Tag Archive | "angelos"

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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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Three on the 4th: What do Peter Angelos, Al Davis & George Steinbrenner have in common?

Posted on 04 July 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, since I’ve gotten your attention on the hot, sticky holiday here’s an amazing statistic that I think I sorta kinda knew, but could only be reminded of on the 4th of July.

On July 4, 1929 BOTH Al Davis and Peter Angelos were born. Yes, same day, same year!

And, just 365 days later, on July 4, 1930, Yankees tyrant George Steinbrenner was born.

Three of the biggest jerks of their respective eras. Three sports owners. Three wealthy men. Three widely unpopular men. And currently, all three are in various states of illusion, disillusionment and/or failure in their communities to some degree.

Of course, we could say that Steinbrenner — only after being banned and disgraced by his fellow owners — came out of the “dark ages” of the pinstripes with championships galore over the past 15 years. And, apparently his mental health is failing so we’ll try to be as tasteful as we can be about a guy who volumes of books were written about his eccentricities and temper over the years.

But this is some “club” huh, these three wack jobs…

Well just thought it was worth noting — other than comical efforts at public relations at various points in their lives and probably more lawsuits filed than any other three people on Earth — the mighty trio all share a birthday with the United States of America.

And in the land of freedom of speech, all three of these man have tried for decades to suppress free speech and all have at various points banned and attempted to intimidate members of the press and media.

Some fantastic representatives of America in this lot, folks…

Coincidence?

Or just dumb luck?

They will all have one thing in common into eternity on their tombstones: “Born on the 4th of July”…

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Ravens have Hijacked “The Oriole Way”

Posted on 24 April 2010 by dansoderberg

As the Ravens wrap up what is widely considered another successful draft we hear the familiar terminology filling the airwaves and Internet; “best player available”, “tremendous value pick”, “plays like a Raven”, etc.  The Ravens do things the right way.  They place a premium on scouting and player development, they typically shy away from big name free agent splashes preferring to rely on in house options, and they pride themselves on front office stability.  In essence, the Baltimore Ravens are everything the Orioles used to be, and everything we desperately want them to be again.

When the story about Peter Angelos shunning Cal Ripken’s desire to join the O’s front office broke last week there was an outcry around Baltimore.  Much of the discontent  centered on Angelos’ continued arrogance and apparent refusal to make the right decisions, even when they’re teed up for him. Cal is symbolic of  “The Oriole Way”, an organizational philosophy based on fundamentally sound play, scouting and player development, and the belief that teams are developed not bought.

The Orioles abandoned “The Oriole Way” long before their 13 straight losing seasons, but this year’s team is a special kind of terrible with no apparent concept of baseball’s most basic fundamentals.  What comes to mind if I say someone “plays like an Oriole”?  Dropped popups, poor plate discipline, atrocious base-running, all of the above? As the Ravens have built a consistent contender preaching the gospel of what we once knew as “The Oriole Way”, the 2010 Orioles bear no resemblance to the once proud organization that first put the philosophy into practice.  The present day Oriole Way seems to put a premium on maximizing profits at the expense of on field success, relying on mid-level free agents rather than developing talent or attracting premium talent, and changing front office and managerial personnel at a dizzying pace.  It’s time the Orioles take a hard look across the parking lot and begin adopting “The Raven Way”.

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Fox&Rosenthal: Angelos turned down Ripken for job with Orioles

Posted on 16 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

Not that this should come as a shock to anyone, but Fox Sports (and Baltimore resident) Ken Rosenthal is reporting that Cal Ripken approached Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos about becoming involved with the Orioles organization only to be rebuffed.

The plot thickens. I’ve been predicting this cauldron of a mess for a few years. It’s only a matter of time before this one boils over in some direction.

The Orioles are 1-9. The natives are restless. The place is still clearly a mess as we continue to report.

If you want the truth, you’ll keep coming to WNST.net.

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Expose

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My last day on air at AM 1570: Goodbye to radio, hello to the brave world of the web!

Posted on 29 January 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

As you probably know, beginning on Monday, we’re going to begin a week-long series on the state of Baltimore sports journalism. And where this is all going? And how this radio, print, television & “new media thing” really works. “A WNST Expose’ on Sports Journalism in Baltimore: Is this Medium Well Done?” will be an eye-opening look at the inner-workings of sports media here in the town that I’ve loved since 1968 told by a true insider – me!

Expose

It’s more of a mini-series than a blog. It’s designed to separate facts from fiction of media past, present and future. It’s taken me about 26 years of living it and now that WNST.net is the No. 1 most-visited sports website in the region, I think it’s time that I’ve said a few things that need to be said about the state of this business and how much “times have changed.”

It’ll be the true story of life in the 2010 world of Baltimore sports media that Ray Frager — a former boss and media “critic” of mine at The Baltimore Sun who publicly hated, doubted and discarded my show and my brand and my expertise, information and business for more than a decade with his witticisms and a keen “out of town” perspective about Baltimore sports media – never got around to telling you about because he never took the time to understand the business, politics and measurement of local sports media.

He didn’t even understand what the Arbitron ratings represented but he knew how to parrot out the statistics, which we’ll prove next week are not even remotely accurate if not outright lies! But we all know that once the lie gets told once, it gets repeated a thousand times.

If you’re one of those who keeps up with local business (in other words, one of the “smart” ones), this will be an eye-opening look at what’s happened to the integrity in the Baltimore sports media over the last 25 years since the passing of the likes of Jim McKay, Chris Thomas, Charley Eckman and John Steadman – and the “moving on” of Frank DeFord and dozens of other writers and broadcasters to a national position from Dan Shaughnessy to Nick Charles from Ken Rosenthal to Tim Kurkjian to Buster Olney to John Saunders and on and on — who were the pioneers over the last 30 years and who left legacies that I still chase every day of my life.

If you’re one of those who doesn’t understand “the business of media” and you can’t possibly comprehend how happy the Orioles’ ownership is to be making $40 million in profit while the stadium and downtown sits empty and they lose 98 games every year – all while OWNING the pockets and voices of most of the traditional media in Baltimore, well, honestly – this is all going to go a little over your head. You might want to skip it for fear of actually learning something that resembles the truth.

(It’s kinda like the Rodney Dangerfield scene in “Back To School” where he teaches the “real” way business is conducted not the way they teach it formally in college! You either get it, or you don’t. And if you do want to “get it” and be educated, I’m here to give you a Master’s dissertation at 41 and after living this reality of Baltimore sports media over the last 26 years.)

