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Ten observations on why Baltimore sports fans aren’t going to Orioles games

Posted on 15 September 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

My story and history with Peter G. Angelos is pretty well told. There are many “insider observations” that I know and have lived that shall remain private for now but it’s pretty obvious that I’m a journalist who has been intimidated and lied to by them for so long now – and in so many ways – that it could only make sense to someone who has witnessed the past few months of this presidential race.

If you’re one of the low information people who think it’s “no big deal” or justified to ban any legitimate media member who asks fair questions and has the accountability and public availability that I’ve had in the Baltimore sports media marketplace for 25 years, then you should simply move on because you’re the type that doesn’t want to deal with the facts. Your bar is lower than it should be.

I promised some fair thoughts today on why YOU and many other citizens of Maryland and fans of the Baltimore Orioles don’t go to the games as regularly as perhaps you once did. I wrote a blog earlier this week about why I don’t go to games and actively give Peter G. Angelos my money.

So if the question is: “Why are there so many empty seats at Camden Yards for Orioles baseball games in height of pennant race?”

Consider these mostly global thoughts:

1. Washington has a baseball team. This was the worst nightmare of Peter G. Angelos. When he sat with me in 1997 (and mostly lied to me), he also predicted that if D.C. got a team it would “split” the fanbase and make for two “mediocre” franchises (back when attendance mattered more than the siphoning of cable TV revenue).

 

Those fans south of Laurel who love the Nationals are long, long gone. And they’re not coming back. And there are a LOT of them.

2.People simply have other things to do and other interests. Kids sports leagues. Various other sports and hobbies and passions. Family issues. Work. Church. Civic Issues. Festivals. The beach. Pokemon? The world has changed since 1966 when the Baltimore Orioles had a summer monopoly on civic pride and evening stoop soap opera. Peter Angelos is competing with anything and everything inside your mobile device. He’s not #winning your hearts.

3.It ain’t cheap. And it ain’t as cheap as it used to be. Tickets are easy to get but not so cheap as to not make it a decision. My wife and I want to go next Thursday night for the final game of David Ortiz. (She’s a Red Sox fan. This is pretty well documented.)       boston-day-4-25 The whole process feels like I’m waiting out a stock because the “get ins” on the roof are $18. If the game matters, perhaps demand will sky rocket and everyone will want to be there. But, the Orioles could also be five games out and fighting for their lives. I buy from the secondary market whenever I do go and it’s a weird market. It’s also clear they’re spreading out the sales of the seats to make the bowl look more full and manipulating them on Stubhub. The jacking up of prices for key games – while industry standard – is a tacky business move and hasn’t just backfired here in Baltimore. The elimination of discount nights smacks of another greedy Angelos idea. And the beer and concession prices – and the quality of the food – speaks for itself. Not to be a dick – but where in life is there a more expensive and generally crappy decision than buying food at a sporting event than at an arena, theatre or stadium? We’re all kinda blind to it but there’s nowhere else on the planet you feel comfortable paying $12 for a draft beer, $10 for leathery chicken tenders or $8 for a cold hot dog or $4.50 for a bottle of water. It’s obscene – but acceptable in America. But, still…not cheap. There are many folks who would love to go an Orioles game who simply can’t afford to go more than once a month or once a season. From the tickets, the parking, the concessions and the time invested, it’s just not a cheap night out for the family or even a date. It’s a decision made with your wallet as much as your heart. Meanwhile, the place sits empty most nights. MORE…

 

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Hey Orioles: Those empty seats mean that Baltimore is just not that into you…

Posted on 13 September 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

As the first – and only – local sports journalist to poke the bear and pull down the pants of the emperor, it’s now my turn to chime in on the biggest local sports story this month that’s returning to Camden Yards for the next 11 days.

Ok, the most important question in the land of pleasant living at this time of the year is always about the Baltimore Ravens. Facts are facts. They’re 1-0 and headed to Cleveland to (presumably) be 2-0 by Sunday night.

But the very obvious other “water cooler buzz” around our kingdom is about why Camden Yards is so empty in September with the Orioles facing arch-rivals in the middle of a very winnable pennant race in Baltimore?

TOMORROW I’LL GIVE MY “TOP 10 REASONS BALTIMORE SPORTS FANS DON’T GO TO ORIOLES GAMES ANYMORE”

Two weeks ago, during the “homestand of empty” vs. the Blue Jays and Yankees, I was in Europe reading some laugh-out-loud reports from local “journalists” either on the payroll of Peter G. Angelos, the Baltimore Orioles or any of the MASN-based or CBS-owned arms of business partnerships that permeate the local media. Those organizations are strongly discouraged from critical thinking and free $peech so it’s up to places like WNST to get to the truth. Unlike their employees who are intimidated or “compensated” in the Angelos food chain, we get to say what we think here.

The employees of any of the above entities are not allowed to tell the truth. Angelos confirmed this to me years ago.

So, when you write pieces like the one longtime Washington journalist Thom Loverro inked two weeks ago in The Washington Times – in local sports writer vernacular, “a take down” – you get your press credentials revoked. And amongst those who do follow the Orioles and bow at the shrine of the orange cartoon bird, you get called a hack, a traitor or a guy with an axe to grind.

