Tag Archive | "Art Modell"

Greatest Ravens by jersey number (21-40)

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (21-40)

Posted on 26 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With Sports Illustrated releasing its list of all-time best NFL players by jersey number this week, I decided to look back at the 15-year history of the Baltimore Ravens to construct a list of the greatest players for Nos. 1-99.

Numbers 1 through 20 included greats such as Matt Stover and Ed Reed as well as lackluster selections such as David Tyree and Wally Richardson.

Part two (21-40) provides a few interesting debates with a few more selections of attrition.

21 Chris McAlister (1999-2008)

The paradoxical cornerback’s exit under the new regime of John Harbaugh was unfortunate, but there was no questioning McAlister’s talent when his mind was focused on football. The three-time Pro Bowl selection (2003-04, 2006) is the best cornerback in franchise history.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sjj5OA1I5UU[/youtube]

McAlister will eventually be a part of the Ring of Honor, where he will become the second honoree to wear No. 21, but the only deserving one. Earnest Byner had a good NFL career in Cleveland (with the exception of “The Fumble”) and Washington, but he being the first member of the Ravens Ring of Honor is solely a product of Art Modell’s affection for the running back.

22 Duane Starks (1998-2001)

McAlister’s counterpart receives the nod in a close race with cornerback Samari Rolle. Starks lacked consistency in his four-year career with the Ravens, but his play reached new heights during the team’s postseason run that ended with the Lombardi Trophy in Tampa. Starks intercepted two passes in the AFC Championship and returned a Kerry Collins attempt the other way 49 yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl (check out the 0:46 mark below).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uW5vor6kZ4c[/youtube]

23 Willis McGahee (2007-present)

McGahee’s career in Baltimore has declined after a 1,200-yard season in 2007, but the veteran runner easily tops the list of players to wear the number, which includes Moe Williams, Jamaine Winborne, Earnest Hunter, and Dameon Hunter.

Though no longer a premier back, McGahee can take consolation in a certain moment in Oakland last season.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxTQAqB8Q0Q[/youtube]

24 Domonique Foxworth (2009-present)

Despite playing only one season with the Ravens so far (and missing his second with a torn ACL), Foxworth’s performance in 2009 trumps the likes of Corey Fuller, Donny Brady, Alvin Porter, and 2006 third-round bust David Pittman.

25 Chris Carr (2009-present)

Despite a number of players wearing the number, Chris Carr wins out over inadequate cornerbacks such as DeRon Jenkins, Evan Oglesby, and Clarence Love.

26 Rod Woodson (1998-2001)
Woodson

The veteran transitioned from cornerback to safety and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl during his four-year stay in Baltimore. Dawan Landry deserves a mention and Priest Holmes wore the number his rookie season, but Woodson is the unanimous choice here.

27 Ray Rice (2008-present)

Safety Stevon Moore was one of the few competent members of the Baltimore defense in the early years, but Rice’s breakout 2009 campaign makes him a slam-dunk choice for No. 27. Entering his third season, Rice hopes he can make the number as synonymous with Ravens football as No. 52 and 75.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4-nT1WNuik&feature=related[/youtube]

28 Gary Baxter (2001-04)

McAlister wore the number his rookie season and Tom Zbikowski is making a name for himself, but Baxter was a solid member of the Baltimore secondary before ditching the Ravens for Cleveland, where his career was essentially ruined by patella tendon tears in both knees in 2006.

29 Chester Taylor (2002-05)

Taylor was a dependable backup in 2004 and 2005 when Jamal Lewis’ body began breaking down. His performance eventually earned him a nice payday in Minnesota before the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson. Two players deserving posthumous recognition are safety Eric Turner and fullback Chuck Evans. Terry Allen also wore the number in the running back-starved season of 2001.

30 Obafemi Ayanbadejo (1999-2001)

With Eugene Daniel and Jamel White his only real competition, the man with probably the coolest name in the history of the franchise earns the honor despite spending the latter half of the Super Bowl season on Injured Reserve.

31 Jamal Lewis (2000-2006)

With a bruising style unlike any other, Lewis was an unstoppable force in 2003, rushing for 2,066 yards and a then-record 295 against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2. In his prime, Lewis was the type of runner defensive players were afraid to tackle. He is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuN3hN8j8L8&feature=PlayList&p=7FFF13B94FD79303&index=0&playnext=1[/youtube]

32 Sam Gash (2000-02)

The veteran fullback led the way for Lewis in his rookie season and is the most deserving of a group of backs that includes Musa Smith and Errict Rhett. Gash was the epitome of an “old-school” fullback.

33 Le’Ron McClain (2007-present)

Some will argue Priest Holmes as a deserving choice for this number—the first back to have a 1,000-yard season in team history in 1998—but McClain’s two Pro Bowl selections and improbable 2008 season in which he rushed for 902 yards earn him the honor.

McClain

McClain’s running style reminds you a little bit of Bam Morris, another back to wear the number in 1996 and 1997. Unlike the troubled Morris, however, McClain has managed to keep his nose clean, literally and figuratively.

34 Ovie Mughelli (2003-06)

Though he was a late bloomer in Baltimore, Mughelli grabs the brass ring with his only real competition being Jay Graham and current return man Jalen Parmele. The latter still has an opportunity to stake a claim in the future, but Graham’s injury-riddled career fell off a cliff after rushing for an amazing 154 yards in his first career start in 1997.

35 Corey Ivy (2006-08, 2009)

Despite his small stature at 5-foot-9, Ivy was a steady nickelback with the ability to blitz effectively. His standout moment with the Ravens came during a dominant 27-0 win over the Steelers in 2006 in which the defensive back grabbed an interception, sacked Ben Roethlisberger, and forced a fumble. Ivy edges Robert Bailey, the nickel during the 2000 season, and fullback Carwell Gardner (1996).

36 Jim Leonhard (2008)

B.J. Sams was a good return specialist for four seasons with the Ravens, but Leonhard personified the Ravens’ underdog season in 2008 in which they advanced to the AFC Championship game with a rookie head coach and quarterback.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQh3PngyyWw[/youtube]

The undersized safety’s play was a major asset in place of the injured Dawan Landry and earned him a nice contract with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets the following season.

37 Bennie Thompson (1996-1999)

Deion Sanders earned the most attention with his two-year stint in Baltimore, but Thompson was a special teams standout during the infancy of the franchise. Thompson played the game with the crazed demeanor needed to launch oneself into the wedge of the opposition’s return team. Thompson earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 1998 for his special teams prowess.

38 James Trapp (1999-2002)

Despite being an ordained minister, Trapp is remembered most for being ejected from a game in 2002 after stomping on the head of Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress, a move many in Baltimore didn’t mind a bit. Trapp was a quality backup in the Ravens secondary for four seasons and edged out the likes of Antonio Langham, Mike Anderson, and Raymond Walls.

39 Alan Ricard (2000-05)

After much painful debate, I decided against Daren Stone, the culprit of one of the dumbest penalties in franchise history, as the all-time No. 39.
stone

Ricard was the lead blocker and a Pro Bowl alternate in Jamal Lewis’ record-breaking 2003 season and was a great fullback for several seasons.

40 Cory Ross (2006-07)

Though he wore the number for just one season (switching to No. 34 in 2007), Ross filled in for injured return specialist B.J. Sams during the latter portion of the 2006 season, which was enough to earn the distinction for a very insignificant number in team history.

Cory Ross

The deceased Kenyon Cotton and current bubble defensive back K.J. Gerard are the only other competitors in an underwhelming group of No. 40s.

Next up: For numbers 41 though 60, we’ll find who grabbed the honors for No. 46 and 48 (Impressive if you have names off the top of your head), and I’ll end the suspense surrounding the pick for No. 52. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with Lay Rewis.

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 18 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because I have some new rules to unleash for “The Greatest Song of All Time This Week.” Previously, I handed just one honor out per week-but I’m going to mix that up. I will now be handing out both “New” and “Classic” versions of the honor.

If you’re friends with me on Facebook (feel free to search “Glenn Clark” and add the man who is sipping Orange Kool-Aid after losing a bet to Ed in Park Heights), you know that this week’s “Classic” version (the rule is that the song must be at least 5 years old) is “Out of My Head” by Fastball…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7reY8OyYmLI[/youtube]

This week’s new version of “The Greatest Song of All Time This Week” isn’t really even a song I like that much. Honest to God. Frankly, I find “The Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney to be a particularly insufferable song musically. BUT-the speech from New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton at the front of the video is so freaking epic that I’m going to give it the honor anyway.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlXDo5WhQXI[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP’s David Ginsburg says Luke French, Seattle Mariners shut down Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Yeah, but how are you expected to get anything going against a Cy Young Award candidate like Jeanmar Gomez Luke French?!?!? The Buck Showalter era has been very good in Charm City, but there have still been a few puzzling pitchers to shut the O’s down.