If you’re one of those who can somehow defend the actions, business practices and stewardship of Peter Angelos and the Orioles over the last 13 years, then you’ll probably find a way to refute the facts of the next week in regard to statistical data bearing out that WNST.net is fastest-growing media company in the state of Maryland. You might even be foolish enough to not realize that all of the employees of MASN, CBS Radio, WJZ-TV and Pressbox ostensibly work for him.

But as Forrest Gump so boldly put it: “Stupid is as Stupid does…”

I can only state the facts and back them up with evidence and empirical data – just like Steadman and my father taught me. After that it’s up to you…and we even let you write and encourage you to write what YOU think here on WNST.net. The only thing we ask is that you spell your name correctly and take accountability for your thoughts and words.

Thus is the beauty of the internet and my intoxication with it: free speech in an open and shareable platform in a world that embraces individuality and excellence. It’s a great, magical time to be alive for a guy like me with a brand like WNST.net and the walls of corporate media domination rapidly falling in every corner of the world.

Hence, I’m hosting my final week of radio next week in Miami after hosting my final “in studio” show as a daily host today. After taking a four-year hiatus from daily hosting, I’ve been back on the air for the past 55 weeks for a variety of reasons and I’m delighted to be once again returning to my very happy life “behind the scenes” building the business of WNST in 2010 and beyond.

If anything, over the past year the internet has allowed me to be MUCH closer to my audience and Baltimore sports fans and I don’t look at “leaving radio” as anything more than “moving mediums” to the internet, where I can be in your ear as much as you want me. And WNST is in your pocket everywhere you go if you have a mobile device.

Don’t worry: I’ll never stop talking Baltimore sports.

I’ll be more accessible than ever — blogging, doing commercials, selling advertising, making videos, doing roadtrips, having fun in writing a book this year, gabbing in social media, hosting parties and doing the most important work of all – the business development of WNST.net as we grow into the new decade as the unquestioned market leader in Baltimore sports information in the only medium that matters moving forward – the internet.

And it’s my solemn vow to use what I know to educate our fans from this point forward in all aspects of Baltimore sports, including the business of local sports of which I’m an expert in the field of local marketing, journalism and the media business. No one in Baltimore can match up with the way we cover sports on the web.

In the “old world” that I was raised in here in Baltimore, it was the radio, television and newspaper. Now — instead in the Jetsons world of 2010 — I’ll be using the audio, video and blog components of WNST.net to give a reality-based look at life in Baltimore sports.

As such, next week each day we’ll present, discuss and opine about the whole gamut of Baltimore media:

Part 1 – “Baltimore’s sports media lineup” — We’ll identify the frauds in the media & some feelings will be hurt here…

Part 2 – Alexa – “Who is She?” The little retold lie about WNST having 10 listeners…

Part 3 – Content & Distribution – “Where do you get your Baltimore sports news & info and why?”

Part 4 – “Who are the biggest corporate whores in Baltimore sports media?” In other words: “Who is for sale, and who can you trust?”

Part 5 – “What is the future of Baltimore sports media?” What is catching your eyes & ears these days?

You might be shocked by some of this information. You’ll certainly be surprised at how a lot of this local sports media business works and how dramatically it’s changed. And you won’t be shocked to find out how unpopular it is amongst our competitors that “little WNST” is crushing the
“traditional big boys” in the new world of new media and social media, which makes them hate me even more.

That’s why they take away my press pass at Orioles games and none of my other “colleagues” even acknowledge how wrong it is. That’s why they keep telling the lies about signal strength and Arbitron numbers and lack of distribution. And that’s why they keep refusing to acknowledge any of our events, charitable work in the community or impact on the reporting of breaking sports news in Baltimore.

But that’s OK. I’ve been breaking news stories in Baltimore for 26 years and for 18 years on the radio and I’ve never, ever ONCE seen The Sun write “As first reported by WNST.net”…

And at this point, I don’t really want that to change. I kind of get a kick out of it!

But if I tweeted every time we send out a text on a story that ISN’T on the website of The Sun or MASN or any other local web entity, I’d seem like a bragging ass. But isn’t that what they all do at the alphabet-soup world of corporate media?

“As first reported by ESPN…blah-blah-blah…”

(And if you’re one of the 5,200 on our Text Service, then you know how good it is without me telling you about it. And if you’re NOT on the service and JOIN OUR TEXT SERVICE NOW, you won’t be disappointed. It’s the best thing we do at WNST!)

So this purposely self-indulgent yet informative piece of journalistic truth and analysis will be an ode to Ray Frager, who was the King of Arbitron ratings without ever writing the truth about the “fictional data mining” that they’ve been doing a for a few decades. I’ll expose that and “People Meters” next Tuesday.

So, in Frager’s honor and honor of his blog – “Medium Well” — I’m dubbing this weeklong, “investigative” look as “Medium Well Done?”

Along with my long-windedness, arrogance and accusations, that’s really the question I’m asking you:

Is Baltimore media well done?

For the record, I don’t think so. And that’s why I love WNST.net so much! Because I think we’re the best! And we wake up and work our asses off all day, every day to make it that way. And it’s finally being realized in the real data, numbers, volume of real people who interact with the WNST brand every day in Baltimore.

Some people are going to get their feelings hurt, but I’m writing a Master’s thesis in how this all works – the business of local sports media in Baltimore circa 2010. Where’s it’s been, where it’s “at” and where it’s going…

I’ve dedicated my entire life – ask anyone who’s ever really known me — to building Baltimore’s ultimate sports information company every day of my life since Jan. 23, 1984 when I was “hired” as an intern for “SportsFirst,” a daily train-wreck of a business model newspaper housed by the Hearst Corporation. Honestly, it’s been a strange kind of destiny over the past 26 years since I walked into The News American as a 15-year old intern from Dundalk who couldn’t type, with a pregnant girlfriend, that the world has opened up on the internet to give a guy like me a chance to go toe-to-toe and now surpass “the big boys” and corporate whores who’ve for so long dominated and stilted the way we consume our information about sports in Baltimore.

The internet and the phone that is in your hand or pocket is the ultimate equalizer. EVERYONE has access to WNST.net from anywhere in the world where there is cellphone service. Every day more people find us — on Twitter, Facebook, Google, You Tube, etc. And our website is clearly the best in the market for technology, distribution of the sponsors who keep us in business and the timely distribution of content.