But, of course, no one at MASN or 105.7 The Fan or The Baltimore Sun or PressBox is ever called a shill – even though the dignity of the whole Orioles operation under Angelos is veiled by the fact that no one ever answers a question about anything. Other than playing baseball games when they’ve locked the doors and told the fans to NOT come, we don’t hear from the Angelos clan.

Loverro and his track record as a reporter speaks for itself. So does mine.

On December 13th, I’ll celebrate 25 years of doing sports radio in Baltimore. In 20 of those years, the Orioles haven’t just been an “also ran” – they’ve been a “never ran at all.” The reasons have all been well- …

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Orioles, Nats and MASN Money for Dummies: A complete primer on how Peter Angelos has lied and pocketed your dough

Posted on 03 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

“What you can expect, though, that those that comment – putting aside the fellow you mentioned (Nestor Aparicio), who you know is not even worthy of getting into that (chuckles), it really makes no sense to respond to him – the responsible people, who know baseball and who are baseball fans – the writers like you (Stan Charles) – if they want to criticize, they better look at the economics. They owe it to the public to explain to whoever is interested that the problem is disparity in revenues. Now, I have heard some of them mention that this MASN development might really generate some real funds, which would permit the Orioles to spend more money. That’s a pretty strong acknowledgment that the key to all this, to get off the losing years and so on, is more money invested on the field. And obviously, with that becoming available, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to do that because we are hometown and we are sensitive to what the public is thinking. I know a lot of Baltimore fans, and, just personally, I want them to feel like I am responding to their wishes.”

Peter G. Angelos, May 2006

(as told to PressBox via Q&A)

PETER G. ANGELOS DOESN’T WANT YOU to know about the billions of dollars he has collected, dispensed and quietly usurped from local sports fans from six states via your cable television bill. It’s time for someone who is “responsible” to do the math on where all of that money has gone over the last 10 years as the Orioles. and its spinoff cable TV partner the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), have become a virtual annuity for the owner here in Baltimore.

Clearly, given the dozen years that he’s fought with his Major League Baseball partners, Bud Selig, Rob Manfred and now Ted Lerner and the Washington Nationals over this incredible sum of “found” money, surely there must some large pot of gold somewhere? The Washington Post wrote that it was $298 million in dispute from 2011 to 2015 after the New York Supreme Court hearing in early November. But that’s just the tip of the financial iceberg – a small number compared to all of the money that’s been flushed through MASN since it was berthed as a olive branch to Angelos by then-commissioner Bud Selig for allowing baseball back into the nation’s capital in 2005.

Over the last decade, I’ve been portrayed as a liar or a heretic by Peter G. Angelos and his media partners. After 21 years with a Baltimore Orioles media credential, my access was taken away by the club in 2007.

However, my track record still stands as unblemished heading into 2016.

I always tell the truth and write the truth. (That’s why you’re here.)

As you’ll see, I’ve put in all of the work for you – a little “term paper” for you oldtimers who spent time with microfiche in a lonely library – so you can learn about this history and realities of how the Nationals came into existence and what it’s meant for Baltimore and Washington baseball and the fans.

This series of facts is presented with two educational goals:

  • Track everything that was said – and very openly in the “mainstream” media – a decade ago when Angelos began this power struggle for the future money of Washington, D.C. and what he considered his market
  • Document everything that has happened since he began this trail of lies in search of all of the money that was designed and originally earmarked to improve the Baltimore Orioles

Everything presented in this series will be linked to major media entities like Forbes, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, ESPN/Grantland, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and various reports with financial annotations. I’ve always been accountable in my work. Meanwhile, accountability is always completely absent from the mind and spirit of Angelos and his …

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 12): Selig vs. Angelos – trust, antitrust and billions of dollars

Posted on 17 December 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

This is Chapter 12 of the upcoming book, “The Peter Principles.” This lengthy excerpt is a prelude to a WNST report on ten years of MASN money and how Washington baseball has affected Baltimore baseball over the past decade. The first three chapters of the book are available here:

The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

The Peter Principles (Ch. 2): The error of tyranny at Camden Yards

The Peter Principles (Ch. 3): How close did Angelos come to owning Baltimore’s NFL team?

 

 

The Peter Principles

Chapter 12

The Washington Nationals were the greatest thing to ever happen to Peter G. Angelos

 

“We’re going to be watching very carefully to see what’s going to happen with some of the efforts to put a baseball franchise in Washington or in Northern Virginia. And I’m gonna tell ya straight up: we don’t think there should be a baseball franchise in Northern Virginia or in Washington. Because you would have a repetition of what you have in Oakland and San Francisco. In Oakland and San Francisco you have the same kind of population mix that you have between Baltimore and Washington. And those two teams kill each other off. Both of those teams drew, last year, less than two million fans. Together, they drew 3 million fans. But because they’re so close to each other and they’re both part of one metropolitan area – mega metropolitan area – they are literally killing themselves at the gate. We have argued, I think to this point, successfully, that there should not be another Major League Baseball franchise 30 to 40 miles away from Baltimore. It isn’t that we would deny the people that live in those areas the recreational pursuit of baseball. We think baseball is a great game for everybody. But when we look at the experience of Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco – Boston and Philadelphia and St. Louis had two ballclubs. The history of baseball dictates that you can’t put two teams that close together. We are opposing that. We think Orioles baseball is plenty good enough for us as well as the people in the Washington suburbs and we thank them for that support and we want to retain that support.”