What’s weirder? The fact that the Birds were able to muster just 3 hits against some fella named Luke French or the fact that Josh Bell had two of them?

It all wasted the best start made by Kevin Millwood arguably all season. He gave up just 3 hits and 3 walks over 7 and 2/3 innings, allowing just one run to cross the plate. Armando Gabino sadly wasn’t quite as effective.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had to remind everyone of this-but after the Birds have lost 3 of 4 for the first time under Showalter; I think it’s important.

You can’t win them all. You just can’t.

2. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of loss

Rough night for Ty Wigginton-who went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts and left 3 men on base. Of course, it was a rough night for just about anyone else who was wearing orange and black too.

In one of those “at least it’s familiar” feelings; you REALLY don’t want to look at these numbers. Trust me. Instead, check out something else baseball-related. Sara Saco-Vertiz is the gall that got hit by a foul ball recently at a Houston Astros game down at Minute Maid Park when her boyfriend “Bo the Bailer” jumped out of the way. She’s also a very pleasant distraction from what happened in the Orioles game last night. (Thanks H8TORADE!)

sarasaco

3. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says MRI on Craig Tatum’s knee ‘shows no damage’

Good news!

Or at least “oh…okay” news.

You know what-if this is the most interesting thing going on with the Orioles’ roster, it IS good news.

You know what else is good news? The new Harvard Sailing Team video that Dave Carey linked to my Facebook page last night. Thanks Dave!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FukzyfIqYf8[/youtube]

4. USA Today’s Paul White says O’s ‘soaring’ under Buck Showalter, but team still needs to improve roster

This is the unfortunate part about the reasonable success the Orioles have had recently. As solid as they’ve been, it just doesn’t REALLY matter.

The fact remains that it is MUCH nicer for us as fans to watch the team win a few games at the end of the season than to continue to lose games at a historic rate. I’m not trying to take away from the value of that, as it bothers me to watch losing as much if not more than anyone.

But this season has been over for some time. There was nothing to tangibly gain from a strong (or even semi-strong) finish to the season.

If the Orioles don’t make significant roster upgrades during the offseason and field a legitimate team come Opening Day; they’ll lose games in April and May of 2011 under ANY manager. Even Buck Showalter.

Wins this season are like “warm fuzzies.” They’re nice to have around, but they don’t actually help with anything. When you’re cold, you need a blanket-not something the size of pocket lint.

The Orioles don’t need warm fuzzies. They need a massive overhaul. It has started with the manager. Now they need more.

5. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Bowie Baysox OF Xavier Avery had 4 RBI in win over Trenton Thunder on farm

A few things before we move on from the Orioles…

-The O’s and M’s wrap up their 3 game set tonight at OPACY. First pitch between Jeremy Guthrie and David Pauley is at 7:05pm and the game can be seen on MASN.

-Did you miss Xavier Avery this morning with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out. Other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Rich Dubroff (Carroll County Times)-who discussed all things Orioles with Drew
  • Peter King (SI/NBC)-who checked in from Westminster to preview this afternoon’s “Tweetup” at Amicci’s in Little Italy (4:30-6pm…make sure you come hang out!)
  • Seth Everett (ESPN Radio New York/ESPNNewYork.com)-who checked in with Drew to preview the Jets as we finished the AFC East in our preview of every team on the Ravens’ schedule
  • Our “Cheap Shots from the Bleachers”, including Drew’s shot at all parties involved in the Renee Gork Arkansas/Florida debacle and my shot at the Ravens’ “You Make the Cut” game
  • Plenty of audio from McDaniel College Tuesday-including John Harbaugh, Jim Zorn and Oniel Cousins
  • Todd Heap-who checked in with Rex Snider yesterday afternoon following Ravens practice
  • Matt Bowen (National Football Post)-who discussed his former teammate Brett Favre with Rex Tuesday as well

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so go check it out. Your day is planned now. You can thank me in form of cash money.

6. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says David Hale, Matt Birk, Davon Drew, Marcus Paschal, Brandon McKinney, Daniel Sanders, Stefan Rodgers, Jared Gaither all missed practice Tuesday at Ravens Training Camp

When it comes to Birk and McKinney, my initial thought is “I bet they’ll be plenty healthy when the team is in Owings Mills next week.”

I’m not quite as laid back about David Hale; as the team doesn’t really have much interior line depth. Birk, Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda and Chris Chester are there to handle the Top 4 spots; but the team clearly doesn’t want to have to use Chester as the reserve center.

Now-they could be more flexible if they had better tackle depth. Should they be able to start Gaither and Michael Oher with Cousins behind them; it COULD allow Tony Moll to play guard and have the team use Chester in a pinch as a reserve center.

The thing is-they need these guys to be healthy to do ANY of that. That’s an issue as of right now.

7. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ed Reed has visited rehab specialist in Atlanta recently to ‘accelerate’ hip healing

You know what else might help Ed ‘accelerate’ his healing? Showing him this picture of Miss USA Rima Fakih. (Thanks Guyism!)

fakih

8. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Tavares Gooden working with first team defense at JACK LB spot

And before we move on from the Ravens, a few things here as well:

-I have no idea what to make of the JACK LB battle. The job appeared to be Jameel McClain’s to lose, but both Gooden and Dannell Ellerbe have gotten their chances to run with the 1′s after McClain started against the Carolina Panthers. At this point, I’ll still leaning towards McClain-but it will be interesting to see who works with the first unit at FedEx Field Saturday night.

-A reminder that the Ravens hit the practice field today-if you missed the 8:45am practice, you missed it. There’s a special teams practice at 2pm today. Today and tomorrow are the LAST TWO DAYS that you can see the Ravens practice in person at McDaniel College; as they are closed to the public Friday before Saturday’s preseason showdown with the Washington Redskins.

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Maryland WR Emani Lee-Odai fractured pinkie during practice, Ralph Friedgen expects him to need surgery

This is a tough break for the senior; who was expected to play an important role in a surprisingly deep group of receivers.

Congratulations also to Terrapins LB’s Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten; who were both named to the Butkus Award Watch List; and to Terps WR/KR Torrey Smith, who was named to the Paul Hornung Award Watch List-given to the nation’s most versatile player.

And if Maryland needs some depth at WR with Lee-Odai out, may I suggest Ann French? (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

annfrench

10. UMTerps.com says Gary Williams to join Babe Ruth, Johnny Unitas, Art Modell, Jim McKay, Brooks Robinson in inaugural “Hall of Legends” class at Sports Legends Museum

We could debate the names that AREN’T part of that list (Cal Ripken, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, Chuck Thompson, Jonathan Ogden, etc.); but that isn’t the point of this really. They’re going to have years to get all of these guys in this group, and this first group of 6 is absolutely outstanding.

The real question is…which year will it be when we see “Nasty” Nestor Aparicio inducted?

I’m sure it has to be soon, right?

And finally, I leave you with this.

The young lady in my life (whatever that means) is a Dallas Cowboys fan. I’m not proud, trust me. We call her “Boomer Sooner” around here. I hope I NEVER hear her singing this song. (Thanks Deadspin!)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KDuKAT5Apg[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Blog & Tackle: Sweet tune could return

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Blog & Tackle: Sweet tune could return

Posted on 06 August 2010 by Chris Pika

A familiar tune, played with pride during some of Baltimore’s greatest football moments, and mournfully after one of the city’s darkest, could return to herald Ravens touchdowns in M&T Bank Stadium this season if fans have their way.

The Ravens through their website, are giving fans the chance to decide whether the current fight song, written in 1998, should remain, or if an alternate version rewriting the words of the old “Baltimore Colts Fight Song” to fit the current club should replace it — with the melody familiar to generations of Baltimore football fans.

According to Baltimore’s Marching Ravens band director John Ziemann, the fight song has been a part of Baltimore football history since it was written in 1947. “Six pro teams used it,” he said. “The 1947 (AAFC) Colts, the 1950 (NFL) Colts, the 1953-83 Colts, the USFL’s Baltimore Stars in 1985, the CFL’s Baltimore Stallions in 1994-95 and the Ravens in 1996.”

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 29:  The band of the Baltimore Ravens performs before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on November 29, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

When the melody was played by the Colts Marching Band, it was as familiar to Colts fans as “Fly, Eagles, Fly” in Philadelphia, “Skol, Vikings” in Minnesota and even “Hail To The Redskins” in D.C. The tune was recognized among football fans nationwide as almost no NFL Films piece on the Colts was produced without the melody playing in the background.

When the Colts left in 1984, the band played on — as they did when the original NFL Colts left after the 1950 season — and the fight song was performed wherever they traveled to play, especially in NFL cities for pregame and halftime shows, carrying the torch of a love lost and hope of a new start.

That bond between the city and the melody became even stronger when the band played it in front of the Maryland State House in 1987 before a key vote on stadium complex funding. The emotional response of seeing the band carry the tune helped the measure to pass.