There’s no more having a “small signal” or the inability to instantly transmit information or need for a printing press, an FCC license or a TV antenna to break news or give analysis or to move people to action. And in our sphere here at WNST.net, the engine is powered by the people who care enough to be involved daily – the real Baltimore sports fans who power these teams and their financial ability to be sustained.

All the walls have fallen in traditional media. It’s only the old, white people on the country club golf courses who haven’t caught up. Sadly, that encompasses much of the local sports media world.

My inspiration to ignite Free The Birds in 2006 was the Berlin Wall and that wall fell, too. And just like one day the Orioles will be owned by someone who help them win again and they will be revered in the community instead of a source of annual civic shame and embarrassment, the walls of information and media around the local sports scene have fallen dramatically and the joke is on the establishment that doesn’t recognize that they can no longer control the information, spin the truth or mask the lies.

And some in the establishment are still playing the Marxist “We’ll control all state information” role like Baghdad Bob with the Orioles. That’s just stupid and will never work in a free society with tools like the internet and social media.

Over the next week I’ll be presenting an in-depth look at the current “status” of local media and the measurement systems that in the new world of new media will evaluate the size of an entity, the reach of an entity and the influence of an entity.

We’ll ask you who YOU trust with your news, information and where you get it and why you get it from them. I hope you share it with your friends because I’d love to hear from all sorts of Baltimore sports fans because we want to make WNST.net the best – period!

Three years ago, this would’ve been impossible – this website launch and the power and reach and immediacy of social media. But, now through the power of what until recently was referred to as your “phone” – now a PDA, Blackberry, Iphone, Palm or Droid – you have WNST.net with you everywhere you go and available anytime and anyplace you want it.

So much for “how far does your signal go at little WNST-AM?”

Well, it goes AROUND THE WORLD in the PALM OF YOUR HAND now!

How’s that for “power” or “reach”? It doesn’t sound like 5,000 watts anymore, does it?

So much for the days of people saying: “Hey Nasty, I love your radio station but I can’t get it at night.” Now, I just say: “Are you on our text service?” or “Facebook friend me” or “Follow us on Twitter” or drop me an email at nasty@wnst.net and we’ll rock your world with what we’re doing on the web at WNST.net.

In Indianapolis two weeks ago where we threw the biggest party in town and took four busloads of Ravens Maniacs to Irsayland, the biggest music to my ears was having people say: “Hey Nestor, I’m your Facebook friend or I subscribe to your text service or I read your blogs every day on my phone.”

Over the next week I will prove to you – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that we are the fastest growing media entity in the city of Baltimore or anywhere in the region.

Actually, we’re the ONLY “growing” entity in the marketplace across all of the terrestrial (or is it dinosaur?) media: print, television and radio.

And I’ll also show you why we STILL aren’t being acknowledged as the market leader in the one place it counts – the cash register. And that’s mainly because the dinosaurs who run the local ad agencies and the local teams still don’t fully comprehend or acknowledge the power of the internet, which is astonishing when you consider how much of everyone’s day in our world is consumed with information, email, text and social media on a video screen of some kind.

(And unless you’re my 90-year old mother, you’re involved in several or all of the aforementioned! How do I know? Well, you’re READING THIS ON THE INTERNET!!!)

And I didn’t need a TV signal, a sweetheart cable deal or a printing press to get it to you. I own an FCC license, but I probably didn’t even use that to find you!

WNST.net is building a local social media firestorm and creating a new kind of company in a new kind of space on the internet. Like any other new company in a completely new era of marketing, we’ll continue to feel our way through the process, doing some things well and others not so well.

And that’s where our WNST Baltimore Sports Media Survey comes in…

Unlike the Orioles of Peter Angelos, we’re accountable here at WNST.net. I own the place. I’m out in front. I’ll take your questions. I’ll take your criticisms and try to improve what we do. I LOVE the pressure of the accountability of being great and being measured. I live for it! (Ask anybody who knows me…)

We don’t just think our product is the best in the marketplace, we think you think so too!

Beginning Monday, we’re distributing an extensive survey to all of our WNST.net users (new and old). It’ll be available all during the month of February. We’re giving away a 50” Big Screen TV to one lucky person who fills out the questionnaire in the hopes that you and all of your friends will take a few minutes to fill it out and tell us how we can make WNST.net better in 2010.

We’re very serious about trying to make our company the best in the market. We really ARE the company that will take your advice because we’re building this web community for the people of Baltimore who love sports.

But, more than any of the other corporate whores who will be getting “outed” next week for their brazen lies, partnerships and duplicity – WNST.net will continue to be a place for an honest exchange of information.

We don’t ban free speech. We’re accessible and accountable for the news and information we dispense. We’re rooted in the community – rooted so deeply that 5% of all of our profits into perpetuity go back to the Living Classrooms Foundation thanks to Brian Billick’s involvement in ownership of WNST.net.

Here’s our mission statement, in case you missed it at the bottom of the site:

MISSION STATEMENT

To fully realize the potential of the vast audience our brand has acquired in Maryland over the past 18 years, WNST.net will be the dominant, honest voice in Maryland media by providing the “real” content of what’s happening in sports in our area.

We will deal with all of our listeners and sponsors with charity, benevolence, dignity and in the effort to educate and help sports fans in Baltimore better understand the big picture of sports so they can enjoy it even more.

We will be an advocate of all things Baltimore and Baltimore sports while keeping a keen “21st Century-oriented” approach to build a bridge between sports and its fans through our website, broadcasts and community activism.

Integrity in reporting and accuracy will be our calling card.

We will:

Educate fans

Serve our community

Promote Baltimore

Promote sports and how it shapes young people’s lives

Promote and support charitable endeavors

Help others make their businesses stronger via integrity-based marketing which will strengthen our community

Show Baltimore that we care as much about our hometown and our local sports as much as they do

Recognize that profitability is the key to survival for our partners, employees and sponsors

We’re not only “sports media” people here at WNST.net. We’re also fans — BIG fans.

If you’ve ever tuned in you know that WNST hosts are the “real deal.” Every host I have at WNST was a fan of Tom Davis and Vince Bagli and John Steadman and Charley Eckman before they got involved in the media side. We all had hosts, writers, commentators that we liked and disliked back in the 1970s and 1980s.