Peter G. Angelos

The Barn, March 1997

 

 

WITH THE BIG MONEY SPLURGE OVER the winter, Peter G. Angelos believed he’d solved most of his 2004 problems on the field with the Orioles. But, truly, the team on the field or how it performed in the spring was the least of his big-picture problems with the franchise. Angelos was far more focused on its future viability in Baltimore if his Major League Baseball partners were going to acquiesce to mounting civic pressure from Washington, D.C. and move the fledgling, all-but-homeless Montreal Expos to the capital of the free world to openly compete in a marketplace that had solely been the territory of the Orioles since the early 1970s.

Once again, a decade into his ownership of the Orioles, Angelos found himself knee-deep into circumstances that went far beyond the boundaries of the normal business of simply running a baseball team and trying to win and turn a profit. For the first time in modern baseball history – the last team that moved was the Washington Senators to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1972 – a MLB team was going to being uprooted and potentially moved directly into the territory of an existing franchise.

While he picked many of battles over years with political figures, media members, Orioles players, agents, partners, insurance companies and big businesses, this was certainly a battle that found Angelos. He was a natural fighter. But this was not a fight he ever wanted.

When Camden Yards was flooded with fans in his early days he always maintained that there was no way two teams could survive and thrive in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. He was always adamant – if not even enthusiastic and animated – in his protests of anything related to Washington having a Major League Baseball team.

Washington baseball was his worst nightmare.

And he saw the clouds were forming very clearly heading into 2004.

Angelos saw where this might be going, and despite his work on an amicable relationship and pro bono efforts during the 2002 labor negotiations on behalf of Major League Basbeall, he still truly believed that commissioner Bug Selig would never cross him and his daily struggle to keep another MLB team out of the nation’s capital. He called Selig “a friend” at one point and indicated his staunch belief that Washington baseball would never happen.

“Washington has a baseball team,” Angelos would say. “They’re called the Orioles.”

You can hear him discuss this topic at length here from March 1997:

If anything had been proven over the years it was that Peter G. Angelos loved a good fight. He was now more than $150 million upside down in his ownership of the Orioles – reports would say at this time that the team was worth $325 million, which would’ve more than cleared up his losses. But, having lost money every year for 10 years and reaching into his personal vast fortune annually to financially support the team was an unnerving reality. But, given his reputation and track record, it was his own doing by chasing away large chunks of revenue streams with a myriad of poor decisions and poor civic form.

Now, as a mostly unpopular figure through both cities’ baseball fan bases, he was bunkering …

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Can I see 30 MLB stadiums in 30 days next summer? Only if you #GiveASpit…

Posted on 19 December 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Many have said it can’t be done but my plan is to do it.

In the spirit of the holidays – when dreams are made and shared – I’m announcing my intentions to spend next summer spreading the word about saving lives via the international bone marrow registry. Our WNST.net 30-30 Baseball #GiveASpit National Awareness Campaign in conjunction with the local charity There Goes My Hero, will attempt to travel to 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and see 30 games in 30 days in the hopes of swabbing as many people as divinely possible during the tour, which will conclude at the MLB All Star Game festivities in Cincinnati on July 13-14, 2015.

As you know, earlier this year on March 20, my wife Jennifer was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia at Johns Hopkins. After a gruesome chemo battle including 56 nights in the hospital and a miraculous remission status in May, she received the greatest gift a human being can receive – a new life with a bone marrow transplant on June 26th from an anonymous 21-year old donor from Germany, who saved her life and then wrote her a three-page letter telling her why he did it. “I did this for you because I believe it is our assignment to help people when they need help the most,” he wrote in a letter Jenn received in early August.

You should stop reading this blog now and click here to read his letter.

Now that you’ve read his letter, you can better appreciate our “calling” to do this summer tour and pay his kindness forward to others.

Because I’ve lived my life in the public world of the sports media and have promoted countless charitable efforts and great causes on my local and national radio shows over the years, I want to get on the road and spread the word about the miracle of life my wife received because she had a “perfect match.” When Jenn was extremely ill in the spring, we put together our personal bucket lists of things we wanted to do when she got healthy – reasons for her to live when her diagnosis and her cancer felt the most frightening.

Jenn is now a survivor and we want to pay it forward by bringing national awareness to the power of saliva on a swab by using sports, athletes, celebrities and an old-fashioned barnstorming tour of the first love of my life – baseball and stadiums and ballgames. Seeing all 30 stadiums in 30 days is on my personal bucket list and I want to do it with a cause and put a real face on the miraculous work being done with medicine in beating cancer, leukemia and utilizing the generosity of people on the bone marrow transplant registry.

Simply put, this is what saved Jenn’s life and it’s my mission to save more lives in the coming years.

At this critical planning point of putting together the tour (which begins on June 13 in Baltimore and is highlighted below), we need all of our relationships to come together to make each city tour stop a success and the ability to swab 18-to-55 year-old, healthy folks is critical to saving lives in the future. We will work with local swabbing organizations in each city to “swab” folks for the bone marrow registry and use the hashtag and catch phrase #GiveASpit or #IGaveASpit to create conversation.

Our current plan is to get as much pre-publicity for the tour as possible and build the registry one day and one event at a time. I hope to sit with a local celebrity or athlete and “watch the game” with them in each town while we talk about sports, life, baseball and whatever folks talk about when they go to games.

