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The indignity of 100 losses for the Orioles

Posted on 29 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Naturally, the Orioles theme of the offseason — after the firing of Dave Trembley at some point this Monday — will be “progress.” Isn’t that what Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey talk about after all of these losses, night after night?

Andy MacPhail (and after 2 1/2 seasons of this perpetually sinking ship that knows no depths, we might revert to Chicago’s theme of referring to him as “MacFail,” but that would be giving him too much credit) will preach youth and patience and the injuries to Brad Bergesen and Adam Jones derailing an otherwise promising campaign in 2009.

Brian Matusz is Mike Mussina. Matt Wieters is Joe Mauer. Adam Jones is the next Eddie Murray.

Blah, blah, blah.

Look at the standings. Look at the scoreboard. Look at the 11-game losing streak that they’re adding to every night with complete disasters coming out of the bullpen on a 24-hour cycle. (Oh, that’s right, you forgot they were even playing back around the time Route 140 opened toward Westminster on July 30th!)

I sat the at the bar at Piv’s Pub in Cockeysville last night in a sea of NFL watchers as the Orioles played on one little TV with no one watching them find a way to blow another game.

The Orioles are entering some very dangerous territory here this week: losing 100 games would almost surely convince even the most “bleeding orange” fan that this is not a franchise in the midst of a dramatic “Tampa Bay-like” turnaround.

Wouldn’t it?

Oh, that’s right: the people who STILL believe that the Orioles are “changing their ways” can NEVER be convinced that this civic disaster of a franchise is anything but:

A. Doing the right thing.
B. Changing for the better.
C. Going to the playoffs next year.

It’s too easy to pile on at times like these. With the Orioles, it’s always like shooting fish in a barrel to drop a steamer on them — usually on the field, but ALWAYS off the field.

When they lose 30-3. When one of their pitchers start headhunting. When they’re in the middle of an 11-game losing streak. When the bullpen is a band of arsonists. When steroids allegations come. When they ban free speech from the media. When they treat anyone with an IQ over 90 like a moron. When they tell 1,500 real Baltimore sports fans to “stay home.” When they say they want to promote goodwill and community loyalty while pissing on the biggest media entity on the internet in the city.

It just never ends, does it?

For those of you who hate me remember this: I can’t WAIT for the day when they stop giving “haters” like me this most obvious of material.

The ONLY thing that matters is winning. Because no matter how poorly they continue to treat people who want to help them, they really believe the floodgates will open with fans the nanosecond they go two games over .500.

But here’s the cold reality circa September 2009:

They’re 60-96. They have six games left.

They need to SPLIT the final six games to avoid triple digits losses for the season — and this would be the first time since 1988 that this has occurred and the lowest depth of the Peter Angelos era. (The Birds also went 54-100 in 1954.)

Can they avoid the supreme embarrassment of 100 losses?

I don’t know, but you’d think pride would take over at some point this week, wouldn’t you?

Guess we won’t be seeing those Dave Trembley MASN ads with him treating his wife poorly come next spring training, huh?

Bon Voyage, Dave. I’m sorry I never spoke to you but there was nothing I could’ve done to help your image or keep your job.

You were doomed from the start…

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So, just how irrelevant are the Orioles?

Posted on 02 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Let’s start with these simple facts: the last three days have been the best weather days of this or any other century and Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been pretty much devoid of any signs of life from Baltimore fans. There have been roughly 10,000 Orioles fans at the ballpark each night while the team is en route to probably getting swept tonight by the New York Yankees.

The evil empire. The doers of bad deeds, like paying the best players on the planet the most money to come and continue a winning tradition. They’re easy to hate but it’s mandatory that you respect the New York Yankees.

They play to win. For the most part, they exclude class. And you get your money’s worth.

And you know how much tickets have been for these games?

Yeah, eight bucks. So for just $8 anyone in a four-state area could come and watch the Orioles play under the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

So, clearly, people aren’t as turned on by Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, etc. as the ownership hoped we’d all be.

To my way of thinking, after 12 consecutive years of putrid, rancid baseball you’d think any signs of life and youthful exuberance would at least put a spark under people to support this seemingly nice young group of men who wear “BALTIMORE” on their road jerseys, except on Friday nights.

So it’s bad enough that no one really cares about the Orioles. Once again, for the 12th cruel summer in a row, we’ve been subjected to making the Orioles irrelevant in the sports landscape.

But what’s worse? It just occurred to me while seeing the sea of empty seats and hearing these MASN commercials continue to make me want t puke that not that many Baltimoreans have any interest in seeing the best baseball players in the world play for $8, either.

You would think between Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, local frenemy Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia and Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite, some folks here would love the sport of baseball to come and see several sure-fire Hall of Famers play.

And, like on Opening Day, the ballpark had the potential to be overrun with Orioles fans but it’s not.

They’ve had 25,000 available empty seats the past three nights that the Orioles can’t seem to get their own fans to occupy for as little as eight bucks. And if people don’t want to see the Yankees play for $8 and they don’t want to see this group of “exciting young group of future Hall of Famers” what do they have left to sell?

