morning over money and clearly Andy MacPhail with this latest round of 11th hour negotiating feels the needs to drop some bombshell today with a signing of the last, decent free agent pickup off the offseason.

If Guerrero agrees to fly in before 4 p.m., they might even give him a “signing bonus.”

It’s almost as pathetic as MacPhail’s internet video was last April.

Guerrero is only on the market because no other team wants him or has an acute need for a 36-year old, limited outfielder. Even if he did rake for 29 HRs and 115 RBIs last year and hit .300.

Fair enough, then get it done, Andy!

I’d be the last to say that the Orioles couldn’t use Vladimir Guerrero. Hell, at this point Pedro Guerrero would be an upgrade at third base over what you got in the offseason.

No one else of any value even wanted to even sit at a table and negotiate with you to pretend they wanted to come to Baltimore.

You didn’t get Adam Dunn or anyone else who was “realistic” for the worst franchise in modern sports.

You didn’t take a stab at trading for Adrian Gonzales or Zach Greinke — neither of whom wanted to be here anyway.

So, sign Guerrero! Let him use FanFest as a bargaining chip today!

Get it done…

By the way, if any WNST listeners run into MacPhail today at the Orioles Fan Fest, please ask him the most important question any fan should of the team should know:

“Hey Andy, is your salary tied to profit or victories?”

Or, my second choice:

“At what point do you expect to be the Commissioner of Major League Baseball? Next year or the year after?”

Maybe I’ll use someone’s freebies and ask it myself if I can get near the stage…

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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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Here’s Buck…so where’s Peter?

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

As we watch the next press conference welcoming yet another Orioles manager to Baltimore amidst more rhetoric about the farm system, young players and how “tough” things are in the AL East, I’ll be wondering where the owner of the team is to take accountability for this 2010 meltdown.

Now in their 13th year of nonstop losing one thing has remained constant — the man who is responsible for all of this civic tragedy, Peter Angelos, will be absent once again.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STRgnJzuHxc[/youtube]

And once again, Angelos’ many employees in the media will be front and center to ask their newest co-worker, Buck Showalter, softball questions and lay-ups while the team flounders, the downtown business community decays and the team is 32-73.

Today will once again illuminate the difference between the baseball team and the football team.

When the Ravens hire, fire or take on water, owner Steve Bisciotti shows up for the press conference and sometimes painfully has to accept responsibility for failures at season’s end.

Today, with the Orioles 13 years into a black hole, their owner Peter Angelos and his family will act the roles of cowards and  scarecrows — fingers pointed in every direction except the mirror — and be absent from the front of the company and brand that they’ve systematically wrecked and then profiteered from via the cable TV gods and the ineptitude of Bud Selig and the MLB ownership group.

Baltimore continues to suffer the loss of its baseball heritage and joy.

Today is another stark, clear reminder of why the Orioles are a mess and the city is empty.

And Peter Angelos won’t be on the podium today to answer questions when he most certainly should be.

And WNST.net will be the ONLY media entity that publicly challenges this as unacceptable.

And until the ownership accepts accountability, things will never change for Baltimore baseball.

Let’s hear what Buck has to say about “saving” the Orioles today at noon.

But, really, what difference does it make? Anyone with any sense — and that often doesn’t include the people who are still watching this disgrace nine innings a night, seven nights a week — knows that no matter what “power” was promised to Showalter will soon be proven to be a lie, like all of the rest.

Only one man is in charge of the Orioles and he won’t be present today to answer questions from the real media or his employees and henchmen.

Welcome to Baltimore, Buck. You took the job.

And we all know what happens when you lay down with dogs…

Just because we’re betting against you doesn’t mean that we’re not pulling for you.

The smart money says you can’t fix this, Buck. But you probably already know that.

Of course, it’ll feel a lot better every two weeks when you get your direct deposit check.

But it won’t make you sleep better next May when this broken record gets replayed again and you’re the one in the dugout losing instead of poor Dave Trembley or Juan Samuel.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

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Dear Peter Angelos: When will you fix this disgrace?

Posted on 18 June 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

At the risk of “piling on,” I’ve decided to throw my two cents into the blogosphere today to briefly (insert joke here) discuss the situation regarding the Orioles as they continue their West Coast horror tour where no doubt Adam Jones will be tweeting about how great it is to be in San Diego and how pretty the girls are.

Yeah, well I was almost in San Diego, too this week.

