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Orange fireworks: Players and Trembley flip Peter Angelos “The Bird” today in The Sun

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been saying for years that Fort Lauderdale Stadium and the Orioles’ sub-par Florida spring training situation is by far the biggest sin of all of their many sins and finally the folks over on Calvert Street are doing some “investigative journalism” with the orange birds. The club’s No. 1 promise to the public is that it’s doing everything possible to commit all of its resources to fielding a winning team.

That’s the goal in baseball: winning a championship. You always want to give your team the best chance to compete.

The Angelos family hasn’t done that for the entire tenure of their ownership in regard to the significance of spring training as anything more than a line item expense. The mere fact that they’re the only organization in the sport to have “two camps” in Florida that sit three hours apart is telling enough. It’s bad business. It’s bad baseball. It’s just inexcusable, unacceptable and dumb.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium is a dump. It’s a disgrace. It’s been a disgrace for the entire balance of the 15 years they’ve played there. I’ve worked many, many a morning and pulled many 12-hour days at Fort Lauderdale Stadium doing radio and covering baseball back when I was a “real” media member. I’ve spent 100 days of my life at that facility over the years before the team banned me from having a press credential.

Most of the fans here in Baltimore never make it there and it’s not like the team does anything to market having fans come south with their off season efforts. So it kinda goes unnoticed and when I bitch about it – and again, I think it’s probably the most obvious and lousy “white elephant” of all of their many sins – the fans don’t really care or “get it” but it’s so bizarre and so blatantly “bush league” in the eyes of anyone who knows anything about baseball from management to players to coaches to the locker room attendants that it defies description.

Just the mere fact that the visiting teams come in and see the situation and don’t lay down negative comments day after day is astonishing. Apparently, according to The Sun, the situation over at the minor-league camp is even worse. I haven’t personally been to Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota since 1995. It was “amateur” then, but not in disrepair. It was “minor league” but it wasn’t “unsafe” as several of the opposing teams indicated in contacting MLB and refusing to schedule games against the Orioles farmhands.

But the quotes in The Sun aren’t from Nestor. Or Drew Forrester. Or the glowing crap you’ll hear on MASN from Jim Hunter, Fred Manfra and the “boys club” who all take their paychecks from Peter Angelos.

They’re from the players themselves, who also take their paychecks from Peter Angelos. And it’s precisely these types of stories that makes Angelos ban a guy like me from having access. Because the players would be talking my ear off to get their message heard in the public eye.

Today’s whoppers and haymakers from their best people and players are “instant classics” and are sure to have the Angelos family in “flip out” mode on this Friday before Opening Day. It’s almost like all of the players just got together and decided to give the team’s ownership a rectal examination of unprecedented proportions.

This morning, it’s like Brian Roberts, Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora, Dave Trembley and Jake Arrieta are on the front page of the local newspaper wearing FREE THE BIRDS shirts!

Here come the quotes:

Dave Trembley: “I think we’ve finally reached the point where it’s fish or cut bait. We’re in the business of developing players. What would enhance that development is a facility that is more conducive to us all being all together and being on an even playing field with the other clubs.”

Brian Roberts: “I think most of us would be lying if we said this is what any of us would expect from a major league organization.”

Aubrey Huff: “When you have a big-league team that has a weight tent with rented weight equipment located in the parking lot, that’s pretty sad.”

Melvin Mora: “That’s the worst field I’ve ever played on in my life and I’m from Venezeula.”

Chris Ray: “I don’t know what to say about the facility other than that it just needs to be leveled and rebuilt. It’s a shame. You draft someone, hype them up and then they go to that facility and they’re like, ‘Wow.’ I think that’s a little bit embarrassing.”

Jake Arrieta: “We’re all very blessed to be in the situations that we’re in, but it also comes with the territory that you expect to have nice facilities to work out in. Not that we’re tired of Twin Lakes, but I all think we deserve something better.”

