Tag Archive | "angelos"

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How “charming”? A continuing war between the Orioles and Ravens for Sept. 5th

Posted on 22 March 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

In honor of my dear friend and mentor John Eisenberg (who will be mentioned as a spiritual advisor to “Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story” next month), I proudly present “Facts & Opinions” regarding the Baltimore Ravens’ ugly issue with the NFL Kickoff Game and parking space on September 5, 2013:

Fact: The Baltimore Orioles have full rights and use of Camden Yards and the entire downtown sports marketplace on Thursday, September 5, 2013

Opinion: If the Baltimore Orioles were owned be me – or anyone like me who actually puts Baltimore FIRST – I’d be doing anything in my power to make sure the city doesn’t suffer the loss of this kind of event.

Fact: Peter Angelos hasn’t said anything regarding moving his baseball team’s game on that night.

Opinion: If Peter Angelos wanted to move the 7:05 p.m. start to earlier in the day or onto Saturday for a day/night doubleheader, it would be getting done.

Fact: The NFL has played on Rosh Hashana (and other Jewish & religious holidays) before and has played on Thanksgiving and Christmas regularly.

Opinion: If the Ravens were serious about opening at home, Steve Bisciotti would raise hell with Roger Goodell and NBC about moving the game to Tuesday or Wednesday – TV ratings be damned! And he should punch his 31 partners in the kidneys if this game winds up in Denver or Pittsburgh.

Fact: It takes agreement from Major League Baseball, the Baltimore Orioles, the Chicago White Sox and the Major League Baseball Players’ Assoication to move a game.

Opinion: MLB is not going to do anything to help the NFL at this point when they’re being dominated across the board. The entire notion that a Ravens opening game is more significant than a Thursday night baseball game for Baltimore in September is highly offensive to anyone involved in baseball.

Fact: The NFL decided to start playing games and programming on Sunday nights directly against the World Series two years ago.

Opinion: Bud Selig has a long memory.

Fact: The NFL is the biggest sports league in the United States of America.

Opinion: Major League Baseball still thinks it’s the biggest sports league in the USA.

Fact: The 2013 NFL schedule is coming soon.

Opinion: The Baltimore Ravens will be opening the 2013 season in Denver on Thursday, Sept. 5.

Fact: Baltimore will lose a LOT of money, prestige and a “world’s stage night” if the NFL season doesn’t open here on Thursday, Sept. 5.

Opinion (and the only one on this issue I share with Drew Forrester): I’d be shocked if Peter Angelos doesn’t move the game to a 3:05 p.m. start just to be the a**hole he’s always been. If ANYONE else on EARTH owned the Orioles, the Ravens would be cordially invited to the facility so that Baltimore could win.

Once again, when given a chance to show his “class” or his “ass” the owner of the Baltimore Orioles has gone Pontius Pilate in giving his “hometown” a chance to have a civic celebration of mammoth proportions over ego, money, petty greed and just saying “It was MINE first!”

Typical. Predicable. If you’ve been paying attention to the way the Baltimore Orioles operate, you knew it was never going to happen. But, somehow, the optimist in Steve Bisciotti believed Angelos would be generous and Selig would be reasonable. That somehow, the Ravens could find a way to appease or compensate the Orioles and make the switch or turn it into a doubleheader that benefits the entire community and maybe even sells the Orioles more tickets if the Ravens encouraged fans to attend the baseball game first.

And the NFL and MLB have moved dates for half a century, even more so when they shared more than half of the stadiums in the league during the 1960’s through the 1990’s.

But the “peace” offerings didn’t happen this week in New York or Baltimore at any level. Nobody in Baltimore got what they wanted. The Ravens are on the road. The fans got screwed. Denver gets a kickoff night.

Oh, that’s right. Peter Angelos and the Orioles got what they wanted — the stadium on Thursday, Sept. 5th. And, again, it was theirs all along so they were under no obligation to do anything.

And now the Ravens and everyone else are blaming everyone BUT the Orioles and MLB for not being a little more generous and sensible.