Pretty sad.

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Orioles continue to sink even lower than we thought possible

Posted on 20 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As the biggest critic of Orioles ownership over the last decade, I’ve purposely refrained from being particularly hard on the team in 2009. Unfortunately for you, the WNST fans and true Baltimore sports lovers, they have me right where they want me. I’m back on the radio without a press pass to their games and no one is going to tune into my show if all I do is tell the truth, and bury them for their ineptitude, mean-spiritedness and general incompetence over the past dozen years for four hours every day.

And at this point, what do I have to lose? Short of them killing me, what do they have left to take away from me?

The team is awful (again), there is not an iota of pride remaining in being an Orioles fan and I’ve watched about 90% of the action this season and I’m here to tell you that it has NOT been a fun or memorable summer for baseball here in the land of pleasant living.

And really, telling the truth — see the paragraph above — is NOT what Baltimore wants to hear from me about the Orioles. It’s like a broken, freaking record — me bitching about the Orioles.

And, here in the summer of 2009, the truth hurts and this blog hurts!

At their current pace, the Orioles “defining moment” of 2009 might be their 100th loss sometime around October 1st and that would certainly speak volumes for where the organization stands in the MLB cosmos.

As every sports fan in Baltimore has uttered at some point since the turn of the century: “Thank God for the Ravens!” And anytime we even think about talking Orioles baseball at WNST, someone will send a nasty note over stating this: “Just forget about the Orioles and talk about the Ravens.”

Well, as I said three years ago during the Free The Birds campaign, I will not be letting Peter Angelos or any of his servants off the hook for this decade-and-a-half civic tragedy — the worst stretch of bizarre local ownership and strategy since Bob Irsay pilfered the Colts off in the middle of the night back in March 1984.

No, we’re not done with the Orioles. As Drew Forrester has said many times: “We’ll either kill them or fix them. It’s their choice.”

But this current dismal summer of dreadful baseball — in a season when “miracle-man” Andy MacPhail has talked about promise for young players — still has six weeks left on the schedule and there are no creampuffs left on the docket and there is no end to the bleeding in sight.

You can piss on me in the comments below all you want, but this current team they’re fielding might be the worst of them all on some nights because we all want to buy into some hope and promise for a better team in the future.

Here is your stat of the day: the Orioles were 40-48 at the All Star break, which is hardly acceptable or decent, although MASN’s lame coverage and “state run” media would tell you this was a team “on the rise.”

Now, the Orioles are 48-72, which means they’ve managed to go 8-24 since Adam Jones doffed the cap in St. Louis.

Folks, that’s .250 baseball and 32 games is about 20% of the season by my math. Of course, when you’ve already put up a legendary 4-32 a few years ago — and for now, we’ll just let the 1988 team off the hook because that had nothing to do with Peter Angelos or 2009 — somehow 8-24 doesn’t sound like it sucks so bad.

But it sucks. And this team sucks. And this ownership still sucks. And the broadcasts still suck. And MASN still sucks. And — once again — it’s another set of broken promises, lies and “come ons” about progress, youth, getting better and competing in the AL East.

And this was supposed to be the time of the season when the team starts to exhibit some signs of hope for the future and some momentum going into 2010?

What stat do you want me to throw at you? They’re 4-14 this month. They haven’t won in a week. They can’t score runs with the bases loaded and nobody out.

They’ve dealt away three veterans and gave Aubrey Huff away for nothing. Every night the team is behind it seems.

And I’m not really sure that any of these young players know how to win or are surrounded by any positive role models who’ve won. Gregg Zaun was the only guy with a ring and they gave him away, too.

Here’s where the orange Kool-Aid drinkers will say: What about Adam Jones? And Nolan Reimold? And the promise of Matt Wieters? Blah, blah, blah…I hope they all step up in 2010 or beyond and make me eat my words. But for now, we report the truth.

And here’s the truth:

The ownership group of this franchise has lied to the city for years about just about everything.

“We’re close” or “we’ll win next year” or “we have some exciting young players” all sounds like incoherent babble at this point. MacPhail has bragged about all of the pitching in the system with the likes of Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Jake Arrieta coming to “The Show” and making the Orioles competitive in the elite AL East division.

I’ve now seen them all. They all have some nice strengths but some glaring weaknesses. None of them have the hype of a Ben McDonald and if they’re all as good as he was the Orioles might sniff .500 at their zenith of this era. Pitching is never a sure thing in the majors. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that.

Ok, so now what happens? This offseason won’t be much different from any in the past. How can this team possibly get better or find talent outside the organization during the winter to compete in the AL East?

When does this team finally turn the corner and even feign some competitiveness that will lead them somewhere near a .500 record in the future?

When will the team be able to attract any top free agents to come to Baltimore and help the team compete with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox?

Where’s that “veteran, straw who will stir the drink” that the Orioles will bring in to show some leadership?