When I saw the schedule come out last year I looked to do a baseball trip to my favorite city in the U.S. and watch the Orioles play and needless to say I made a great decision avoiding the So Cal and the Bay Areas this June of 2010, especially considering the U2 show on Wednesday night in Oakland was cancelled. I also thought for a while I was headed to the World Cup in South Africa, but alas, duty calls here in Baltimore in the way of running WNST.net.

I’m much happier to be headed to Harford County for the day to support soccer and my country, than to be watching this dreadful 18-48 baseball team in sunny San Diego over 7 a.m. eggs and bacon.

I built WNST.net so I could write and talk about Orioles baseball on a daily basis but quite frankly – and for the first time in a long time – I’m almost speechless.

There’s a part of me that wants to say “I told you so” – and I DID tell you so and I HAVE been telling you so – but the sick part is how low the franchise has sunk in so many measurable ways.

The 13 years of ineptitude has now reached a low so profound, so sad, so utterly disgusting that even words we could use on the internet wouldn’t be profane enough to properly express our inner rage as Orioles fans, baseball fans and as a sports community.

Everything about the Peter Angelos ownership regime has been appalling. And year after year it’s gotten progressively worse amidst the lies, propaganda, steroids, banning and intimidation of the media and railroading of the fans and sponsors all while profiteering at record levels via a deal with other Major League Baseball owners that has rewarded this behavior with tons of cash for the Angelos family.

Sure, the team is likely lose its 50th game before it earns its 20th victory and there are STILL people in this city who will defend the indefensible, like a troop of Baghdad Bobs.

But let’s get back to the core issue: What the hell is going on here and who is going to be the one to fix it for the fans and the community?

Let’s start with MASN, which is printing money off of the nipple of the people here and now stands to profit even more with no outlay of cash on the biggest superstar in the sport. Think about it: Stephen Strasburg is a cash machine for Angelos via the television rights and he made ZERO investment in the big right-handed phenom.

The Orioles current product on the field is atrocious – on pace to be among the worst teams in the history of modern sport. You can pick on any variety of players or talk about injuries to Brian Roberts, etc. The truth: they’re all just excuses for why the team sucks.

The reason the team sucks is because the owner has made it suck and the deal he has rewards him financially even when the team wins forty-something games in a season.

I’m sick of excuses. I’m sick of the lying. I’m sick of the manipulation and the treatment of the community as a piñata with cheap tricks like “walk up” surcharges on sunny nights.

I’ve written tomes on Peter Angelos and this awfulness many times in the past. Just google it…

But the mere notion that Andy MacPhail is “in charge” is laughable to anyone who has ever stood in a room with Peter Angelos.

MacPhail came here for the money, which was a sure thing, but not the glory, which was always a long shot. Oh, sure, maybe he thought he could fix this rotten franchise from the top down and at least get the team into third place behind New York and Boston.

But, Andy – you’re a smart guy — you had to know you were not really the guy at the top, right?

Pity poor Andy who came here to get a step up into the Commissioner’s lukewarm seat at MLB soon enough and to profiteer off of the riches of the largest television gift/heist in the history of regional cable pirating.

Andy thought: “They’re loaded with money, the old man is looking for ANYONE to stand at the front door and protect him and I’ll cut the payroll, show him I can make him a fortune and tell the fans we’re going young…

“What’s the worst thing that can happen when the team is already awful? It’s gotta get better, right?”

Wrong.

Welcome to 18-48 and a chase at the worst record in the history of modern baseball Baltimore, Andy MacFail…

And when the boyish general manager isn’t making UStream videos in a somber, Barack-like posture from the oval office of The Warehouse in May, he’s running from the real media and looking for an escape hatch from this living breathing, two-month old turd in June in the hopes of getting a one-way ticket back to the MLB offices on Park Ave. in New York.

Last week it must’ve really hit home when – for the second time in three years — he couldn’t find anyone reputable to even consider taking the job and manage this team. I personally think Bobby Valentine flew in for the crab cakes and to sit across the table from Angelos and MacPhail and laugh in their faces on behalf of my father, who is no doubt flipping over in his grave over at Gardens of Faith at the mere notion of the last 13 years of losing.

On the field, where it certainly matters the most, they can’t get any players outside the organization to come here and play. (They’ll probably coin a contract phrase for Kevin Millwood after what he’s been subjected to here over the past four months. It’ll be the “Millwood Clause” that says trade me ANYWHERE but Baltimore).