And here is my favorite, from a minor-league farmhand named Mike Costanzo, who was given the “Nestor treatment” by the franchise: “We were told to not say anything about the field, but if nobody says anything, it’s never going to get fixed. It’s tough to get quality work in here.”

I guess Nick Markakis must’ve been in the shower or “unavailable for comment” on this one.

Costanzo’s quote is almost poignant to me because that’s EXACTLY what FREE THE BIRDS was all about.

“If nobody says anything it’s never going to get fixed.”

It almost brings a tear to my eyes. I’m a BIG Mike Costanzo fan all of a sudden. I’ll be monitoring that young man, who showed some big-league bravery for that quote but will undoubtedly be in the corporate “doghouse” for life after that one.

Aside from being quality journalism by Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly, it’s the kind of story in this economy that will piss off Angelos so much that you might even see the fireworks ads get pulled from the May editions. Mr. Angelos reads The Sun every day and will be ripe and randy today, no doubt about it.

I can hear him now…

“The insubordination. These ungrateful millionaires. How dare they speak this way about our franchise to the media!”

There’s one thing Peter Angelos hates the most and that’s hearing the unfiltered truth about how bad this franchise is in so many ways in print or in the media. Seeing his highest-paid employees flipping him the bird in the morning fishwrap – well, that’s gonna make for an interesting weekend.

Of course, Angelos and his son John declined to speak about the “Fort Lauderdale situation” in the media.

The worst part are the paper-thin and almost silly quotes from Orioles spokeperson and huge WNST fan, Greg Bader, who knows less about P.R. than any P.R. person I’ve seen in 25 years of doing journalism for a living.

Now, apparently, a baseball expert and groundskeeper, Bader officially deemed the field in Sarasota “perfectly safe and adequate” after a handful of visiting MLB teams refused to show up and play games there.

I’ve only met Greg Bader twice, but my guess is that he never played an inning of baseball in his life. Or pitched on unmeasured mounds? Or caught a two-hopper after it hits a rock in the dirt? Or had to work out to get into shape for a 162-game Major League grind that baseball demands.

(As an aside, the first thing I learned when I began doing sports radio in 1992 and hanging around baseball players was how HARD the job was. As a kid it sounds like a fun gig, but being a Major League Baseball player is HARD, HARD work. These guys make millions of dollars and if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Baseball players live pretty difficult, complex lives from April 1st through October 1st. I have great respect for the work they do, which can only come when you see it first hand.)

Bader also said the club has “always had the urgency” to find a new home. That is just a stupid, silly thing to say. Urgency? They’ve had 15 years and roughly 80 percent of the MLB teams in South Florida have relocated or found better situations since the Orioles landed in Fort Lauderdale by sheer accident in 1996, after going several years in weird and bad situations in Miami and St. Petersburg.

They’ve been offered at least five sites that I can think of over the years – from Sarasota to Orlando to Vero Beach to Jupiter to Winter Haven — and have never done anything to rectify the combination of the major and minor league camps, which should have been done in 1997 or 1998 at the latest. No other team would DREAM of having a split camp and say they’re serious about a winning organization. It’s just unconscionable.

The 2009 season has already gotten off to a rocky, rocky start.

They have absolutely zero starting pitching. Jeremy Guthrie has been dreadful. Koji Uehera certainly bears watching but the rest of the retreads from Adam Eaton to Mark Hendrickson to Rich Hill to Danys Baez to the soon-to-be-celebrated Alfredo Simon are just arsonists of varying degrees at this point.

Brian Roberts isn’t healthy.

They’re still banning free speech in the media and being miserable and unprofessional to deal with at every level.

And now, every level of their organization from manager to players to minor leaguers are popping off in the morning newspaper about how “bush league” their ownership is in regard to spring training and a commitment to winning. It’s like a scene out of “Major League” but the Orioles have become the Indians.

