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

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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!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lr7puzT9InU[/youtube]

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:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw3uke4jw40[/youtube]

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:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAc8pRAw_3k[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_S1s_bwGdk[/youtube]

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

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et5pydL4zyI[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcieRWfBPQ0[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qclZax2NVWM[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0dx4TI0Xh8[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_HgU4bKGvw[/youtube]

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

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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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So, do you think it’s “right” that not one Orioles player showed at Brooks’ gala?

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So, do you think it’s “right” that not one Orioles player showed at Brooks’ gala?

Posted on 27 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

UPDATE: On my way out the door last night I took a picture with Brooks Robinson, just like I did in 1973 when he signed my “Third Base Is My Home” hardback book at his store at the Hoshchild Kohn at Eastpoint Shopping Center. You’re not a true Baltimore sports lover if you haven’t met Brooks and if getting your picture taken with him isn’t still a thrill. I left with a big smile on my face last night because Brooks planted it there.

Brooks and Me

So, all the real “haters” out there can pile on me for telling the truth, but I would NEVER attempt to sully anything regarding Brooks Robinson or his big night of love.

But if you don’t think the owner of the current Orioles not showing up, sending a letter of goodwill or sending any of his baseball players to the event isn’t creepy/mean/peculiar/classless, then you are either a supreme excuse maker/apologist or someone with an agenda regarding Peter Angelos or a bash campaign on my free speech or well-founded opinion.

Hate on me all you want, but REALLY — you think ignoring Brooks Robinson is a good move by the Orioles or Angelos at this point?

REALLY???

If I owned the Orioles I would’ve been there. If YOU owned the Orioles, you would’ve been there. If any of us owned the Orioles, we’d certainly make every effort possible to not have the greatest baseball player and citizen this city has ever known be honored in this fashion with ZERO representation by our current players.

Again, it’s such an absolute “no brainer” that it falls in line with all of the other stupid, classless and mean-spirited acts that this ownership group has been doing for 15 years that never go “noticed” by the many, many “journalists” who don’t want to take MY side publicly in these debates because their press passes (re: LIVELIHOODS) are at stake.

Who will be the next “media” member to have their press pass revoked? The bullying, intimidation and control by this ownership is legendary.

It’s wrong. And for Peter Schmuck or any of the “paid associates” of Mister Angelos & Sons to imply that some petty conspiracy or vendetta is my sole agenda is simply wrong and ill-informed.

I have one dying mission: fix the team, fix the actions, fix the philosophy and try being nice to people instead of continuing to defecate on the likes of Brooks Robinson. But, these folks find it impossible to “do the right thing.”

But I don’t expect it to change. Just like I don’t expect the losing to change because you can’t win treating people like they do.

But I won’t stop telling the truth, hence my “facts” and “opinions” format below.

But what Angelos and his group can and will continue to do is manipulate the many media members they control and take the wrong side on debates like these and then point the finger at me as a “troublemaker.”

All while they haven’t played a meaningful game in 12 years and play in front of 40,000 empty seats in an empty city most summer nights.

And all while they pocket upwards of $40 million in profit from our cable TV bills against our will this year while losing 98 games and finishing in last place.

The disgrace and shame has no bottom…

And don’t get me started on how Andy MacPhail ran a sub-5.0 40-yard dash to get away from me in the interview area last night…

****

ORIGINAL POST HERE:

Because it’s my role to “fix” the Orioles, I suppose I’ll get a lot of grief for writing this — again. But, when it’s wrong and needs to be fixed, Baltimore should be lucky that a media entity like WNST.net actually exists and reports the facts and then offers an opinion to provide some insight.

In an ode to my dear friend John Eisenberg, I’ll offer a quick “fact vs. opinion” style blog this morning:

Fact: I went to two major sports events in Baltimore on Monday night — the Brooks Robinson gala at the Meyerhoff (which brought back every good memory I have of the old Orioles and every disgusting feeling about the current Angelos disgrace) and the Ravens Annual Halloween fundraiser at Dave & Buster’s at Arundel Mills.

Opinion: They were both great first-class events and raised about $200,000 in total for local-Baltimore charities! Well done by both the Babe Ruth/Sports Legends folks and the Ravens organization on their biggest event of the year.

