Tag Archive | "angelos"

Flanagan

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Chapter 10: Imagine a Baltimore without the Orioles

Posted on 14 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 10 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. This is an unedited version of the original post without updates regarding Mike Flanagan’s suicide.)

Mike Flanagan is as close to an Orioles’ kindred spirit as I have in the world. Maybe Jim Palmer and Elrod Hendricks and Jimmy Tyler could be thrown in there as well, because they’ve seemed as omnipresent as my fandom of the Orioles.

But, Flanagan is really ” The One,” because in real terms, he’s been with the Orioles as long as I’ve been with the Orioles. And no one else I know, other than my Mom, has stayed in my life all of these years and still keeps popping up.

He came up in 1975, and I really started regularly going to games around that time, when I was 6.

I remember when he first came up, the expectations, the rotation — with Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor and Dennis Martinez, every night was trouble for some AL team — and I probably spent 80 nights of my life inside Memorial Stadium watching Mike Flanagan pitch.

From 1977 to 1984 he never had a sub-par season, only many very good ones and a couple of great ones. He left the Orioles just once — for two-plus years, pitching for the Blue Jays after a trade deadline deal in 1987.

In 1979, he won 23 games and led that magical team every time Earl Weaver threw him out there. It was his best year in baseball. It was mine too!

In 1992, he began his broadcasting career. That’s the same year I left The Evening Sun and went on the radio.

In 2003, he became part of “management”. In early 2005, I did the same thing.

But, even though we’ve gotten to know each other over the years — with him at one point walking up to me (when I didn’t even know he knew I existed) in the late 1990’s and admitting that he was a fan of MINE and addicted to “Nasty Nationwide” and listened every day with his daughter — on that last game at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 6, 1991, Mike Flanagan was just a childhood hero to me. He was, in some ways, larger than life because when I was 10 years old, he took the hill every couple of nights for the centerpiece of my life, the Baltimore Orioles.

Mike Flanagan was one of MY guys! My mood hung on every pitch he threw!
So on that sad-yet-uplifting and chilly October afternoon in 1991 — surrounded by a disgusting Redskins fan actually watching a football game on her laptop TV in Sect. 34 — it was me, Mike Flanagan, my memories of my youth and my best friend Kevin Eck (he keeps popping up doesn’t he!), along with 54,000 others just like us gathering for one of the biggest public tearjerkers in the history of this city.

If you didn’t spend your childhood at Memorial Stadium, you can probably stop reading or listening right around now.

Because you just won’t understand it. You couldn’t possibly think it is anything beyond silly.

It is truly a “Ball’mer thing.”

But EVERYONE who has ever loved the Orioles remembers

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

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The whole franchise stinks.

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

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

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

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USA Today says MacPhail to resign at end of season

Posted on 30 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Although this shouldn’t come as a shocker to anyone who has examined the Orioles’ management situation following another last place finish, the USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported tonight that Orioles general manager Andy MacPhail is expected to resign at season’s end.

His quote to Nightengale was typical slippery MacPhail: “Let’s just get to the end of the year and see what unfolds,” he said. “We’ll see. We’ll see.”

Nightengale’s full piece is available HERE.

This is what the USA Today reported tonight:

MacPhail, according to two high-ranking Orioles officials, is expected to resign from his general manager’s position. The officials are not authorized to discuss the decision publicly because it is not official.

Of course from my perspective, it’ll be interesting to see if Buck Showalter senses that there’s any reason to hang around but as Andy says: “We’ll see. We’ll see.”

Comments are welcomed below…

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New York Daily News says Angelos family jerked around Flanagan before suicide

Posted on 27 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

As I said during my fill-in shift yesterday on WNST-AM 1570, there will be an appropriate time later for more observations regarding why Mike Flanagan took his own life Wednesday with a gun to his head. But with the New York Yankees coming to town and so many of Flanny’s old teammates searching for answers, it hasn’t taken long for the national media to start getting to the heart of the truth of this tragedy that many in the local media are too cowardly to report.

Friday’s editions of the New York Daily News contained a well-sourced story by respected, long-time MLB writer Bill Madden, who spent time with Yes broadcaster and longtime Orioles teammate Ken Singleton and former Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli discussing Flanagan’s recent path.

Madden is getting the same information many in the Baltimore media are getting regarding the typical treatment that Peter Angelos affords his employees and long-time Orioles legends:

“Among the other distressing stories going around Thursday was that Flanagan never got over being jerked around by Angelos and the owner’s son, John, over his broadcasting contract – one that apparently never was consummated – last year. That, too, conceivably contributed to the financial distress his friends say he was dealing with.”