Next Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay still doesn’t have a starting time and the Ravens are expecting 20,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium that morning and afternoon for an Inside Lacrosse doubleheader and no one in the city knows what the parking situation might be. The game is eight days away. You’d think they’d announce to the Tampa Rays, their season ticket holders and their employees when the game will be played. (Again, this kind of management is just unheard of in professional sports in 2009.)

Oh, and the Yankees are bringing 30,000 obnoxious fans into town on Opening Day to cheer for Baltimore’s greatest homegrown player in a generation as he takes the field at Camden Yards wearing pinstripes.

Oh, and advance ticket sales have been abysmal and they’re having a “Fan Fest” tomorrow that feels like a rumor around town.

Other than that, things are just fine in Birdland.

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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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Pictures of the new Orioles jersey

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Pictures of the new Orioles jersey

Posted on 12 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

We made it to the Gallery today. Lots of ways for you to see the new jerseys here at WNST.net. There are videos in wnsTV and there are pics here below…

Enjoy…

Jim Palmer sports the new Baltimore uniformsBaltimore through and through...
The Maryland patch on the sleeve
The Orioles bird sporting BaltimoreThe new hats
More with Cakes...

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Hats off to Philadelphia…

Posted on 29 October 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Tonight, I’m a little jealous. I used to be a Phillies fan – a goober, drive up I-95 once a month, loved The Vet, pretzel-eating, NL-carpet loving Phillies fan.

In the box of my life’s sporting fandom, I probably have 100 ticket stubs from games I saw at The Vet from the first time I visited Philadelphia during the summer of 1981 with my paternal father during the last time I ever saw him in America. I had been in love with baseball my whole life – all 11 years of it. And I chased the Phillies’ dream of a World Series that would match all of the joy and fun of the 1980 run they had. (And I was a George Brett fan!) I actually became a fan AFTER they won the title.

But I honestly was one of those kids that just really loved baseball. And the National League was always more exotic.

So, I loved the Fightin’ Fhils. Loved them so much that I went to the Vet to chase them 6 to 12 times per year. I did weekends with hotel rooms where I saw all three games of a weekend series if the Padres were in town. I did live radio from an All Star Game there from the field. I also flew to Los Angeles and San Francisco and Chicago to see them play.

In 1993, with my first press pass, I chased them from Baltimore to Wilmington to Philly to Toronto. I went to all six games of that World Series and watched Joe Carter break their red hearts with that homer off of Mitch Williams.

But that was the 1980’s and most of the 1990’s. Right up until about 1998 or 1999, when they really sucked so bad, it was akin to being an Orioles fan now.

There was absolutely no hope.

Lately, since they moved into the new park, I kinda moved on. I suppose I could’ve hopped aboard the bandwagon this month, but I really didn’t. I was honestly rooting for my friend Rick Vaughn with Tampa Bay. I wanted him to get a ring.

I wish I were still a Phillies fan but I really did stop following them for some reason in the late 1990’s and my feelings about the Orioles have honestly clouded my opinion of the sport as a whole.

And then you grow up and realize that these are primarily the same people who love the Eagles and Flyers and you realize — yikes! — do I want to associate? And, again, I was an Eagles season ticket holder from 1985 til 1993 during the Buddy Ryan and Rich Kotite era. I NEVER was an Eagles fan, but I loved the NFL enough to want to do five or six games a year. And it was fun to feel the energy of The Vet for football.

But I still love baseball. And I follow baseball. And, obviously, the weekend the Eagles are here I’ll have no “soft spot” for the Phillies, cheesesteaks, pretzels or Eagles.

But as an old man of 40, I just now root for my friends and the people I like in each sport these days.

And I want people I like to have fun.

As I write this my friend Hockey Meg is exploding.

I’m wearing my oversized, autographed, 1983 Throwback, powder blue and bubble “P” Sixto Lezcano jersey and Hockey Meg is exploding in my condo.

It’s the last out.

