Tag Archive | "bisciotti"

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Orlando Pace coming to Baltimore?

Posted on 18 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Ozzie Newsome continues to recruit, court and host more veteran NFL players. The next two days figure to be busy as word leaked late tonight that veteran St. Louis Rams tackle Orlando Pace is scheduled to come to Baltimore, according to NBCSports.com. In addition, the Ravens have also cut Samari Rolle and signed Chris Carr.

On Thursday, the Ravens will hold a press conference with Ray Lewis, Steve Bisciotti, John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome officially re-welcoming No. 52 back to the only home he’s ever known in Owings Mills. The line of questioning and what the press conference indicates will be of great interest to many Ravens fans who saw Lewis’ negotiating tactics as an embarrassment to his legendary status here in Baltimore. All the talk of the Jets and Cowboys will no doubt be revisited, even if the event does figure to have a “time limit” on it due to it being held during halftime of the Maryland Terps’ first-round game against California in Kansas City.

But Ozzie Newsome, just as he said a few weeks ago, clearly isn’t done with the free agency period.

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Steve Bisciotti’s Thursday dilemma: Ray or Gary?

Posted on 16 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I sorta knew that Bob Haynie’s “schlep rock” (or whatever the hell he calls it) would be at work on the Maryland Terps this weekend when the Baltimore Ravens called a 4 p.m. Thursday press conference in Owings Mills to march Ray Lewis out to the local firing squad for questions about loyalty, community, commitment, Hall of Fame inevitability and his future plans as a “Baltimorean” among other inquires. But now word broke around 11 p.m. last night that the Maryland Terps will be in the second half of their game against the California Golden Bears in Kansas City at that hour on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

So, that begs the question, where will Steve Bisciotti be at 4 p.m. on Thursday? Hmmmm…

Bisciotti broke his long silence on the Gary Williams/friendship/support/vote of confidence front last week, getting front page love in The Sun with “I love Gary” quotes and basically stating that the reason he’s a Maryland financial backer during these tough economic times is because Gary Williams is the coach.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I gotta think Bisciotti’s never, ever missed a March Madness postseason game? He’s the biggest Terp fan of them all. He IS Hell in a Shell!!!

So, what’s gonna happen here? Something’s gotta give, right?

Prediction: Someone over in Owings Mills (Kevin Byrne?) is gonna have to pick up the phone and get with Ray Lewis and “re-sort out” this press conference on Thursday to accommodate scheduling for local hoops mania. There’s no way the Ravens can do this thing in the middle of the Terps game.

And besides, the press conference won’t have the same impact without Bisciotti. And Bisciotti must be in Kansas City (at least that’s what I think…)

What do you think?

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Has Ray Lewis vs. Ravens turned ugly already this morning?

Posted on 27 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Adam Schefter of NFL.com just posted a bombshell on the Ravens and Ray Lewis on the league’s official website. Schefter, quoting ties close to Lewis, says that Lewis is miffed beyond repair at the offer from the Ravens and the negotiating and that Lewis will not be coming back to Baltimore. Essentially, Schefter says that Ray Lewis will sign anywhere BUT Baltimore. Or potentially retire (which we find VERY hard to believe).

I’ve been saying for years – YES, YEARS – that when it was time to end his playing days in Baltimore that I would be shocked if it ended with peace, harmony and that long-awaited “statue” of Ray Lewis wearing his No. 52 at M&T Bank Stadium. It’s fairy tale stuff and gives us the warm fuzzies but it’s always been a longshot given the economic climate for a 34-year old linebacker whose legend will now outweigh his future contributions.

My views are well founded and well researched after 13 years of following Lewis’ career here and his business dealings. Ray’s play on the field has been superhuman. His “off the field” decisions have always been a bit suspect and flawed. I have simply called Ray Lewis “mercurial.” Just the fact that this story has been written from “inside the league” shows how emotional this is becoming.

The fact that free agency has begun and that Lewis is up for the highest bidder should be a clear indicator that he’s not loyal to Baltimore or the Ravens in any significant way. Perhaps Bisciotti has been naïve in believing that it would never come to this.

But it has.

Ray Lewis is a free agent today. He can go anywhere he wants to go. The Ravens feel like they’ve been fair. We’re 11 hours into free agency and no one has truly topped their number — not yet, anyway. And word is coming from Camp 52 that Ray is quite unhappy with the treatment and offer he’s received from the Ravens. Is it posturing? Who knows?

Meanwhile, last night the Ravens leaked to their media partner that they’ve upped their guaranteed money to $17 million.

But the battle is public now and Ray’s “feelings” come from a very credible source, the very source employed by the league to report accurately on these matters.

Schefter’s views are there and a click away, but today’s topic will be quite heated at 2 p.m. when “Limited Access” brought to you by Royal Farms convenes.

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Bisciotti headed to USC

Posted on 23 February 2009 by caseywillett

No need to panic Ravens fans, Steve Bisciotti is not selling the team and heading to California.
 
He is going to the University of South Carolina this Thursday to be the guest lecturer at the Thomas H. Regan Executive Sports Seminar. The lecture titled, “My Life and the NFL,” is free and open to the public.
 