Once they fire Dave Trembley, who will be the “next victim up” to try to get the Orioles out of the cellar?

When will the team stop banning free speech and allow the legitimate media back into the stadium to ask questions?

When will they stop running these stupid, mind-numbingly phony commercials on MASN that make the games all but unwatchable on top of a team that has been wretched over the past month?

When will residents of Boston and New York stop filling our city and our ballpark with out-of-town fans who boo and jeer young Orioles players from the moment they arrive?

It’s just a dreadful, dreadful product right now — the entire package of Orioles baseball. Going into September, I can’t remember a season worse than this because the promise of these young players from lips of MacPhail and the baseball “establishment” back in the spring was palpable.

We were supposed to feel better about the team at the end of the summer, not worse…

From going to the games to watching the games on TV to following the progress of the team even through the box scores and the standings every day — this really isn’t any fun.

It’s not fun to watch. It’s not fun to talk about. It’s not fun to listen to me on the radio talking about it.

Honestly, to any thinking person this is about the worst summer yet in a dozen horror shows since 1997.

But you don’t really want to hear that from me, do you?

They promised hope. They promised progress. They promised excitement.

They’re dangerously en route to playing the last two weeks of the season and not trying to hit triple digits in the loss column.

They made promises not only to you and me but also to Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, who were the latest to sign multi-year contracts here under the guise that the team would show progress and get competitive.

Of course, Jim Hunter will tell you every night that 8-24 is progress.

Obviously, from where we sit today, it just looks like the latest batch of lies from Angelos and his henchmen.

Orioles Baseball 2009 — Feel The Tragic!

Ooops. That’s right. I’m not supposed to criticize the home team, am I?

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It’s about time for Dave Trembley to go…

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Being on the radio every day over the years I’ve had the sad fortune to listen to more than my fair share of “fire the manager/coach” calls from knee-jerk reactionaries on a mission to be a public “coach killer.” In general, it’s just not my style to call for the firing of a skipper.

In fact in my 17 years on the radio – from Johnny Oates to Davey Johnson, from Phil Regan to Sam Perlozzo, from Mike Hargrove to Lee Mazzilli – I’ve never gone on the air in any fashion and said, “Fire the manager.”

(Not even for Mazzilli, who was such a freaking train wreck that it was reprehensible.)

But, today, I’m strongly toying with the idea that it might be getting close to the time for Dave Trembley to exit.

I’ve watched the first three months of the 2009 version of the Orioles.

They lack consistency in virtually every aspect of the game. They even lack consistent effort, Tuesday night’s miracle notwithstanding. They’re in dead last place and going nowhere anytime soon.

They run the bases like Jeff Stone on certain nights. The mental mistakes and ill-placed errors are maddening at times. But, for me, the worst part of watching the games are the bizarre strategic maneuvers of Dave Trembley and the failure for many of them to ever be properly explained to the fans. Of course, when the Orioles and Peter Angelos summarily ban “free speech” and access to legitimate journalists to ask questions of the manager, it’s made all but impossible to get answers about anything. It’s the “Oriole Way” handed down from ownership.

But on most nights, a somber and sullen Trembley appears before the local “firing squad” of team-employed “journalists” and co-workers and submits a dreadful 10-minute dirge that feels more like a root canal for the fans than a discussion about baseball strategy. And that’s when the Orioles WIN!

I’ve had Dave Trembley on my show before, a few years ago at spring training. I honestly don’t remember much about it but I found a picture of it last year. As I remember, he was relatively uptight even on a midday February afternoon in Fort Lauderdale. It was a Joe Friday-style interview.

But watching him react to the questions every night from a frightened room of my
“colleagues” is only second on the “Are you kidding me?” list to watching MASN’s often-comical dialogue in the middle of the games on “Wired Wednesday.” He hates talking about the game or letting the fans feel “into” the game. Recruiting the community is the furthest thing from his mind. (And none of the fools or cowards in the Orioles P.R. department have apparently issued a memo in his direction that he’s talking TO THE FANS when he makes the bitter-beer face. You know, the people who actually pay the bills? The ones their marketing department is trying to get to come down and fill the seats and drink beer…)

He’s absolutely equally joyless in victory or defeat, as witnessed twice in less than 18 hours after talking about the biggest comeback in the history of the franchise and the subsequent devastating loss this afternoon to the Red Sox after he pulled Brad Bergesen from the game in the 8th inning.

Sure, the pitching is subpar and that’s not his fault. The youthful, streaky hitting makes his win-loss record look acceptable when it’s going well, which hasn’t been much lately. Let’s face it: the team has last place talent in the only place that matters — the little hill in the middle of the diamond.

And, I’m not an unreasonable fan. I’ve known every Baltimore manager and sports coach of this generation very well and my business partner is a decorated NFL head coach. From Gene Ubriaco to Kenny Cooper to Terry Murray to Barry Trotz to Ted Marchibroda to all of the college basketball and football and soccer coaches – I’ve dined with them, drank with them, rapped with them and ultimately learned from all of them.