If WNST was originally dubbed, “The Station With Balls,” next week we’ll prove for sure that many of the other “trusted” sources in the marketplace are truly the old world/boys network media who are “ball-less” except for the fact that they carry the play-by-play of the ballclubs – or own the actual network — that no one listens to anymore and none of these media companies can figure out how to make money off of these broadcasts while they allow their “editorial” privilege to go down the drain like a useless infomercial of Baghdad Bob rhetoric and faux-sophistication.

You could say they give up their “balls” to buy other ones…

Sharpen up your Facebook statuses and your Twitter conversations and your sharing tabs because my insights are coming. And I hope to hear yours. Speak out! Tell us how we could be better!

If we suck, tell us! And tell us how to fix it!

Complain about our competitors! (Lord knows, I think most them suck, too!)

You don’t have to worry about any of them reading our site or survey because no one cares what little WNST has to say, right?

“They’ve only got 10 listeners.”

“Their radio signal is too weak.”

“They won’t attract the top-notch talent.”

“Two tin cans and a string.”

These were all direct quotes from The Sun – the dinosaur printed edition — over the years about WNST. Not on a message board. This was allegedly “responsible” journalism by staff writers from The Sun, who only seemed to call me for a quote when some idiot accused me of doing something inappropriate on some internet, toilet message board.

Potty talk about me on message boards are commonplace but assessments like the aforementioned in the biggest daily newspaper are very damaging to a small business but through the loyalty of our sponsors, listeners and now – users to our website – we have thrived amidst economic storm and a rapidly changing medium where the paradigms have been forever altered and no one in the “old boys club” is acknowledging it or recognizing it.

And it’s 2010 and now we’re the market leader because we’ve utilized this tool called the internet by delivering reliable, accurate, instant news, information and expertise in the palm of your hand whenever you want it. We’ve evolved far past being an AM radio station.

And we believe in free speech, not the blatant censorship for profit that our competitors have embraced and think you’re too stupid to recognize.

And we don’t plan on changing that at all!

Because if WNST.net is to be a true voice of the people – and it has always been a community-based company — quite frankly, our content and integrity and authority will speak for itself.

Your graduate class begins on Monday…see you bright and early!

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meredith

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15-7-0

Posted on 01 December 2009 by Glenn Clark

No Ravens-we save them for Tuesday and the “Tuesday Top 7.” Also, considering most human beings EVERYWHERE started their weekend on Thanksgiving; we’ll start there for our qualifications to make the list. And while I realize I’ve somehow managed to stretch a 4 day weekend into 5 days due to my tardiness-deal with it. It’s my list.

You deserve props…..

1-Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Chris Redman and Alex Smith

Do you think it might chap Aaron Rodgers’ ass a bit that every time he does something awesome, ol’ Brett comes along and does something even a bit better?

It sorta reminds me of my childhood friend Scott Meredith…..

meredith

(Edit from GMC: This is NOT a picture of Scott Meredith. Well, apparently it’s a picture of SOMEONE whose name is Scott Meredith, but I only know that because I Google image searched “Scott Meredith”. I guess it is possible that the person pictured above IS my friend Scott Meredith, but I would think I would know Scott Meredith if I saw Scott Meredith. Hey! There’s a squirrel over there……)

Ol’ Scott Meredith loved to one up me growing up. He was a year older, but we were in the same grade.

I remember getting a double in the 6th inning to tie a Little League game; and Scott Meredith of course hit the walk-off homer to steal all of the attention.

I once got 3rd place in a science fair, only to find out that the winner was Scott Meredith-and he actually discovered something that our teachers thought was a new addition to the periodic table of elements. (Turned out later it was just lard.)

I thought I was the COOLEST person alive when I figured out how to play “Basket Case” by Green Day on my clarinet in 6th grade after months of practice……that is until Scott Meredith wandered into the band room, picked up a sax for the first time and NAILED “Peaches” by the Presidents of the United States of America.

And in 7th grade when I had my first REAL kiss from a gal named Rachael who I called my “girlfriend” but I’m pretty sure I never went on a single actual “date” with, I couldn’t wait to tell all of my friends. That is until Scott Meredith came in the next day and introduced us to his wife Molly and twin sons Dave and Donny.

Son of a bitch.

2-Colt McCoy, Tony Pike, Noel Devine, Tim Tebow, Ryan Broyles, Toby Gerhart and Ryan Williams

Look, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow would be #1 and #2 on my list-and it probably wouldn’t be close-but I’m having to accept the fact that Stanford RB Toby Gerhart is a LEGITIMATE Heisman Trophy candidate-especially after his performance in the Cardinal’s big win over Notre Dame Saturday night. Why is this stunning? Mostly because Gerhart is WHITE-which finally gives us an answer to the question “Are there any good white Running Backs anymore?” Sadly, it doesn’t change the fact that we still can’t dance…..

3-Da’Sean Butler, Chris Singleton and Jon Scheyer

I actually break out in hives whenever I say something nice about anyone from Duke. Except of course when I say “Duke has very nice average looking women”……

duke

4-Knowshon Moreno, Larry Johnson and Justin Forsett

I thought the NFL Network might actually give us a decent game by adding Giants/Broncos, I WAS WRONG. Thanksgiving football just SUCKED this year. In fact, Thanksgiving games were so bad this year they might as well have just let this team play……

orioles

5-Zac MacMath and Lori Bjork

Congratulations to the Maryland soccer team for reaching the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, and to the Terrapins Womens’ Hoops team for beating Drexel. Is that done? Can I move on? Okay thanks. Who wants to see what former Tennessee women’s basketball star Brittany Jackson looks like these days????

brittany

Thank God, I really didn’t have any other material prepared.

6-Alex Lachman

Has a name that rhymes with Ray Bachman. Who apparently got to hang out with Jack Black recently…..

td

In all seriousness though-congratulations to Johns Hopkins. At least until lacrosse season. Then I hope you lose 40-0 to the Terps.

7-Miles Austin, Terrell Owens and Antonio Gates

With the Ravens having no wide receivers under contract after this season, I thought I would poke around to see what wide receivers might be available in the offseason-and wouldn’t you know it, both Austin (6’3″), and T.O. (6’3″) are available. Who else? Try Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Bryant, Malcolm Floyd and this guy…….

devard

I’m just kidding about the last one. Devard is actually under contract for 3 years. No, really.