Bisciotti’s personal story is one that business students at USC should find fascinating. At 48, he is the second-youngest owner in the NFL. He purchased the Ravens franchise in 2004, 21 years after co-founding Aerotek, a staffing agency for aerospace and technology companies that produced $1.5 million in sales in its first year. The company later became Allegis Group and is the third-largest staffing firm in the United States. Based in Baltimore, the company has offices throughout the United States, Canada and Europe with more than 6,000 employees and 65,000 high-end contract workers.

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What’s in a name?

Posted on 21 January 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Today is Day Two of being “back on the air” for me. Yesterday was a lot of fun and just prepping for a daily show brings back many memories of the 13 years where I did four hours a day every day with guests, calls, concepts, promotions and laughs. So far, I’m really enjoying the thoughts of being back on the radio for a while. And people have been super nice with a bunch of kind emails, well wishes and general happiness.

But with the new show comes a few questions, including what the name of the show should be. I literally never gave it any thought until I went back on the air and bristled at the thought of calling the show the “Sports Forum,” which was its name for all 13 years of its existence (except for the two years when I did “Nasty Nationwide”). It’s a new show, a new time and I’m 40 years old now, so anything “Nasty” is off limits at this point. I just want to be Nestor and do a show and have some fun interacting with people who grew up (or are who are currently growing up) loving Baltimore sports.

So, the suggestions have been rolling in on email. So far:

“Fulltime”

“Afternoon drive”

“No access” (so far, this is my favorite, a nod to Greg Bader and Peter Angelos who continue to pretend that Baltimore’s No. 1 online sports media entity don’t exist)

And of course, there are the emails telling me to get the hell back off the air and hire someone else. I am amused by these as well! All contributions are welcome!

If anyone has some suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments here.

I’ll be back on the air at 2 p.m. ready to chat about this morning’s Steve Bisciotti/John Harbaugh “State of the Ravens” annual press conference, which happens at 11 a.m.

I’ll also be LIVE BLOGGING from the Owings Mills complex during the actual event.

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Harbaugh and Bisciotti celebrate Festivus

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Bisciotti and Harbaugh walk ‘arm in arm’ into 2009 Festivus

Posted on 29 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

What a difference 52 weeks makes. It will be a year ago this Wednesday — on New Year’s Eve — when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti walked into Brian Billick’s office and abruptly fired the head coach who led his franchise to its only Super Bowl win. It was the biggest story in the city for weeks, and many folks were surprised and many questions were asked. For me, it wasn’t so much the actual firing of Billick as much as the “I changed my mind” reasoning so closely removed from a 13-3 season and the fact that Ozzie Newsome was clearly kept out of the decision. At the time I was a loud critic of the move, especially considering that Bisciotti didn’t have a clear vision of where the franchise was headed or who he wanted to hire as a head coach.

The thinking was this: Who is Bisciotti going to hire who is better than Billick?

Three weeks later, after getting turned down by Dallas offensive coordinator Jason
Garrett and eliminating defensive coordinator Rex Ryan from contention, Bisciotti turned to a “low mileage” young special teams coordinator whose QB brother was far better known not only in Baltimore but throughout the league and in college circles as the head coach at Stanford.

Bisciotti, who is a self-made billionaire and who did it by hiring great people, was pretty offended last winter at the mere notion that his decisions and pick to lead the organization on the field would be questioned. It’s one of the few times I’ve ever seen him publicly “chippy.”

Harbaugh and Bisciotti celebrate Festivus

Harbaugh came to this job as a universally revered “coach’s coach,” the son of a football coach and the brother of a very successful NFL quarterback. I had at least 20 NFL “insiders” who immediately called me and told me that Harbaugh would be a “great” NFL coach. Harbaugh had ZERO detractors. Even Brian Billick privately applauded Bisciotti’s choice to replace him as being “a great move.” Yesterday, as the clock struck zero and Harbaugh had led Bisciotti’s franchise full-circle and back into the NFL postseason, the two men embraced in as genuine a lock as you’d ever want to see on the field at M&T Bank Stadium. You can see the moment on video here… and it was celebrated with the fans.

We can revisit all of the details of last January’s semi-bizarre job search and all of the possibilities and permutations and fallout of a bloody, unexpected firing of a Super Bowl champion coach amidst a locker room full of revolt, dissent and mouthy and aging players. All of my January Bisciotti/Garrett/Harbaugh blogs are still here in the archives if you care to read them.

Here’s the point: Bisciotti has made three MAJOR calls in 2009. First he fired Billick, while owing him $18 million, a ballsy and risky move if there ever was one. Then, he hand-picked unproven John Harbaugh to lead his football team in January. And finally — you might never get anyone to admit this on the record within the franchise — Bisciotti absolutely JUMPED on the table in the draft room in April and insisted that Ozzie Newsome trade up into the 18th pick to take a New Jersey kid from “small school” University of Delaware named Joe Flacco to be his franchise quarterback.