There’s culpability all around — for NBC, for the Ravens, Goodell, the NFL and obviously for the Orioles, whose bull roast is more important than the Ravens prom at the event space called Camden Yards and downtown Baltimore.

But there is no sense here – only dollars.

And egos.

This is the beginning — or the continuation — of two sports teams and two owners who are not spiritually aligned here in the Charm City.

I always told you and Steve Bisciotti and Dick Cass the same thing: you try to get along with the old man but it’s impossible.

Hope everyone enjoys that Orioles game on Sept. 5. And this is only the beginning. We’ll be hearing and talking about this one all summer as we pack our bags for Denver on Labor Day.

 

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Are you ready for Ravens to open 2013 on road without Kickoff game in Baltimore?

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

PHOENIX — So, the Baltimore Orioles hold all the cards. And that’s always a dangerous thing. And that’s the way Peter Angelos loves it.

If you are a lover or fan of the Baltimore Ravens and are awaiting the big announcement from here at the NFL Owners Meetings at the beautiful Biltmore in Arizona about the NFL Kickoff extravaganza at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 5th you’ll be waiting a little longer.

There’s been an impasse. The Orioles have a game scheduled against the Chicago White Sox on that night of the traditional NFL opener and it appears that moving that baseball game back by seven hours is more difficult that it appears.

Of course, it’s on the desk of Peter Angelos now and has been passed onto the desk of Bud Selig and well…there’s really no reason for MLB to do anything or move anything on behalf of Baltimore’s truly loved NFL team.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been on the phone with Bud Selig for the past week and there’s still nothing even remotely promising on the horizon and it’s pretty evident that the Ravens are concerned and the word is now on the street.

Moving the game to Thursday afternoon would take the approval of MLB, the Orioles, the White Sox and the MLB Players Association.

And here’s the real story – all parties have known about this issue for six weeks and nothing substantial has been accomplished.

A source with the Baltimore Ravens told me that the Ravens and NFL would be willing to pay the Orioles to move the game.

“If there’s a financial loss for them, sure we’d be willing to compensate them. It’s only fair.”

Moving the Ravens kickoff game to Wednesday, Sept. 4th was an option but the team and the NFL will not play on Rosh Hashana. Moving the game to Friday night wouldn’t help because the Orioles are home that night and the NFL has a long-standing “no play on Friday” rule to stimulate interest in high school and college football.

If the Ravens were to not host the game there’s a line of reasoning that they’d still play the Thursday night opener but it would be on the road, potentially in a division rival (Pittsburgh is the hottest rumor with Denver not far behind.) There would be a television issue with CBS losing a key game like that to the NFL kickoff game.

The Ravens consider playing the Thursday night game a huge competitive advantage because of the 10 days off after the game. They almost consider it a second bye week after a long training camp. They will almost certainly play a game on the night of Sept. 5th.

There’s also a rumor of a concert or event in Baltimore in conjuction with a potential road game but all of these are in limbo because the NFL still wants the Ravens to play at home on Sept. 5.

Stay tuned.

The Ravens are hoping for the generosity of Peter Angelos to kick in and a reasonable settlement to have the game in Baltimore.

We’ll see how that works out for them…

I can report with full confidence that the Ravens are not optimistic.

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Orioles Magic and 666: The Number of The East

Posted on 27 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom line: it ain’t a tough ticket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Moose memories and “Welcome Home” for wise deserter of Birdland

Posted on 23 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

As Mike Mussina makes his triumphant return to Baltimore this weekend for the Orioles Hall of Fame activities it’s certainly a thought-provoking time to be a long-time observer and fan of the franchise.

Sure, the Orioles are once again relevant — playing meaningful and exciting games every night — which harkens to the days of 1996 & 1997 when “Moose” was an integral part of the magic of being an Orioles fan every fifth day during the zenith of Camden Yards’ passion and Inner Harbor energy.

Mussina has been gone from Baltimore – except for three visits a year in New York Yankees pinstripes – for 12 years now. So long ago that time has seemingly dimmed the glory of his deeds and his departure serves as a truly seminal moment in the awfulness of the Orioles franchise under the stewardship of Peter Angelos since 1993.