The NFL did return in 1996 when the Browns moved to Baltimore, and the club, out of respect for the previous history, did not adopt the song as the Ravens played at old Memorial Stadium — but the band played the tune during the ’96 season to celebrate Baltimore’s return to the NFL.

“In 1998, the Ravens decided they wanted their own identity, and a great fight song was writen by John Modell (son of Ravens’ owner Art Modell),” Ziemann said. The same year, the name of the band changed to Baltimore’s Marching Ravens as the team moved to the new downtown facility the band had helped secure in a small but meaningful way almost a decade earlier.

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 22:  A band member for the Baltimore Ravens plays the tuba before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at M&T Bank Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Colts defeated the Ravens 17-15. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

The organization did its best to ingrain the current fight song with the fans. But it never really seemed to fit in a city that reveres its history — especially when it comes to football. Over the years, fans contacted the Ravens about restoring the beloved melody.

The opinion of the organization changed when movie producer and Baltimore native Barry Levinson became part of ESPN’s “30 for 30″ documentary series. Levinson chose to spotlight the band and its’ contribution to the city in great football times and especially in the years without the NFL. Just as Levinson had used the “Baltimore Colts Fight Song” to effect in his movie “Diner,” the ESPN movie, “The Band That Woudn’t Die,” gave new life to the melody in an unexpected way.

“The Ravens organization has always had a close ear to the needs and views of the fans,” Ziemann said. “And last year, when the premiere of the ESPN movie was shown at M&T Bank Stadium, the Marching Ravens did a pre-concert on the field. We played the ‘Baltimore Ravens Fight Song,’ and it got applause. But when the ‘Baltimore Colts Fight Song’ was performed, the place went wild. This started the Ravens rethinking about restoring the song.”

That was just the start. New words were needed to fit the melody, making the appropriate changes while keeping some of the historical aspect of the original. “New words were written by musical director Todd Clontz and myself, and focus groups were formed for opinions on it, taking all the necessary steps,” Ziemann said.

The “Baltimore Fight Song” was born, again. But the Ravens organization did not want to make the decision to restore the song on its own. It would be up to the fans to voice their opinions.

“The Ravens, to be fair to the fans, have put it up for a vote on their website,” said Ziemann. And if the song is restored, it will be performed August 12 at the first home preseason game (vs. Carolina).”

This potential switch in fight songs will not sell one more ticket or another piece of merchandise for the Ravens, but the change would return a sweet tune back where it belongs in celebration of a city and its football heritage.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle).

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Regarding LeBron: How Would We Have Felt?

Posted on 13 July 2010 by Glenn Clark

If I chime in on LeBron James, does that officially mean that EVERY columnist/blogger in the world of sports media would have dedicated print/type to the subject?

I will admit that I have much less moved by the LeBron James saga than the large majority of this country. I was unmoved by his free agent courting process, I was unmoved by ESPN’s “The Decision” special, I was unmoved by his decision to bolt Cleveland for Miami, and I was unmoved by Dan Gilbert losing his mind Thursday night.

I will also admit that rarely am I particularly moved in any way by a subject in sports that doesn’t garner any sort of emotional investment from me. With no offense to the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers, my level of involvement in the NBA Finals was minimal at best. If I was home and the games were on, I watched them. I certainly did not plan my month of June around making sure I was home to see Kobe Bryant go up against Paul Pierce.

I have no emotional investment when it comes to LeBron James. I have enjoyed watching him play at times (his masterpiece against the Detroit Pistons in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals was special), but I have never been much too concerned about what he was doing on or off the floor.

Apparently I’m one of the few.

The most compelling thing about the LeBron saga for me has been the reaction-both in Cleveland and across the country. Be it fans burning LBJ jerseys in “The Comeback City” or Jesse Jackson forcing himself into the topic, I have been intrigued by all of the attention that has been placed on the subject.

Heck, even my partner on “The Morning Reaction” Drew Forrester has been inspired to talk about the NBA, a subject I couldn’t even ask him to discuss the other 11 months of the year.

Obviously the most irrational reaction has come from the shores of Lake Erie, where sports fans have not only burned jerseys; but have made much more dangerous threats and have compared the man they previously called “The King” to their other most despised sports figure-former Baltimore Ravens majority owner Art Modell.

Also amongst the reaction have been the inevitable comparisons to heartbreak-or potential heartbreak-in other cities. For example, Yahoo! Sports’ Les Carpenter (formerly of the Washington Post) wrote a column comparing James’ decision to depart Cleveland to the decision Cal Ripken made in 1988 to re-sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

It’s a fair comparison. Both were local products who achieved great success early in their career with their hometown team. There are also key differences.

Had Cal Ripken walked away from Charm City following the 1988 season, he would have been doing it in an era where fan reaction would have been much more difficult to gauge.

There were no sports talk radio stations in Baltimore in 1988. Blogging didn’t exist. Only the columnists at the Baltimore Sun and Washington Post would have REALLY had a chance to express the feelings about Ripken’s decision in a way that could have been knowledge to the man who would eventually become a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

There are also career differences-as Cal Ripken had helped lead the Birds to victory in the 1983 World Series, while LeBron James had never reached the mountaintop with the Cavs. Cleveland fans are starved for a championship at this point considering the many near misses of not only the Cavs, but also the near misses of the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Indians over the last 25 years.

Part of the angst felt by Cleveland fans certainly has something to do with the fact that they had to be convinced James would be part of the solution to finally end the city’s title drought. In reality, it’s hard for fans in ANY city in the country to really understand the mental makeup of a fanbase that hasn’t claimed a major pro sports title since 1964. Heck, in Baltimore alone we’ve won 5 titles since then, despite having only two pro sports-one of which was missing for over a decade.

However, I don’t necessarily think it’s unfair to try to consider how we’d feel in the situation. It’s with that in mind that I offer this hypothetical, which may or may not have any real validity in the big picture.

Let’s imagine that the Baltimore Bullets never left town. Instead of moving the team to Washington, Abe Pollin was granted an expansion team in DC and sold the Bullets to local ownership. Let’s also consider that instead of the Bullets franchise winning the 1978 NBA Championship; the “Washington Wizards” expansion team won the title.

Stay with me.

Let’s continue with the hypothetical and say that the Baltimore Bullets franchise during the 80′s and 90′s had about the same success level as the team that ACTUALLY moved in the nation’s capital did. The Bullets/Wizards franchise made just one playoff appearance between 1988 and 2004-a 1st round sweep at the hands of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in 1997.

Now let’s consider that in the mid-1990′s, the team had moved out of the clearly defunct Baltimore Arena and into a new building, potentially where M&T Bank Stadium now sits. The building is now known as the “Under Armour Center”, but was previously known as “PSINet Arena.”

Still with me? I hope so. I’ve laid the groundwork for the “Baltimore Crabs” (the NBA still forced a name change due to the violent nature of the name “Bullets”); a team that has existed since 1963 without winning a NBA Championship and has at times struggled to survive given the organization’s struggles and the level of pro competition in both Baltimore and DC.

Now, let’s have that organization meet a significant player. Let’s say that Towson Catholic graduate Carmelo Anthony decided that instead of going to Syracuse, he would follow in the footsteps of fellow Catholic League star Juan Dixon and could commit to Maryland. During the ’02-’03 season; ‘Melo would join with Steve Blake and Drew Nicholas to lead Gary Williams’ Terrapins to a 2nd consecutive NCAA Championship and then bolt to the NBA.

Look, I said this was a hypothetical. I probably should have said “dream sequence.” But let’s not split hairs here. I know Carmelo was BORN in New York and has always been fascinated with The Big Apple, but let’s pretend he was MORE fascinated with staying home. It works better here.

Being one of the poorer teams in the ’02-’03 season, the Crabs obtained the #2 (or #3) overall pick in the NBA Draft; where they were able to select Carmelo after the Cavaliers selected LeBron James.

Suddenly, a franchise with no direction and no hope becomes a team with a local star player-a player that would quickly develop into a perennial All-Star and would lead his team to the playoffs year in and year out.

Games at the Under Armour Center are now sold out before the season after previously being attended at O’s-like rates. Businesses near the Inner Harbor boom 50+ nights a year when the Crabs are at home. Crabs jerseys with the Number 15 on them are as popular sellers as Ravens jerseys with the Number 52.

On top of all of that, the Crabs really put things together in 2010-2011, and Carmelo eventually leads the Crabs to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history-where they unfortunately lose to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Did you stay with me?

It’s the summer of 2010. The Baltimore Crabs have acquired some solid players, but were fortunate to get past the Miami Heat in ’11 because Chris Bosh was hurt early in the season. With a healthy Bosh teaming with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the Heat are again viewed as the significant favorites to win the East. Amare Stoudemire had a stellar season for the Knicks, and rumors swirl that New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul will join him at Madison Square Garden to try to make a run at the Heat.