Considering our history with sports franchise poobahs in Baltimore (think Irsay, Jacobs, EBW & Abe Pollin), we’re far from believing that owners should get overly involved in the day-to-day operations of a sports franchise in most circumstances – and this is your chance to fill in the holiday Peter Angelos joke of your choice right here – but obviously an NFL owner’s choice of a head coach and a franchise quarterback has never looked better than it does this morning, exactly 52 weeks to the day that Bisciotti was clearly shaken by the removal of Billick, whom he had deep affection and respect for as a person and a leader of men.

If you’re excited about the Ravens this week and you’ve got purple fever, sure it’s fashionable to give all of the credit to Flacco and Harbaugh (as well as Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Le’Ron McClain, Cam Cameron, etc.) but today is a day we should consider giving the credit to the “mastermind” of several of the most significant 2009 calls that have landed the Ravens in the postseason and headed to Miami this Sunday at 1 p.m.

Steve Bisciotti has played a MAJOR role in the Ravens’ turnaround by making moves that have been greeted with at least extreme “curiosity” inside his own building and amongst his experts. Who would’ve thought that Rex Ryan could get passed over for the head coaching job here for a special teams coordinator and respond in a fashion that has made him the front-runner for the St. Louis Rams job 52 weeks later? Human nature might’ve said, “You can’t bring Ryan back as defensive coordinator” given the strange circumstances.

But over the course of his life, Bisciotti has shown an uncanny ability to find and retain quality people as employees. It’s his “gift” as a business owner, bringing in people who he’ll brag are “better” than him. He’s always told me that it’s the secret of his success.

Sure, he subtracted Brian Billick who I clearly think is one of the better people I’ve met on the planet and a person that I’m supremely thrilled to have on my WNST.net team, but he also added another quality guy in John Harbaugh — as well as a new staff — and the change has obviously worked out fabulously in Year 1. (For the record, Billick had Cam Cameron flying into Baltimore to be his offensive coordinator a year ago today as well, had he not been fired…just a fact!)

The firing of Billick was a change, as I stated last Janaury, that I wouldn’t have made. Many concurred with my assessment. But that’s why he’s Steve Bisciotti and that’s why he’s worth a billion dollars. As the old Indiana Jones movie said, “He chose wisely.”

Many NFL jobs will begin popping open today. Brian Billick might even get another shot to lead an NFL franchise at some point in the next few weeks. Of course, he might be enjoying his quality of life watching football on Fox and doing radio shows and writing a blog here at WNST.net while building his life on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

But 363 days later, you would be hard-pressed to make the argument that Billick might’ve gotten this team to 11-5, with or without a quarterback like Flacco. Or maybe not. But at this point, that’s not an argument anyone in Baltimore wants or needs to make. In reality, we’re all in a better place 52 weeks later.

The NFL job carousel will get crazy this week. I’m glad we’re on the other side of this one this season covering a playoff team instead of a job search and all of the messiness involved. Phil Savage is the first of many fired friends of mine this week.

For now here in Baltimore, it’s Festivus for the rest of us.

Bring on the Fish…

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The Teixeira conundrum and Angelos conspiracy theory

Posted on 16 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Because this saga regarding Mark Teixeira and the Orioles and the Red Sox and the Nationals and the Angels has dragged on far too long it’s given me way too much time to think about it. And it’s really quite the mystery and little game from the media’s standpoint. And his uberagent Scott Boras just eats this up – when the media pits “offers” against each other with lots of zeroes. It’s gone so far that there were media people in the press box at the Ravens game with binoculars stalking down whether Tex was in the stadium and what sky box he might be in.

Yes, it’s gotten a little nutty and I have been entertained if not totally perplexed by the whole thing. There are still people in Baltimore (and many in the media who are being handsomely paid by Angelos via CBS Radio, MASN, The Sun, Orioles Hangout, Pressbox and others to be, ahem, “optimistic”) who honestly believe in their soul that the Orioles might actually be involved in a pennant race again sometime this century. For the record, as long as Angelos is alive and owns this team and continues to run it like he has for 15 years, I really don’t believe they’ll win. I believe it’s karma at this point. I would LOVE to be wrong, actually because this city is a morgue in the spring and summer compared to what the Ravens and hope bring us each Labor Day.

But as a fan and a Baltimorean what do you really want here?

There’s certainly a part of me that begs to have real baseball back in the Baltimore – the kind we see in October in the cities where it perpetually matters like New York, Boston, Chicago or in places like Philadephia or Detroit or even Denver where we’ve seen the game resurrected by a winning team. Or at least the mere chance to win.

Because I’m a little more removed and less emotionally involved in it on a daily basis (most of my energy to truly care has waned again), I honestly haven’t given a lot of thought to the Teixeira drama until the past week when all of a sudden it somehow miraculously seems like they have a shot to sign him. As recently as a month ago, general manager Andy McPhail was telling most people that it was extremely doubtful that the O’s would be involved in the Tex Sweepstakes at all. And that’s when most thought he’d get “about” $100 million.

Now, at the 13th hour and a week before Christmas it appears as though Angelos has gotten personally involved in the bidding war – same as he did in New York that day when he spent $173 million on the franchise that he has summarily destroyed on the field and in the community (but not in his pocketbook, thanks to Bud Selig getting a rectal examination and the threat of a whopper lawsuit on the Washington territorial rights issue).