I already have a few cool commitments from some old friends around the country and I’ll be announcing them as they come in for each town and game. You might want to circle Thursday, June 18 as a special date on the tour. My Philadelphia stop will include the Baltimore Orioles and WNST.net will be doing a bus trip for that game in Philly.

We’re also planning an event in the spring with Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano here in Baltimore to honor Jenn’s donor and folks everywhere who save lives for There Goes My Hero via our many business partnerships and local cancer survivors.

We expect this 30-30 #GiveASpit to be an around the clock, live-streamed, evolving conversation to be shared in social media via our growing Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and website at WNST.net.

It will be a nonstop, moving, baseball marathon and road trip across the United States in 30 days.

We will also be creating traditional radio and video content along the way. It will be a moving travelogue with some good food, cold beer, lots of highways and people and interviews with folks and fans we meet on the road along with a litany of celebrities who’ve joined my radio show at some point over the past 23 years since I started my radio career in 1991.

I’m guessing I’ll be doing some of the best radio of my life and having the time of my life. Seeing old friends along the way is going to be the best part.

I love baseball. I love traveling around America. I love the friends I’ve made along the way. In 2006, I wrote a 19-chapter book about my love of baseball. You can find the links here.

So, this is definitely a “bucket list” trip for me.

I’ll have more details as our sponsors, angels and partners evolve. But I’ll be working on this every day for the next six months to ensure that we can swab as many people at divinely possible along the way and make the tour as effective as it can be.

Thanks for all of the support and #JennStrong love we’ve felt on our journey. It hasn’t been easy. But it’s been rewarding, redemptive and inspiring for me.

I’m doing the best radio of my career. I’m having fun. We’re having a wonderful holiday season with family and friends.

And I’m planning to do this 30-30 #GiveASpit tour this summer to honor my Pop, my wife and people everywhere who save lives and inspire me.

I’m also going to have fun doing it. And we’ll save lives. And that’ll be cool.

***

There are significant links below with videos and more information about Jenn’s battle and our mission. The 30-day MLB stadium tour is also listed.

Thanks for your friendship over the years and for your generosity and time in making this tour even better and more significant.

Here are some key links to see Jenn’s story and learn about her battle:

To see a video from beginning of her diagnosis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9osOYm7TxU

To see a video of Jenn’s first 100 days of battling leukemia, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p0W6Je0L2Y

To see the incredible letter from her German donor, click here: http://wnst.net/wnst/jennstrong-receives-the-greatest-life-and-love-letter-ever-written-from-germany/

To see her recent speech for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qa97BBgkTc

You can also google #JennStrong and read all about her illness and miraculous recovery: http://wnst.net/wnst/so-my-beautiful-wife-jenn-was-diagnosed-with-leukemia-last-week/

2015 WNST.net Baseball #GiveASpit Tour Itinerary:
Sat. June 13 – Baltimore (vs. Yankees) TBA 248 miles
Sun. June 14 – Pittsburgh (vs. Phillies) 1:35 371 miles
Mon. June 15 – N.Y. Mets (vs. Blue Jays) 7:10 214 miles
Tue. June 16 – Boston (vs. Braves) 4:05 214 miles
Wed. June 17 – N.Y. Yankees (vs. Marlins) 7:05 94 miles
Thu. June 18 – Philadelphia (vs. Orioles) 1:05 139 miles
Fri. June 19 – Washington (vs. Pirates) TBA 501 miles
Sat. June 20 – Cincinnati (vs. Marlins) TBA 461 miles
Sun. June 21 – Atlanta (vs. Mets) 5:10 456 miles
Mon. June 22 – Tampa Bay (vs. Blue Jays) 7:10 277 miles
Tue. June 23 – Miami (vs. Cardinals) 7:10 1103 miles
Wed. June 24 – Texas (vs. Athletics) TBA 239 miles
Thu. June 25 – Houston (vs. Yankees) TBA 779 miles
Fri. June 26 – St. Louis (vs. Cubs) 8:15 373 miles
Sat. June 27 – Milwaukee (vs. Twins) TBA 375 miles
Sun. June 28 – Detroit (vs. White Sox) 1:05 231 miles
Mon. June 29 – Toronto (vs. Red Sox) 7:05 2,580 miles
Tue. June 30 – San Diego (vs. Mariners) TBA 96 miles
Wed. July 1 – Anaheim (vs. Yankees) TBA 355 miles
Thu. July 2 – Arizona (vs. Rockies) 7:40 1,063 miles
Fri. July 3 – Kansas City (vs. Twins) TBA 1,625 miles
Sat. July 4 – L.A. Dodgers (vs. Mets) TBA 371 miles
Sun. July 5 – Oakland (vs. Mariners) TBA 802 miles
Mon. July 6 – Seattle (vs. Tigers) 7:10 802 miles
Tue. July 7 – San Francisco (vs. Mets), TBA 1,264 miles
Wed. July 8 – Colorado (vs. Angels), TBA 1,008 miles
Thu. July 9 – Chicago White Sox (vs. Blue Jays) TBA 414 miles
Fri. July 10 – Minnesota (vs. Tigers) 7:10 414 miles
Sat. July 11 – Chicago Cubs (vs. White Sox) TBA 345 miles
Sun. July 12 – Cleveland (Athletics) TBA 249 miles
Mon. July 13 – CINCINNATI ALL-STAR HR DERBY & GAME FESTIVITIES
Tue. July 14 – CINCINNATI MLB ALL-STAR GAME

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Start times announced for remaining games of ALCS

Posted on 08 October 2014 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 9:45 p.m. Wednesday)

Major League Baseball announced the remaining start times of all games of the American League Championship Series as the Orioles will welcome the Kansas City Royals to Oriole Park at Camden Yards beginning on Friday.