I’m a coach-lover, not a hater.

Some of my best friends on the planet are current and former coaches in a variety of sports. I love coaches. I respect smart people. There’s a craft to their management and intellect that I know I don’t personally possess. I’ve learned more from sports coaches as a reporter and journalist than I’ve ever learned anywhere in life. I’ve been “taken in” by some of the best coaches in the business all over the country.

I know pretty intimately what managers and head coaches go through and it ain’t easy. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of personalities and egos and a variety of different ownership and management styles.

I’m not some knucklehead on a bar stool when it comes to this subject matter. I don’t write about this stuff to be inflammatory or directive. But it’s my job to opine and this is my opinion:

I would be actively seeking a new manager.

There are defenses for Trembley and his supporters will illuminate them.

We are talking about a lot of young players on the roster, some who are emerging and slumping at various speeds and degrees. I know – trust me I KNOW – he was doomed to last place with the hand he was dealt and the garden variety of Triple A and washed-up pitchers he’s had to pencil into the starting rotation most nights this season.

It’s not the manager’s fault when a starting pitcher can’t get out of the first inning, which happened twice in one weekend recently.

It’s not about any “one” incident, although today’s hook on Bergesen and the resulting embarrassing loss that leveled Tuesday night’s enthusiasm is Exhibit A. His decision, even moreso than the arsonist effort by Jim Johnson and George Sherrill today, cost the team the game.

The biggest question now is the future. My only question now for Andy McPhail and this ownership is this: “Who will be the manager of the team when the Orioles actually win again?”

(That is, assuming all of the orange Kool Aid drinkers are correct and the team is capable of winning 95 games in 2011. A large, suspect assumption at any rate but let’s go with a “best case” scenario.)

I can all but assure you that Dave Trembley is not the answer to above question. And for that reason, I think the search has either begun or will begin very shortly.

He’s the first Oriole manager that I’ve never had direct access to speak with in a generation. So, I don’t know how he’d react to me but I assure you there would be some quality questions after some of these losses. If they ever issued me a press pass it wouldn’t take long for them to take it away if I started asking Trembley some legitimate questions after games.

Instead of being intimidated I’d be emboldened on live TV every night because this is where you show what you’re really about. Most people are great winners but I don’t even sense any fun or joy when they win, which is really a shame because they don’t win that much!

It’s the worst and coldest part of the franchise at this point watching Trembley brood every night and be evasive, almost “Angelosian.” It’s really weird given their marketing platform of defining moments and joy in “Birdland.”

It’s a time when as a Baltimore sports fan (which is all I am at this point with my press pass revoked for speaking and writing the truth) there’s genuinely a lot to be excited about as the team comes together. The fans are more excited than they’ve been in years because we have some young players with genuine upside. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters and Brad Bergesen could just as easily be Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, Rich Dauer, Gary Roenicke, John Lowenstein, Rick Dempsey and Mike Boddicker when you think about it.

They all seem like “right” guys and they’re really kinda easy to pull for every night.

Honestly, I think this group could be winning more games if the team were better managed and led. And they certainly could be recruiting the community and ca$hing in on the excitement with a leader who was a little more inspirational and less confrontational and gloomy.

The team has been in dead last place for virtually every breath of his tenure as the team’s manager and NO ONE in the room of media “executioners” he meets with every night on live television has EVER crossed him, called him out or asked a question that was unfair or even remotely confrontational. He just comes off like an arrogant ass every night and the business side of me and the Baltimore side of me kinda cringes.

Geez, it’s baseball. Everyone watching a simple press conference after the game LOVES baseball and LOVES the Orioles (even after 12 years of insolence and ineptitude) and just wants to know what’s going on with the team.

How freaking hard is it to answer a few questions and be honest and polite with the fans/customers/sheep. The press conference ISN’T for the press — it’s for THE FANS!

Despite my continued outrage at the practices and principals of this Fascist ownership group, I still love baseball. I still love the Orioles. Really I love Baltimore more than the Orioles but one day they’ll actually be merged again. And I still watch the games every night hoping that “tonight” will be the beginning of some kind of run that will bring the Birds to relevancy, if not a championship.

I suppose I’m a little jaded because I’ve essentially BEEN the guy in that room asking questions for 25 of my 40 years on the planet. At sporting events all over the world in every category you can imagine. So, this is my ONLY access to know what’s going on. Your “lens” is the same as mine.

And I don’t like what I see.

On the field. In the press conferences. In the community. And with the results, which are a lot of losses.

Seriously, if you could pick anyone on the planet to be the manager of the Orioles right now, would that guy be Dave Trembley? I’ve been watching his managerial strategies and style over the past two years. I’ve seen enough.

I don’t think the franchise will win with him. I think his direness is unattractive. I think his managerial strategies are questionable and illogical in some cases. And I can’t think for a second some of the younger guys in the clubhouse have any “relationship” with him that inspires them on a nightly basis.