And even more disheartening, thus far they’re on the road to wrecking the career of Matt Wieters and this crop of young talent.

Think about being 24 and being 18-48 and feeling like there’s no hope and there’s no one around you who is providing any hope. You come to the ballpark and it’s either empty or filled with fans from Boston and New York.

The players on this 2010 Orioles team at times simply look outclassed but at other points disinterested and/or disheartened. There are no excuses for not running out ground balls or fly balls. There are no excuses – period — when you’re in the big leagues and are expected to perform and at the very least put out a requisite big-league effort.

Angelos and MacFail fired the surly manager Dave Trembley and to my eyes it looks like it’s gotten even worse the past two weeks under Juan Samuel, whose Spanglish prose in the pre- and post-game at least injects some gallows humor into my living room each night around a solid dose of constipation from poor Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey.

Sometimes it feels like Gary Thorne is laughing at the team under his breath and Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan probably see this as standard operating procedure because they know what a freaking mess the whole place is from the top down in more ways than anyone could ever know.

The MASN house ads would be pulled if anyone there had any sense and they’d be out trying to sell a sponsorship to Maalox or Tylenol, which are requisite medication to be a nightly watcher at this point.

I think the message the fans should be sending is one of demanding accountability. Honestly, that’s what Free The Birds was all about. Someone there who is responsible should have to answer for this and apologize for this and be held accountable for this.

But instead, Angelos remains invisible, the millions of former Orioles fans mow their lawns and wait for Ravens training camp to open and the dozen bloggers and the few thousand sheep who continue to drink the 18-48 Kool Aid continue to defend the indefensible.

Like my Pop said there really is a sucker born every minute.

But I haven’t given up, especially not after seeing the Chicago Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup last weekend. They are the twin cousins of the Orioles here in Baltimore. Bill Wirtz might’ve actually been worse than Peter Angelos and that’s a bold pronouncement coming from me.

But yes, I’m still prone to watching them play most nights as my Facebook statuses will attest although I’m guilty of missing Jake Arrieta’s masterpiece on Tuesday night due to a severe case of the sandman.

But, alas, perhaps a true gem appears in the body of Arrieta who has looked the part of Jake Cool in his first duo of outings against top-notch competition.

We’re trying to somehow, someway digest what’s left of 2010 as a local baseball fan and Arrieta has given us a glimmer of a reason to “look up” every five days as the Orioles lose their way into baseball history yet again.

Look, it’s not shocking that the team sucks and they’ll finish in last place. What IS a shock is that the team is 18-48 and we have almost 100 more games left in this steamer of a season.

Are you watching?

Will you be watching in two weeks, four weeks – FOURTEEN weeks from now?

Are you rooting for them or against them at this point?

Well, for the next 3 ½ months Ty Wiggington will be playing and probably not as well as he did in April. And Jake Arrieta will be pitching until they shut him down for throwing too many innings in September. And Nick Markakis can keep demanding accountability within an organization that lacks accountability from its head down. And they can keep feigning this ridiculous notion that Brian Roberts is miraculously going to appear after the All-Star break.

All of this masks the ugly truth: the worst might be yet to come once MacFail starts dealing off Millwood, Tejada, Scott and any other remnant item any other franchise might want to take off his hands and unburden his budget of another $5 to $10 million before year’s end.

But there’s a lot of bad baseball ahead, I’m afraid.

But I have plenty of Free The Birds shirts left over from last month if you want to state your case.

And we are doing a bus trip up to Yankee Stadium to see them play on Labor Day Monday.

I’d try to get a group to go down to Camden Yards to have some fun but every time I try that it fails.

Our sponsors want no part of baseball. Our listeners and readers don’t want to go to the games with us.

I brought up an idea in our staff meeting this week to throw a big All-Star Game Charity party but I was almost laughed out of the room.

It’s gonna be a long July.

But what I’m really wondering is when it’s ever going to change?

And who will be the one to change it?