Game 1 will begin at 8:07 p.m. Friday as the ALCS will have the stage to itself with the National League Championship Series not getting underway until the next day. The Royals announced that right-hander James Shields will make the start in the series opener while manager Buck Showalter is expected to send Chris Tillman to the hill for the Orioles.

The second game of the best-of-seven series will begin at 4:07 p.m. Saturday before the teams move to Kansas City to continue the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium.

Games 3 and 4 will begin at 8:07 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday while Game 5 would begin at 4:07 p.m. Wednesday if necessary. If the series continues, Games 6 and 7 would also be played at 8:07 p.m. next Friday and Saturday night at Camden Yards.

The entire series will be televised on TBS.

In other news, Zach Britton and his wife, Courtney, became the parents of a baby boy as Zander Lee Britton was born Tuesday night in California. The Orioles closer is expected to be back with his club for Thursday’s workout at Camden Yards.

 

 

 

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Ten talking points for Orioles-Tigers ALDS matchup

Posted on 30 September 2014 by Luke Jones

As the Orioles prepare to play the Detroit Tigers for the first time ever in the postseason, here are 10 talking points to break down their meeting in the American League Division Series beginning Thursday night:

1. The outcome of the regular-season series between these clubs is irrelevant.

It’s generally unwise to make too much out of a six-game sample anyway, but the Tigers’ 5-1 mark against the Orioles during the regular season included taking two of three in Detroit the first weekend of April and a three-game sweep at Camden Yards in mid-May. Even if Detroit easily disposes of Baltimore and sweeps the Division Series, what happened between these clubs more than four months ago isn’t a good predictor when you acknowledge how much change each roster has undergone since then.

2. The Detroit rotation has the better pedigree, but the Orioles posted a superior starter ERA this season.

Yes, the Tigers have the bigger names and former Cy Young Award winners in David Price, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander, but the Orioles’ starting pitching ERA of 3.61 ranked fifth in the AL while Detroit’s 3.89 starter mark was only 10th. Consistency has been key for Baltimore as all four projected starters in the Division Series carry an ERA of 3.65 or better. Meanwhile, Verlander, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player in the AL, has been the weak link for Detroit with a 4.54 ERA this season. On paper, the Tigers have the edge in Games 1 and 3 with Scherzer and Price scheduled to pitch, but Games 2 and 4 will be much more interesting with Verlander struggling all year and Rick Porcello posting a 6.20 ERA in five September starts after throwing a career-high 204 2/3 innings this season.

3. Baltimore led the majors in home runs, but Detroit scored 52 more runs over the course of the year.

The Orioles’ offensive identity is clear as they’re very dependent on the home run and ranked 11th in the AL in on-base percentage and 13th in walks, which aren’t promising numbers when you’d prefer not see Detroit starters pitching deep into games. The Tigers also allowed the second-fewest number of homers in the AL this season. In contrast, the Detroit offense was second in the majors in runs scored, first in batting average, and second in on-base percentage. For an Orioles staff that’s been very effective without striking out many hitters (10th in the AL), location is always important, especially against a lineup as consistent as the Tigers. Anything can happen in a short five-game series, but the Orioles would benefit from the ball carrying at both Camden Yards and Comerica Park.

4. The Orioles have a clear advantage in the late innings.

The Orioles ranked third in the AL in bullpen ERA (3.10) while Detroit ranked 13th with a 4.29 ERA and saw its bullpen nearly derail the season on a number of occasions. Baltimore’s late-inning trio of lefty Andrew Miller, submariner Darren O’Day, and closer Zach Britton is as good as any you’ll find in the postseason while the Tigers have held on tight with 39-year-old closer Joe Nathan, who sports a 4.81 ERA and has blown seven saves in his first year with Detroit. The X factors that could make the bullpen better for Detroit are usual-starter Anibal Sanchez — who is back from injury — and Joakim Soria, who has closer experience and has posted a 1.35 ERA since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. But if manager Brad Ausmus blindly trusts Nathan and even setup man Joba Chamberlain, he’s really rolling the dice.

5. The Tigers’ speed on the bases will be an issue for Orioles catchers.

Unlike the station-to-station Orioles who stole fewer bases (44) than anyone in baseball, Detroit isn’t afraid to run and ranked fourth in the AL with 106 steals. However, 36 of those came from outfielder Rajai Davis, who is currently nursing a groin injury that could limit him in the Division Series. The Tigers’ speed will force manager Buck Showalter to take pause when choosing between Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley behind the plate. Joseph has thrown out 40 percent of runners attempting to steal this season while Hundley has gunned down only 19 percent. The problem is Joseph is currently mired in an 0-for-30 slump and has been more erratic behind the plate down the stretch, which could indicate late-season fatigue.