A change is a’coming, I think. It might not happen now for a variety of reasons, among them:

1.    Firing a manager in midseason is a messy endeavor, even when you are in last place

2.    Finding the “right” manager is a search onto itself and easier to perform in the offseason and perhaps you’ll get better candidates

3.    Doing the interim tag can be inspirational for the right guy but could involve a revolving door that’s unnecessary

4.   Does anyone worthwhile really want to take this job? (Joe Girardi certainly ran like hell 24 months ago but perhaps some of the personnel upgrades and minor-league pitching prospects would make the franchise more attractive.)

Who knows? Maybe Andy McPhail is enamored with Trembley. If that’s the case – and McPhail didn’t hire Trembley as much as inherit him – I’d be utterly shocked.

And if Trembley’s not “his man” long term, he should begin the search for a successor immediately because at this point I feel like they’re wasting time and relationship and energy with Trembley.

My good sense says they’re not going to win with him.

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Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

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Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

Posted on 28 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

We fully expect that Camden Yards will be packed tomorrow night for the debut of Matt Wieters. It’s a Friday night, the forecast is good and this is probably the most unique evening of baseball in Baltimore since “Fan Appreciation Night” back in May 1988, when the team was greeted with unconditional love after an 0-21 start.

Clearly, the Orioles marketing folks have finally put the “WNST Cap” on and used an evening to create an “event.” They were already guaranteed about 30,000 on a $6 student/fireworks night. And after a couple of years of press, accolades and hype, the can’t-miss-kid is coming to town. They could’ve made his debut tonight, but they’ve chosen a night when they were already en route to a full house. This alone, is a departure from some of their foolish decisions related to getting people interested in the team.

Here’s where you can make all of the jokes about how few people still DO go to Orioles games. Yesterday, the Orioles battled back from an 8-3 deficit to win a game in dramatic, 11th-inning style with a walk-off home run by young Nolan Reimold and there weren’t 5,000 people in the stadium to witness it. On Tuesday night, it was truly a “friends and family” night with less than 3,000 people there in the rain to watch young Jason Berken pitch his debut.

That won’t be the case tomorrow night when the flashbulbs glow all over Camden Yards for the coming of the catcher/messiah. It will be a virtual “sea of orange.”

(ONE FAIR WARNING: If you’re planning on “walking up” tomorrow at 6:30 and getting in, think again! The Orioles have one of the most inept game day staffs in the universe. You will be standing line until the 4th inning trying to get in if you roll up there at any point after 6 p.m.)

Oh sure they’ll say Wieters is “just another ballplayer” and one of the many “fine young prospects in the organization.” Andy McPhail and Dave Trembley have already begun calling for “calm” and have made the “give the kid some space” pronouncements.

They’ll say all of the “right” things because they don’t know if he’ll hit .300 or flop once he gets to the big leagues. No one ever knows but Wieters is about as much of a sure thing as we’re going to get in this lifetime in an Orioles uniform.

All of the indicators of maturity, pedigree and ability are there for Wieters to literally be a Hall of Famer.

Wieters HOF

Go to www.mattwietersfacts.com for more fun like this above…

He was the best player in the draft, who was made hard to draft because of the Scott Boras factor and signability issue. But at the 11th hour two years ago, Peter Angelos found a way to get it done and get him into an orange jersey.

Wieters has come into the organization and literally earned every promotion he’s received over the last two years.

But the franchise needs “saving” as much OFF the field as on the field. Sure, winning will be the ultimate tonic for all that ails the Orioles. (At least that’s what the current ownership believes.)

But what will Wieters’ impact really be in Baltimore over the next four months?

Or four years?

Or for the next decade or so, if he’s truly “The Chosen One” for the organization?

Will he be a guy who does charity work and lives in the community?

Will he be another guy who lives “out of town” during the offseason?

Will he be stupid enough to go on a radio show and call Baltimore a “horseshit” city? (Doubtful, by the way!)

Will he be able to hit .300 and have the kind of impact that Joe Mauer has had in Minnesota?

Will we be comparing him to Mike Piazza or Earl Williams in 2011?

Will he be Cal Ripken or Jim Fuller?

Will he be Eddie Murray or Craig Worthington?

Where will he bat in the order?

Will fans flock to see him after tomorrow night? Will Wieters be playing in front of 40,000 empty green seats once the “shine” wears off his star?

Will he be a “reason to come to the ballpark” more so than Nick Markakis or Brian
Roberts, who have both exceeded any reasonable expectation over the past five years yet still play in an empty stadium most nights when the Red Sox or Yankees aren’t in town booing the home team?

What’s going to make this promotion of Matt Wieters “special” somewhere down the line?

Here’s hoping that all of our wildest dreams or fantasies as Orioles fans are realized with this promotion on Friday. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of the end of the 12 years of hell and the 16 years of lousy ownership and leadership and accountability. (I’m in no way holding my breath that the Angelos clan will ever learn how to be a quality community partner and civic leaders for the greater good of Baltimore, but I never say “never.”)