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Andy MacPhail sums up the failure for the people

Posted on 12 May 2010 by WNST Staff

Here’s the hot off the presses video of Andy MacPhail speaking to you from his lair inside The Warehouse…

Click here for the video link…

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Let’s check back in on the “State of Baltimore Sports Media” with Orioles sitting at 2-14 on NFL Draft Day

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Let’s check back in on the “State of Baltimore Sports Media” with Orioles sitting at 2-14 on NFL Draft Day

Posted on 22 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

So this media situation is exactly what I tried to warn everyone about back in February. I spent a week with my “State of Baltimore Sports Media” blogs attempting to take 27 years of my knowledge as a kid from Dundalk who loved sports and journalism and has spent a lifetime trying to build a better platform for integrity and honesty in an effort to enlighten folks about why we think WNST.net is a great way to communicate in 2010.

The Orioles are 2-14.

It’s almost unthinkable — unimaginable given the “enthusiasm” that was sold by the corporate suits over at CBS Radio and the MASN “partners” of a 13-year running sham known as Peter G. Angelos’ Orioles. Don’t worry, the rest of the local media that takes checks from King Peter and the crew aren’t off the hook here, either, for hiding the truth and burying the story about last week’s Ripken blowup.

The Orioles are 2-14 and there’s not a negative word – not anywhere. There’s no call for the manager’s head. The owner – completely unaccountable and in hiding longer than the guy in the cave in the Middle East – never answers questions. The Ripken story has gone away until his camp leaks the next story to Rosenthal, who quite honestly, probably doesn’t need to be called a liar again with his next “scoop” given his 25-year track record of integrity in reporting about Baltimore baseball’s real inner workings.

And the general manager, Andy MacPhail, known throughout Major League Baseball as the heir to the throne of Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig, he of blue-blood baseball royalty, is scratching his head and working day and night with his “media partners” to make sure this Ripken P.R. move doesn’t come back into play again this week while he figures out how to fire Dave Trembley and not have his neck enter the guillotine next here in Baltimore.

Oh, and the team is 2-14 and headed for 12 in a row against the Red Sox and Yankees.

But, really, MacPhail’s true play here is to practice to become the next commissioner of Major League Baseball. His job here ISN’T to win. It’s to MAKE MONEY. And doing that, amidst ridiculous circumstances and an absolutely insufferable owner in a situation where virtually every thinking person in the community has turned its collective back on the franchise that Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson and Cal Ripken built here for our fathers and grandfathers, will show him to be “Commish worthy” when Selig steps aside from his Baseball Digest, typewriter and carrier pigeon and leaves the throne of his $18 million per anum “leadership role” with Major League Baseball.

Bud Selig

Rest assured, Andy MacPhail is doing a great job as far as Peter Angelos is concerned.

MacPhail is printing money, keeping the “media” off Peter’s back and he doesn’t even have to leave the Baltimore home office when the team goes to the West Coast and the manager is under fire and the team is 1-11 and losing in front of no one in the middle of the night.

Get this: while Trembley was out West trying to hold the sinking ship together, MacPhail was back here trying to figure out how to sell Brad Komminsk to the Baltimore fans as the next savior/manager/scapegoat put in an impossible situation where you “can’t compete.”

Hey those aren’t my words, they’re MacPhail’s words as you can read here in Glenn Clark’s blog from Opening Day via USA Today (another Selig mouthpiece, whose “journalists” should be here in Baltimore writing about how Angelos has killed baseball in Baltimore).

And while the team continues to flounder in every measurable fashion except their corporate bank account, which is filled with riches every month when the Comcast check hits their desks over at MASN, the community suffers and wonders if it’ll ever change.

Again, they’re 2-14 and have 12 in a row coming up against Boston and New York. They haven’t played a meaningful game since 1997. There were less than 5,000 people in the ballpark two weeks ago. Last week, there was tumbleweed blowing down Pratt Street. Next week, the city will be overrun with 35,000 Red Sox and Yankees fans for the 10th summer in a row.

This is an Agent Orange, Code Red earthquake, tsunami and volcano simultaneously and NO ONE in the media says ANYTHING.

NEVER!

Companies that are in last place perennially – and again this has been THIRTEEN YEARS of lousiness, never even hovering near mediocrity in any measurable category – should not be siphoning money from people’s pockets via cable television so they can make record profits in the middle of an economic depression while leaving the citizens with a product that shames them when they put on the same cap that Brooks and Frank wore.

With their unfriendly fan habits of jacking up ticket prices on game nights and their consistent lying, hiding and losing, downtown Baltimore will be a ghost town this summer on game nights as this team will clearly never get out of last place.

And yet no one says a word.

Businesses and the downtown business community sit dormant on spring and summer nights as this awfulness continues.