In the 1970’s it was routine for the Orioles to lose players to owners, markets and franchises that had more wealth, population and revenue. Many members of the franchise “Hall of Fame” and “Oriole Way” stalwarts left like Mayflowers in the middle of the night for greener pastures including Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, Reggie Jackson, Wayne Garland and Doug DeCinces and later Eddie Murray, Mike Boddicker, Mike Flanagan, B.J. Surhoff and Mike Bordick were all dealt away to save cash and get younger players.

But in the 1980’s and 1990’s, replete with a fan base from six states that pumped unprecedented money into the franchise and reached into the state’s funds to build Camden Yards and turn Baltimore into a spigot for Major League Baseball profitability, the Orioles never lost a player they wanted to keep.

Not until they lost the best player and pitcher of his generation of Baltimore baseball when Mike Mussina wore the “turncoat” label and bolted for the New York Yankees.

After the 2000 season, tired of three years of losing and Angelos’ low-balling and obvious meddling and mismanagement, Mussina simply took the advice of his agent Arn Tellem and played out his option and walked. On Dec. 7, 2001 after years of eschewing the notion of playing in big, bad New York he signed a six-year, $88.5 million deal to play for the Evil Empire.

I’ll share my many personal memories and my friendship with Mussina later in this blog but I can remember the surreal nature of watching that press conference from The Bronx from Chicago’s Sporting News Radio studios with my jaw open. It was the definitive signal that quality Major League Baseball players simply didn’t want to be in Baltimore anymore and it had little to do with crab cakes or the American League East.

Mussina was thought to be “irreplaceable” at the time and 11 years later time has borne out that diagnosis.

Mussina left the Baltimore Orioles because the owner stunk. He knew it and everyone in baseball knew it.

So, Mussina will finally return and don Orioles colors this weekend for the final time and he’ll find a few fresh statues on the veranda, a team in the midst of its first pennant run in 15 years and a seemingly soulless shell of a former love affair for baseball in Baltimore.

There’ll be plenty of empty seats and shoulder shrugs at his mostly sweet and sour induction into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame this weekend. Certainly a worthy candidate if there ever were one, Mussina’s time as a starter for the Birds is only eclipsed by the deeds of Jim Palmer, who as I’ve said many times is the greatest (and most underappreciated) Oriole of all time by any measurement.

Palmer let loose with a haughty pronouncement on a MASN broadcast earlier this week in promoting this weekend’s festivities. “The Moose is going to Cooperstown – at least I hope. He’s got 270 wins,” said Palmer, who went on to proclaim that in the steroid era to win all of those games and Gold Gloves and remain a “clean figure” in the needle witch hunt of the Mitchell Report should get him a Hall of Fame ballot punched in 2014.

For “real” Orioles fans, he’ll always be known as the Benedict Arnold of the modern generation for leaving the

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Updates and helpful hints for next Baltimore Sports Media Superstar

Posted on 17 June 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

While in the process of putting together as many details and helpful hints as possible for our next Baltimore Sports Media Superstar, I’ve been going through some old blogs and media information that I’ve dispersed over the years here at WNST.net.

All of the details of our Baltimore Sports Media Superstar search and competition are now a click away if you want to be a contestant: http://wnst.net/wordpress/wnst/the-2012-baltimore-sports-media-superstar-search-is-underway-at-wnst-net/

This recent blog is very thorough and should answer all of your questions and most of your concerns. I sincerely hope you join the competition and begin your first blog today! This weekend has been active with participation and questions and entries to nasty@wnst.net.

Please do not send docx files as attachments. I’d appreciate all resumes in a pdf or .doc format for sharing purposes.

Also, our hashtag for the competition will be #WNSTBSMS and all Twitter activity should include this easy 8-digit shortcode for WNST Baltimore Sports Media Superstar.

If you want some extended reading, helpful hints and some of the WNST philosophy (and reality) please see my “State of Baltimore Sports Media” series from January 2010 here:

Part 1: Where Do You Get Your Info and Whom Do You Trust In Baltimore Media?