You can read the whole story in the New York Daily News.

More stories continue to unfold as many of us who loved Mike Flanagan are searching for more clues in his tragic death.

But, again, don’t expect any of the “bought off” media in Baltimore to report the facts. The facts about Peter Angelos and the Orioles never seem to make the headlines in Baltimore, where about 90% of all reporters in town are frightened about losing their press credentials or getting pulled up by their bosses, who want to sell advertising to the Orioles and Angelos’ lawfirm.

You might have to rely on Gerry Sandusky and WNST to get the truth at this point given what I’ve seen in the local media.

You haven’t heard the end of this story.

Far from it…

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Former Baltimore Colts great Bubba Smith dead at 66

Posted on 03 August 2011 by WNST Staff

As first reported by The Los Angeles Times, former Baltimore Colts defensive end and tackle Bubba Smith was found dead in Los Angeles today at the age of 66.

The Times reported: “The L.A. County coroner’s office said it has not determined a cause of death, but officials believe he died of natural causes. Smith was found at his home on Sunlight Place in Baldwin Hills by a caretaker, police said.”

His myriad of work — on the field and off the field, from starring roles in the Police Academy films to his famous words about Super Bowl III as a member of the losing Baltimore Colts — will all be examined at length all day on Thursday at WNST.net.

Whether you knew him as Bubba Smith the defensive monster or Hightower in the police uniform or the pitchman for a bunch of local downtown Baltimore lawyers, everyone has a memory of No. 78.

If you have a Bubba Smith memory, feel free to post below.

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Horse race or horse’s arse: Is Kegasus smart for Baltimore and Preakness Day?

Posted on 18 May 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

So, it’s been almost two months since the Mighty Kegasus advertising campaign began and it’s now almost time to fully assess the success of the marketing of the 2011 Preakness. So far, so good in the only measurement that really matters — sales are up 21% for Saturday infield tickets. I said it on Day One and no matter the result of selling a few thousand extra tickets and mugs of Budweiser this week, my strong opinion has only intensified since I began seeing the billboards all over town – this is the dumbest, most short-sighted and irresponsible advertising campaign since Winston told America it “tastes good, like a suicide should.”

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Shame on Tom Chuckas. Shame on the marketing idiots in Washington, D.C. who spit this out and shame on anyone who thinks this somehow will add prestige to an event and a weekend in Baltimore that’s in desperate need of not just short-term-revenue gain and a little “shot in the arm” for attendance but a real transplant for its reputation and its future as a viable “major sporting event” and not just a weekend drunkfest with frat boys and the girls who love them.

As much as I lean on the Orioles for their indiscretions and lack of a focus on integrity – mainly issues of transparency, honesty, accountability, chronic losing, bullying, faux civic and community interest all while profiteering and buying off of the local “real media”– even the Orioles aren’t this dumb.

But as desperate as the fan base is in Baltimore to see them win, Peter Angelos is far from desperate on the marketing side because he’s printing money downtown off the television contract. The Maryland Jockey Club doesn’t have a public subsidy of $100 million each year so this is the kind of desperation you’d be getting from the baseball team if they REALLY needed to fill those bleachers.

The Orioles slogan has been for almost 15 years – “Come To Birdland” not “Come Downtown and Get S**tfaced and Make a Fool of Yourself.” But, of course, the Orioles FANS are desperate to see wins but the Orioles are NOT desperate for revenue, profit or a financial shot in the arm. It’s only made to look that way when they upcharge (or is it scalp?) you on Opening Day and charge you a “walk up fee” to take advantage of a stadium our tax dollars just paid $10 million more to replace the perfectly unused seats, so much like Angelos himself can earn a retirement home on the blue shores of Florida.

And where the Orioles have employed various forms of “alcohol police” in the bleachers at Camden Yards who literally walk seat-to-seat and card people to make sure they’re 21 (NO, I’m NOT making this up!)  this Saturday the Preakness folks are rolling out the world’s largest frat party and have moved toward marketing it as such.

Kegasus? Really?

This is what you want the Preakness to be?

The ogre of Baltimore, on a horse, completely equipped to be a “legendary” a**hole on the third Saturday of May – and now with unprecedented pre-approval and encouragement because the billboards all over town are selling the event as such.