And there’s no columnist at The Sun who will even touch the Ripken-Angelos story with any credible information or investigation. There are no radio pundits or six o’clock news sports anchors who will step up and say the obvious: 2-14 is a disgrace and people should be as pissed as Nestor and the folks at WNST are!

Of course, if they did “speak up” they’d either be fired by their bosses (see: CBS Radio, TV & MASN sleep in) or they’d have their press pass revoked, like yours truly.

Where are the economic impact studies from those geniuses over at The Daily Record and The Baltimore Business Journal? And what about Baltimore Magazine (oh, that’s right, poor Steve Geppi is tied into this mess and it must break his heart as well because no one loves the team more than him)?

Four years after nearly a decade of losing created the Free The Birds movement the first time around — and nothing has changed except the names and the lower payroll and higher profits for the Angelos group.

The Ripken story is actually kind of incredible. In my nearly 27 years of local journalism this is the most baffling situation I’ve encountered and one that really bears watching closely because it will affect a generation of baseball and where the sport is headed in Baltimore.

Ripken lives here. He knows how screwed up it is. He’s not stupid and he’s not weak and he’s not one to “back down.” He wants to fix the Orioles. He wants to own the Orioles. He wants to run the Orioles.

Some think he can – successfully – and many of his detractors think he can’t but EVERYONE agrees his image would be a welcomed addition circa 2010 and it can’t make things worse.

And if he DOES get inside The Warehouse (which would only happen over Andy MacPhail’s dead body, mind you) could he actually survive it?

But at what cost? And with whose rules? And how would it go down if the team STILL continued to lose and treat people poorly even after Ripken got inside the building?

By the way: there’s NO WAY Andy MacPhail will EVER allow Cal Ripken to be a part of the Orioles organization while he’s “in charge.” MacPhail wants nothing to do with any former player of the collusion era of baseball being in any position to see the books of this cash cow.

Ripken was a “good boy” as an Angelos employee from most accounts but was a quiet firestorm of stubbornness in the clubhouse and really “ran the place” and managers in orange always gave him a special set of rules.

One thing you can definitely say about Angelos. In King Peter’s world, HE makes the rules.

His little “love in” with a few reporters notwithstanding last weekend, Angelos doesn’t consider Cal Ripken to be anything special. No more special than Brooks Robinson or Frank Robinson or Jon Miller or any other baseball player or personality who is “just another guy.”

Peter Angelos is making upward of $40 million in profit off the team this year and he clearly isn’t all that concerned about his reputation or pride 13 years into this mess. His words fended off Cal Ripken last week and the rest of the media will just let it go away until someone in the national media drops the next bomb.

In my opinion, Ripken isn’t “going away.”

And neither am I.

I’ll be opining frequently about this topic and I have plenty of information coming to me from various sources and I have a very good feel for what’s happening. And anyone who thinks last week’s leak from Rosenthal was an “accident” or a “lie” is just naïve. (And there’s no argument I’ll make here to make the Kool Aid drinkers believe it, but all of the scuttlebutt between Ripken and Angelos is very, very real.)

So tonight as you watch the NFL Draft (and hopefully drop by to have a chat with our hosts here in the LIVE CHAT anytime after 7:30 and throughout the weekend – Friday we have NFL Draft, Caps & Orioles all at the SAME TIME!) think about my ridiculously long missive back in February.

Here are the five links to my piece. If you’re bored during the draft, I’d be honored if you go back and read them:

And if you haven’t taken our survey, please do so here. (It really helps us make WNST.net better when you tell us what you like and what you hate!)

This weekend as you turn your dial and turn the pages of whatever you’re reading in the paper or on the internet, think about who you are listening to and what they’re saying and who they work for and what side of their bread their boss is buttered on when the team is 2-14.

It’s abundantly clear who is saying what because everyone should be saying SOMETHING when the team is 2-14.

And if they REALLY cared about Baltimore — or they were “friends you can turn to” — would they really keep filling your collective ears with the manure that’s been going on here for 13 years?

Once again, we’re standing up for Baltimore when the corporate media whores tell you lies and obstruct the truth about the Orioles and how devastating and unnecessary this whole mess has been since 1998.

We’re not a part of the problem — we’re a part of the solution, which does not include more years of denial and lies by people like Greg Bader and Andy MacPhail.