The  fans are going crazy. It looks cold as hell at Citizens Bank Park. My wife is videotaping Meg jumping around my condo and we’re drinking beer. (Miller Lite Wheat right this moment because they’re not making it anymore.)

“THE PHILLIES ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS!!!!!””

She’s now openly sobbing.

Skyrockets are going off. The Phillie Phanatic is waving a Phillies flag. Davey Lopes is hugging Shane Victorino. People are going bonkers. The Liberty Bell is ringing.

The set shot camera on every player at the end is incredible. Nice job, Fox!

Baseball can do crazy things to your emotions. And crazy things to communities that are truly linked by sports. By grandmothers and children. Women and men. Black and white. East and west. If you love sports, you should always love the night when a new champion is crowned because somebody somewhere is really having the time of their lives.

I’m an emotional guy, especially about the Orioles.

Put your TV on right now and pick pick a highlight – and call the person in your life who is from Philadelphia.

And you tell ME?

Will they remember tonight for the rest of their lives as something special?

Sure they will!

Brad Lidge is crying on TV calling the fans amazing. By the way, he had a PERFECT season. And he’s now capped it off with a World Series ring. Nice work, Lidge!

Jamie Moyer is talking about the struggles of the season for the Phils, but he looked so overjoyed. He’s hugging Jimmy Rollins. And these guys all seem like class acts.

I’m happy for Moyer, who I wrote about the other day at length. He’s a good egg. And he won for his hometown team in the hometown ballpark and pitched well enough and has now successfully completed his career with a bang if he wishes.

I’m happy for Davey Lopes, who had a helluva career and won a ring for the Dodgers in 1981 and has been a baseball lifer. He, too, was always a helluva good guy when he was a coach for the Orioles back in the mid 1990’s. He’s smart, witty, informed about the world in general and was always a joy to chat with. He’s in the midst of the celebration and I’m really happy for him.

And I’m happy for all of my long-suffering friends from Philly, including Hockey Meg who is still jumping for joy and on the phone with her brother, who managed to score a $300 ticket in left field yesterday and is there amidst the throng right now.

She’s talking to her family. It’s like an early Christmas for her and her family. Same as it was for my wife back in 2004. And every time the Patriots have played in the Super Bowl.

So Agent Orange and I are lamenting the fact that the Orioles give us no hope for an evening like this.

Says Agent Orange: “I’m numb to it. It’s like I’m watching a different sport. I think of the Super Bowl year and she and I running around and celebrating. From 1300 block of Charles Street to Fells Point. Just walking through the city. We were just screaming, hooting and hollering and the streets were flooded with people. I know Philadelphia is going to be 400 times nuttier than it was here.”

The fans are booing the mentioning of the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s SO Philly!

A sign that says: Mitch we forgive you sign!

And now the ultimately indignity, general manager Pat Gillick telling the crowd: “Let’s do it again!”

That’s “former Orioles GM” Pat Gillick, if you have the scorecard out!

Charlie Manuel in his southern drawl saying: “Whose da World Champeeens!?!?!”

And, they’re now holding up a Philly Inquirer newspaper (or is it a dinosaur) that says “CHAMPS!” with a pic of the team celebrating!

Cole Hamels is the MVP. He’ll also never have to buy a drink anywhere in southeast Pennslvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey. Hamels is thanking the fans. “We love these fans and we love the amount of red they’re wearing tonight!”

Hamels seems like a really “right” guy, as Charley Eckman would say.

Man it looks cold as hell there.

But not as cold and empty as Camden Yards and downtown Baltimore does tonight.

That’s what’s missing…

I could elaborate. But you should think about it if you’re watching the game tonight. Think about your friend from Philly tonight – give him or her a call and say hi. Ask them how they’re feeling.

And then remember what it’s like to be an Orioles fan. And remember what we’re being cheated out of a chance for on this kinda night in Baltimore.