It’s all become very clear to me. This mating call with Scott Boras has all of the fingerprints of Peter Angelos and his intense will to get Teixeira in a orange uniform on Opening Day. And it’s not much different than when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti “strongly recommended” to Ozzie Newsome that Joe Flacco needed to be a Raven eight months ago. Turns out, Bisciotti has made several good calls in 2008.

It’s not like Ozzie to want to deal up in the draft and give up picks on draft day. And it’s not like Andy McPhail to want to pay a first baseman $150 million or more over seven years. It’s almost against everything in his baseball DNA. McPhail, who was told 18 months ago to slash the payroll and save (and or make) the team more money by promising the populace “young talent” and “working through the draft” and “obtaining lots of young arms” and “building through the farm” (all his words, not mine), clearly understands the team’s ongoing public relations nightmare and lack of passion within the fan base. There’s nothing about signing Mark Teixeira – short of the price tag — that is a bad play for the Orioles in a short term “win back the people of Baltimore” ploy. It’s a good ploy, mind you. It’s the best thing the franchise can possibly do to say: “We’re trying and we care as much as you do!” (Even though I think answering questions from real journalists would be a distant second place.)

They have millions of excess dollars that they’ve pocketed over the past few years via their obscene MASN deal. They finally have some useful, young talent on the field (Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Luke Scott, Jeremy Guthrie and potentially Matt Wieters) to build around. And let’s be honest – when will the team EVER get a chance to sign a superstar player who grew up in Baltimore and actually remembers the greatness of the Orioles that we all are wondering if we will ever experience as a community again?

Angelos NEEDS to get Teixeira in an orange jersey before Christmas. At least HE feels he needs to and at no point does McPhail even appear to factor into the equation. And, honestly, Angelos is probably right.  He needs something to “make a splash” and it’s not signing more minor league free agents in March. Bringing in Teixeira shows that they’re serious about trying to win. And it’s been a little while since we could say that.

But that’s the just the Orioles side of the story. Hometown boy comes home, gets huge payday and…

Well, there’s a few ways this could go:

1. He’ll come here and the pitching will suck and the team will suck and the Yankees and Red Sox fans will continue to own Camden Yards 20 times per year. (This is the most likely short-term scenario with or without Teixeira.)

2. He’ll be part of a return to mediocrity and the team might squeak out an 81-win season in the first few years and maybe play a game in August that matters in the wild card race.

3. He’ll be the cornerstone of a baseball renaissance in Baltimore that will return the Orioles to perennial 90-win seasons, greatness and Camden Yards and downtown and the city of Baltimore will become electric in the summer of 2010 and the city will love the team like they love the Ravens.

* This is all assuming that he comes here and hits .300, mashes 35 homers per year and drives in 120 RBIs each season in any scenario. If they pay him $20 million a year this is a baseline expectation.

But that’s just a few possibilities from the Orioles’ perspective of what result they’re ultimately getting as an organization for buying a player who they’re paying TWICE as much as they’ve ever paid in the history of the organization for anyone. What’s Mark Teixeira really going to mean to the only two bottom lines that matter: winning and selling tickets? (Of course even THAT doesn’t matter too much when their Mickey Mouse television network is earning $100 million per year by just turning the lights on via the tax base civicly funding MASN.)

But what if you’re Mark Teixeira? What’s in it for him, besides getting richer?

As I wrote four days ago he’s getting wealthier (he’s already made $35 million playing baseball and he’s only 29) no matter where he goes and I believe it’s ultimately about happiness, the ability to win and perhaps somewhere the ego of “getting paid as much as you can” or being the “highest paid” this or that.

The four suitors – if there really are four suitors, with Boras who the hell knows what the truth is? – all have situations that I’m sure Teixeira and his bride and family could find palatable after he cashes his paycheck each week for $400,000 until he’s 37 years old.

The Red Sox, to me, are the first place he should start if winning and playing in a “real” baseball environment matter to him. He got his first taste of the postseason this year (and hit .467 no less) and that should be all he needs to know about the difference between playing out the string in the boiling heat of Arlington and being involved in something akin to fun and what he remembers about being an Orioles fan when he was 16. If you are a man of integrity involved in any competitive industry or athletic pursuit, there’s NOTHING ON EARTH better than winning. If you’re not serious about WINNING, then why the hell are you playing? (Oh, that’s right. The money…)

It sounds like his experience in Anaheim didn’t completely win his heart despite the fact that he was a “rented hat” for two months there. (And he “inherited” a pennant race in Southern California. He didn’t “earn” it, by and large.) If a full stadium, a winning tradition, a great manager, a great owner, Rally Monkeys, pretty girls in the stands and unlimited sunshine (think of those dreadful April and September games when it’s 45 degrees on the east coast) didn’t win him over this year then I don’t know what the heck he’d want in a Major League Baseball career. This is an outstanding place to make $150 million for any human being. You could make a case that it’s a BETTER option than Boston, if you’re wired a certain way.