We give you the truth. We work hard to bring you the breaking news. We work incredibly hard to source information and make sure the information we dispense is credible and fair. And then we interact and talk with you about Baltimore sports and why we spend so much of our lives immersed in it.

That’s what we’ll be doing all weekend around the NFL Draft.

Have a great draft weekend. I’ll see you in the chat room or on Facebook or Twitter this weekend.

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Cal Ripken & Ken Rosenthal vs. Peter Angelos: Who do you believe?

Posted on 17 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It was only a matter of time. This orange collision course of wills regarding the Orioles and Peter Angelos vs. Cal Ripken finally exploded late last night when Ken Rosenthal leaked a story on FoxSports.com that claimed via several MLB sources that Ripken and Andy MacPhail met earlier this week regarding some kind of employment/partnership within the organization.

Rosenthal: “Angelos, however, nixed the idea in a separate conversation with Ripken, telling him, according to three sources, that he did not want Ripken to receive credit once the team returned to prominence.”

So, what exactly transpired here this week between Ripken and the current Orioles regime? And how did Ken Rosenthal wind up back in the middle of a Baltimore baseball triangle with the owner of the team and Cal Ripken?

As is always the case with Angelos, there’s a “morning after” dispute as to what happened and he has since answered with another one of his famous press releases feigning innocence and an open invitation to Ripken.

Having been through the wars of Baltimore sports media since 1984, I’ve lived through the Rosenthal-Angelos wars of the 1990’s. I saw it all first hand and there was a time when I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure Rosenthal – who was the lead sports columnist for The Baltimore Sun — was telling the truth. I remember Kenny being absolutely vilified back in 1996-1997-1998 when all of these bizarre circumstances were happening around the team every day because Angelos essentially had no clue how to run a baseball team.

And Rosenthal would always write stories with some facts so bizarre that it almost lacked believability in whole. And then Angelos would do EXACTLY what he did today – issue a statement exonerating himself and essentially call Rosenthal and The Sun a bunch of liars. (Angelos would then leak every story — his side anyway — via The Washington Post.)

And, in the end and as the cards played out and the stories were corroborated over the last 13 years, every single word Rosenthal ever wrote was true.

The Orioles are 1-11. Once again, for the 13th consecutive year, another baseball season is over in Baltimore.

Again.

This time it’s even more telling, more shocking to the remaining orange supporters because it’s over before it even started. And all of this has come at a time when even some of the most strident pessimists began to once again believe the team was “heading in the right direction.”

Even I had begun to chill some of the orange Kool Aid in my refrigerator.

It’s hard to argue with the promise of Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz, but virtually every other facet of the organization is still inflicted with the cancer of Peter Angelos and his values, strong will and old-world vindictiveness and deceit regarding everything from the banning of free speech in the media to jacking up ticket prices to taking away scalp-free zones to shunning the legends of the team’s heritage and brand.

Clearly, from the looks of Brooks Robinson’s first pitch last Friday to the bobble head offer that no one is buying regarding season tickets, No. 5 has been given a back rub in some way in recent months. It was only four months ago that Angelos once again rebuked any notion that a statue for Brooks would be built near the stadium. The supporters of the statue idea, led by many of Brooks’ longtime community and business friends, had found a place across the street to erect the monument and had quietly set search for funds to build a nearly half-million dollar piece of civic art.

But that was No. 5, who apparently has built some kind of bridge with Angelos in recent months.

What about No. 8 – the immortal Cal?

Angelos lies. He just does. So any legal-like memorandum that came from his desk on a Saturday morning involving an “open invitation to Cal” is clearly just a lame window dressing to cover his backside. And he’s SUCH a bad liar.

For me, having known Ken Rosenthal for 24 years now, I’m going with his story, which he text me today “speaks for itself” and makes perfect sense.

I asked Rosenthal to chat with me regarding the story. His text? “I don’t want to get into it.” Fair enough, but clearly Rosenthal stands behind his story and it’s sensible enough and it’s not like this would be Angelos’ first blatant lie.

So, how did this whole “story” surface under the byline of Ken Rosenthal while the Orioles are losing games at a near-1988 pace? Who in Ripken’s camp leaked this to Fox Sports and Rosenthal to further embarrass Angelos at a time when his current players are doing plenty to further disgrace and distance themselves from anything that used to be known as Orioles baseball?