Carmelo Anthony is now facing free agency. He’s beloved in Baltimore, where his family and friends have enjoyed watching him play night in and night out. The people of Baltimore view him as an icon, but he’s not sure he can get over the hump and win a championship given the commitment level from ownership.

With all of that in mind, Carmelo bolts. He signs a max deal to join Amare and Chris Paul in New York, where a welcome party is held in Times Square and he’s given a key to the city by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Now here’s the question.

How do you feel?

Are you burning a jersey in the street?

Are you calling Carmelo a “coward” or a “traitor” or “Benedict Anthony”?

Are you ready to picket outside the Carmelo Anthony Youth Center?

Or are you willing to say “he’s still a hometown guy, and I’ll always be grateful for what he did here”?

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer.

The reality is that I might be closer to “burning a jersey in the street” than I would be to “thanking him for the years he gave to the city.”

How would you react? How would Baltimore have felt if this were OUR star?

It’s worth considering.

-G

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Friday on “The Morning Reaction”

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Friday on “The Morning Reaction”

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Ryan Chell

Hey guys, Ryan Chell here filling in the big shoes, wearing the big pants for Glenn Clark today. I’m substitute teaching. I’m coming in from the bullpen. Off the bench. Just think of me as Chris Tillman, who most likely will be starting for the Orioles on Saturday in Kevin Millwood‘s spot in the rotation as he went on the DL earlier this week.

Chris Tillman

The phones are buzzing this morning, so I guess if I didn’t know how to answer phones here at WNST, I certainly know now. I wonder why they’re buzzing this morning…is it because the Orioles came back in the eighth last night to win against the Rangers, guaranteeing they have at least one pitcher with at least four wins before the All-Star break…?

Last night’s game had me worried at first. When Tommy Hunter had a number of strikeouts through three innings, it had the makings of an ugly game at the start. Good to finally see another team’s bullpen choke for once.

Tommy Hunter

And for David Hernandez to finally get four wins and have us escape history, it is a breath of fresh air to see that the Orioles will escape the bad side of the record books.

David Hernandez

But did you think that at this point in the season, David Hernandez would be leading the team in wins?

Ubaldo Jimenez won his 15th game of the season last night against Chris Carpenter and the Cards last night. A horrible series for the Cardinals to say the least, but man Jimenez has been outstanding this year.

Ubaldo Jimenez

He went 8 innings last night against the Cards in his 18th start of the year. He likely will get 14 more starts so he probably wont get to 30 wins, but he is likely to end the season with around 25, which would equate to half of the wins the O’s may have as a team at the end of the year-on his own. (Insert joke here O’s fans)

Baltimore Orioles struggling

And what’s even worse is that the rich get richer, as multiple media outlets are buzzing about the trade that might be happening between the Yankees and the Mariners involving Cliff Lee.

Cliff Lee

Lee pitches tonight against the Yanks, and given his track record lately, he is going to through a complete game. He’s already done it against the Yanks in the last couple of weeks. The proposed deal would be Lee going to the Yanks for top prospect Jesus Montero, who is slated to replace Jorge Posada behind the plate, and probably some other prospects.

That also may mean the end of the road for Javier Vazquez in New York (twice).

Javier Vazquez

Seriously though, with LeBron James making the decision last night to follow Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to Miami, another triumvirate has been built in the Eastern Conference. Miami’s Big Three is going to rival Boston’s Big Three in Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett, and could immediately put Miami back on top, at least on paper right now.

The only issue is now, with these three max free agents coming in, the Heat are going to have to move some more payroll to fit under the cap. And it’s already begun, as the Heat are shipping local product Michael Beasley to the Timberwolves for a 2011 second round pick.

Michael Beasley

At this rate, Bosh, Wade and LeBron may be playing with this guy as opposed to top-5 draft talent like Beasley.

Bad Basketball

The buzz around the country, or at least in Cleveland, is just like it was 15 years ago, when the Browns left Cleveland to come here to be the Ravens in Baltimore. Art Modell is a curse word up there in Ohio now, and it’s a shame because that decision will probably keep Modell out of the Hall of Fame. Check out Nestor’s blog regarding the weight that may have just been lifted off Art’s shoulders…

Art Modell

I don’t think LeBron’s decision to go to Miami will keep him out of the basketball Hall of Fame though. And in reality, they are not the same. Modell moved the team out of Cleveland because he wasn’t getting support for the team; LeBron had all the support and backing from the fans.

Art did it for a money issue; LeBron left close to 30 million on the table by not signing with the Cavs.

But now we’re hearing it could be a money thing too, because Florida is one of seven states in the country with no state income tax.

And I’ll tell you what…talking about owners…Cleveland Owner Dan Gilbert’s letter to the fans regarding “King James” is some strong stuff, and it actually just popped up for me just trying to go to Clevelandcavaliers.com

Strong stuff. He’s got balls. The only issue is now, he doesn’t have any players.. We’ll see how good Moe Williams, Antawn Jamison, etc. are without James. It’s real simple. Without LeBron, the Cavs are just the Wizards up a little on the map latitude-wise.

Pete Caringi, soccer coach at UMBC, called into the show to talk about the World Cup Finale. He had Spain from the start, and to be honest, I think that’s the safe bet here.

David Villa

The game is on Sunday at 2:30. Tune into WNST and WNST.net for expanded coverage of the World Cup as this thing is almost done for another four years. Aww….

Walt Harris came on to talk with Drew about being around the league, and bringing his experience to the Ravens until Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington come back from their knee injuries. We are getting him at his best, as he is coming off a Pro Bowl year in 2006, when he had his first year with the Niners.

Walt Harris

Harris has actually been in the league for the same amount of time as Ray Lewis, and was actually drafted 12 picks in front of Ray in the 1996 Draft by the Chicago Bears.

Check the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault for his interview with Drew…it was a good chat…

We couldn’t get in contact with Len Elmore, but big props to Craig Calcaterra from NBC Sports-HardballTalk for moving around and being flexible with us. Good timing for him to come on, because he was able to give some light on this “maybe” trade of Cliff Lee to the Yankees that I eluded to earlier. Check the Audio Vault…

If this does happen, just hand the Yankees the trophy. I would say what a joke, but they are beating the system. If there was one team that I wanted to see get Lee, it was either the Rangers or the White Sox.

The Rangers have some good pitching this year( as evidenced by Tommy Hunter last night against the O’s) but a legitimate ace on the staff like Lee would probably give them an MVP candidate in Josh Hamilton, along with the Cy Young winner in Lee.

Josh Hamilton

And for the White Sox to be winning 23 out of their last 27 games or something like that, and now they’re losing Jake Peavy for the rest of the season, they needed someone like Lee to keep the ship afloat. Unless there is a big prospect to fill Peavy’s spot, the White Sox’s almost perfect pitching rotation took a big hit-at least until the trade deadline. Keep an eye out for what GM Kenny Williams is going to do-and what Ozzie Guillen will say about it afterward.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6tiHb5uxtw[/youtube]

To wrap up the show, Sean Deveney from The Sporting News came on to talk with Drew and Thyrl about this shift in power in the Eastern Conference. He gave us a lot of insight regarding the Heat’s moves from this point on, including reaching out to Mike Miller as a shooter.

But he did believe this was premeditated by LeBron, Wade, and Bosh as far back as the All-Star break, and this was the only serious option for “The King”.

Glenn will be back here on Monday, and all will be status quo. I’ll be sent back down to the minor leagues of sports radio on Monday, probably just like Tillman over the weekend when they don’t need that fifth starter.

Have a good weekend sports fans!

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LeBron: The Decision….A Master Class in Self Promotion

Posted on 08 July 2010 by Tom Clayton

LeBronapalooza is heading towards its crescendo and it seems the tide has turned on the public’s opinion on “The King”. With his variety show debuting tonight it seems people have begun to view LeBron as an egomaniacal, self-indulgent brat and while that may or may not be true you have to give LeBron props in one area: self promotion.

LeBron’s special tonight may be over the top but give James credit; he has made his free agent signing an event. Think about it, when has a singular athlete ever used free agency to advance his brand recognition like LeBron has over the past couple of weeks? And yes I use the term brand when referring to LeBron because that is precisely what he is. He has built a business empire that employees hundreds of employees and generates more profit than a third world country with his skills on the basketball court.

I believe a major factor that has led to the decision of tonight’s proceeding other than LeBron’s enormous ego is that LeBron never went to college. He never had the excitement of having schools, championship coaches, and entire cities foam at the mouth for a chance to see him play for their team. On top of that LeBron never had the signing day special where he sat in front of the Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, and Maryland (just a joke, LeBron would be a one and done and Gary would have never recruited him) hats and then chose one on National television.

Tonight is going to be a spectacle but it will be world wide news; every news outlet will broadcast clips from the special and announce his decision from Cleveland to Beijing. Any broadcasting company would have been falling over itself to televise tonight’s event.