8-Eric Fehr

The NHL is happening. And wouldn’t you know, Elisha Cuthbert dates Dion Phaneuf from the Calgary Flames. AND, she just celebrated her 27th birthday! And, this is WAY more interesting than me actually talking about the Capitals!

cuthbert

(Edit from GMC: Attention Sean Avery: there will be many more hockey players who fight for your “sloppy seconds.”)

9-Roy Williams and Tom Izzo

Both reached milestones over the weekend. Sadly for them, Izzo didn’t reach the milestone of “Beating Florida Saturday night” and Williams didn’t reach the milestone of “not looking like Huckleberry Hound.”

I was thinking about what would happen if Roy Williams were to consider running for governor of the state of North Carolina. For god’s sake, who would beat him? I mean, other than this guy…..

10-Clint Session and Darrelle Revis

Apparently Jets gameday host (Does she still have that job?) Jenn Sterger has decided to remove her boobs. I think I speak on behalf of God himself when I ask, “Why?”

terger

That being said, I’d like to throw in another plug for our friend “ay52”, who did something recently. Something about a new purse, maybe?

11-Emmanuel Gbor, Epe Henriques and Zack Zwinak

My roommate (“The Luckiest Dang Roommate on the Face of the Planet”)’s nephew plays for Eastern Tech, so I’ll be rooting for them this weekend-despite their close proximity to my beloved Perry Hall Gators. I’ll also be rooting for the Joppatowne Mariners, mostly because Mariner Point Park in Joppatowne was….ahem….”where I became a man.”

(Editor’s note: By “where I became a man”, I actually mean “I TOTALLY shut out my dad in a game of bocce.” What did you think I meant?)

12-Chad Ochocinco and Grady Sizemore

The most awkward moment of my life happened when I was living in Phoenix. I was sitting at dinner with some friends, and wanted to show everyone an awesome picture I had taken from the sidelines of the Arizona State-Cal game that night with a friend who was seated in the wheelchair section and had awesomely painted his face to celebrate his love of the Sun Devils. A friend’s girlfriend (we’ll call her “Delilah”) was seated next to me, and was laughing at the picture. Suddenly, she took it upon herself to flip to the next picture in the phone. Not good.

“Is that your thumb?”

No, it wasn’t my thumb. And I wasn’t a hundred percent certain how the body parts could be confused-but maybe that was a bad sign for me.

Thankfully I’m not a famous athlete, or that cell phone picture may have been headed straight to Deadspin. Grady Sizemore found that out; and women worldwide are suddenly thinking about becoming Indians fans….

grady

(Edit from GMC: That was BY FAR AND AWAY the most SFW photo in the bunch. Props to Sizemore for his use of a mug in another pic. Also, I hope the chick was worth it.)

And another thing, Chad Ochocinco in a Snuggie is awesome to me for some reason; even if I don’t know why……

ocho

13-Graham Gano and Damon Duval

Congratulations (I guess?) to the Las Vegas Locomotives (“Locos” for short, I believe) for winning the UFL Championship, and to the Montreal Alouettes for winning the CFL’s Grey Cup. A lot of people will think it’s ironic that Gano made the kick to win a title after he was cut in Baltimore in favor of Steve Hauschka; but I’m just happy for Gano; who’s a really good guy.

I also found it a bit strange to find out; but apparently THIS is the prize that goes to all of the players who are on the winning team in the Grey Cup…..

pie

(Editor’s note: Yes that IS a maple syrup pie. No I DON’T want to know what it tastes like.)

14-“I Want You Back” by Jackson 5

I wandered into Federal Hill Saturday night to spend the night at Charm City’s finest music venue-the 8×10 Club. (Edit from GMC: No offense to Rams Head Live-which is the finest mainstream music venue in Charm City.) I took in my friends Jimmie’s Chicken Shack and an OUTSTANDING young band called Brian Stewart & The Tell-Tale Hearts. Both were really, REALLY good. But there was another guy who went on stage first (and I WISH I could tell you the guy’s name-because he was really good too); who dialed up a REALLY cool version of the song. It just made me think “Why isn’t this song celebrated the way it should be?”…..

I was also directed to this-KT Tunstall’s version of the tune. Not too bad either……

You know, maybe every band should just come up with a version of this song.

15-Thanksgiving Sandwiches

sammich

Yes, that IS leftover turkey and mashed potatoes with barbeque sauce on wheat bread. When you do it yourself tomorrow, thank me.

You got lucky…….

1-David Akers and Vince Young

Vince Young’s drive to beat the Cardinals was something to behold. But relax Arizona, you still have plenty going for you……

su

2-Tiger Woods

Look, did Eldrick sleep with this Rachel Uchitel chick? Who knows…

uchitel

Did he crash his car because he was drunk? Who knows.
Did he suffer injuries to his face because he was beat up by his wife? Who knows.
Is “Kobe Special” the coolest new term to have entered the English vocabulary? Hell yes.

3-Mike London and Brian Billick

I couldn’t be happier for all of the awesome success Virginia and Notre Dame are currently having with their respective programs. Just two excellent programs who deserve ALL of the success they have found. May I make a suggestion for the next head coach?

chuck

4-Nikolay Davydenko

Nikolay Davydenko won the ATP Tour Finals in London. Nicolette Sheridan is like 46 and somehow still smoking hot….

sheridan

5-1988-89 Miami Heat and 1999-2000 Los Angeles Clippers

I was trying to think of some words to describe just how terrible the New Jersey Nets have been this season; so I decided to reach out to Thesaurus.com. Here are some options…..

abhorrent
appalling
atrocious
awful
beastly
dire
disastrous
disturbing
dreadful
extreme
frightful
ghastly
gruesome
harrowing
hideous
horrendous
horrid
horrifying
loathsome
monstrous
odious
offensive
petrifying
poor
repulsive
revolting
rotten
severe
shocking
unfortunate
unnerving
unpleasant
unwelcome
vile

Any of those work for you? If not, there was one more word, but it read SO extreme I’m not sure even the Nets can qualify…..

“Angelosian”

6-Stephen A. Smith

Is DESPERATE for Allen Iverson to extend this whole “retirement” thing somehow. And I mean “DESPERATE.” Otherwise, his existence is basically built around this at this point…..

cheesesteak

You know, that actually doesn’t seem that bad-other than having to live in Philadelphia…..

7-Those of you-like me-who did NOT have to attend a high school reunion this weekend

But when the Class of 2001 gets together in 24 months, I will ABSOLUTELY try to find Tina Montalvo and dance to THIS song…..