So, I’m drinking the orange Kool Aid for the time being. (Hey, I’m at least sipping from a Dixie cup until Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz get here.)

If Matt Wieters is here to save us all, then I’m the first convertible soul to sign up for the congregation. But it’s going to take more than just rolling the ball onto the field at Camden Yards to change what has been a generation of despair for anyone in this region who loves baseball as much as I do.

Here’s my message to Wieters:

Change the losing culture here in Baltimore, Matt!

Hit .300 and drive in runs. Be a fiery leader and say and do the “right” things here. (In other words, stay away from Aubrey Huff!)

Buy, don’t rent, here in Baltimore and get to know the people and heritage and history of the city. Put a little effort into being special and you’ll get special treatment! And whatever you do, don’t take marketing or human relations advice from Peter Angelos or any of his kin.

We want a hero. We want another Cal or Brooks. We’ve been patient but it’s now all on you. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it goes when you get a $6 million signing bonus and negotiate til the 11th hour and you’re the No. 1 prospect in all of the major leagues according to anyone with a baseball website.

We’ve been waiting a long time for you kid!

I’m not a Wieters beater.

I’m more in line with “Going to bat for Matt!”

Come on up, do your best, make us proud to have “Baltimore” on our chests and give us a fun summer.

After all, if it’s ever going to change here – this sea of ineptitude, mean-spiritedness and arrogance this ownership has wreaked upon Baltimore since 1993 – it has to begin somewhere.

They tell me you’re “The Savior.”

For once — at least — I hope they’re not lying.

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What does Wieters’ promotion mean to you as a Baltimore Orioles fan?

Posted on 27 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Needless to say, there will be a virtual overkill of speculation about Matt Wieters today at WNST.net and AM 1570. Here’s your chance to write what’s on YOUR mind about his pending promotion on Friday.

Comments welcomed below.

Is it good? Is it bad? Are you going to the game? Are you excited? Will Friday be a historic day in the history of the Orioles moving forward?

Tell us how you feel…

Even good “one liners” are welcomed…

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Proof: Pittsburgh really does suck more than Baltimore

Posted on 23 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m doing my usual Memorial Day “chill” downtown in the world’s most beautiful city — that’s Baltimore, folks — and scanning the web and tripped across an ESPN.com piece about the Pittsburgh Pirates and their ineptitude.

I intuitively knew they they haven’t played playoff baseball in the Steel City since Barry Bonds in 1992. I honestly don’t think about the Pirates too much and it’s the lone “new” ballpark that I’ve never entered. (Although I am a big fan of Primanti Sandwiches! The only saving grace — besides leaving of course — that Pittsburgh has, in my humble opinion.)

The Pirates have had 17 consecutive seasons of losing. As long as Camden Yards has existed, they’ve stunk. Almost just like us, with the Angelos Orioles.

But there is a considerable difference. Or a whole volume of them, really. The Orioles HAD it all — a huge market, suites, fans, corporate sponsors, the best legacy in baseball and heroes — and blew it. The Pirates were on the verge of potentially “breaking through” but the market limitations and the general dirge of Three Rivers Stadium (by FAR, the worst stadium I ever saw a baseball game in because the seats were so far from the field) killed them. Bobby Bonilla wanted out. Barry Bonds wanted out. Syd Thrift was thrown out. Doug Drabek wanted money. Andy Van Slyke came to Baltimore about eight years too late. They never really sold a lot of tickets.

And really, Pittsburgh is ALL about the Steelers. Period. The Penguins might win the Stanley Cup again next month but it won’t even be on the radar compared to the Steelers winning. (For the record: Baltimore is really missing out by not having an NHL team, which is all the more reason the Caps and Baltimore should “marry” over the next decade!)

Just thought it was an interesting MLB article for the day as the Orioles and Nationals continue the “Battle for the Basement” in D.C. this holiday weekend. Yeah, they suck — but not as bad as Pittsburgh.

Not a low blow — just a fact!

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Bullpen melts down to Yanks after strong outing from Koji, Orioles lose 5-3

Posted on 10 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

4:43 p.m. — Well, I was feeling good when Felix Pie got on base for the third time today but it wasn’t meant to be. The Orioles got a nice effort from Koji Uehara today but the Jamie Walker-Jim Johnson combo couldn’t hold the lead after the 7th and a pair of homers from Robinson Cano and Johnny Damon beat the Orioles 5-3 at Camden Yards. The Orioles are now 13-19 and are 7-17 since beginning the season 6-2.

They get a rare off day tomorrow and will resume action Tuesday night at Camden Yards with Andy Sonnenstine (1-3, 5.79) and Mark Hendrickson (1-4, 5.13) going to the hill.

Below is my running live blog.

4:32 p.m. — I agree with most of the comparisons of George Sherrill to Don Stanhouse, who gave us thrills in the summer of 1979. The only difference? This 2009 team stinks some 30 years later. Either way, he put a couple on and managed to silence Johnny Damon with the game in the balance. They’re already down two with Rivera en route.