Fact: The Baltimore Orioles did not have ONE current player at the Meyerhoff to speak regarding Brooks Robinson’s legacy and what it means to current Orioles players. (And no, Andy MacPhail, doesn’t qualify as a “current” Oriole!)

Opinion: Well, I guess this is where YOU come in…

Here’s mine: I think it sucks. I think it’s as disgraceful and inexcusable that someone – ANYONE – in the organzation couldn’t drag Nick Markakis or Brian Roberts or Matt Wieters or SOMEONE down for the only thing that the Orioles have left in October – the worshipping of the past that might someday lead to some sort of current pride in the team that shaped two generations of Baltimore’s sports pride.

For any of the orange Kool Aid drinkers out there – the few who are still left – how can you possibly defend this organization’s “community outreach” when the ONLY event of the offseason that honors ANYTHING regarding the Orioles is eschewed by every player making millions of dollars off our cable TV dollars?

And this, of course, is after NOT ONE Oriole player showed at Elrod Hendricks’ funeral a few years ago.

And this is the second event in the last three years that honored the Orioles’ glorious past – the 1966 World Series reunion team was held by the Babe Ruth folks over at Morgan State in 2006 – that the actual TEAM had zero part in organizing or taking a truly active role in fortifying.

The “Angelos” Orioles again choose to urinate on Brooks Robinson when they should’ve had half of the team show up to see what a full house of REAL Orioles lovers looks like. And what a lifetime spent in this city means to Brooks and what it means to the Orioles and what it means to the people of Baltimore who have supported the franchise since 1954.

But, once again, I’m sure presenting “facts” and “opinions” will be once again treated like some sort of “low blow” by WNST.

Trust me, when the Orioles are “fixed” I’ll be the first to spread the word.

Last night showed me once again that the Orioles are as screwed up from the inside out as they’ve ever been.

And they also finished in last place this season…

Here’s a guy who has finished in FIRST PLACE in the hearts of Baltimore:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6XvRPHPsDo[/youtube]

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Is Angelos worse than Irsay?

Posted on 15 October 2009 by dansoderberg

I watched Barry Levinson’s brilliant documentary, “The Band that Wouldn’t Die” last night and was blown away by some of the footage and the back story leading up to the Colts departure. I was 8 years old when the Mayflower vans rolled out of town and other than my old Colts jacket, which is framed in my basement, I don’t have any real memories of the team.

I’ve heard countless stories from my Dad, Uncle and Brother about the glory days of the Colts and Bob Irsay’s erratic behavior and open courtship of other cities. After watching some of the Irsay clips and the testimonials from Baltimoreans I began to wonder, “Is Angelos a worse owner than Irsay?”

On it’s surface it may sound ludicrous. Irsay was the worst owner imaginable, right? He was a drunk, a liar and a charlatan. He held the City of Baltimore and its beloved Colts hostage for over a decade. There was no pretense with Irsay. Everyone knew what he was and what he was planning on doing. Bob Irsay was the scum of the Earth, and that’s all we ever thought he was.

When Peter Angelos purchased the Orioles in 1993 he was hailed as a savior, a local owner who would save the franchise from the grasp of an evil out of towner. The fact is Angelos purchased the Orioles a year after the move to Camden Yards. The team had a brand new ballpark, the gem of MLB, and 29 years left on its lease. The Orioles weren’t going anywhere, and for that we can thank William Donald Schaefer, not Angelos.

I won’t rehash Peter’s missteps over the past 12 plus seasons. We all know the names and the stories. Just like Irsay before him, Angelos has taken a beloved Baltimore franchise and reduced it to irrelevance, chasing away fans and living legends along the way. The real shame is that Angelos was supposed to be the concerned local owner. The past 12 years have spun a different tale. Is it possible to be a carpet bagger in your hometown?