Most significant musical contribution of my generation.

You’re a zero…….

Anyone who doesn’t vote for Art Modell or Roberto Alomar to make the Hall of Fame this year

And if you don’t think either of these men belong IN, I will personally fight you.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…..

-G

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Nils Lofgren Nestor Aparicio Super Bowl Springsteen E Street Band

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My life with Bruce Springsteen and Friday’s miracle show in Baltimore

Posted on 19 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Let me get this out of the way: Springsteen is the only Boss I listen to …

At 8:50 this Friday evening when Bruce Springsteen breaks out his harmonica and begins to tell the Baltimore audience about his 1975 opus, “Born To Run” – the album, not the song – some musical magic will enrapture the First Mariner Arena in a way that hasn’t been seen much lately this side of Bono or Mick Jagger taking the stage that Elvis Presley and The Beatles graced in the 1960s and Led Zeppelin and The Who lit up in the 1970s.

This is Springsteen’s first foray into the Baltimore Street institution since 1973, when legend has it that he apparently opened for the band Chicago. In 1977, Bruce rocked the then-shiny-new Towson Center on the “Darkness On The Edge of Town” tour. But over the last 32 years – as long as I’ve been going to concerts — Springsteen has never, ever come near playing Baltimore in any way.

In his heyday, the Capital Centre hosted all of Bruce’s legendary shows and week-long runs from 1978’s success of “The River” and beyond. And then, of course, he wound up playing R.F.K. Stadium and then Fed Ex Field. (Let’s just be glad Peter Angelos didn’t try to screw him on a contract like he did Jimmy Buffett and Van Halen a few summers ago …)

For the initiated Springsteen lover, we in Baltimore will be seeing the second-to-last show of what has been an ongoing decade-long reunion with the fabled E Street Band of all-star musicians, most whom were in the studio with Springsteen in 1975 when he wrote and recorded “Born To Run,” which catapulted him into the mainstream music audience where his music has become legendary to blue collar people around the world.

Many of you know I have a major, major Sprinsgteen fandom issue. By my count, I’ve seen Springsteen 43 times, with and without The E Street Band. And this appears to be the end of a long road with this particular group of musicians, who are now mostly in the 60-plus range and are slowing down.

I’ve seen Bruce play so many times and in so many places that’s it’s hard to recall every one of them.

I’ve seen Bruce on a stunningly gorgeous night under the stars in Madrid, Spain and in a driving rainstorm getting soaked in Zaragoza.


I’ve seen him on college campuses in Austin, Texas and in stadiums in New Jersey and in theatres in Ohio.

My favorite show was at Fed Ex Field on “The Rising” tour when he opened with Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” on the day when the Man in Black died.

I have never met Bruce Springsteen but I’ve had interviews, handshakes, pictures and great conversations with virtually every member of the E Street Band. I’ll talk about Nils Lofgren a little later in the blog, but I met Clarence Clemons at Hammerjacks 20 years ago. Met Little Steven several times as well as Garry W. Tallent. And at the Super Bowl this year, I would up talking about Europe and the band with the “mighty” Max Weinberg at a cocktail party. (He was a sensational guy!)

It’d be cool to take a picture with Bruce but my real fantasy interview would be spending two hours with Springsteen and just asking him questions about his songs and the world. Other than sitting with Bono or Peter Angelos, it’d be my dream “career topper” scenario.

But this year, I’ve had two amazing experiences with Bruce that I’ve managed to capture on film:

I have a video of me in the orchestra pit in Cleveland last Tuesday night, where I actually touched his foot and captured it on film for posterity. I’m not sharing that one. It’s borderline disgracefully embarrassing. But it was fun as hell!

And here’s a shareable press conference scene from the Super Bowl in Tampa when I got to ask Bruce a question on live TV, which was later captured in his documentary about the making of the NFL Network’s superbadass halftime show documentary. In this video, Bruce calls me a “dummy.” Only Fred G. Sanford could’ve called me a dummy in a more loving fashion!

I make a living opining about sports and have since 1992. But in my former life, I was a music critic for nearly a decade in the 1980s and early 1990s at The Evening Sun and The News American. Bruce Springsteen’s music was unavoidable growing up in Dundalk in the late 1970s and everyone had heard “Hungry Heart” or “Born To Run” at least once a week but I didn’t truly fall for the catalog until the triple live CD was released when I was a music critic on Calvert Street.

Then, with the release of “Tunnel of Love” – still my favorite album in the world – Springsteen won me at the age of 19 (a full 13 years after the release of the seminal “Born To Run”) and has kept me for life.

He does E Street tours. He does solo tours. He’s even known to take a barnstorming jug band all over the world playing folk songs and ripping down the roof. He’s a serial performer. It’s like oxygen for him.

And its sheer passion, energy and the great songs with great words and great melodies and great deeper meaning all strike a chord with me at the age of 41. I’m a complete sucker for Springsteen. Always have been, always will be …

Like I said, he’s he only BOSS I’ve ever listened to … LOL!

So why go through all of this effort and money and travel to spend time on the road with The Boss?

Well, Springsteen has become a live source of inspiration for me not just because of the words in his songs and the energy of his legendary live shows but it’s pretty clear that he loves what he does and he’s never going to stop touring and trying to be great.

His political work – whether you agree or disagree – is pretty admirable. He wants to make the world a better place. He always does charity food bank statements and really tries to give back to the world.

The money has never changed that. The fame has never changed that. The fans and their demands have never changed that.

Oh, and Bruce never, ever plays the same show twice. NEVER.

If you were to ask me what songs he’ll play on Friday night, I can only assure you that he’ll be doing the “Born To Run” album in its entirety about four songs into the show.

The rest? Completely random and up for grabs. Every single night he mixes up setlists so thoroughly that it becomes part of a poker hand between him, his band and the fans who bring signs with song requests that Springsteen honors every single night. (And sometimes, as Nils Lofgren will tell me in the videos below, the band doesn’t even know the songs and fakes it through. It’s part of the challenge and authenticity of being in The E Street Band.)

Here’s Lofgren talking about this aspect of Bruce and the E Street Band:

My fandom of all things Springsteen has led me to a fun friendship with guitarist Nils Lofgren, who I first met in 1987 at Shriver Hall on Johns Hopkins campus when I was a newspaper music critic. I next saw him saunter into the Convention Center in New Orleans on the eve of the Super Bowl in January 2002 and asked him on the show. An hour later, he was telling me European road stories and a friendship was born.