The Nationals is a weird, twisted concept to me. If he wants to be “home” then that’s Baltimore. If Tex wants to win, there’s not much tradition or reason to believe that the Nats will become the UCLA of the N.L. East. Yeah, you get to live in Annapolis and play in a pretty ballpark with low expectations, but that’s a lot different than going to a winning franchise like the Angels or the Red Sox. And it still ain’t home.

And finally, the Orioles. Maybe Peter Angelos just will up the ante (like he used to in the “old” days of Chris Sabo and Albert Belle and Brady Anderson and well, you know the rest if you’re reading this…) and offer “the most money” if that’s his thing. And maybe Teixeira really can be convinced – and I don’t mean by money, I mean REALLY convinced in his soul — that the Orioles can be saved and he can be part of saving them by coming here and fulfilling his childhood destiny to be the “Cal Ripken” of this generation. (Even I can get emotional writing that because ANY of us could put ourselves in Teixeira’s shoes and squirm a little with this decision if we’re being truly honest.)

One thing is for sure – if he signs here it’s not because it was truly his best option. If Mark Teixeira really does sign up to play with this sham of a franchise (and it’s Siberia for any real free agent this side of Miguel Tejada over the last decade and anyone from Mike Mussina through Brian Roberts would have nothing good to say to recommend it as a “career” choice) then he is to be roundly applauded and supported because he’s CLEARLY doing it because of his heart WAAAAY more than his head or his wallet. If Teixeira is at The Warehouse wearing a “Baltimore” road gray sweater later this week at a press conference (one that I’ll no doubt be banned from asking any legitimate questions) it’s because he really DOES want to save this moribund franchise and pitch in to make Orioles baseball and the city of Baltimore fun again on summer nights.

And what could possibly be bad about that? And this is the ONLY way Peter Angelos can be given the “hero” treatment by the fans who’ve unwittingly lined his pockets via MASN through all of this mess while the city has rotted and decayed on summer nights downtown. And we all know Peter “The King” longs to be loved and short of winning a World Series, this is the best he’s gonna do in this lifetime. He CAN’T buy a World Series. But he CAN buy Mark Teixeira! I can just hear him crowing on MASN sitting on a couch with Roch Kubatko and Steve Melewski and in that goofy voice saying: “We… did what we needed to do… to restore the pride… to the Orioles!”

There’s only one hometown superstar of this generation. And Angelos has his sights on him. And he doesn’t like losing. (Witness his senseless feud with me and with WNST, people who truly LOVE the Orioles! It’s all about him “winning” — whatever that means? What good is it doing them to continue to be complete jerks in dealing with any legitimate media member who has questions about what is a publicly-funded, civic trust for profit that has gone awry? NO ONE wants the Orioles to be great more than WNST. Anyone who knows me knows that I believe that.)

So where does Angelos’ personal kryptonite, Scott Boras, fit into this equation? That’s really hard to say given his propensity to pit egotistical and wealthy baseball owners against each other in bidding wars that are silly farces when most are reviewed years later. Where is Tom Hicks now? (He gave up on ARod and Texeira, which is the Boras Daily Double!) Does Boras really have a say here with Tex or a dog in the hunt, other than his commission on the transaction? Only time will tell…

Here are a few random observations on Teixeira:

1.    I’ve never met Teixeira but I’ve never heard anything glowing about his marketability or personality. As a matter of fact, he routinely eschewed any “hometown” press coverage on his first visits back to Camden Yards as a big leaguer. It’s not like he’s got a foundation here or a civic cause here or has ever even “appeared” here doing any worthwhile community endeavor that I know about. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here…but no one has ever called or written me with a story, picture, essay or ANYTHING involving Teixeira publicly or charitably in Baltimore.) If he walked through White Marsh Mall today for lunch I honestly don’t think anyone would recognize him. My point isn’t that he’s a “bad” guy. I don’t know a thing about him beyond what I’ve written about. But I do know he’s NOT Cal Ripken. No matter how much you pay him!

2.    He’s been traded TWICE so it’s not like any other franchise has found him  “irreplaceable.” Actually, it’s more like the opposite. I’m always skeptical when a team takes a player who has had Teixeira’s statistical prowess and decides, “Yeah, he’s OK but we’d rather have these OTHER player(s) instead in a trade.” That’s always a major red flag. The dude has raked at the plate. He’s a legitimate force offensively in the big leagues. And if he signs here, he’s on Team No. 4 and is only 29 years old and six years into his career. That really doesn’t sound like a “guy you build your franchise around” or break the bank for to me.

3.    Are the Orioles doing this to win or to sell tickets and get some mileage out of the marketability of a “Baltimore kid” in a “Baltimore uniform?” I’m really unsure of what Angelos’ intent is here. Sure, he’s a nice player and a good hitter but $20 million a year is a little obscene given the position he plays and the fact that I’m not sure there’s going to be a rush on season tickets because he’s an Oriole. That might be the case, but I’m skeptical that he’ll move the needle on ticket sales in any more than in a negligible way. Maybe the “we’re trying!” part of it will sell more goodwill than the actual numbers or W-L record Teixeira produces in the short term. As a matter of fact, I’m 100% sure Opening Day would be a “big deal” again this year (re: sellout) if they sign Teixeira on Thursday for $156 million. But is THAT worth $156 million?