Has ESPN “jumped the shark”? Absolutely, but they are the first name any sports fan thinks of when they want national sports news. ESPN had no choice but to produce this circus because if they had passed LeBron and Company would have gone on to the next channel and ESPN would have lost out on programming that will triple the ratings for whatever program they had planned for that time slot.

I think the really sad part is that if the reports are correct and LeBron decides to create a “super team” he will become the Darth Vader of Cleveland; the city’s ultimate villain. If LeBron leaves Cleveland he takes with it the hopes of a city and will give a substantial economic hit to a city in financial disarray. I think LeBron’s situation in Cleveland could mirror a man that many Baltimoreans love, Art Modell. LeBron will no longer be welcome in Cleveland a city he was born, raised, and developed in. I truly believe that if LeBron shuns Cleveland tonight the city could break into hysterics that include looting and fighting as well as the vandalism of the homes of LeBron and his family; basically what could be considered a riot. I hope that he has already removed his personal property and family from Cleveland if he decides to make the jump to Miami because they will all be fair game for out of control, angry Cavs fans.

Overall LeBron has taken the target off his back and covered himself in it because every fan, player, and media member that is part of the NBA is going to want to shoot down the man who thought he was bigger than the game. It may not be kosher, but it is the way of the sports world, the bigger you become the more people are standing in the bushes waiting to shoot you down, ask Tiger Woods.

I personally believe that LeBron has gone about free agency in a new and interesting way but a way that has turned of many old school fans. Say what you want but LeBron has mastered the art of self promotion and that is something that any entrepreneur must stand up and applaud. The more frightening thought is that The Decision is so cutting edge that this isn’t going to be a one time thing but something that may become more common with superstar free agents from here on out. Next Week: Favre: The Choice; Sponsored by Wrangler and John Deere.

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Riggins MASN Commercial Is Absolutely Unacceptable

Posted on 25 June 2010 by Glenn Clark

I’m going to try to do this the right way, because there are a lot of elements to this.

The first time I saw the commercial for the new incarnation of the “John Riggins Show” on MASN, I felt uncomfortable.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVCO5vodVho[/youtube]

Having seen it 4-5 more times this week, I’ve gotten to the point where it is absolutely stomach-turning.

Let me start by saying that I understand why MASN filmed a commercial with John Riggins in Baltimore. The point of the commercial was to put him on a football field. MASN has an official partnership with the Baltimore Ravens (Comcast SportsNet partners with the Washington Redskins), and John Riggins’ relationship with Daniel Snyder has frosted since Riggins was dismissed from Snyder’s Red Zebra radio operation.

Filming a MASN commercial for the John Riggins Show at FedEx Field simply wasn’t an option. Not after Riggins took to YouTube to put together a series of YouTube videos like this…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcH9jASAbhY[/youtube]

The simple solution may have been to take Riggins over to RFK Stadium and film the commercial there; but RFK doesn’t have football yardage painted on the field. They’d be filming a commercial at a soccer stadium. Still probably a better option, but not ideal.

And clearly, MASN hoped to promote not only The John Riggins Show-but also their Baltimore Ravens “coverage” by showing M&T Bank Stadium in the background. Seeing the stadium is also a reminder that Training Camp starts soon, and fans in Baltimore will be packing “The Bank” for exhibition games that can be seen live on MASN.

That’s where my defense of them will end.

The fact is, there’s nothing okay about filming a John Riggins commercial at M&T Bank Stadium. There’s nothing okay with mixing purple colors and Washington Redskins highlights. There’s CERTAINLY nothing okay with using an audio clip that is CLEARLY designed to sound like “Hail to the Redskins” on top of a commercial that includes a stand-in that just so happens to be a dead-ringer for Art Modell.

The fact is, no one in the District of Columbia will care or be offended by this commercial one bit. Mostly because the handful of real sports fans in DC are indifferent to the Ravens. The handful of real sports fans in DC hate the Dallas Cowboys, but don’t much care about other teams. The majority of sports fans in DC are transient; and root for more than one team. It isn’t particularly surprising to bump into a sports fan in the District that wears a Tigers hat and a Red Sox shirt.

That’s just the way their market works. Certainly, they care about the Skins much more than they care about any other franchise in their city-but there are a number of folks in the District, Northern Virginia and Prince George’s County that would admit that they probably follow the Ravens as their 2nd team, and pull for the Ravens after the Redskins season ends. (Not a low blow Redskins fans, just a fact.)

No one in DC is angry about seeing John Riggins walking around M&T Bank Stadium. It just doesn’t matter to them. It’s similar to the god-awful “Battle of the Beltways” marketing MASN does. MASN uses weekends like this to promote the fact that they carry BOTH of the area’s “home teams.” They mesh Bob Carpenter, Jim Hunter, Jim Palmer and Rob Dibble in a broadcast booth-send mascots for both teams to the games, and celebrate the two teams as if they were basically just the American League and National League versions of each other.

In DC, no one is bothered. A large number of fans in DC root for the Baltimore Orioles, whether they also root for the Washington Nationals or not. It isn’t offensive to Nats fans to see the Oriole Bird at Nationals Park. It isn’t offensive to hear Jim Palmer dissect John Lannan (or that Strasburg fella) in the broadcast booth on their home broadcast.

In DC, there’s a feeling that the two really ARE both “home teams.”

MASN has clearly capitalized on that, understanding that Washington is simply a larger market than Baltimore. With Strasburg mania making the Nationals suddenly more marketable than they’ve ever been before, MASN is clearly invested in Washington. They’re moving Scott Garceau’s show earlier in the afternoon to make prime room for Riggins’ show, which can only be heard on the HD3 signal of WTOP on a daily basis. They’re doing it simply to compete against “Washington Post Live” on CSN.

This isn’t about MASN putting John Riggins on the air. I think putting radio shows on TV is dreadful programming myself, but they’ve chosen to go that route. They’ve also chosen to market to Washington, as their network extends into Washington.

I’ve accepted all of that.

But what I WON’T accept is what a slap in the face the John Riggins M&T Bank Stadium commercial is to fans in Charm City.

We AREN’T transient. We DON’T root for the Redskins when the Ravens aren’t playing.

In fact, judging from the response to first annual “I Hate The Redskins” show on AM1570 WNST last year (we’ll be doing it again this year, trust me); I’m not the only man in town whose attitude of the team that wears Burgundy & Gold is one of absolute rage.

John Riggins is walking around M&T Bank Stadium in front of the purple seats that are owned by the people of Baltimore. Those are seats that are owned thanks to unbelievably hard work by folks in a blue-collar city. Redskins fans could never possibly understand that.

In Baltimore, we DO NOT HAVE TWO HOME TEAMS. Despite the small group of people that choose to root for the Washington Capitals (and do NOT count me amongst them), we DO NOT CARE for the Washington Redskins. It ISN’T okay to see the Washington Redskins celebrated in Baltimore. It ISN’T okay to see the Washington Redskins promoted at M&T Bank Stadium.

There is leadership within both MASN and sadly the Baltimore Ravens that won’t fully understand that because they AREN’T from Baltimore. They accept that the Pittsburgh Steelers are a rival, but they don’t understand that the Washington Redskins are despised at an almost equal level.

The sense of “why would Ravens fans care about Washington” previals amongst those who aren’t from this town.

Call it “little man syndrome” or a “Napoleon Complex” or whatever you want; but it’s just a fact. We aren’t okay with Washington or the Redskins here. They’re not welcome, and we will NOT celebrate them.

It’s why the majority of us stopped watching Comcast SportsNet some time ago. I will never be interested in what’s going on with Albert Haynesworth or Clinton Portis-unless they suddenly don purple and black.

Washington is a big market. It’s understandable for a Top 10 media market to look desirable to folks in the 22nd largest media market in the country.

But it HAS to be understood that if you want to reach out to Baltimore, you must accept that we hate the Redskins. It makes our stomach turn. Paul Tagliabue tried to keep the NFL out of our town and force us to watch the Redskins play the Phoenix Cardinals on a Sunday afternoon when we could have been watching the Green Bay Packers play the San Francisco 49ers.

Washington fans got over Peter Angelos trying to block MLB in the district. But Washington fans aren’t blue collar, diehard, live or die passionate fans. Folks who aren’t from Baltimore won’t understand that. There is no “getting over” our anger towards Washington. We’re reminded of it on a daily basis. When Jimmy Buffett comes to town this summer, I’m going to be told that I can see him “locally” at Nissan Pavilion in Bristow.

I’m not “getting over it.”

And if MASN is going to succeed and make fans in Baltimore, they’re going to have to understand that. It isn’t cute to put John Riggins next to someone who you obviously hand-picked for his resemblence to Art Modell. It isn’t okay to put together an audio clip that sounds an awful lot like “Hail to the Redskins” while you’re filming at the stadium that represents the best thing this entire city has going for it.

It works in Washington. It doesn’t work in Baltimore. In Baltimore, it is COMPLETELY unacceptable.