Nils Lofgren Nestor Aparicio Super Bowl Springsteen E Street Band

Lofgren, as you may know, had a big band in the 1970s called Grin, and made a life in Silver Spring for many years and is an unabashed Redskins fan (although we forgive him for this mortal sin.)

Because I talk about Springsteen on the show a lot, I thought this would be an appropriate time to write an “all things Bruce” blog on the eve of one of the biggest nights of the year in Baltimore.

You’ll be seeing us around the Arena on Friday night. Perhaps we can even cajole The Boss into a rousing rendition of “Hungry Heart,” where the songs protagonist sang:

“I’ve got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack…”

Below is a fun little scrapbook of my video interviews with Lofgren where we discuss life as a rock star and being in one of the greatest bands in the world and traveling the planet with one of the most enigmatic and private talents of our generation.

I love Bruce. He’s added great color and richness to my life. And I’m really looking forward to a special night in “My Hometown” on Friday night.

Maybe he’ll even play “My Hometown,” who knows?

I’m a major fan.

Our very own Drew Forrester has taken to doing a Top 50 Springsteen song countdown this week. So, I decided to put my “favorite” Bruce songs list together, just for my own sake.

I’ll work on that and maybe post it later, but for now I hope you enjoy this series of videos and interviews and my own little personal “scrapbook” of Bruce memories:

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And the Orioles continue South with more "neighborly" love for Sarasota...

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And the Orioles continue South with more “neighborly” love for Sarasota…

Posted on 31 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I just got pinged by a friend who tells me that WBAL slipped out a quiet report a few days ago that the Orioles have again made one of their more outlandish moves of 2009. (And that’s saying something, when you consider the kind of season they slept-walked through this summer.)

Remember a few years ago, when Angelos and the boys set up camp in Farragut Square near their “Orioles Store” in downtown Washington, D.C., to feign interest in the market after holding it hostage for five years in exchange for the MASN TV rights that were supposed to buy the Orioles some semblance of respectful balance on the playing field in the AL East. That day — with a 7:05 game looming in another summer of distress — they shipped the entire roster on a bus down to a big city square and served free ice cream and hot dogs and soda to everyone in the park.

We, of course, opined that the Orioles have NEVER given away free hot dogs and ice cream in Baltimore. And Angelos’ true interest in D.C. extended about as far as how much he could extort out of Bud Selig and MLB, then Comcast, then pass it along to each and every one of you who pay a cable TV bill in the state of Maryland. Angelos is in your pocket for a few bucks a month and 90% of people in the Free State don’t even KNOW it.

The result: the Orioles lost 98 games this season, will spend nearly NOTHING on free agents this winter, Andy MacPhail will pocket a big “bonus” check for his role in the profiteering and Angelos and Co. will make upward of $40 million in profit this calendar year while continuing to eschew common decency toward its own community and heroes and continuing as the worst franchise in North American sports.

Now, after holding Fort Lauderdale up for well over a decade and playing a political shell game with half of the real estate from Orlando to the Florida Keys — at long last Sarasota, Florida is getting the Orioles for spring training. I’m not sure if that’s considered “good fortune” or stupid politicians who will live to regret working with this ownership group, like everyone else in their wake.

Here’s a dream photo of what the project is supposed to look like at its finish:

So WBAL via an Orioles press release announced that an offseason “Fan Fest” will be held in two weeks in Florida with a bunch of Orioles players and dignitaries.

“In celebration of their new spring training home, the Baltimore Orioles will join with The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau to host Orioles Family FanFest-a free event for the entire community-at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, November 14 from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. The afternoon will feature autograph sessions with current and former Orioles players, Orioles giveaways, fan forums, a variety of kid-friendly family activities, including Kids Run the Bases, and a free hot dog and soda for every person in attendance.”

So, for all of about 250 people who might be interested in seeing the worst team in MLB over the past decade with the WORST reputation for hijacking Floridian communities in modern sports, come to their town to bring “civic spirit and cheer.”

Fact: there are a LOT of pissed off Sarasota residents that this deal was ever done and a lot of speculation about its merits in the community. The Orioles already have a problem before they dig dirt at Ed Smith Stadium. (Not to mention their reputation in their own community, which is apparent to everyone but the local “journalists” — or propagandists — who look the other way past the stench to draw a paycheck).

Maybe, the Orioles could ask that everyone brings a covered dish?

The report says that “Orioles Manager DAVE TREMBLEY, centerfielder and 2009 All-Star ADAM JONES, outfielder NOLAN REIMOLD, pitchers BRAD BERGESEN and JIM JOHNSON, and Hall of Fame pitcher and current MASN broadcaster JIM PALMER, are expected to attend the event. The Oriole Bird will also be on hand to greet families throughout the afternoon. Free parking will be available for all fans.”

Well, a little civic spirit might’ve been nice last Monday night here in their “branded hometown” of BALTIMORE when the most celebrated Oriole of all time was being honored for the final time of his life at the Meyerhoff and the franchise couldn’t find a way to get one single heartbeat to the event to speak on behalf of the current players and their respect for the brand and franchise that Brooks Robinson and his ilk built for our parents that’s now been left for dead by the Angelos family and this last 15 years of civic-hostage baseball.

Meanwhile, they’ve taken what formerly was a weekend-long, sold-out, line-down-Pratt-Street event in Baltimore known as “Fan Fest” (and before that, “Moonlight Madness”) and destroyed every ounce of goodwill guys like Brooks Robinson spent their entire adult lives dedicated to building and preserving and turned it into a half-assed, thrown-together “day before the season begins” chilly disaster that isn’t cheap, but somehow FEELS cheap. Like an “obligation” before the season begins…and the same refrains of “improvement.”

The team follows it up with disgraces from Aubrey Huff to the manager calling out the organization’s professionalism during a post-game press conference. And MASN shows goofy house ad after goody house ad. I’m glad the season ended just so I could regroup after seeing those two chicks trying to hit on the Oriole Bird six times a night for six months. And that’s BEFORE they lost 98 more games…

And the owner never shows his face, never spends money, never answers questions and the team never wins. And Red Sox and Yankees fans take over the city (and, once again, THIS is the biggest disgrace in the whole dreadful fiasco of the last 15 years — just disgraceful!). And the downtown business district — sorely in need of assistance — is left for dead except when half of the Northeast quadrant of the United States descends upon the Harbor for the routine of pinstripes and chowder.