The Orioles have slashed payroll over the past 3 off seasons, starting with the Tejada and Bedard deals after the 2007 season. The team has also cleared the salaries of Jay Gibbons, Aubrey Huff and Chad Bradford. The impending departures of Melvin Mora and Dannys Baez will clear approximately $14 million in salary. The team’s payroll has dropped from $95 million in 2007 to $67 million in 2009. The drop in payroll happens to coincide with the birth of MASN, the Orioles’ team owned regional network. Despite the fact that I’ve only purchased one ticket in the past 2 seasons, Angelos gets a chunk of my hard earned cash every month when I pay my Comcast bill. In fact, he gets a bit of every Comcast bill from Southern PA to North Carolina. That’s a lot of extra scratch for a team with a dwindling payroll.

This is a telltale offseason for the Orioles. They have some bona fide young talent in place for the first time in decades, desperate needs in the middle of the lineup and the top of the rotation, and a boatload of cash. They still have that $140 million Tex turned down last year, right? Andy MacPhail and Company could sign Matt Holliday, Troy Glaus and John Lackey, bump the payroll up to a more reasonable level and take aim at the Yankees and Red Sox. The more likely scenario of course is that Angelos has discovered it to be more profitable to spend $60 million on payroll to win 60 games than it is to spend $95 million to win 90 games or less.

Until the Orioles ownership changes the most Baltimore fans can hope for is a team with a solid farm system that hovers around .500 most seasons and once every 4 or 5 years catches lighting in a bottle and competes for a Wild Card. That’s better than what we’ve had for the past 12 years, but it’s not what it could be, and it’s certainly not what we deserve or pay for.

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The indignity of 100 losses for the Orioles

Posted on 29 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

Blah, blah, blah.

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

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

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

Wouldn’t it?

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

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

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

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

It just never ends, does it?

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

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

But here’s the cold reality circa September 2009:

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

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

Can they avoid the supreme embarrassment of 100 losses?

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

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

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

You were doomed from the start…

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Another prime example of what Al Davis & Peter Angelos have in common

Posted on 26 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Banning free speech and free access to information by legitimate journalists is now apparently catching on in the NFL, as Al Davis has banned former-QB and current CBS broadcaster Rich Gannon from the Oakland Raiders facility in advance of Sunday’s game against the Broncos.

“Rich Gannon is not welcome here,” Raiders executive John Herrera said Friday when asked about the ban. “We told CBS we did not want him in our building, we did not want him to be part of our production meeting, and that’s where it sits.”

“He’s attacked us on a regular basis since becoming a member of the media,” Raiders King of Propaganda (also known as public relations executive) John Herrera said. “After affording him the opportunity to establish a career here, he has since gone on to attack us in a way that’s totally unacceptable.”

This has become a way of life in Oakland, as it is here in Baltimore with Peter Angelos in regard to me and WNST, who continually report the truth only to be scorned and castigated in an effort to undermine the credibility of our journalistic conviction. (Hey, WNST is a Top 100K Alexa company and the Orioles are 60-93 — not a low blow, just a fact!)

At least someone in the media in the Bay Area has some level of conviction and integrity to ask the team to explain the “corporate rationale.” But as you’ll see below, the goofy un-American, Marxist answers that you get from delusional, uber-wealthy 80-year old men are right up there with the nonsensical speeches of Iran and Libya’s leadership at the United Nations over the past few days.

And with Gannon, he’s a guy who wore the silver helmet and led the team to a Super Bowl seven seasons ago and was the NFL’s MVP in 2002. I just a kid from Dundalk with a microphone and a 25-year record of journalistic integrity.

Gannon’s crime? He had the audacity to say the Raiders should “blow up the building and start over again.”

“We think in a post 9/11 world, that’s not a very proper thing to say,” Herrera said. “It’s uncalled for. He seems to be a guy who can’t get over the fact that he played the worst Super Bowl game in the history of the game and he wants to blame everybody but himself.

“I guess it’s our fault he threw five interceptions.”

(I think this was known as the “sticks and stones” reasoning when I was 8 years old on the Colgate Elementary playground in Dundalk.)

CBS is outraged, the NFL is embarrassed (as they should be) and Rich Gannon is apparently amused, because he’ll be calling the Denver game at 4:05 p.m. in Oakland on Sunday no matter what Al Davis thinks.

This is a way of life in Oakland, as we’ve reported several times before.

So, you want to be a sportswriter, huh?