Film the next commercial at Wilde Lake High School, or in College Park.

Just don’t celebrate the Redskins at our Purple Palace.

-G

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Happy 91st Birthday to the “real” creator of WNST

Posted on 05 March 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear Pop:

Happy 91st birthday!!! I know you might be used to me doing the radio show dedicated to you every year here on March 5th but this year I’m “off” the radio (the listeners call it “retirement” and I call it “sabbatical”) so I’m just gonna write you this letter and hope it gets to you. And instead of taking calls all afternoon, I’m gonna take comments from folks on this space-aged thing called the internet. (I’ll explain it to you later but there’s a lot of stuff in the world here in 2010 you wouldn’t really understand without seeing it!)

A lot has changed since you left us back in July 1992 and I just thought I’d check in and update you a little with this letter – just kind of catch you up a little bit because every single day I think “What would Pop think of this crazy place now?”

And I know how much you love to read, so I thought I’d put it in writing for your birthday – how much different this place is in 2010!

Yes, I still write “for the paper” occasionally, but they just don’t call it a newspaper anymore. The words kinda live on a little television set and you don’t have to print them. You just “click” and you can get almost any information in the world. It’s kinda like the radio, TV and newspaper worlds have all gone into one place, if you can understand that. It’s called the “internet” – and really, I’d probably have a helluva time trying to make you understand it but I’m gonna try.

These days I’m so freaking busy building this sports media business I’ve created that I don’t even get to write about sports or talk about sports as much as I’d like but I’ll be doing more this baseball season for you and keep you in the loop on the Orioles and stuff. I’m also doing a book that I’m gonna send you a copy of later this year. It’s about coaching and leadership – I think you’ll dig it because it’s a lot of the stuff that you were always trying to teach me only put into words and kinda organized with words of wisdom from all of the coaches that I’ve met since 1984 who’ve taught me about life through sports.

Pop, a LOT of these people really helped make me the person I am since you’ve been gone. You remember Gene Ubriaco from the Skipjacks? Well he kinda gave me the idea since he was the first coach I talked to back in the day and he visited me recently and inspired me. I remember introducing him to you back at the Civic Center when I first covered the team for The News American.

Anyway, I remember that summer back in 1986 when we coached that Little League baseball team at Eastwood together. (One of those kids is now my Facebook friend, but I’ll save explaining that for next year’s letter, OK?)

I think a lot about you managing the 1973 Colgate Pirates, when I was the batboy, and we won the championship. I’m gonna write a little bit about it in the book. Gus Kaplanges still calls me and I ran into Teddy Boccia at Pizza John’s in Essex a few weeks ago. Tom Duni always sends along his best when I see him on the mornings when I take Mom to the IHOP over on Merritt Boulevard. It’s the “International House of Pancakes” – right in Dundalk. I know how much you love pancakes. They even have all of the fancy syrups!

So when I heard they just got email up there where you are I thought I’d send you a birthday card with some updates here from Planet Earth instead of doing the radio show. (Wait’ll you get a load of these “smart” phones when they get there with the “internet” on them. And wait’ll you see this thing called “texting”!)

Look, some of this stuff you’re not gonna understand. You’re just not, no matter what I do or how I try to explain it. Lemme just start with this – we have a black President of the United States, so you KNOW things are little different but the changes these last 18 or so years have been incredible – especially the last few years. You wouldn’t believe what’s happened in Baltimore with sports media and sports in general.

You were right about ESPN – they’re still around and they have a monopoly on virtually every sport and they have this 24-hour a day newspaper that people read all the time. You can even listen to the radio and watch videos on a screen without an antenna! (It’s all on that “internet” thing I told you about. And it’s all in the palm of your hand on this thing that’s like a phone. I’d try to compare it to a “cell” phone but even that would be hard.)

You know me, I still love hockey and the NHL is fun. The Capitals are really good and I think you’d even get on this bandwagon, even though you always hated hockey and Washington, D.C. The Caps have this Russian kid named Ovechkin – he’s like Gretzky, only bigger and meaner. It’s a fun time and the Caps SUCKED big time for a long time, kinda like they did when back when I started dragging you down there to the Capital Centre in 1981. I’m really sorry you never liked hockey, but I really do appreciate you taking me down to those Clippers games back in the day! You have no idea how great those memories are for me and how much hockey still means to me!

The Terps are having a great year – they even won a BIG one against Duke the other night and they play in this shiny new building and Gary Williams is STILL the coach! They finally won the National Championship back in 2002 and it was a lot of fun. I know how much you loved March Madness around the house and it’s still pretty much the same although they wear these long pants these days. And people don’t play bracket pools on paper – they do it on this “internet” thing!

The NBA kinda sucks these days and nobody watches. I know you saw Abe Pollin up there a few weeks ago. I hope you guys made up – he really did do some good things, though that would be hard for me to explain to you. The new guy here who owns the old Bullets (they call them the “Wizards” now — again, don’t ask…really some of this s&%t is too crazy to even try to explain!) is a guy named Ted Leonsis. Good dude and now he owns the Caps. I know him a little through the radio show. They moved outta the Capital Centre into downtown D.C. back in 1998 and they play in this place that kinda looks like a mall with windows. It’s wild, man, the way the stadiums and the arenas have changed. It’s all about business now with sports – lots of money, but still a lot of fun most of the time. And people love it more than ever!

But there’s even these new sports like this “mixed martial arts” — where guys literally beat the s&*t outta each other like something in one of those weekend Roman gladiator movies on Channel 45. It’s crazy. It’s like boxing, kinda, without gloves. It’s kinda like WWF only it’s REAL. Swear to God! But people love it!

Oh, about “rassling,” one of your favorites. It’s now called World Wrestling “ENTERTAINMENT” these days. Vince McMahon is still running it and making money but they’ve admitted what you said along: “It’s fake.” But nobody seems to mind and they still sell a lot of tickets.

Stock car racing (they just call it NASCAR these days) is this HUGE thing – these fancy cars, crowds of over 100,000 and big TV ratings. They moved the Olympics into every two years – summer and winter alternate – and they have these skateboard kids who surf on the snow getting medals. It’s exciting – you might even like it!

The Preakness is a mess. They took the beer away last year and now nobody goes but no one here seems to care too much about horse racing. Kinda sad. I know you never liked it too much but it’s tough to see it die like this, especially in May when Baltimore used to rock for the Preakness. They’re doing this new thing this year – “Get Your Preak On” – we’ll see how it goes.

I know I haven’t mentioned the Orioles because, well, you really don’t want to know. I know when you left us back in July of ’92 you were sorta losing it a little for life and sports and I know you thought Camden Yards looked nice on TV. Sorry I never took you down there before you left but honestly you haven’t really missed much down there, Pop.

This guy from Highlandtown named Peter Angelos bought the team about a year after you left us. Hotshot lawyer, got involved with some union guys who died from asbestos and made a zillion dollars, bought the team in 1994 and, well, they’ve turned into the worst franchise in sports.

They lose every year. They lie every year. They’re really rather disgraceful! And nobody goes to the games anymore. Mom still watches – we all kinda do – but no one goes to the games and the owner is the biggest heel since Bob Irsay.

Pop, some people hate him even MORE than Irsay and I’m not kidding!

I know it sounds crazy, but he’s kinda at war with me personally because I have had the balls and the voice to do what you’d have done if you were me – I tell the truth about the losing and the sad state of the city on summer night. But you’d dig it that some of the old Orioles from when we were taking the No. 22 outta Highlandtown are still around and are really cool to me. Those old Orioles come up to me and tell me to continue to fight with him but, really, Pop, it’s not the same and I’m tired of fighting with these lunatics.

I don’t even wanna bore you with it. (I’d tell you to “Google it” but you’d have no idea what the hell that means but I think you’d really think it’s cool. Imagine one of those World Book encyclopedias you bought me combined with every library in the world and all available in one place and you’ll begin to grasp it. Yeah, I know, you’re a little confused…so is Mom, don’t worry.)

But more than ANYONE, you’d be the proudest of how I’ve stood up and fought for what’s right. I take a lot of heat. People write me hate mail, threaten my life on occasion – but I know I’m right. This Angelos guy can’t even get along with Brooks Robinson, who’s still alive and has battled some illnesses recently.

This spring, I’m going to get behind a big civic movement to get a statue built for No. 5. I’ve sorta gotten to know Brooks since you left us and he’s just as great of a guy as you always thought he was and he deserves it. So I’m gonna help these guys who want to do this and I want to do it in your honor, if you’ll let me. I always tell Brooks about how you took me to “Thanks, Brooks Day” way back in 1977 and how we spent the day together out in left field like we always did in those days on 33rd Street.

By the way – I’ve got some more bad news. They tore down Memorial Stadium about 10 years ago. It really PISSED me off. I drive by there, think of you and get all pissed off again. I can’t even turn the corner up by Lake Montebello without getting depressed. The old site was turned into a YMCA. You’d hate it — trust me! Some days, I think you’re better off where you are and I can’t wait to join you!