They need a happy ending. But they have the dreaded 7-8-9 hitters coming to the plate. Not a good scenario. I need a “defining moment” right about now.

4:20 p.m. — Well, Phil Coke looked like Jeff Nelson or Mike Stanton there for two innings. Melvin Mora managed a single but Ty Wigginon’s double play ended things in the eighth. Now they’re going to need to go through Mariano Rivera. Not good. Snatching defeate out of the jaws of victory. They’ve been losing a lot of these lately. Not a good sign.

4:02 p.m. — Twenty minutes ago, I was thinking “nice series win in progress.” Now I’m thinking this is just a jinxed franchise. Koji’s pitch count was nearing 100. Dave Trembley went to the bullpen to start the 7th inning. Jamie Walker put the lighter fluid on the coals with a solo homer to Robinson Cano, and Jim Johnson lit the match with two-out rally and a three-run homer to Johnny Damon.

They’re losing now. Chamberlain is out. Phil Coke is in.

3:41 p.m. — ORIOLES 3, YANKEES 1 in the 7th…A beautiful afternoon at the Yard. And Koji has silenced the greatest bats in all the land, the Yankees here in Baltimore. Beamed back to a no-doubt enraptured audience in Japan with ARod and Koji, the Birds are threatening to take this series.

Where are all of the Felix Pie “bakers” now? Hey, we’ve been waiting for the “breakout” game. Maybe this is it?

And, Adam Jones is really, really impressive, isn’t he?

He’s no fluke and he’ll be on the mantle of Andy McPhail’s greatest coups if he keeps this up. And Erik Bedard was such a complete jerk. It’s nice to know the Orioles actually “won” a trade. (Been a long time, right? And, factor in the Tejada trade, and McPhail looks like Minnesota Fats!)

Ya gotta admit, when Mark Teixeira hit the homer in the first oh Uehara, you had to have one of those “ugh, oh” moments. But Aubrey Huff answered and has been on a tear lately, another three-run tater again today in the 1st to nullify the Yanks advantage.

But the Orioles have had runners aboard in every inning without getting though to Joba Chamberlain, who’s been crafty since the meltdown in the first inning. Chamberlain is now at 104 pitches, the O’s are about to get into the Yankees bullpen with a lead.

It’s a good sign.

Here comes Jamie Walker in the 7th. A nice outing from Koji. This is what they’re paying him to do.

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Did You See That?!?

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

Did You See That?!? 

Wow!  That was all I thought of as I was watching Brad Bergesen debut last night.  Orioles excitement was alive and well in my house last night.  Nothing, not even the monsoon that passed over the region last night, would dampen my mood as I sat down and enjoyed the beginning of what I have been saying will be a bright future!  That’s right the future began last night and he began with an emphatic bang. 

Brad Bergesen, the first of what is expected to be a great collection of young arms, took the mound last night against the Chicago White Sox.  Not only was he saddled with the pressure of his first Major League start, he was also saddled with the pressure of being the first of this great wave to come into Camden Yards and re-energize this franchise and rebuild the hopes that some day soon, the Orioles will be relevant again.  If successful, the fans may start to believe in the plan that Andy McPhail has laid out for us but if he fails  many would be left to question what exactly we are supposed to be hopeful for.   

While the debut for Bergesen was delayed for more than an hour and a half it surely was not dampened.  He came out and shut down the Chicago White Sox hitters with the maturity and confidence of an All-Star.  From his first pitch of the game until he was questionably removed in the sixth inning, he owned the mound.  It seemed as though every pitch he threw went right were he had planned on pitching it and all the Sox hitters could do was beat it into the ground.  Bergesen started the first 3 and two-thirds innings of his career without allowing a hit.  If it had not been for an error on Wigginton in the fourth, who knows how much longer he could have pitched no-hit ball.  Not only did the error lead to the first hit by a White Sox player, it also forced Bergesen to throw an additional 15-20 pitches in the forth inning.  If Wigginton catches the ground ball hit at him by Quentin, more than likely the Orioles turn two and get out the inning with a 2-0 lead.  Bergesen would have also been saved those additional pitches and could have pitched further into the game saving a bullpen that has been taxed to this point.  This is the problems with bad defense.  Not only are you preventing an out and putting extra people on the bases, but you are extending your pitcher.  You are forcing him to throw more pitches which, in turn, forces him out of the game sooner.  When you are getting an effective start out of your pitcher, the last thing you want to do is break into an over-worked and not-so-effective bullpen.   

Well enough about my tangent on why defense is so important. Today is a day for celebration and excitement.  That’s right, we are here to commend Bergesen for a job well done.  He really impressed me in every aspect of his game.  I was really impressed with his movement.  His balls seemed to dart all over the place.  They moved down in the strike zone and from side to side with a great zip to them.  He really looked tough to hit.  This was evident as very few hitters were able to get the ball into the air and out of the infield.  In fact, of the first ten outs Bergesen recorded, 6 were via the ground ball and the other 4 were as a result of a strike out.  For the game, only three outs were recorded on balls hit to the outfield, 2 fly outs and 1 put out for Markakis off of a single to right. 