6. The Baltimore defense is substantially better than Detroit’s.

Even without two Gold Glove winners for much of the season, the Orioles have still played defense at an extremely high level, committing the third-fewest number of errors in the AL and ranking third in defensive efficiency, according to BaseballReference.com. Meanwhile, the Tigers committed 14 more errors than Baltimore and ranked next to last in the AL in defensive efficiency. The Tigers also had five players — Davis, first baseman Miguel Cabrera, regular designated hitter Victor Martinez, outfielder Torii Hunter, and third baseman Nick Castellanos — with a defensive WAR (wins above replacement) of -1.0 or worse while Baltimore didn’t have a single player with a defensive WAR worse than -0.9, per BaseballReference.com.

7. Camden Yards was a more pitcher-friendly venue than Comerica Park this season.

Historically, Oriole Park at Camden Yards as been a pitcher’s nightmare while Comerica has played pretty evenly to pitchers and hitters alike, but 2014 has painted a much difference picture in Baltimore as Camden Yards has ranked 22nd in runs and 20th in home runs using ESPN’s park factors. Run scoring and home runs hit have been down at Camden Yards this season, which might be explained in part by the mild temperatures experienced in the area this summer compared to most years in which the ball tends to fly out in the summer months. Orioles pitchers allowed fewer homers and posted a lower ERA at Camden Yards than they did on the road while it wasn’t until the final month or so that Baltimore hitters finally started feasting at their home park, finishing the season with three more homers at home than on the road. Will this make a dramatic impact on the ALDS? Probably not with the cooler temperatures of October anyway, but it’s something to remember as analysts constantly mention the comfy dimensions of Camden Yards this October.

8. Defense at third base is an issue for both clubs.

The Orioles’ concerns at third base have been discussed extensively recently with Ryan Flaherty the most likely to handle the bulk of the work at the position during the ALDS, but Detroit has dealt with its own issues at the hot corner with Castellanos, who posted a respectable .700 on-base plus slugging percentage as a 22-year-old rookie but is a much better fit in the outfield. His 15 errors don’t appear to be a major concern on the surface, but fielding metrics show very limited range and his defensive WAR of -2.7 is the worst mark on the Tigers. As a result, Castellanos is frequently replaced by utility infielder Don Kelly in the late innings. While Castellanos has more potential with the bat than any of the Orioles’ current options at third base, it will be interesting to see if defense at the hot corner has a significant impact for either club at some point during the series.

9. It will be intriguing watching a rookie manager match wits with a seasoned skipper.

Always respected for his baseball mind as a longtime major league catcher, Ausmus will be making his postseason managerial debut against Buck Showalter, who is making his fourth playoff appearance and second with the Orioles and carries 16 years of major-league experience as a manager. With Detroit’s bullpen being so inconsistent, how far Ausmus is willing to push his starter on any given night will be a factor to watch. In contrast, Showalter has so many trustworthy bullpen pieces that he won’t hesitate to call to the bullpen sooner rather than later in a tight game. As mentioned before, third base has likely provided some restless nights for Showalter, but there isn’t too much mystery with the lineup beyond that. How the inexperienced Ausmus manages his pitching staff will be one of the big stories of the series.

10. Beware of bad blood.

While the Orioles’ 1-5 record against Detroit in April and May might not mean much, there was some bad blood between these clubs earlier in the season that’s worth keeping in the back of your mind. On May 12, Bud Norris was pitching a terrific game into the eighth before surrendering a two-run homer to Ian Kinsler to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. Norris responded by plunking the next hitter Hunter in the ribs, which prompted the pitcher’s ejection as both benches and bullpens emptied before order was restored. Verlander retaliated two days later by throwing a fastball behind slugger Nelson Cruz, which brought a warning to both sides. You certainly hope that cooler heads prevail with those events taking place so long ago and the high stakes of October now in front of both clubs, but you never know for sure.

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Pearce HR 9-16

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SEVENTEEN YEARS IN THE WAITING

Posted on 17 September 2014 by Tom Federline

“Sweeeeeeeeet Emoooootion” – Aerosmith. Just keep playing that song in your head. How ’bout ‘dem O’s hun? WOW! 8 – 2 win over the whining, scum beaning Blow Jays. The Division East Title and then………. the celebration. If you were there, nice pull. If you watched it, baseball entertainment at its’ finest (and no Gary Thorne – in our side). If you heard it, someone should put a tape of it in a time capsule. If you are an Orioles fan……………it’s been a long time comin’. “O” what a feeling.

People keep saying it’s been 17 years since the last division title. And they are right – in 1997 the O’s went wire-to-wire in first place. The teams of 1996 and ’97 were a reflection of Angelos’ attempt to buy a World Series.  They were expected to win and they did. But the World Series appearance – didn’t happen. In ’96, they beat the Indians for the ALDS and lost to the Yankees in the ALCS. Yes, that was the year of  Jeffrey Maier/Rich Garcia incident. In ’97 they went 98 – 64 and beat the Seattle Mariners in the ALDS, then lost to the Indians in the ALCS (Armando Benitez blown game in 11 innings after the O’s had 10 hits to Clevelands 3). But this year, is different. It’s a different feeling, a different team chemistry, a different era. It feels like ………..brace yourself……….the “Oriole Way”!