Hockey Meg is now sitting on my floor, physically and emotionally exhausted. She’s been texting with all of her friends from home – a dozen friends she says. Friends from school (Delaware, Blue Hens, Newark) and from “home, Jersey”…”anyone I’m friends with.”

“This is sorta a big deal,” she says. “I can’t wait to buy my nephew a little baby outfit with the Phillie Phanatic wearing a 2008 World Champions on it. I’ll bet you his name will be Chase.”

The baby isn’t coming until late November.

“Would they really name their kid Chase?” I asked.

“Absof-inglutely!” she said, but she didn’t drop the u and the two consonants.
The baby – whatever his name will be – has a Phillies mobile. A little Phillie Phanatic, a baseball bat, a P – stuff like that hanging from a turning, rotating baby thing-a-majig. This child will be loved.

I have to go now. Meg wants to drag us all out to Magerks for a beer.

We’ll be at the Bel Air Magerks next Wednesday doing the Brian Billick Live show. Hope you join us.

Right now, I’m going to join a bunch of Phillies fans on Cross Street at Magerks and I’m going to wear my Sixto Lezcano jersey. More for kicks and just because I OWN it. And it’s kinda sharp. A shame they don’t wear them anymore.

This oughta be fun.

I’m just happy for them.

And I realize that as long as this ownership group is involved with the team and it continues to get run into the ground, this might the closest I ever get.

A pretend championship?

Nah. Just a few beers with my friend, who I’ve honestly never seen happier.

Good for Philadelphia.

I might even throw down some Tasty Cakes!

But I’ll still be hating on the Eagles, Flyers and Sixers all the way…

And laughing at their drunk fans acting like fools.

But perhaps we ALL acted like fools back on 1/28/01..

Didn’t we?

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‘See The Birds’ journey of 2008 ends with another lost season of failure tonight at Camden Yards

Posted on 24 September 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Come one, come all!

As a matter of fact, I hope more than one of you actually COME to Oriole Park at Camden Yards tonight where a few hopeless losers like me will set forth a few last phantom, hollow cheers for another season that never was.

That’s 11 in a row on my watch. The Orioles haven’t played a meaningful game since October 1997. And the crowds have withered to virtual nothingness.

I know you probably haven’t noticed through the servings of the Purple Kool Aid on MASN, but they’ve now quietly lost eight in a row. And they’ve won six times since August 17th.

“Wake Me Up When September Ends” indeed…

How bad is it?

Well, the team has $1 tickets available tonight and most of the city doesn’t even think it’s worth that. There might be 5,000 in the park tonight. It’s kinda like a minor league baseball game or something out of “Major League,” which 20 years ago was just a funny movie about the Indians and Cleveland.

At this point, it’s the current state of Baltimore baseball. Empty seats that the Orioles can’t beg people to come and sit in for ONE DOLLAR!

So, why are we going tonight? Well, our “Crabs and Beer” curator Glenn Clark purchased eight tickets last week for $8 and decided that bringing seven friends tonight would be a cheap date and some good fun.

(Honestly, I think he’s just trying to poke me into doing “Free The Birds 3″ tonight.)

But I’m not biting…

For the record, I’ll be wearing my FREE THE BIRDS gear tonight. Not to elicit a parade or a mini FTB3 event. It’s just simply to tell them that I’m still here. And I still care. And that they still suck. And the last place freefall over the last month just reinforces that they still suck.

They have to win three of their last four to get to 70 wins. In March we called Las Vegas and the “over/under” was 67. As we toss back frosted adult beverages tonight at Regi’s and the Wharf Rat, they have exactly 67 wins. For those of you who bet the over, good luck! You have a REAL reason to come to the game tonight! LMAO…

Andy McPhail has repeatedly exposed himself to me as a coward and a weak company man. He, like his boss who’s gone back into a self-imposed exile while the fans vanish from downtown, doesn’t want to take legitimate questions from legitimate journalists.