Here’s a classic video of the aforementioned Herrera attempting to humiliate and intimidate a Bay Area reporter last year over the Lane Kiffin storm, which all turned out to be true:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruiUgDyMf60[/youtube]

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It’s about time for Dave Trembley to go…

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a coach-lover, not a hater.

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

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

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

I would be actively seeking a new manager.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I don’t like what I see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A weekend of MASN and Baltimore and Washington and “Battle of Basement”

Posted on 24 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, if they weren’t going to get the sweep at least they lost in dramatic fashion. Jamie Walker gave up a prodigious grand slam to Adam Dunn in the 7th inning and the Nats beat the O’s 8-5 to avert a sweep in D.C.

Brad Bergesen pitched well enough. The Orioles battled and the game was pretty nip and tuck through the middle innings with lead changes, big hits and competitiveness. But it all unraveled in the 7th for the O’s bullpen after Bergesen hit the shower.

I’ve spent all three days pretty much glued to the TV watching this series. I was just as amazed by all of the empty seats as I was the full ones. It looks like they sold a lot of tickets and many didn’t come. It was just weird looking at it for 30 innings over the last 45 hours.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog all weekend but I thought I’d just do a “summary” here today about what I’m thinking as I watch all of this pretty-much lousy baseball.

I’m also a little overwhelmed with MASN’s hodgepodge display of Nats and O’s as “friendly rivals” and how chummy the “Battle of the Beltway” feels as they both meet again and are both again headed for the basement of their respective East divisions. I call it the “Battle of the Basement” and it feels like it’ll probably be that way again next year.

With Jim Palmer back in the booth today, it was a refreshing change from the Nats-dominated coverage from Friday and Saturday. And when Cakes talks, I listen. He’s one of the few (Dave Johnson would be another) who actually teaches me stuff as I watch the game. I like that.

So, before I criticize MASN, let me say that Palmer eradicates many of their deficiencies with his brilliance, information, stories and general arrogance and candor. At this point, he’s Howard Cosell compared to what I hear anywhere else on MASN, CBS Radio, 105.7, Pressbox or anyone else who is “on the payroll” with the Orioles, Angelos or the axis of the “powers that be.”

But I’m just overwhelmed with how “templated” the Orioles and Nationals “fan experience” is when they tune their favorite club in on television. Both of their TV ratings are in the dumper and heading south with my last place summer nights. So, I suppose, other than telling us when Matt Wieters comes and pitching more events and MASN house ads and promotions, what else can they do with these teams that will be well into September before they win a combined 100 games?

But I love baseball. And I’m watching. And I’ve been taking some notes this weekend on Baltimore vs. Washington and how “flat” this thing feels.

Some random observations:

* A lot of orange in the seats all weekend in D.C. The O’s fans represented in almost Boston-like color in the seats. I’m not sure if that’s the D.C. side of the fanbase that thought that having a team they knew would suck as opposed to Montreal’s problems and MLB’s ownership would be a better play five years ago?

I’m not really sure how I would feel if I lived in Rockville and loved baseball. Why would I become a Nats fans? (Granted, it’s pretty easy to jump off the orange ship with the way Angelos has behaved with D.C. in general over the past 15 years. He’s more disliked in D.C. than he is here for trying to block the team’s entrance and now summarily screwing up the TV rights and presentation of the games.)

I suppose it’s the same situation for someone in Baltimore who truly fell in love with the Redskins in 1984 and just became a fan of the “nearest” team. I’ve rooted for the Capitals most of my life and considered the Bullets my “home” team until they moved into D.C. and changed their name to the Wizards.

It sucks bad enough being an Orioles fan. Imagine adopting the Nationals and watching them BOTH and trying to hang in there watching two doses of MASN every night to get your baseball fix…

* Debbi Taylor, former NESN girl who got her start as Peter Gammons’ girl wonder about 15 years ago at ESPN, makes Amber Theoharis look like Bonnie Bernstein or Suzy Kolber. The Nats broadcast team in general sounds like vanilla, blah, so what, etc. But again, they do have a 13-30 team that they have to make sense of every day. It ain’t easy talking day after day about losing. Trust me, we at WNST.net feel the same way. How many ways can you “sell” something that’s lousy?

* Palmer is hysterically funny. I’m not sure the guys at Famous Dave’s are happy with his assessment of their food, but it is funny.