Back in ’96 and ’97, there were names like Alomar, Palmeiro, Davis (Eric), Bonilla, Erickson, Key, Meyers, Wells, Davey Johnson and yes – Ripken, Murray. All great players. All with hefty paychecks.  All with hefty egos. Most of them brought in to simply take the dreaded “evil empire down”. And they did. They just didn’t make it to the big dance. The 2014 Division title winners has names like Pearce, Schoop, Flaherty, Caleb Joseph, Chen, Tilman, Britton, Buck-Buck and yes, Jones, Markakis and Hardy. All with a story, all without such egos, all with their own nuances of how this cast of characters combined to take the AL East by storm since July.

Three big reasons why they are where they are. Markakis, Cruz, Pearce. Pearces’ blast last night to clearly send the message to the Blow Jays – Not Tonight! “The Answer – in the first inning.”

This year is unique. They won when they weren’t expected to. Yeah, we all HOPED and thought they had a chance. But come on, Weiters going down, Manny on DL to start and to finish, the big Ubaldomore bust, Hunter blowin’ it in the closer role, Davis not hitting for any type of average and then pulling a numbnut move……….come on, our hopes were stretching it. But the O’s never gave up. Yes, I’ll say it………they “Grind it out” and it’s true…..it’s what they do. Very few blow-outs. Even up against tough pitching and unless that guy had enough in the tank to complete the game……….it always seemed they had a chance. They playing through adversity, have perseverance and faith that they have what it takes. You go O’s or should that be “Let’s Go O’s”!

How about that crowd last night? The Yard/pot was a brewin’ since the Friday afternoon game vs. the Yankees. There was an explosion of cheers after that 11th inning win, that rivaled the Blue Angels fly byes, that day. And last night, whether on the radio or television, you could feel the adrenaline pumping from Camden Yards. Pearces’ blast in the first inning set the tone. Jimenez working out of trouble was refreshing. Then the solidifier – De Aza’s triple. So cool. They were not going to be denied. Even with the whining scum Blow Jays attempting some sort of retaliation from the night before and for what it still baffles me. Toronto Blow Jays organization = Classless. You go Darren O’day – O’day! You earned a vote for Oriole MVP.

Speaking of which, who is your Oriole MVP of 2014? If they win the World Series, it’s hands down, Buck-Buck. As far as players, I’ll go with,  hmmmm, “I wonder who Fedman would pick?” Yes, the best right fielder in baseball – Markakis. “Nicky” stepping up and taking on the lead-off roll, being the longest tenured Oriole and a stellar example of how the game should be played – It’s Markakis! With Steve Pearce a close 2nd.

They have put themselves in the position to excel. They have a shot. They have Buck-Buck. It would be nice if the O’s can make it into October intact as they are right now. It would be extremely undesirable to lose a key player now. Duquette has been playing a nice poker game so far. He’s brought in some nice “gold nuggets”, as Buck-Buck would say. They have been surprising. Now it’s time to hunker down, stay fresh and minimize potential injury. What a run. So cool. I would rather not see Detroit in the playoffs. But you know what? Hopefully, these Birds are going to continue to surprise us. What a Wednesday. What a celebration of Sweeeeeet Emoootion.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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Machado 6-7

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Orioles Have Issues

Posted on 09 June 2014 by Tom Federline

A little over one-third of the way in and this current Oriole team is no playoff contender. At this stage in the game, it does not even look like either of the two wild cards are going to come out of the east division. Don’t get me started on the TWO (2) wild card teams and one game winner-take all scenario. That is bogus! For future (and from a past) blog – I say 142 game season (players salaries adjusted/decreased), season is from mid-April to mid-September, 3 division winners/ 1 wild card, 3 out of 5 Division series, 3 out of 5 Championship series, 4 out of 7 World Series. Season over by 2nd week of October. Ok enough, had to get that out there. Bottom line – O’s at current rate there will be no October ball anyway.

Oriole Issues – challenged starting pitching, questionable middle relief, no closer threat (yet), minimal clutch hitting, to many men left on base, increased errors, no catcher and lack of team discipline. All that and they are in second place of the American League East with a 31 – 30 record. To put in perspective -that is the 7th best record out of 15 teams in the American League and 14th out of 30, in both leagues. It is amazing they have been able to hold on as long as they have, considering the inflated pitching ERA and loss of their major signal caller and part backbone of the team (Wieters).

I see a team not focused. Next time you’re at the Yards, check out the dugout, during and in between innings. Buck-Buck does NOT have a handle on the boys. There should be a rule – ‘No one goes down the tunnel unless you are due up and require warm-ups for your at-bat. No buffet snacking during game. No video games. Just stay out of the tunnel and all it’s amenities.” Watch game, with teammates, on bench. That should not be tough requirement for the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged roster players. Buck-Buck should remind them of their hourly rate.

I see a major bust in Jimenez. BTW – nice move Orioles magazine editor – putting Ubaldo-more on the cover of the first Oriole magazine this year. See blog from Opening Day – “Play Ball”.  One, maybe two decent games? He’s 2 -7 with a 5.01 ERA. Yeah, there’s a #2 starter for ya. “O” wait-a-minute, that’s right the weather has to warm up in order for him to perform at a comfortable level. Hmmm – seemed pretty warm to me for about a month now.