I’ve now spent two seasons exiled from “Birdland,” being disallowed to do what I’ve done to feed my family since I was 15 years old. (And yes, I had a family at 15!)

In case you’re keeping score, the Orioles have complied a record of 139-189 since the Sept. 21, 2006 original “walkout” that we called a Rally. And it was a Rally. And I did cry out for positive change.

I’ve heard many people “credit” WNST for all of the changes with the Orioles. We don’t want any of the credit and I certainly can’t accept any of the blame for this continuing fiasco.

We can debate and celebrate the merits of McPhail’s changes and specifically the trades to obtain Luke Scott, Adam Jones and George Sherrill. And we can talk about the pending promise of Matt Wieters or Brad Bergeson. And we can discuss how Aubrey Huff “let his bat doing the talking” this season. And we can fete Brian Roberts for being the greatest soldier of them all, especially when he could’ve been lacing them up in Wrigley Field next week on a World Series contender.

Sure, like every other organization, the Orioles have some “bright spots.” But as Bill Parcells would say, “they are what they are.”

And that’s 67-90 and with a standing eight-game losing streak and a 6-27 record since Aug. 17th.

They are, by any standard, the worst team in Major League Baseball right NOW. If the season started all over again today and they played with these Bad News Bears, they might rival that crappy Detroit Tigers team from a few years ago. They might win 40 games over the next 162 as is. And to think they have 40 players available on the big-league roster at this time of the year and this is the best they can do?

I watched the latest slapstick at The Yard last night, dropping a 5-1 lead to the Rays in the nightcap and watching Mr. Happy, Dave Trembley, face the firing squad of his co-workers in the press room.

(Here’s where I’ll use the internet to “geese” a bit…and no, I don’t know if the Greaseman is dead but I sure hope he’s not. I really like(d) Doug and I absolutely admired him as a listener and marvel at his work as a colleague. If he really is dead, I’ll write something. If he isn’t, I’ll probably give him a call to tell him how big of a fan I really was (although he’s heard that before)!

Back to “geese-ing”…I actually have covered sports long enough now (since 1984) to remember in vivid color the post-game press conferences of Frank Robinson and Johnny Oates before all the lights and cameras of MASN glaring down on you in front of a Wayne’s World set in the basement of the stadium. I remember when they were simple desk chats in the manager’s office with Sparky Anderson over a post-game spread with his feet on the desk and him spraying you with barbeque while you talked baseball with him. He was an absolute gem!

I suppose we’re forever relegated to watching these “pressers” — as we call them — on TV. It’s really the same crap I’d get if I had a press pass and I don’t have to look at snarling naked athletes or get sneered at by some 22-year old dude who doesn’t know where Charles Street is.)

In the words of Bob Haynie, but I digress…

We’re going to the game tonight. We’re starting at Regi’s at 4. We’ll go to the Wharf Rat around 5:30ish. We’ll have a few beers. We’ll eat some food. And we’ll walk to the game.

If you want to join us, the price is certainly right – even in this economy.

If you want to sit with some real “old school” Orioles fans and be amongst some nice people, c’mon down!

It ain’t “Free The Birds 3.”

I didn’t have the energy to do it all again. I’m busy building Baltimore’s No. 1 sports media company and website.

I tried “See The Birds.”

I tried selling group tickets for those ingrates. I’ve tried digging down to find some iota of honest-to-God enthusiasm for the team through the few personalities who appear to be engaging. (For the record, I’m a big fan of Kevin Millar, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones and Jeremy Guthrie.)

I even offered them a “season of amnesty” – an olive branch — which I’ve held true to for the most part (even amidst more of their old-world Marxist policies and mean-spiritedness and evasiveness and general bullying).

Even though they’re creeps, I’ll stand by “amnesty” because I’m peaceful person. And I love the Orioles.