I’m writing you this letter from a plane tonight and I’m going to spring training – but it’s not Florida, it’s Arizona. I’m doing some research work on this book on coaching and leadership. I’m going to be interviewing over 100 coaches with Baltimore ties and writing about their feelings on life, leadership and sports. I’m in Arizona and because the Orioles don’t let me come to their spring training games (or any games, really) because I did this protest of their ownership back in 2006. I had a press pass for all those years after you left but they took my pass away for telling the truth. I know, it’s kinda what you’d expect in Cuba or Russia, but that’s the way it is these days in America when you tell the truth – people hate you, abuse you and fail to be accountable. Especially when they’re rich and they threaten people with lawsuits every day. It’s a sick world. The more I know, the less I want to know about a lot of this stuff.

But that’s OK. I’m happy standing for what’s right and not falling for anything. Like I said, I know you’d be proud of me!

So anyway, I’m on this flight to Phoenix and I’m writing to you (we do it on these fancy computers that are kinda like typewriters that sit on your lap) and there’s a guy from the Ravens sitting behind me. His name is Justin Green – he’s a running back who used to play on the NFL team we have now in Baltimore.

I’m sorry it took me so long to tell you about the Ravens. But I wanted to save the good news for the end!

The Ravens are our new NFL team!

I know, I know. You said we’d NEVER get another NFL team but we did. It was something like a miracle, Pop, this team that Art Modell brought to Baltimore from Cleveland back in 1996. No, the Browns colors and logos stayed in Cleveland where they replaced the team but those people are STILL pissed, kinda like you were with Irsay until you left us.

(I’m assuming if you’ve ever run into Irsay up there you’re in the WRONG place…so I’ll just tell you that he died a few years ago!)

But Modell was great for Baltimore! He even hired Ted Marchibroda to be the first coach! It’s been a LOT of fun since this football team came to town.

We have a young local owner named Steve Bisciotti, who does his best to not be the jerk that Angelos is and Irsay was. He’s interested in winning and making the team fun every year and Baltimore appreciates that!

The Ravens have the best defensive player I’ve ever seen – a guy like Butkus and Curtis and Singletary but only better! His name is Ray Lewis and he’s fun to watch. He was a rookie on the first team back in 1996 and he’s still playing but the Ravens have really had a lot of good players and they win most years and the games are fun and it kinda reminds everyone here of those fun days you had with the Colts back in the ’50s and ’60s with Mom and Johnny Unitas. (I hope you said hi to No. 19 when he dropped by a few years ago. He stood on the sidelines here for the Ravens on game days and people thought it was cool! I talked to him a few days before he came to be with you…)

I miss you the most on those Ravens game days in the fall because you’d LOVE this football team. They wear purple, your favorite color. The band still plays, they’re just called “The Ravens Marching Band.” People come to the games really early and have picnics and drink beer. They call it “tailgating” because they sit on the trunk of the car and dine on swine and wait for the game and play catch. We’ve got this new stadium down where the railroad tracks used to be on the other side of the harbor, right next to the baseball stadium. It’s wild driving into downtown now and seeing those giant stadiums and all of the purple.

But I really miss you on those days when the team plays. I think of you every Sunday. I really do!

Because of what I do for work, I even get to go to all of the road games and sometimes we even take people who listen to the radio station and read my columns (we call ‘em “blogs” now) on the internet with us and it makes it more fun. Beer drinking, good food, football cheers – Pop, you’d LOVE it!

So, even though I did the radio show for a long time, I’m still here doing my media thing on this “internet” contraption and some of the people haven’t really changed. You remember Tom Davis and Scott Garceau – they work for my competitor. Stan The Fan still does this magazine every month. And Phil Jackman is still my friend and he’s gotten even older and even crankier. It’s fun to watch!

But I turned the old radio station into this 24-hour-a-day “internet” sports place with radio, television and news all in one place. We even have all of the box scores and standings for you! I wish you could see it!!! It’s like the Sporting News back in the day only even more in depth. You’d be really proud, Pop!

I have these awesome business partners – led by a guy named Brian Billick. He was the Ravens coach back when they won the Super Bowl in 2001. (I’ll tell you more about that later!)

Billick is sorta like Earl Weaver was to the Orioles – only taller, but he does cuss just as much! I’d pay a lot of money to see you and Billick have a conversation about sports. You’d make him laugh for sure!

Billick is just a fabulous guy and I really wish you two would’ve gotten a chance to meet. He joined me about 18 months ago as a business partner but all of the money we ever make on his behalf goes directly back to the community through this charity called “Living Classrooms” which helps the kids in the city who are trying to stay out of trouble, learn and get jobs. One day, we’ll make a lot of money for the people of Baltimore together! You always taught me to give something back and that’s what I’m trying to do because people have really been great to me as I’ve gotten older and you’ve left us.

I just wish you could see it – even for one day, what my life has been like! The travel. The roadtrips. The time I’ve spent in Europe, South America and Asia. I went to China with Cal Ripken Jr., who just like you told me, wound up in the Hall of Fame. We even went to Cooperstown for the induction!

But I’ve done World Cups, a bunch of World Series, All Star Games, Stanley Cups, Final Fours, Kentucky Derbies, Super Bowls — you name it! I’ve really had a great life – a great time since you left me!

Oh – that’s right – I almost forgot. The Super Bowl!

Yep, Baltimore WON the Super Bowl back in 2001. I sorta forgot that you didn’t know that…

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mom happier than she was when the Ravens beat the Giants that night. I was at the game that night in Tampa under the stars but she called me, bawling like a baby – she really loves the Ravens, Pop. I wish you could be there to watch those games with her on Sunday.

I took her to a game back in August to see the guys in purple play. I’m not sure if you get You Tube up where you are, but if you do here’s what it looked like:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTH5Vk6_Re0[/youtube]

She calls me every weekend and a lot of times I’m there at the games in all these far-flung places like Minnesota or Green Bay or New England and she wants updates. We have this tall quarterback named Joe Flacco who is her favorite. He wears No. 5 – just like Brooksie!

But sports and radio and Baltimore have been good to me all these years. All those things you taught me – fairness, integrity, working hard, practicing hard, being a good teammate, running out every groundball, looking for the cutoff man, playing by the rules – that’s all really helped me in the business world. Some days I feel like a success, some days I feel like the world’s biggest failure but I never give up. I never, ever give up!

And I always try to do the right thing…

And even though things are kinda crappy – the economy is worse than it was back in 1979, when you came home every day scared to death that you were gonna lose your job at ‘The Point – I’m in a good spot. I have a really good product and it’s growing every day but it’s hard work. Nothing I’m allergic to though. (Don’t worry…I never take a “scratch” either!)

But there’s lots of stuff you’d really like about the world in 2010 and stuff that reminds me of you every day.

They have Chick-Fil-A’s now where you don’t have to go into the mall. These computers have kinda taken over the world and you wouldn’t have to wait for The Sporting News or the Baseball Digest anymore. Heck, you wouldn’t even be pissed every morning at 5 a.m. because The Sun came late and you didn’t get to read it before work. You can read it ANYTIME on this device! Sounds kinda like a “dream,” doesn’t it?

You could even take your phone into the bathroom and READ on it while seated instead of taking the newspaper up there when you stink up the joint!

Ha!!! (Made you laugh!!!)

But we’re cool down here. Mom is fine, still feisty and nagging the hell outta me the way I like it. Barry is 25 now and helps me at WNST and is good guy. You two would be hell together watching Orioles games in high definition TV. (They call it HD – it’s kinda like 3D, just a little different. It’s just a really, really clear TV – everybody has them now and it’s kinda neat, makes you feel like you’re right on the field!)

I have an awesome wife that I met at a hockey game who likes sports even more than I do — most days anyway. She’s a Red Sox fan and she gets to have all of the fun in baseball season because the Orioles haven’t played a meaningful game since 1997. They stink every stinking year! It’s awful, really…but like I told you, google it!

Maybe I really just wish you were here from August through January every year — but you’re really not missing much from April through the summer…

So, I just wanted to say hi and share this letter. I’m gonna share it with the people who read my “internet column” and hope that they write me some neat stories about their lives and memories and emotions with their Pop. You wouldn’t believe what a big “celeb” I turn you into every March 5th!

People write me every year and ask me about my “radio show for my Pop.” Well, this year for your 91st birthday, I thought I’d do something extra special and write you a letter instead. Maybe this will be the new format every year, who knows?

But I hope you’re resting comfortably and that someone is watching over me down here.

Life is good. Times are tough. The world is changing. Sports is in a weird place in Baltimore but I have a good feeling about things and I’m even optimistic that one day the Orioles will be good and kind and honorable again and the games will be fun for me.