Part 2: How Does WNST Measure Up To Other Baltimore Media?

Part 3: Content and Distribution: Sharing Is Caring

Part 4: Power of Partnership: Flogging The Flag

Part 5: What Is The Future Of Sports Media In Baltimore?

And my three-part update in May 2011:

Part 1: What WNST Stands For In Local Media

Part 2: Journalism is dead…but not at WNST

Part 3: People Ask Me All The Time, “How Big Is Your Stick?”

These blogs are almost a “handbook” and should make the position and our needs at WNST.net even more clear. But, granted, it’s going to take you a few hours to read it and years to digest it but the more you know and understand about the local sports media industry the greater your chances of success.

I wish someone would’ve given me a handbook back in 1992 😉

As a bonus, here’s Part 3 of my Loyola lecture on women, video and mobile streaming in 2012…

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Here’s what your local “sports media personality” needs to know in 2012

Posted on 15 June 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It was so much easier when I was growing up, this sports media thing. First, you learned how to write and then you went to some journalism or “communications” college or university, you did an internship and then sent resumes out and you got your dream job and lived happily ever after.

And maybe you got a gold watch if you hung around at the newspaper or TV station for 25 years or more?

Here at WNST.net this summer, we’re extending an open offer to any Baltimore sports fan who wants to be the next Baltimore Sports Media Superstar via our competition. All of the info is here…

The harsh reality of media and new media in 2012 is that it’s an all-encompassing commitment of time, experience and continuing education that makes a local personality or entity relevant as breaking news, information, analysis and the games themselves fly by in real time with your mobile device with you at all times.

And that’s just the content side.

Here’s a speech I gave to a Loyola Sports Marketing class in May 2012. This is Part 1 in a series about my current thoughts on the state of Baltimore sports media and the industry as a whole:

If you can’t sell your own personal brand – by bringing in audience, engaging them, adding value to their life experience and adding expertise or analysis that people care about – you will NOT be successful in the new media world.

If no cares to be your audience – or in this era that would be “opt in” or “follow” or “subscribe” — then no one will be available to stimulate the commerce necessary that ultimately will pay your salary via local sponsorship dollars..

In the old days it was easy – there were three TV channels, a few radio stations and a newspaper or two. Whoever the local program director or editor hired was all that the public got and all that you’d ever get from the “inside” of a sports team. The competition for those scarce jobs and the outstanding pay via expensive local television news ads fueled by automotive dealers and local advertisers was all coveted. And the public in Baltimore essentially had three choices for the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news – WBAL, WMAR and WJZ. There were two newspapers – The Sun and The News American. And sports radio didn’t exist except for Charley Eckman screaming bloody murder about some local issue on the Johnny Walker show on WFBR.

That was the entire world of Baltimore sports media in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

And the only ones who really did it the “new world” way were Coach Eckman and Tom Davis, who bought and sold their own “in-show” advertising and made far more money than most radio “talking heads” did and certainly more than the folks at The Sun or The News American.

All of the TV and newspaper people were part of a larger ensemble and staff. The radio sports talk guys needed to fight for audience and those radio stations needed hosts who garnered real traffic and real new business for local sponsors and advertisers.

This is the world I lived in on local AM radio from 1992 until 2006, when tens of thousands of you crashed my webpage and my email with traffic from all over the world after the initial “Free The Birds” walkout and showed me a new world of WNST.net on the internet.

In the new media world, if you can’t sell your own brand as a sports media expert then how can a local sponsor or business owner trust that you can help them sell pizza or cars or beer?

The reality is that I’m in college every day at WNST.net. The college of life, emerging media and business in 2012 and how it relates to the changing ways of sports fans’ consumption of information via mobile devices in real time.

It’s taken two decades but I’ve finally figured out why I went to college back in the 1980’s. All of those beers at Jay’s off campus at the University of Baltimore and all of those evening classes about Marshall McLuhan — it’s all finally paid off. All those classes with Julie Simon and discovering the roots of communication and theory of how the “medium is the message” and emerging “global village” has changed the world in the last decade since the internet has extended our FCC towers at what was formerly a “little AM radio station” at WNST-AM 1570 and brought video and words and statistics and instant feedback into the realm of the palm of our hands via mobile via WNST.net.