Two things really impressed me about Bergesen’s debut.  The first thing was when he faced Quentin in the first inning.  After cruising through Getz and Fields to start the game, Quentin presented Bergesen with his first challenge by way of a 13 pitch at-bat.  Quentin continued to battle Bergesen as he fought off good pitch after good pitch.  Bergesen’s maturity really showed to me in this at-bat as he never gave in and  stuck to his plan.  He kept the ball down and kept hitting his spots, never once showing any frustration for an inability to put the hitter away.  Oftentimes, pitchers of any level of experience will get frustrated when a batter extends the at-bats with a number of foul balls and ultimately, ends up walking the batter or grooving a pitch that allows the hitter to reach base.  Bergesen did neither of those things as he kept making his pitches before ultimately striking him out.  That was a battle and Bergesen was able to prevail. 

The other aspect to Bergesen’s start that really impressed me was his poise and plan out on the mound.  While watching Bergesen pitch yesterday it was clear to me he had a plan as to what he needed to do and with the help of Zaun behind the plate his was able to successfully put his plan into play.  Some people are throwers and some are pitchers.  After watching Bergesen last night it was clear he is a pitcher.  He came into the game with a strategy of mainly staying down in the strike zone and moving the ball in and out to the hitters.  He accomplished that.  He kept the ball darting towards the ground, preventing hitters from getting under it, and successfully pitched to both sides of the strike zone.  He also was aware of the importance of changing the level of plain that hitters look at as he managed to select his spots where he would run a ball up in the strike zone, to keep hitters off balance, but never in a hittable location.  When ever he went up in the strike zone is was always with care as he never left a pitch up in the strike zone in a position where a hitter would be able to drive it. 

Bergesen’s debut was great to see for all Orioles fans.  It showed us a couple of things.  First, we learned that Bergesen might be the real deal.  He is more of a pitcher, like Mussina, not just thrower, like Cabrera.  The future for Bergesen seems bright.  The other thing that we may have learned from this game is that the plan the Orioles have been trying to sell may just be worth buying after all.   

 

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Fixing the O’s without risking the future

Posted on 22 April 2009 by Jason Jubb

It’s not as complex as the team makes it out to be. A few simple moves and the team can be a little more palatable with a little more hope for the rest of the season.

The first move to add Brad Bergeson to the rotation is a start. Bergeson is a control pitcher who is the most ready of any of the prospects and even though he has had limited experience at AAA it is not a stretch to put him in the majors. The same cannot be said for the likes of Arrieta, Matusz, and Tillman who still need a year of seasoning before they should be considered.

Next, drop Adam Eaton and bring up David Pauley. Over the past 3 years Eaton has consistently had a WHIP of over 1.50 while averaging an ERA around 6.00. Do you really think anyone can do worse than that? You would be hard pressed to find a guy who has had his last 60 starts in the majors go so bad, and yet end up in a major league rotation the next year. David Pauley gets the nod after going 14-4 with a 3.55 ERA at AAA Pawtucket last year. I’m not saying Pauley will be the answer but I would rather see us get beat with a 25 year old pitcher who has a little upside as opposed to the consistent bad performance of Adam Eaton.

Keeping with the pitching, go ahead and send Hendrickson to the bullpen as the long/mop up man. If you have to send someone down, I think Brian Bass may pass through waivers…Then call up Chris Waters to be the lefty in the rotation. Once again, Waters is not going to set the world on fire but I would rather lose with a guy who has a chance to not totally stink. Mark Hendrickson lost that chance long ago as he has compiled a career ERA of 5.06 in 991 career innings. Also, this may only be a short term gig for Waters if he does not produce since we are hoping Rich Hill will get healthy and return to the rotation sometime in May.

Lastly, cut ties with Felix Pie. I know he has only had a handful of AB’s with the O’s but I have never seen someone who looks so awkward in the majors. He is rigid and timid in the field, while he looks to have no approach at the plate. I find it hard to believe that he can master these skills at age 24 (allegedly, he looks older to me). To draw an analogy, it’s kind of like the wide receiver who can’t catch, you learn to catch when you are 7 years old not 23. Pie lacks skills that should have been acquired years ago. And I have a funny feeling he also might pass through waivers at this point…

In Pie’s spot I would give the AB’s to either Montanez or Reimold. Neither guy is young by prospect standards so it’s about time that one of them makes or breaks in the majors. I would give the edge to Reimold mostly because Montanez has had his chances in AAA and failed more than once. His lifetime average at the AAA level is .241 in 510 AB’s before this season. I am not that impressed with his year last year at AA since he was two years older than the league average at that time.

It’s that easy. The team gets a little better, fans will appreciate the fresh faces, and we do not have to rush the young pitching. If you see Andy MacPhail let him know he can hear me on the Sunday Morning Blitz along with Rex Snider from 10am-12pm or email me at Jason@wnst.net for more advice.

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