Oh, and while Daniel Snyder is down the B/W Parkway banning signs and threatening the media and suing the fans, Angelos is here doing the same thing here and no one dares talks about or ask questions of any substance.

I wonder when Snyder will tell The Washington Post they no longer have media access. (But, apparently that wouldn’t happen because the NFL wouldn’t allow it.)

Shame, shame, shame…

I watched Bud Selig squirm in David Letterman’s chair the other night and it’s no wonder MLB is a damaged brand despite the innate greatness of the game of baseball, which has been decimated over the last 15 years since the strike in many ways (steroids, Hall of Fame, bad pitching, greedy owners, sleezy agents, difficult “heroes” like Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle and their ilk, All Star fiascos, Pete Rose, World Series games in November, etc.) but is printing money. Just like Angelos is here.

They’re all ringing the cash register so that justifies it all.

Just like MacPhail — a leading candidate in baseball’s collusion in the late 1980s and whose sole function as President of the Chicago Cubs was to field cheap baseball teams to make the Tribune money (yeah, that company once wasn’t in bankruptcy like they are on Calvert Street these days) for fans who were too drunk to care and who were addicted to Wrigley Field and lore of the loveble, fuzzy, loser Cubbies. The Cubs fans ACCEPTED losing a birthright and a way of life as MacPhail padded the pockets of the shareholders.

It’s all pretty well documented but here’s the worst-kept secret in Major League Baseball:

MacPhail is reading Selig’s cue cards for the direction of the game so as to be able to take the throne when Selig decides to walk away from his $18 million-a-year job. (We’ve written many times: Selig doesn’t own a computer, doesn’t have email and doesn’t have a Black Berry. Just take a second and THINK about that in 2009 if you’re the C.E.O. of of of the biggest brands in America?)

Think Andy MacPhail would be interested in an $18 million-a-year position in 2012? (Me too…)

But as we’ve pointed out many times, they have no shame. Or common sense or decency. But they DO know how to make money. And they do have anti-trust exemptions by our federal government that are so laughable it completely masks the corruption.

Just look at the product on the field here in Baltimore. And look at the empty stands. And the amount of “house ads” on MASN.

To STUPID people, they look “broke.” But they’re not. FAAAAAR from it!

And watch all of the “Confederate money” that MacPhail won’t be waving in free agency in a few weeks. All of sudden, they’re “building through the farm system” which is the code word for “pocketing the goodwill of the Maryland people.”

The REAL money is going in their pockets and no one sees it or talks about it or writes about. And more $$$ is about to come out of the pockets of the good people in Sarasota. Just wait. This will end badly. It always does.

Not a low blow, just a fact.

UPDATE: 1:01 — Searching the web, I found a wonderfully delusional blog here from a Sarasota newspaper columnist named Doug Fernandes:

We’re getting two renovated public assets that desperately need rehabbing, we’re getting the Orioles to pay for their operation and maintenance, we’re getting it funded primarily through tourism tax revenue, and we’re getting it far south of Baltimore’s original demand.

I don’t know about you, but I call that savvy negotiating. And to those who label the $31.2 million expenditure as too exorbitant amid this crummy economy, I respond thusly:

The economy will turn, it always has, and a far greater burden would have been the cost of losing spring training.

So it appears safe for stadium czar Pat Calhoon to begin purchasing gallon upon gallon of black and orange paint.”

We’ll see how “tourism dollars” equates in Sarasota. The Orioles can’t get people to come to BALTIMORE to see them for $1 on summer nights. How the hell are they gonna get fans to Sarasota in March? Mark my words: the crowds will be DOWN from Fort Lauderdale, and that’s really saying something…

Just take a look at the comments under this blog. People in Sarasota are apparently VERY up in arms about the $32 million sweetheart deal that Peter Angelos got from the good people of Florida.

One more city about to be held hostage…just wait and see!

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Swing and a Miss

Posted on 28 October 2009 by dansoderberg

The Cardinals named strike out king Mark McGwire Hitting Coach, but the Orioles had yesterday’s biggest swing and miss. Before I get too far I want to thank Nestor for having me in studio today to talk about The Buddy Project and our upcoming fundraiser (www.thebuddyproject.net/ball). I really appreciate the opportunity and had a lot of fun talking baseball on the show. I can attest that Nestor isn’t all that Nasty and is one of the good guys.

I must say that Nestor was pretty fired up about the Orioles not sending any current players to the Brooks Robinson tribute on Monday evening. I admire Nestor’s passion, the Angelos-run Orioles have just about zapped all of my mojo, and agree that current players should have been in attendance. I don’t blame the players. I did blame the players for not going to Elrod’s funeral, that was disgraceful.

The Orioles front office wasted a golden opportunity on Monday to begin bridging the gap between the Orioles glorious past and what they’ve been selling as a promising future. Andy McPhail should have called Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones and strongly urged them to not only attend the event, but familiarize themselves with Brooks’ career and what’s he has meant to Baltimore. A DVD of Brooks’ highlight reel wouldn’t have hurt either. The fact that this didn’t happen signifies that the team doesn’t feel it’s important for the gap to be bridged, and that alone shows a major disconnect between the club’s leadership and the frustrated fan base.

As for the World Series I’m picking the MFYs in 6. I’m pulling for the Phillies, but I envision Lidge giving up a late inning momentum shifting homer in Yankee Stadium. I think the team’s are evenly matched and it should be an entertaining series, especially Game 2 with Pedro on the mound, but the Yankees hold the clear advantage in the bullpen and I think that puts them over the top. That being said I’d much prefer to see Ryan Howard hit a Series winning bomb off of Mariano Rivera. Fingers crossed.

When I was on with Nestor today I mentioned how not so long ago the Phillies looked a lot like the current Orioles. Through most of my childhood, with the exception of 1993, the Phillies were a terrible franchise. Their fortunes began to change when they developed talented young players like Rollins, Utley, Howard and Hamels. The improved minor league depth also allowed the team to make deals for Lidge, Blanton and Cliff Lee. The Phillies also spend some cash, with a 2009 payroll of $113 million. The Orioles seem to have assembled a group of talented young players, they have some talent to package in deals, and if Peter ever gets off that big pile of MASN money there may be hope for this franchise yet. Of course, that is one massive if.

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