I saw a youngster breakdown and act his age this past weekend. Well, actually the over-paid, spoiled, self-indulged “star-in-the-making” acted more like a 10 year old. Team discipline? Manny-O-Manny, did you need your Mommy this weekend? Over -reaction on Friday night. Whined all weekend. Lackluster performance on his Bobblehead night annnnnnnnnd thennnnnnnn, yesterdays throwing of the bat. Fine him, suspend him, send him to his room with no snack before bed time. Maybe he was just miffed that they used a JJ Hardy look-a-like bobblehead instead of using the picture of himself he has hanging above his bed as the model.

Whatever the case, Machado still has some growing up to do. Ok, he’s still young, he will be 22 in July. Nope, not buying that one either. He needs a mentor. He needs a taste of Humble Pie.  He needs a butt kicking. He also needs to be put in the 6th hole and out of the #2 spot. He’s an inning killer. In particular, the first inning. Markakis is rolling at that top spot and it’s getting wasted. This is a case for Buck-Buck, Jones or Markakis to take control in the clubhouse. Actually, it’s a job for his parental units. Enough of that embarrassing situation.

The team appears in disarray at the moment. The boys holding this thing together are: Markakis, Jones, Cruuuuuz (until they pop him for juicy juice again) and Hardy. Pitching: Thank you Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Zach Britton – saving graces. Wieters being out – hurts offensively and defensively. The captain on the field is out and it shows. If the Orioles stay at current pace, it’s going to be a frustrating year. It’s time for Buck-Buck to “Whip It” – Devo. And whip it good! Get the boys back on track. How about one step at a time – just beat the Bosox!

D.I.Y.

Fedman

 

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

Posted on 19 March 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 1 of future book “The Peter Principles” that I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia. I have released the first three chapters of the book, which chronicles the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. I think you’ll find much of this already-reported information to be illuminating.)

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

 

 

IT WAS HOT AS HADES in that lower Manhattan federal courtroom. Jam-packed with bidders, curiosity seekers and baseball fans, the Baltimore Orioles franchise was up for grabs on August 2, 1993, and the bidding was as steamy as the air in the room once the price began to rapidly accelerate into the stratosphere.

The fact that there was any bidding at all was somewhat surprising to Peter G. Angelos, a Baltimore attorney who had begun a power play five months earlier to purchase the Major League Baseball franchise that was being sold off via an auction nearly 200 miles away from its home on the Chesapeake Bay. In the hours leading up to the auction, Angelos managed to turn his sole competitor from a previous suspended bid for the team during June into a partner. William DeWitt Jr., a Cincinnati native whose father once owned the St. Louis Browns in the 1940s and a minority investor in the Texas Rangers, joined Angelos’ celebrity-led local group from Maryland just hours before the bidding was to begin in the sweltering Custom House. DeWitt was promised a role in the operations and management of the club.

It was an amazing coup for Angelos to pull DeWitt from being a worthy, legitimate competitor into a teammate that morning, after convincing him that he’d be involved and an influential part of the eventual winning group. It was shocking that DeWitt had pulled out because several times over the previous eight months, he was convinced that he was already the winning bidder and new owner of the Orioles.

In February 1993, after six months of lengthy, arduous negotiations on a fair price, DeWitt had entered into a deal with Orioles majority owner Eli Jacobs to buy the team for $141.3 million. Jacobs, who was in his final days of semi-liquidity and quietly on the verge of bankruptcy, didn’t have the legal authority to close the deal with DeWitt once the banks seized his assets in March. Instead, the Orioles wound up at auction five months later and suddenly Angelos – with DeWitt now shockingly a member of his ownership team – believed he would emerge victorious without breaking a sweat in the summer heat of The Big Apple.

But that afternoon, after entering the courtroom in what he believed would be a rubber-stamped win, instead he found himself embroiled in a bidding war with a stranger he never strongly considered to being a worthy foil in the fray.

Jeffrey Loria, a New York art dealer and Triple-A baseball team owner, wanted badly to be a Major League Baseball owner. Baltimore native and former NFL player Jean Fugett represented a group led by TLC Beatrice, which featured a rare minority bid for an MLB franchise on that day in New York. One bidder, Doug Jemal of Nobody Beats The Wiz electronics stores, had early interest but bowed out before the steamy auction.

That August day, the bidding began at $151.25 million, which included a “stalking fee” of $1.7 million which was originally awarded to DeWitt’s team because of his vast due diligence and legal work done months earlier when he thought he had won a deal to secure the Orioles in the spring.

George Stamas, who represented Angelos’ group during the bidding process, opened the bidding at $153 million, which was seen as a good faith gesture from the combined bid with DeWitt, which could’ve been perceived as artificially deflating the sale price by judge Cornelius Blackshear. Loria, who was a stranger to the Angelos group, immediately raised it by $100,000. Stamas barked out, “One million more – $154.1!”

And for the next 30 minutes, the bids drew north from the $150 millions into the $160s. With every bid, Loria would raise by $100,000. Stamas, on behalf of Angelos, raised it by $1 million at a time. After 13 rounds of back and forth money, Angelos had the leading bid $170 million. Fugett, who had been completely silent during the auction, asked the judge for a recess.

The request was granted and the judge headed to his chambers.

And, suddenly, it got even hotter in a blazing courtroom on a sweltering day in The Big

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