Who in the world thought this was a good idea for this community, the brand of the Preakness or the long-term viability of horse racing? It’s the day of the year that is supposed to matter and the focus isn’t on the race but more on how big the party in the infield will be and whether or not bare-chested women will parading on the shoulders of men for tips.

There is no more focus on the growth of the industry on the third Saturday of May. There is no more talk about whether the race will even be in Baltimore in five years. Instead, the community is hearing: “Come be legendary!”

Does Under Armour really want a million-dollar

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Here’s what I think about Derrek Lee

Posted on 31 December 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

The signing today of Derrek Lee is a classic Orioles move.

End of the year. Low dollars. Low risk.

It gives the team an aging, qualified first baseman, who will be a nice fit on a potential 4th-place, 75-win team. He’s another Kevin Millar at this point in his career.

Lee will hit .254 with 18 HR and 65 RBI. Big freaking deal.

Peter Angelos just put $10 million back in his pocket that he didn’t give to Adam Dunn. Once again: Angelos wins in the pocket and the fans have a lousy baseball team and the city sits empty all summer. I’ve seen it for too long.

Happy New Year, Orioles fans. Buck Showalter now once again has the worst first basemen in the AL East to try to win with.

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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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State of Baltimore Sports Media Fall 2010 Update: WNST.net continues to grow beyond radio and into web dominance

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

One of the few joyful benefits of being the “independent” voice in Baltimore sports is that we never have to kiss anyone’s derriere or ask for permission to speak the truth or make our point. We’re afforded the rarest commodity in American media today – “free speech” – and most days that ain’t even close to being free. And now that our newest product, “The WNST Morning Newspaper” powered by Blue Sky Factory and presented by Toyota, is reaching nearly 15,000 of you every morning I thought I’d take a little time during the bye week to update everyone who cares about us here at WNST.net with a “state of the local media” report.

With another successful Ravens season reaching the halfway point – and I stand on the side of the room that is delighted with 5-2 for Halloween — it’s always a good time to take stock in where we are as a company and where we’re heading in the future as Baltimore’s measurable sports media leader on the web and in mobile at WNST.net.

We’re not doing a lengthy survey this time around with a “State of Baltimore Sports Media” update, but I do want to thank all of you who participated in February. Of the 1,850 who took our poll, more than 91% of you essentially told me that you “wanted a new newspaper” in our survey.

Daily Newspaper question

And lo and behold in May we started in a beta form a daily e-newspaper that we send to your inbox free of charge every morning. It’s had its hiccups and bumps, like any new product, but we’re now getting it consistently out and the boom to our web traffic has been significant.

There can now be no logical dispute that WNST.net is the fastest growing new media site in Maryland. Google Analytics says our traffic is up more than 48% over the last year

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MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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EXCLUSIVE: It was Peter Angelos vs. Steve Bisciotti in latest skirmish over MASN & Ravens TV rights

Posted on 08 August 2010 by WNST Staff

In a city with two sports teams and a major regional sports TV network that’s owned by one of them, conflict is inevitable.

So, when the Ravens sat down at the negotiating table with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) last spring to hammer out the details of a new contract, the football team was prepared for a difficult negotation but maintained confidence a deal would get done for their pre-season games and weekly TV shows such as The John Harbaugh Show.

Instead, the Ravens abruptly lost their broadcast partner last week in an 11th-hour flip by MASN owner Peter Angelos, who also owns the rival sports franchise in Baltimore, the MLB Orioles.

The two parties, led by high ranking officials from the Ravens and MASN, reached a verbal agreement on a new four-year deal in April.  “It actually went more smoothly than we thought it might,” said a Ravens source.  “We went in asking that our old four-year deal just be renewed under the same terms and conditions and they (MASN) were agreeable.  The deal was beneficial for both of us.  MASN got winter programming exclusive to their network and we were able to bring the shows that comprised Rave TV to the Ravens fan base throughout the Mid Atlantic.”

There were a few new twists to the agreement, including more prominently placed signage for MASN at M&T Bank Stadium and the installation of permanent fiber-optic wiring in the press rooms at the stadium to give MASN the highest quality production capabilities.

“We put in an extensive amount of work and product in June and July,” said a Maryland Stadium Authority source, who was part of the team that supervised the installation. “And the Ravens paid for all of it.”

At stake now, are various forms of Ravens-exclusive programming that range from weekly shows to pre- and post-game specials for both home and away games.