I want a better baseball team and a better experience with the team and the brand and the uniforms and the people that I fell in love with as a little boy in 1972 and followed like family for most of my life.

And even though Baltimore deserves better after building that palace downtown for the baseball team 20 years ago, it doesn’t appear that there’s any substantial change on the horizon. And the games are going away for another six months after this weekend. So I won’t have the opportunity to see how lame this all is again until April.

And I’ll go back and investigate and see if it’s more fun in 2009 with “Baltimore” on the road jerseys for the first time since I was a little boy.

I sincerely doubt it, but I’ll keep giving it try. I still really love baseball when it’s done right. And we love it so much that it will most certainly dominate our lives beginning next week when the playoff games star shot-gunning out all day long.

Playoff baseball and the fall of the leaves and the crisp autumn air…I live for that stuff!

I honestly don’t know what tonight represents, other than the 2nd Anniversary of “Free The Birds” and the 11th season of this organization disgracing Baltimore and the traditions of the Orioles.

We — Glenn, Drew, me and anyone else who wants to come — have no agenda other than to try to have some fun at the ballpark with friends, old and new.

So tonight I will make a few hours to “wave bye-bye” (in the words and voice of Jon Miller) to the season of 2008.

The 11th year of the black hole of Baltimore baseball sports ownership.

They are limping into last place.

They’ve won six times since August 17th!

There’s only one place to go from there, right?

They’ve finally set themselves up for success.

It can’t get any worse than last place with a thud.

They’re bound to claim a victory sometime soon. Maybe it’s tonight?

And they’re bound to come “really close” to signing Mark Teixiera (or Free Agent X) who signs elsewhere.

They clearly just won’t have the money, despite MASN printing gobs of money of that they don’t want you to know about.

Blah, blah, blah. Lies, damned lies and the Orioles.

Just let me know when Peter Angelos comes out of his cave and answers some questions from the “free” press. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a conversation with one of his employees like Roch Kubatko or Amber Theoharis sometime soon with overflowing optimism for the 2009 campaign. Exclusively on MASN, of course. The channel no one watches and the website no one visits.

It’s been two years since “Free The Birds” and the words in my 19 chapters still resonate honestly and the Orioles are still my first love.

Free The Birds 3?

Nah…

Tonight, we’ll just have a little fun…

And let ‘em know we’re still watching. And we’re still waiting for them not to be so mean and to not suck anymore.

I’m not holding my breath!

(Thank god for the Ravens and this Pittsburgh bus trip and football on Monday night!)

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A Free The Birds event in 2008?

Posted on 15 September 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

With the Orioles recent run of losses and the front office’s continuation of Marxist policies regarding the fans and media, my email lights up at least a few times a day asking me whether FREE THE BIRDS is a living breathing movement.

A guy named Ray dropped me a note this morning and I answered him with the response below. I’ll have more to write on the second anniversary of FTB next week, but this is my official position:

There SHOULD be one…
But I honestly don’t have time or energy to organize one at this point…

No one seems to care about the Orioles, which is the real problem…

But the Angelos family continues to lie to us about “better days ahead” and the city and the “establishment” that feeds at the trough continues to take the payouts in the way of advertising and “partnership” and shut up…

Call Channel 13 or CBS Radio or The Sun or The Examiner or PressBox and see if they want to organize a walkout?

They’re the only ones making money off of the team via orange advertisments….

The Orioles write them big checks and their “journalists” wave the pom poms and ignore the truth…

And the truth?

The Orioles ineptitude is killing the downtown area…

But, the people here don’t want the truth…

The stadium and the surrounding businesses have been empty for weeks and were painfully empty back in April and May. You can go watch the videos on wnsTV.

I’ve done my share…I gave them a spring and summer of “amnesty” and tried many, many times this year to get people to go BACK to the games. We called it “SEE THE BIRDS.” Go read my blogs from April and May.

I’ve actually tried to get people to go BACK to the stadium. I offered pre-game parties, drinks, fun, etc.