That remains in question and what also is unclear is what leverage Ripken’s people hoped to attain by having this story leak via Rosenthal? Was it designed to put pressure on Angelos to answer when the team is once again at rock bottom? (Although, after 98 losses last year, the results say the franchise has only ever really LEFT rock bottom in the fantasyland world of some of the more sycophant followers.)

And if Angelos actually spoke with Ripken this week and told him he’s not welcome, how does it play out for a shunned Ripken now that Angelos has essentially thrown it into his court for a public comment?

(I have a feeling there are some very, very pissed off powerful people here on a Saturday. Angelos’ team sucks on field and isn’t home for a week. Ripken clearly wants these shenanigans to stop because it’s killing his personal brand and hurting the city. And if Angelos told Ripken to buzz off earlier in the week — and we have no reason to believe Rosenthal’s story isn’t legit — then we have one helluva knockdown, drag out about to get underway in Baltimore.)

I’ll be writing more about the 1-11 start – and I’ve been a very, very active voice in all of our online LIVE Orange Crush chats during every game so if you want to interact I’m easy to find there or on Facebook or Twitter – later in the weekend.

But this Angelos vs. Rosenthal cage match intertwined with Ripken-camp leaks has me thinking and writing and scratching my head.

Why did Ripken set out to embarrass Angelos and pressure him publicly by getting a story this white-hot to Rosenthal?

Or did Ripken never want this made public? Or will Cal follow along and dismiss Rosenthal’s story as fiction?

Hmmm….

Let’s be honest. At this rate the baseball season and the Orioles 2010 fortunes look to be a sad, sad tale about to unfold.

And I’m seriously thinking about resurrecting Free The Birds 2010 to continue to put pressure on this lousy owner to change his ways and start to do right by the fans of Baltimore who continue to suffer while he lines his pockets with upwards of $40 million of profit this year from a lopsided partnership with the city and the citizens of Maryland who love baseball and continued to be bamboozled by this awful stewardship of a civic treasure.

The whole disaster of the last 13 years has absolutely sickened me.

Maybe Ripken woke up yesterday feeling the same way.

Otherwise, why would the world know that he and Andy MacPhail had a cup of coffee the other day?

The story that Rosenthal reported was NOT leaked by anyone on Angelos’ side of the fence, rest assured…

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Orioles circa 2010: We know they’ll lie, but will they lie down again?

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I know, I’m like a freaking broken record. Every year I write about how I’ve wrongfully had my media pass revoked and every year the Orioles make up some more lies to justify all of their mean-spiritedness and lack of professionalism. It’s Opening Day, I’ve again been deemed “not a media member” but that’s just the “off the field” stuff.

On the field, the word “improvement” has been thrown around all offseason in regard to the Orioles. As I’ve said many times, when you lose 98 games it’s hard NOT to improve the following season. It can’t get much worse, really.

As sickening as it is that I’ve taken a myriad of phone calls, emails and correspondence wondering “if the Orioles can win 78 games” – as though this disgracefully low bar somehow passes for “improvement” – I am officially one of the optimistic orange Kool Aid drinkers circa April 5th regarding the 2010 season.

It is my belief that this is the best team the Orioles have fielded this century. In 2004, the Orioles “best” performance was indeed 78 wins. Las Vegas has the 2010 Orioles over/under at 74 ½. If I were a betting man, I’d honestly take the “over” for the 2010 Orioles.

But this might be the year they finally prove they were right all along over these past 13 years of “rebuilding” and buying the bats and growing the arms.

Apparently, 78 wins will get a number of people here in Baltimore excited. At least that’s what people think until they realize that even that lofty “goal” would still be 25 games out of first place in AL East and the season would once again be effectively over right around June 20.

People have asked me every day for a month: “What do you think of the Orioles?”

My answer: “It begins with Kevin Millwood.”

Millwood is an unwitting victim of the wrong end of a big contract and the overlooking of putting Baltimore on his “not to visit” list when he inked his last contract in Texas. But, alas, he’s here now and needs to selfishly pitch well, even in MLB’s version of Siberia. He can set the tone with a big effort tonight in Tampa Bay.

It was different when guys like Scott Erickson and Sidney Ponson were poisoning the next generation of Erik Bedard’s with their antics of bush-league, lack of professionalism. Millwood needs to be the “anti-aging” Orioles starting pitcher. He needs to be more like Rick Sutcliffe and less like the aforementioned bunch of vermin who spread their foul temperament and antics through the franchise like baseball’s version of a clubhouse cancer.