“The deal is dead,” said a Ravens source. “Angelos killed it at the end of July when our staff was already on the street selling packages.”

A MASN source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the change in the agreement occurred earlier in the summer when Orioles majority owner and MASN managing partner Peter Angelos got involved.  When the two parties consummated their first deal in 2006, the elder Angelos wasn’t involved in the final stages of the negotiation. It was more John Angelos and other officials, who were just launching the money-making regional network after the birth of Washington Nationals spawned the deal.

An insider on that initial deal said: “It was a perfect marriage. The Ravens didn’t want to deal with Comcast Sportsnet, which was featuring Washington Redskins programming and treated Baltimore and the Ravens like a second-class citizen. MASN was just getting started and needed fall and winter programming and credibility and market awareness. They had a presence and partnership with the best brand in Baltimore. Everyone was happy!”

This time around, though, citing changes in the upper management structure of MASN, Peter Angelos stepped in after a verbal agreement was made in April and the deal was ready to be signed in late spring.

“Peter didn’t like the deal once he read through it all and saw the terms,” said a MASN source. “He contended that a network should NEVER pay a team a rights fee for programming if it’s not all entirely live. So we had to go back to the Ravens and tell them we weren’t going to pay them the same fee we had provided in the past. We knew it was about to get ugly.”

A source familiar with the negotiations said MASN went to the Ravens with an offer that included a “greatly reduced rights fee” and the freedom for MASN to re-run the exclusive Ravens programming with no additional compensation to the football organization.

At first, it didn’t get ugly because the Ravens weren’t totally sure what the new offer or new terms were going to be. But, eschewing the history of how the Orioles and MASN conduct business under Angelos, they remained patient, hopeful and confident that a deal was sensible and reachable.

“We couldn’t really figure out what they wanted,” says a Ravens source.  “They would always talk in generalities like, ‘We need to re-work some things’ and they’d never be real specific about what they wanted changed or what the offer was.”

“We called in early June to remind them that the deal needed to be signed and we were told then that some parts of it hadn’t yet been approved by Mr. Angelos and that they’d get back to us with some revisions.”

As has been customary and legendary from those in the MLB world who’ve dealt with Angelos, those revisions sat on Angelos’ desk for weeks and the “official answer” never came.

Just after the July 4th holiday, the Ravens again contacted MASN and asked for the signed deal so they could continue selling advertising and sponsorships for the various MASN-aired programming.

“We were getting nervous by then,” a Ravens staffer said.  “We pressed them a little bit for a signed contract, and that’s when we were told the original deal wasn’t going to be honored,” explained a Ravens source. “We were told at that point that Peter wasn’t happy about paying a rights fee and that he wanted to speak directly with owner Steve Bisciotti.”

The MASN source explained it like this: “Peter never wants to talk to a mid-level or high-level employee. It’s the top of the ladder or nothing.”

That apparently was Ravens president Dick Cass, who allegedly met with Angelos.

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

“One of Steve’s fundamental beliefs is that he employs good people who understand his business and that’s what he pays them for – to conduct business on his behalf,” said the Ravens staffer.  “When Steve got wind of the Angelos request, he said, ‘I don’t need to talk with him about this.  You people know much more about this than I do.  Get the deal done!’ ”

So that became an issue that no one at either MASN or the Ravens could fix.  One person – Angelos – who didn’t want to talk to anyone BUT the owner and another person – Bisciotti – who felt it wasn’t his position to interfere with his people’s work.

“It’s not like Peter suddenly started operating like this,” said the MASN source.  “When the time comes for the deal to get done or not, he wants to look the other guy right in the eye or at the very least speak directly with the person on the other end who is his equivalent.  This time around, it backfired on us.”

It backfired when the Ravens made a final inquiry in late July and were told that MASN’s position wasn’t changing.  A reduction in the rights fee was now the only valid offer and Angelos was adamant that Bisciotti get involved during the final days of negotiation.

Bisciotti eventually did call Angelos, but he did so to simply tell the MASN head honcho, “My people say this deal is no good for us, so we’re going to pass.”

In the aftermath, the MASN public relations people tried to soft-peddle the break-up in early August by claiming the split was amicable.  MASN spokesman Todd Webster included a “we wish the Ravens nothing but success” throwaway line when commenting to the local media, most of whom who are on the payroll or in the profit chain of MASN or Angelos himself.

(A request to speak on the record with members of the MASN executive staff about this exclusive story at WNST.net was refused.)