4.    Bottom line: Couldn’t the Orioles spend that $20 million per year on pitching and truly have a better chance to win over the next 36 months? (I ask this rhetorically…I have no answer for this.)

Either way, Baltimore has a MUCH better chance to win if Teixeira comes than by having another Kevin Millar or Randy Milligan or David Segui or B.J. Surhoff playing first base. It’s certainly a major upgrade in that department. And it’s not my money. (Or maybe it IS our money with what these crooks are stealing via our Comcast bill every month and not utilizing on behalf of making the baseball team and the city better?)

It’s getting more and more interesting every day that this drags out. And it’ll be interesting to see the civic reaction and the Orioles’ reaction if he eschews his hometown team and leaves King Peter at the alter by signing with the Red Sox or the Nationals. Would that be unlike Scott Boras, pulling down the Emperor’s trousers with the ONE guy he HAD to get? And, no less, delivering him to Larry Lucchino up in Boston? Wouldn’t that be Boras’ “tea pah-tay.” (For a brief laugh, just click...)

We’re hearing that Angelos and the Orioles really think they’re going to get Teixeira. And that will make it all the more painful if they don’t get him. There’s a lot to digest here and a lot of risk. The Orioles just don’t offer $150 million to ANYONE. EVER! So, if this is legit, it’s a major foundational, tectonic shift.

The coolest part is that this is a major “Y” in the road for the franchise. One way or the other, Mark Teixeira is going to greatly affect Baltimore and its baseball future for years to come over the next week.

The Orioles always have the “fall back” position of painting Teixeira as a modern day Benedict Arnold if he “elects” to not sign in Baltimore after the Orioles made a “fair and reasonable market offer.” I can hear and see the somber McPhail at the podium now saying, “We did our best…We made him a generous offer and he elected to go to (City X).” Blah, blah, blah…

Keep the popcorn warm. This is getting good!

The Orioles have lit a spark just by “being involved.” (Hey, we’re TALKING and WRITING and THINKING about them during a week when the purple guys with helmets are playing for their playoff lives…)

But who’s zooming who and who is serious? And where will Teixeira sign? And for how much? And what wild stories are going to unearth afterward when the “truth” is told. One bride. Three bridesmaids.

I think King Peter wants the white dress.

But who the heck knows?

Pass the butter…

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Will the Ravens extend Ray Lewis?

Posted on 04 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Ever since Drew Forrester posted his blog here at WNST.net yesterday about Ray Lewis and his pending return to the Ravens next year, folks have been talking.

I’ve received several calls from inside the organization (and around the NFL) and the reports are mixed. Many think it’s a “done deal” and others, perhaps closer to understanding the business acumen of Ray Lewis circa 2008, think this is “part of the game.”

Let’s start with the absolute obvious here: Twice this year Steve Bisciotti has publicly said what Drew wrote yesterday: Ray Lewis will remain a Raven for life.

Bisciotti did this while appearing with the new Miami sidekick on a bad radio show in August and before that poolside at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. at the owner’s meetings.

(It’s kinda crazy that NFL Network was reporting that “WNST is reporting Lewis deal imminent,” etc. when it was simply Drew’s blog saying that he believes it’ll “get done.” We didn’t send a text. We didn’t write a headline screaming “Lewis signs 5-year deal with Ravens.” Drew simply put up an informed, sourced blog with good inside information.)

But today – somewhat for sheer argument though I actually do feel this way — I will play “Devil’s advocate” and take the other position.

This is defending the “part of the game” theory of where we are with Ray Lewis in the “walk” year in his 13th season in the league at the age of 33 on a surprisingly good team and playing at a high level.

“Playing the game” would be that Lewis is finally taking all of the quality advice he’s been given – “shut up, play hard, be a good guy, try to win” – and using his play on Sundays to “cash in” with another huge payday. And, I’m sure, his better advisors told him that he’d “get paid” by someone at a very high rate of return, whether it’s the Ravens or not.

Ray Lewis is playing his ass off. While he might not be what he used to be in pass coverage when he was the best player on the planet, he’s still a pretty damned good middle linebacker. He’s the franchise player, the face of the organization and anything good that’s ever happened to the Ravens has his signature on it.

His leadership — when he’s leading EVERYONE — rubs off on his teammates and he makes them all better. Quick: name one player who LEFT the Ravens’ defense and got better somewhere else? Ed Hartwell? Kim Herring? Adalius Thomas? Jamie Sharper?

And that’s not disrespect to any of the aforementioned. It’s just a fact. Ray Lewis makes his teammates better.

For some the Ravens ARE Ray Lewis.

He’s also a very, very complex man. He’s got lots of children, relatives, advice, friends, business associates, etc. and many have had his ear over the years with mixed results. He’s jettisoned and offended enough people over the years to create two distinct camps, much of it unnecessary, really.

They should be building statues for the guy in Baltimore. I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen and I’m not really sure Ray Lewis cares if he’s an icon in Baltimore. And he’ll never actually live full time in Baltimore, so does it really matter?