I’ve finally figured out the value of my University of Baltimore education and Corporation Communications degree – it just took me 20 years!

While I’m not going to be donating to UB anytime soon – or anytime that the name of Peter G. Angelos

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In case you’re wondering how many Phillies fans are in Baltimore…

Posted on 09 June 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

We decided to video the evidence of the Philadelphia Phillies and their takeover of Camden Yards today as a 2012 tribute to Peter Angelos and “winning” Baltimore Orioles baseball.

If you’re from Philly, you’ll definitely enjoy it…

If you’re from Baltimore, you’ll be thoroughly revolted…but at least the song is good and Peter Angelos made a lot of money for himself, downtown hotels and restaurants!

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I hope contract helps Jones keep Birds accountable

Posted on 27 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve already used both space on Twitter (@WNST, @GlennClarkWNST) and on AM1570 WNST.net to opine about the significance of the Baltimore Orioles giving CF Adam Jones the richest contract in franchise history.

We now finally know all of the details and Jones is set to discuss those details Sunday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I won’t be attending Sunday’s press conference. I would, but our WNST.net Ballpark reporter Luke Jones has been denied the right to ask questions at previous press conferences and I don’t want to run the risk of causing a scene at what should almost certainly be a day of celebration.

Adam Jones’ contract extension is as much an event to celebrate as almost anything we’ve seen in the last 15 years of baseball in Charm City. The Birds have perhaps addressed both their present and their future and made a major statement about their willingness to do things differently than they have for more than decade while losing many more games than they won.

I’m aware Jones perhaps took a hometown discount in signing the contract a season and a half shy of free agency. I’m aware the team still appears to need more pitching than they currently have to be an annual contender. I’m aware that the team now needs to shift attention to catcher Matt Wieters when it comes to contracts.

There was something bigger than jumped out at me though.

As I was given more time to dissect what Jones’ deal really means, I thought back to December 1997. For O’s fans around my age, Brady Anderson was about the coolest thing to ever happen to the Orange & Black. He had young female fans worship him and young male fans…well…basically worship him. He had it all. Sideburns, muscles, personality, charm, speed, defense and an amazing 50 home run season.

(I didn’t mention anything about performance enhancing drugs. You do what you want there.)

After Anderson’s 50 home run campaign in 1996 and the Orioles’ run to the ALCS in ’97, young fans like myself lived in fear of waking up one morning to be informed that Anderson had signed a major deal with the New York Yankees or Atlanta Braves or Cleveland Indians.

Anderson was certainly not the commodity at 34 that Jones would have been had he reached free agency at 28, but he still had market interest. He ultimately passed on shorter deals with more per season to accept five years and $31 million from Peter Angelos and the Orioles. Anderson’s best seasons were clearly behind him, but it still meant quite a bit for the franchise to make the move.

I also thought back to January of 2009, when Andy MacPhail locked up OF Nick Markakis for six years and $66 million, the richest contract extension the franchise had given to a player until Jones’ deal. (SS Miguel Tejada had received the overall most lucrative contract in team history until Jones.) While certainly not reaching superstar status, Markakis has given the Birds stellar defense and a mostly consistent bat.

But beyond the significant contracts, there is a more important similarity between the two players whose time has spanned much of the team’s “Rock Bottom Era.” The issue is that neither player was able to use his major contract to help keep the team accountable.

A baseball player with a rich contract is in a unique situation with the franchise paying the deal. Because the money is guaranteed, the player has the right to get away with certain things a player in another league might not be able to. In the case of the Orioles, they’ve really needed a player who has been willing to stand up and say “we need better” as the team suffered through losing seasons after losing season.

Allow me to be fair to the two players involved. Anderson was only part of the club at the very beginning of their lean years, and the team was still making at least some attempts to improve by bringing in the likes of Albert Belle and others. (Anderson however has become a well known defender of the Angelos regime in recent years, which has helped him find his way back into the organization.) Markakis has never been much of a vocal type, but he did publicly question the direction of the organization. His participated in a dinner with Angelos that season to discuss those very issues.