But WNST.net is reporting that the “split” was anything but amicable.

“We’re basically six weeks from the start of the season with a sales package on the street and a handshake for a deal from April and an existing relationship and they pulled the rug out from under us,” says the Ravens source . “There’s no way that’s going to be amicable.”

The MASN source interviewed for this exclusive piece says the Ravens knew in early June there was a potential roadblock with the deal.

“They knew as soon as Peter (Angelos) got involved there was potentially going to be trouble.  They knew the deal was shaky at that point.”

When given that response, a Ravens staffer pointed to to the recent work done at M&T Bank Stadium.  “If we really thought the deal was in trouble, we wouldn’t have spent all that money to get the stadium ready for MASN.”

A Maryland Stadium Authority source said MASN remains a valuable working partner but they acknowledge it’s not always a bed of roses working with them.  “They’ve been involved in some battles with Comcast and WBAL at the baseball stadium that got very ugly.  It almost always relates to money and it always involves Peter.  And it’s always a last minute kind of thing.  That’s their M.O.  They wait until the last minute to start trying to get things done.”

And that’s how the deal with the Ravens eventually ended.  “We just ran out of time,” says a Ravens staffer.  “We had their (MASN) signage up, so that had to come down, and our people are out now trying to re-sell it.  We have shows to produce with sponsors lined up and there’s nowhere to air them.  We’re scrambling now.”

The break-up with MASN and loss of key programming doesn’t just hurt the Ravens financially – “we were nearly sold out of inventory” the Ravens source said – but it puts a crimp on their regional branding and marketing efforts.

“We count on that programming to satisfy our fans’ needs in the outlying areas that are important to us like Frederick, Hagerstown, York, Harrisburg and Lancaster,” said a Ravens official.  “That’s one of the reasons we like MASN so much.  They truly are regional for us.  And that’s important.”

One local media expert says the break-up was not only initiated by MASN, but might have come more as a result of sagging sales efforts.

“The real truth of the whole relationship with the Ravens is that MASN’s heart was never in it.  They just wanted to take something away from Comcast,” said the media source.  “They probably lost a lot of money over the last few years with their Ravens programming and they’re getting paid the same amount by a few million subscribers whether the Ravens are on the network or whether they’re airing Hawaiian League Baseball.”

So why enter into a business agreement with the Ravens?  What’s in it for MASN?

“They (MASN) owned inventory in each of those Ravens programs, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes depending on the show and its length,” the media source explained.  “And MASN needs to sell that commercial inventory to make up for the rights fee they hand over to the Ravens.   If they can’t sell it, the whole relationship becomes a loser for MASN, except they have relevant programming to plug in during the winter months.”

“All you have to do is follow the Orioles broadcasts on MASN and you can pretty much figure out they’re having a tough time selling commercials in the baseball games.  I guess you have to ask yourself, ‘If we can’t sell all the ad space in the live programming we air 162 times a year with a Major League Baseball team, what are the odds we can sell ad space in the football season with taped shows?’ And if they were forking over $100,000 or so to the Ravens for the rights fee, that’s a lot of advertising to sell just to make that up, let alone make a profit out of it.”

A Ravens source would not confirm the amount of money MASN provided to the football team, saying only, “It was a six figure deal with our benefit being that we owned most of the time to sell to our corporate partners.”

The local media expert figures that MASN spent the early part of the spring and summer trying to sell their portion of advertising.  And when they couldn’t, they decided to go back to the Ravens and change the deal.

“That happens a lot,” says the media source.  “You’re on the hook for a lot of money and you figure you’ll sell enough to offset it.  When you initially go out and try to sell it and you can’t, you get nervous and try to change the fee structure.”

The Ravens continue to work hard to try and have their programming in place by Labor Day.  WNST has been told that Comcast SportsNet is not an option for them.

One less-appealing option is WBAL TV’s digital channel, which would serve as an olive branch from the Ravens since they’d likely make no revenue from the arrangement with WBAL.

“We’d be doing that because we want to help our broadcast partner out,” said a Ravens staffer.  “We clearly wouldn’t be involved in the same kind of rights fee deal we had with MASN, but the programming would air and that’s what’s most important at this point.”

The other obvious answer would be to air the unique programming of Rave TV on the team website, which could drive more traffic to their online hub.

The fallout of Steve Bisciotti vs. Peter Angelos and Orioles vs. Ravens will continue to be monitored at WNST.net.

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