Give Steady my best if you see him. Tell all of my friends like Clem Florio and the other fellas that “Nasty loves ‘em and misses ‘em!” (OH…I almost forgot! I really hope you got to say hello to Ted Williams a few years ago. I know how much you loved him!)

In the meantime, I’m sure the Ravens will give me plenty to write you about and the business stuff and building this company has been a lot of fun and keeps me plenty busy.

And if you ever bump into Howard Cosell, you should apologize, Pop! You were really wrong about him! He really DID know what the hell he was talking about!

Have a great birthday, Mr. Pisces! I’ll have some strawberry shortcake out in Phoenix in your honor!

Strangely enough, I’m having breakfast with Frank Kush today at his office at Arizona State and lunch with a bunch of the San Diego Padres front office folks. (Aunt Jane would really dig it!)

I have a feeling your name will come up!

Happy Birthday, you old fart!

Ninety one would’ve been fun but, hopefully, you’re getting satellite up there so you can watch the Terps game this weekend.

And if the MASN feed doesn’t come in, don’t feel so bad. You’re better off with the VHS tapes you left with from 1983…

Love,

Me

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Steve Bisciotti Speaks & I Was Listening …..

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Steve Bisciotti Speaks & I Was Listening …..

Posted on 04 February 2010 by Rex Snider

Yesterday, the call finally came to the WNST bullpen.

After warming up longer than Mike Mussina, during the 1993 All Star Game, my name was called ….

I was headed to THE SHOW – at 1 Winning Drive, to cover the Baltimore Ravens’ season ending press conference. Indeed, with Glenn Clark, Drew Forrester and Nestor Aparicio in Miami, a substitute “insider” was needed.

I arrived at the complex with nearly an hour to spare and decided to absorb the surroundings. It’s a very impressive place – a warm and welcoming environment, but very professionally spirited, as well. I was quite impressed.

As the press conference kicked off, I decided to keep my mouth shut, while absorbing anything and everything said. For the most part, it was exactly what I expected. I don’t think anyone really learned anything NEW during the 50 minute session.

It felt like a regurgitation of pre-planned dialogue. In fact, if I would use one word to explain the nature of what came from the mouths of Steve Bisciotti (*during the scripted portion), Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, it would be “SAFE” …..
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ON ADDRESSING “NEEDS” DURING THE DRAFT …..
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Ozzie Newsome : “We will not put need ahead of best player available.”
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ON THE LIKELIHOOD OF ED REED RETURNING NEXT YEAR …..
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John Harbaugh – “I believe Ed will play next year ….” “…. there is no better leader, player or guy on the football field, than Ed Reed.”
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ON THE $66 MILLION SPENT ON TERRELL SUGGS …..
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Steve Bisciotti - “…. showed up out of shape” “still a dominant player, he will be fine.”
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ON TROY SMITH’S TRADE REQUEST …..
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Ozzie Newsome – “I know Troy’s agent and he hasn’t contacted me.”
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However, after the “public” portion of the event, many media members milled around and talked a little further with Steve and John. Ozzie was gone quicker than Usain Bolt – on his fastest day. I’ve always heard he doesn’t like speaking to the media. I have absolutely no problem believing that rumor.

During this informal session of what felt like shooting the breeze, the Ravens owner certainly seemed more relaxed and revealing of his true feelings regarding an array of topics …..
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On Rex Ryan’s Recent Flashing Of The BIRD …… (specifically, he was asked if he “imagined” it would happen to Rex …..)
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Steve smiled broadly, hesitated for a second and said “maybe.” But, he was also quick to say “John’s the same way” ….. while gesturing to Harbaugh. He did playfully confirm that he would not be paying Rex’s fine.

I’ve interviewed enough people who have something to hide – from kids who’ve stolen Playboy magazines, to guys who smuggle hundreds of pounds of marijuana – and I’m rather certain Steve took the high road on this issue. If you’ve heard Drew speculate on the entire “Rex vs. John” comparison, I’m convinced he’s dead right. And, Steve wasn’t going to provide any fuel to the situation.

On His Feelings Regarding Major League Baseball’s Union and Labor Deal …..
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Steve said, “the genie is out of the bottle” – while alluding to a situation that cannot be reversed. I’m not certain this is such a good thing – but, when Steve was making some baseball-related comparisions, he suggested the Ravens need to be more like the “Oakland A’s.” Great …..

On His Feelings Regarding Art Modell And The Hall Of Fame …..
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Steve called Art “one of the 5 greatest owners in the history of the NFL.” On Cleveland’s stance on Art, he said “Baltimore feels the same way about Robert Irsay ….. if Baltimore builds Irsay a stadium, the Colts are still here and I’m not.”

He further suggested that Art’s albatross – the move from Cleveland really amounts to an off-field situation. Then, Steve made the comparison to other Hall of Famers, saying “writers overlook what Lawrence Taylor did off the field.” And, he cited Al Davis moving his team TWICE, yet, being a Hall Of Famer. On the comparision, he finished up by saying, “T.O. will get in.”

Most importantly, Steve made a plea for VOTER ACCOUNTABILITY among those who cast ballots for Hall Of Fame induction.

I found him to be very earnest and thorough on his feelings. Selfishly, I wish he spoke more often !!!!

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Top 25 Local Sports Figures of the Decade

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Top 25 Local Sports Figures of the Decade

Posted on 23 December 2009 by Glenn Clark

Others Considered: Todd Bozeman, Randy Monroe, Steve Bisciotti, Kimmie Meissner, Fang Mitchell, Dave Trembley, Katie Hoff, Brenda Frese, Kevin Plank, Jimmy Patsos, Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, Todd Heap, Barbaro, Carmelo Anthony, Terrell Suggs, Joe DeFrancis, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mike Flanagan, Pam Shriver, Haloti Ngata, Derrick Mason, Scott McBrien, Matt Stover, Steve Blake, Melvin Mora, Steve McNair, Michael McCrary, Ray Rice, Erik Bedard, Sidney Ponson, John Rallo, Shawne Merriman, Pat Kennedy

25-Joe Flacco

flacco

24-Nick Markakis

nick

23-Ed Hale

Hale

22-Kyle Boller

boller

21-John Harbaugh

harbaugh

20-Trent Dilfer

dilfer

19-Cal Ripken Jr.

al

18-Chris McAlister

mcalister

17-Dave Pietramala

petro

16-Brian Roberts

brob

15-Paul Johnson

paulj

14-Ralph Friedgen

fridge

13-Art Modell

modell

12-Hasim Rahman

rahman

11-Ed Reed

reed

10-Jamal Lewis

jamal

The greatest offensive skill position in Ravens history-a former Rookie of the Year, NFL Player of the Year, 2,000 yard rusher, Super Bowl Champion, and single game rushing record holder. He’ll be in the Ring of Honor in the next 12 months too….

9-Juan Dixon

dixon

He’s from Baltimore. He carried Maryland to a NCAA Championship. He’s Top 3 in Glenn Clark’s book…..

8-Brian Billick

billick

He won the Super Bowl as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, but became a polarizing figure until his firing due to his inability to groom a franchise quarterback. I’m not sure I could have stomached hearing the words “offensive genius” again however….

7-Debbie Yow

yow

Her place on this list is based on a mix of her accomplishments as Athletic Director (national championships in men’s and women’s basketball, new arena, and somehow managing to balance the budget in College Park) and how many people despise her due to her testy relationship with a fella who is still to come on this list……

6-Ozzie Newsome

ozzie

Jamal Lewis. Todd Heap. Ed Reed. Terrell Suggs. Haloti Ngata. Ben Grubbs. Joe Flacco. Michael Oher.

Unfortunately, this decade also included Kyle Boller and Travis Taylor…..

5-Jonathan Ogden

jo

He will soon be the first player to go to Canton AS a Baltimore Raven, and some would argue he’s the most important player in franchise history. Those people have a legitimate argument.

4-Michael Phelps

phelps

He’s won 14 gold medals in Olympic competition. No one else ever has. I’d explain more-but if you don’t get it, you never will.

3-Peter Angelos

angelos

Not since Bob Irsay has there been a local sports figure so universally disdained by the entire town. If this were pro wrestling, Sgt. Slaughter would have looked like a babyface during his Iraq support days in compared to the level of seething hate directed towards the city’s baseball dictator. He’s killed an entire sport in a city where baseball was king. His failures are so epic I’m not certain ANYONE could have accomplished anything similar.

2-Gary Williams

gary

If it weren’t for the necessity of corporate sponsoring, it would be Gary Williams Arena-not Comcast Center. The guy will find himself in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and only Earl Weaver is ahead of him in the list of the greatest head coaches in local sports history. And while some might accuse me of blasphemy, he may be greater than even Earl.

1-Ray Lewis

ray

When #52 does something, says something, thinks something, etc…..it is ABSOLUTELY more meaningful than when anyone else in town does. He will eventually have a statue at M&T Bank Stadium-somewhere in the neighborhood of Johnny Unitas I assume. Do I need to explain further?

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…..

-G

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