But he does care about the money and he clearly cares about the integrity in which he earns it. He wants to be great. We all see that and respect it.

But make no mistake about it: No one says it’s NOT about the money with Ray Lewis. It’s ALWAYS about the money with Ray.

So, while Drew thinks he’s solved this mystery and it’ll be a “no brainer,” I’m not so sure that I feel the same way. I’ve heard the same stuff from many people in the building: he’s not going anywhere and the contract is a “formality.”

(Again. See: Owner, Bisciotti, Steve for comments about this point.)

I’m here to say that it’s not a formality until it’s, well, FORMAL. Like a signed deal, a healthy Ray Lewis and a signing bonus and deal that he doesn’t feel is insulting to him. Word is, they already made one significant foray into signing No. 52 back in August and the signing bonus number was around $12 million and it wasn’t attractive enough to get Lewis’ attention. One person told me, No. 52 all but laughed at it.

But that’s Ray Lewis’ way. He wants to be the best and be paid like he’s the best. If Dwight Freeney got $30 million, surely Lewis will want to play and get paid beginning at $31 million.

So, with all due respect to Drew Forrester, it’s gonna take two to tango in Owings Mills.

Sure, the Ravens WANT Ray Lewis back. There’s more at stake for Bisciotti in this deal than meets the eye. First, he has a tremendous affinity for Lewis and his complexities. Bisciotti LOVES Ray Lewis. He admires him! And he’s said at least twice publicly – like in the “legitimate” media – that Ray is going nowhere.

Where were the headlines then?

Think Ray Lewis and his agents haven’t read those quotes? Think they won’t be used as a weapon come the end of the season? Especially if the season ends well into January…or even later (OK, so I’m dreaming here, but that’s what I do! Incidentally, so does Ray Lewis! He thinks we’re winning the Super Bowl in February! Just ask him!)

So, then, what will the price be if Ray Lewis leads to the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in Tampa in February?

The stock is already pretty high and rising, but this entire “game” is akin to Wall Street. It all depends on where the “futures” market is heading.

An injury over the next two months, and Lewis might get nothing. If the team tanks over the last half (not absurd given their schedule and relative inexperience in key areas), his stock drops.

But if they win…

Riiiiiiight…

Skies the limit!

But Ozzie Newsome will have his price. And Steve Bisciotti’s might be higher. And Ray Lewis probably knows that.

“You can’t pay a guy for tomorrow based on what he did yesterday,” is a credo wise general managers of NFL teams stick with pretty consistently. So I can assure you where Ozzie Newsome’s stance will be no matter how much he admires Ray Lewis.

Ozzie answers to the “eye in the sky” and the salary cap. Newsome won’t want to pay Ray Lewis for “all he’s done over the years” but Bisciotti might.

Next September he’ll be a 34-year old linebacker with fading coverage skills and a heart as big as the state and a Hall of Fame bronze statue awaiting him in Canton at some point.

And we all know what happens to players in their twilight, right?

Here’s the general scenario (and there’s no reason in the world to think it won’t play out this way for Ray Lewis if he wants to gauge his “market” value):

Ozzie: “Ray we love you. But we think you’re worth $16 million.”

Ray’s agent: “We’ll shop elsewhere.”

Like Junior Seau. And Emmitt Smith. And Joe Montana. And Jason Taylor. And Bruce Smith. And Brett Favre. etc.

Of course the biggest wild card here is the pending bust-up of the collective bargaining agreement and the chance of a rich guy’s free-for-all in the league with an uncapped season coming during the life of whatever deal Lewis will get from any team in the offseason.

So, my guess is that it ain’t over yet by any stretch.

There’s a lot of football left to be played and a lot of “off the field” politics and accounting to be done.

And a lot of “the game” has yet to play out.

Stay tuned. This soap opera could be as thick as Luke and Laura on General Hospital back in 1980.

Or it could all get done quietly behind closed doors, but that’ll definitely cost Bisciotti and the Ravens a little more than they originally thought. And they’re apparently OK with that as long as it’s not too absurd.

But Ray won’t take the “friends and family deal” to stay with the Ravens. Like he says, “It’s just business.”

At least if the plan is working and the team continues to win it makes all the sense in the world to “take care” of Ray a little. Theoretically, he’s worth more to the Ravens then he is to any other team.

But don’t kid yourself: it’ll cost more to sign Ray Lewis if the prosperity continues.

One thing we know for sure: no matter how much they pay him they’re going to get the same results from a 34 through 38-year old linebacker.

As Bill Parcells would say: “He is what he is.”

Then the question becomes: How much tread do the Ravens and Steve Bisciotti think is left on the old tire?

And what’s the price of poker in Baltimore?

I’ve always maintained that it’ll probably “end badly” with Ray Lewis, like it does for most NFL stars who want to essentially be overpaid for their contributions earlier in their career.

One way or another, we’ll find out in the coming weeks whether Bisciotti and Lewis are on the same page as to the value of a mid-30’s linebacker in the NFL.

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Ravens game officially moved to Nov. 9th in Houston

Posted on 13 September 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Finding a fair answer to Ravens-Texans scheduling wasn’t easy.