I’m not sure what kind of guy Millwood is – and again, therein lies the Orioles ability to unlawfully deny me a chance to do my job after all of these years – but I hope he acclimates, pitches well and leads by example for kids like Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman, who seem like the real thing.

Matusz might win 15 games this year if he stays healthy. And while that certainly IS progress, it’s not really much different than what Rodrigo Lopez and Eric Bedard both did twice in orange en route to meaningless, forgettable seasons for the Orioles.

But, as stated before, I’m bullish on the Orioles in 2010 in regard to “progress.” I think they might be OK and quite competitive against teams not named New York and Boston — if pieces fall into place and if good health can be found.

If the starting pitching can get them to the 6th or 7th inning five nights a week, that will allow for a more rested bullpen and a real chance for .500.

I’m sold on Miguel Tejada as a relevant third baseman in the AL East. I think he’ll hit .300 and be an RBI machine like he’s always been. He might be 50 years old for all we know, but I think he’ll be the least of the Orioles concerns at this point in his career. He’s coming as a complimentary player not the leader and “franchise” guy he was counted on to be six years ago. His lies, transgressions and B-12 shots will not even be a factor this summer in Baltimore.

Of course, this would be a good year for SOMEONE to step up and be the REAL franchise player.

Is it Nick Markakis, who is quietly putting together a nice Orioles career?

Or could it be Adam Jones, whose Tweets are fun to follow when he’s not up all night in San Diego?

Or will it be Matt Wieters, whose hype seemed justified over the final two months of 2009 when it appeared he was ready to become a star?

At least there are several All Star Game candidates in orange this summer. It’s not another summer of David Segui, B.J. Surhoff and Gregg Zaun playing out their late 30′s at Camden Yards.

I’m not a Dave Trembley fan – the team tanked and quit down the stretch last year and each of those 98 losses were well-earned late last summer. Again, when the owner is the cheapest in the game and when Trembley will manage for 1/10th of what the best managers in MLB yield for a salary, I get what the team is doing.

They’re making money. They’re hoping these kids pan out and selling it to what’s left of a tortured fan base and using their media moles to “plant the seed” of hope. At least they can say they “were patient” while Andy MacPhail built what this cake turns out to be circa 2013, when it allegedly will mature. (They’re always two years away from competing with the Yankees and Red Sox, aren’t they?)

So, are the baby Birds ready to fly? Can the team be relevant enough to compete through the All Star break without falling 15 games behind Boston and/or New York?

We’ll see. But for the first time in a long time, they can legitimately threaten to be a .500 team if they stay healthy and have some key young prospects step up the way the insider pundits around the sport believe they will.

If Matusz is real?

If Wieters is real?

If Adam Jones can improve?

If Nick Markakis can remain consistent?

If Brian Roberts’ back can stay healthy?

If all of the young starters can get to the 7th inning with consistency?

If Tejada still has it?

And this is before we start projecting the likes of Jeremy Guthrie, Garrett Atkins, Luke Scott, Felix Pie and Nolan Reimond, who are all a literal box of chocolates. Does anyone really know what any of these guys will wind up doing come mid-summer? And what does anyone know about the bullpen, led by Mike Gonzalez?

Again – it’s the worst run franchise in professional sports. It’s not even close. That much has been borne out in living color over the past 13 summers. That will never change, even if Brooks Robinson is throwing out the first pitch on Friday. They are the worst group of people I’ve met in my 42 years on the planet — pure evil in their deeds, intents and actions.

But, perhaps this is the summer that all of their bloody deeds since 1997 are justified and they get people in Baltimore truly excited and energized about baseball.

If Tampa Bay could do it two years ago there’s no reason to believe the likes of Matusz, Wieters, Reimold, Bergesen, Tillman and company can’t step up to become very productive, young major leaguers and all hit their stride this summer.

It’s certainly a lot more possible than during the era of Omar Daal, Marty Cordova and Kevin Millar or any of the past sins of Peter Angelos’ ugly stewardship as the suddenly disappearing owner.

My real prediction: 78 wins.

I don’t think they can be above .500 with 54 games coming in the division against New York, Boston and Tampa Bay. But I think they will certainly be far better and more interesting on the field than we’ve seen here in Baltimore over the last 13 years.

But given the history, let’s all sip the orange Kool Aid one ounce at a time…

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