* Hall of Famer Bob Feller stopped by in the middle of the game today and was just fabulous with one liners and old stories. Jim Palmer and Bob Feller talking old-school baseball might bore the hell out of some of the 21-year olds in the audience, but I love that stuff. I wish Feller, who is now 90 years young, would’ve stayed for two more innings. My Pop told me all about Bob Feller and the old stories are what sustain my interest in baseball these days.

•    I really wish this rivalry were good. The Redskins-Ravens thing is hot. Even when both teams suck, the game will always be a four-year war and the fans draw up the battle lines. I’m good with that. I hate the Redskins. I want to hate the Nationals. But neither one of these teams gives me any reason to feel any emotion. We had a bus trip planned for today and couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go. That’s pretty sad, I think. The Nationals are – alas — just “another team.” I wonder if sometime in the next 10 years whether it will ever develop into a “Hatfield-McCoy” thing. Right now, that feels a long, long way away…

* The one thing that I have found thoroughly offensive since Friday night has been MASN’s “mixed marriage” coverage. Look, I CLEARLY KNOW AND APPRECIATE that they’re “saving a buck” by combining the coverage. But if I hear Dibble call the Nationals “us” or “we” again or watch one more dorky Nats fan talk about “defining moments” in the same exact canned ads as they play on the Orioles broadcasts as they start the day 12-30, I’m gonna puke.

Angelos really HAS screwed up both cities for baseball. At least it’s comforting to know MASN’s just as lousy as a “templated” D.C. product.

And while I’m on it, the marketing phrase “Birdland” sucks. It’s just awful.

In D.C., they’re clearly “cultivating” Natstown”

As my wife pointed out, what would be wrong with “O-Town”?

Or “O’s Town”?

Anything but “Birdland,” which sounds like a place a last-place team would play to me.

•    I’ve gotta go now. Ray Knight and Johnny Holliday are on talking about the Nats in HD. I have to tune into MASN2 now to see Rick Dempsey and Tom Davis try to make sense of a loss to the Nats.

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Preakness on my mind…

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m up early this morning and reading online about the Preakness and where it stands in the realm of the sports world circa 2009. I’ve been googling videos, watching drunken fights, potty races, some bare breasts and (oh yeah) horse racing and a history and legacy that defines sports in Baltimore and Maryland over the last century.

This week I could most certainly write my annual “Can The Preakness Be Saved?” blog/column and now that I’m back on the radio maybe it’s time to have a spirited debate about the Preakness and its merits on AM 1570.

Does it matter?

Do you like the changes to infield?

Are you going this week?

When’s the last time you went? (Or, when is the last time you went to any track, period?)

Why don’t you go?

Do you know how to read the Racing Form?

If you do go, why do you go?

I’m actually going to the race on Saturday and have been asked to participate on one of the stages and interview some of the stars of the event. I’m excited and honored. I love the Preakness but I also readily and sadly admit its incredible decline from once reverent status.

It’s been fascinating to see how everyone from Peter Angelos to Kevin Plank to David Cordish — and to my knowledge these are three of the most prominent and wealthy branders, marketers and developers our community has — have all rallied to keep the Preakness in Baltimore.

I just can’t figure out why, other than sentimentality and the dream to try to fix it in someway but my fear isn’t for the race as much as the sport in general. No one under 50 acknowledges that the track exists. And they’ve done a horrible job over the last 25 years of keeping the track up to date, the sport up to date and the marketing of the Preakness has turned up a reputation as a raunchy, outdoor, East Coast Mardi Gras drunken fest.

My questions:

Are they bailing out Chrysler here or can this race not only be “saved” but can it be “revived” over the next decade? And what would it take to revive the Preakness? (Not to mention revive horse racing in general.

No one loves the Kentucky Derby more than I do. But the city of Louisville absolutely “lays out” for that event in every way, for every man, woman and child. It’s a BIG, BIG deal there — a major source of civic pride that only the Ravens have in Baltimore circa 2009.

Then there’s the whole slots, gambling, new track issues…

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover at 2 p.m. today.

(We’ll also talk a little Caps Game 7, King of Baltimore Sportstalk and Orioles-Rays).

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