As the afternoon dragged on and the NFL powers-that-be stressed out and searched for a sensible solution, it became more clear that the “fallback” plan of moving bye weeks and keeping the schedule “in tact” might be the ONLY solution.

For the Ravens and Texans, it means tomorrow BECOMES the bye week.

Obviously, it’s more punitive to these two teams than anyone else, having basically forfeited the chance to go rest for a few days in the middle of a grueling season. Perhaps John Harbaugh will allow the Ravens a quick escape from tonight through Wednesday morning, but it’s not the same as a bye week on Nov. 9th, that’s for sure.

The Cincinnati Bengals will be the only other affected party and it will essentially move their bye week back by three weeks, moving their game from Nov. 9th back to Oct. 26 with the Texans in Houston (assuming the stadium isn’t still trashed). Marvin Lewis would probably welcome a bye in November vs. October, but he clearly has bigger fish to fry at 0-1 with the way they played last week here.

And it’s not like Roger Goodell is giving the Browns or Steve Bisciotti or Bob McNair a lot of options here. Common sense kicked in and they “did what they needed to do.”

I applaud them, even though any remote hope of the Ravens’ postseason pipe dreams are diminished slightly by the fact that they’ll be playing 15 straight weeks beginning next Sunday against Cleveland. Same deal for the Texans, 15 in a row.

But we do get to enjoy one more week of being undefeated! (This is a weak attempt at gallows humor.)

So, on the face of it, this is the easy solution. Just switch the schedule and wish the folks of Houston a speedy recovery.

But rest assured Matt Stover and the NFLPA had a voice in this but it was a “no win” for anyone and kind of crazy to think the league could round up the Texans tomorrow and get them someplace to play a football game on Monday, especially considering the “real life” issues the people of the Houston area will face in the coming days and weeks.

And the two organizations — Baltimore and Houston — will certainly be conceding a major competitive issue by essentially never getting a bye, but this was the best the NFL and the NFLPA and all of the related and interested parties could negotiate under duress.

The Texans might not have a normal moment for months considering the condition of their city and their stadium.

Feel to comment below…

But this will be made “official” very shortly…

(P.S. Another reminder about why you should be on the WNST Text Service..CLICK HERE TO JOIN…we beat every website in the city like a drum all day…like by hours in most cases, by 16 minutes on this particular story…but we have to tell you this stuff because the other media outlets would never give us credit for all of the stories we break (or as some staff members like to say, the “asskickings” we deliver)…but if you’re a WNST text person you know how good our staff is…we had everything FIRST (and by a lot)…That’s just a fact!)

We’re not just a little AM radio station anymore…but you’ll see that for yourself soon enough.

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Harbaugh and Hockey

Posted on 13 September 2008 by Ed Frankovic

Harbaugh Making a Stand?

So I caught some sports news tonight on Comcast and John Harbaugh stormed off from the media to end his daily press conference this afternoon out at 1 Winning Drive. It appears that the constant questions about who is playing and who is hurt are getting to our new head coach. In Harbaugh’s defense he has been consistent in not answering these questions at all and has stated so to members of the media, from what I’ve seen and heard. Personally, I think it is a GREAT decision by Harbaugh to keep mum on injuries and anything pertaining to who is playing where and how much. Giving out that information can hurt your competitive advantage. So I say kudos to Harbaugh for standing his ground and not discussing injuries or playing time or anything strategic ahead of time because it can help the Ravens against their upcoming opponents. I rarely see Bill Belichick discussing injuries and that has worked for New England as well (of course some guy named Brady doesn’t hurt to have on your side either). So as fans of the team are you okay with Harbaugh not discussing these things? Can you live with the lack of information and uncertainty on various players in a football crazed town? I certainly am and have no problem with him drawing a line in the sand with the local press. After all, he is getting paid to win games, not be nice with the media, right Mr. Bisciotti?

Hockey Talk and Season Coming Soon

To all of you hockey starved fans out there, hang in there, training camp starts up next week with the first part of each teams’ camps focused on the rookies and young prospects. The veterans start skating officially later next week (although many Caps are in town skating at Kettler Iceplex daily already, and in case you hadn’t heard Nicklas Backstrom sprained his ankle Thursday and will likely miss at least some of camp). If you have access to the NHL network they are showing many of the NHL rookie games this week each night so tune in to get your first look at some future NHLers. Also, the Caps rookies will be playing the Flyers rookies at 3pm at Kettler Iceplex on Thursday, September 18th. I plan on attending and providing some information on how the young guys are developing as well as any info I can pick up about the big club. The Caps open their regular season Friday, October 10 in Atlanta and are home the next night against the Chicago Blackhawks at 7pm. I expect the Caps to have lots of sellouts this year so get your tickets while you can.

Other hockey tidbits: The Blackhawks have traded former Caps forward Robert Lang to the Montreal Canadiens for a second round draft pick in the 2010 draft…Tampa Bay forward Vincent Lecavalier, who hurt his shoulder in the last Lightning game against the Caps last season, says he will miss the first four Tampa preseason games but will return for the final two games…Eric Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes signed a seven year, $58M deal with the club on Thursday, September 11.

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