Perhaps there is an argument to be made that Markakis’ 2010 outburst DID lead to accountability, as two years later the Orioles have shown themselves (at least for two months) to be one of the better teams in baseball.

But moving forward, I hope it’s a role that suits Jones well. I hope the fire, drive, passion and determination to win that have made Jones an emotional figure in recent years will translate both on field and off. I hope that if the Birds make questionable decisions, he’ll call them out for them. It doesn’t need to be something he does publicly, just a statement made privately from the player slated to receive more money during his tenure than any Oriole before.

I hope Jones embraces not only the responsibilities of an on field leader and star, but as a bit of a caretaker for an organization that has so desperately lacked the right man for the role. I hope he puts pressure on the organization to make the moves necessary to stay in contention every season. I hope he never takes the easy way out and thinks “Mr. Angelos (or insert future owner’s name here) has made me a rich man. It’s not my place to stand up to him.”

I feel as though Jones can be a significant part of the solution for the Orioles. I hope he’s up for everything that comes along with the task.

-G

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Your Monday Reality Check-Horse Racing, Orioles in similar spot for three weeks

Posted on 21 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve attempted to put events I’ve attended into words for years.

Baltimore Ravens football games, University of Maryland football and basketball games, a multitude of local hoops and lacrosse games and even a press conference or twenty have quickly turned into 600-1400 words worth of type off my fingers.

Almost every time I’ve written something, even the columns I’ve been particularly pleased with, I’ve looked somewhere else on the web and thought to myself “damn, that person can WRITE” after reading what they had to say about the same event.

Such was the case again this weekend. I had already decided my Monday morning column would be related to the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, but I hadn’t exactly decided what angle I was going to take. It only took me a trip to my friend Kevin Van Valkenburg (of ESPN The Magazine/Hug It Out Radio fame and late Baltimore Sun)’s Facebook page for me to once again utter the phrase.

It wasn’t because of something KVV had written this time though. It was one of his colleagues’ stories he had linked, and it made me say “damn, Jeff MacGregor can WRITE.”

MacGregor scribed this exceptional postscript to an incredible victory from Kentucky Derby champ I’ll Have Another, celebrating the excitement of an underdog champ at the coming buildup to a Triple Crown chance in the context of a fledgling sport.

Many commenters on ESPN.com and throughout social media however were turned off by the nature of MacGregor’s tone, most notably this line…

“None of which matters, because horse racing is dead.”

MacGregor didn’t really say anything we haven’t already accepted as fact, we’ve just been more apt to use a kinder term like “struggling” or “suffering” instead of flat out placing the industry in a black bag and shipping it to the morgue.

Horse racing HAS been troubled for some time. The depth of the fall has been particularly evident in the state of Maryland, where “the sport of kings” has been all but nonexistent for years. Sure, the industry shines for a few days each spring at Pimlico and each fall at Laurel Park, but even on the brightest day the problems in the industry are obvious.

Unlike some, I have no interest in fighting with MacGregor. I think he’s absolutely right. I just feel as though the potentially monumental turn for horse racing in the next month can be celebrated whether or not the sport is staring into the face of imminent doom.

I’ll Have Another’s charge to the wire Saturday was breathtaking. 14 days earlier we had no way to know that an unknown trainer (Doug O’Neill) and jockey (Mario Gutierrez) had a longshot in position to track down the exceptional favorite (Bodemeister) trained by the Hall of Famer (Bob Baffert) and ridden by a Hall of Famer (Mike Smith) as well. On Saturday we knew it was possible but found it no less amazing.

“There’s no way this can happen again.”

You definitely heard me make the argument for Bodemeister throughout the week. “There’s no speed horse to take Bodemeister out to a dangerous speed this time. The race is 1/16 of a mile shorter. There are nine fewer horses to crowd things at the front and push the favorite too much early. There’s just no way things can shape up for I’ll Have Another as perfectly as they did in Louisville.”

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