Not only do most old-school Orioles fans not want to go, the Orioles won’t even take our phone calls to help PROMOTE their team. We tried to BUY 500 tickets on Aug. 8th and they refused to work with us or help us get THEIR fans to THEIR ballpark.

And we have the most travelled daily sports website in the area by five-fold.

But Andy McPhail told me he’s a “company man” and that he won’t be discussing baseball or Baltimore with WNST.

Good for him.

Bad for you.

But I’m more concerned with spending my energy fixing my own company and supporting the Ravens while we’re having fun.

It’s football season. I want to be happy.

Thinking about, dealing with or communicating with the Orioles brings me no pleasure or joy.

But I’ll write more about FTB next week.

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Another September with the disappearing orange baseball…

Posted on 11 September 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

I looked through all of the WNST blogs over the past couple days and there has been a one glaring omission: the Orioles are nowhere to be found.

Playing out the string for the 11th consecutive September – the franchise hasn’t hosted a meaningful game since October 1997 – the worst-run and meanest and most paranoid franchise in professional sports has now put together another pathetic crawl to the finish line with a 3-17 record since the middle of August.

It’s been the quietest “slump” in the history of Baltimore baseball. No one is saying anything. No one is calling. And, apparently, no one is even watching.

Every night this week, I’ve seen downtown almost completely empty while I’ve watched Fenway Park on NESN packed with fans watching the Tampa Bay Rays come to Beantown as upstart first-place winners. I’m watching baseball this week. I’m just not watching the pathetic Orioles.

Maybe one day it’ll be our turn to win at baseball again in Baltimore. Maybe one day we’ll all feel like the Orioles are “our” team. But we’re getting up on the two-year anniversary of FREE THE BIRDS and the Orioles are 16 games under .500, 23 games behind Tampa Bay and are assured a last place finish in the AL East.

I’m sure Andy McPhail will hold a press conference at some point before spring training to talk about all of the “progress” the organization made in 2008. And they’ll invite all of their employees like Roch Kubatko and Tom Davis and Jim Hunter and Amber Theoharis to the press conference to ask questions.

But it’s just sad and I wish I had more to say about the Orioles and their recent losses. But the truth? I haven’t been watching them either.

Why would I?

They don’t want me to be a fan and they’ve basically pissed on anyone who listens to WNST or is associated with WNST time and time again. They refused to let us BUY tickets to their game back on August 8th when we were holding our 10th Anniversary of serving Baltimore sports fans with something that they sorely lack: honesty and integrity.

Like you (and most of the city), I’m caught up in “Flaccomania” and drinking the 1-0 purple Kool Aid. I’m just hoping the storm doesn’t crush Texas over the next 48 hours but the forecast looks ominous. I have a flight to Houston on Sunday. I have no idea when, where or if the game will be played at this point.

I have a feeling we’ll find out more today.

But I just wanted to invoke the word “Orioles” today and see if any of you are still watching or what might be said at this point about the franchise or where it’s headed under Dave Trembley next season.

Where’s Peter Angelos now to comment on this year’s effort? Has he entered the witness protection program along with his franchise?

And Andy McPhail – who turns out to be a company man/coward – has yet again declined to take my phone calls and emails so I could interview him about his plans for the offseason. He has been a colossal professional disappointment to me, telling me a few weeks ago when I met him: “I just do what I’m told, Nestor.” King Peter and Prince Greg have told him he shouldn’t “associate” with WNST.

What a leader he is, huh?

Other than selling a few orange T-shirts this year using Bill Hagy’s name and marketing a few kids named Scott and Jones, it’s been “business as usual” at The Warehouse.

And business as usual means lousy, dreadful baseball played in front of friends and families at Oriole Park at Camden Yards the nanosecond the word “training camp” is uttered. And MASN brings us some of the worst broadcasts in the history of baseball on the nights when Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer aren’t around.

(Have no fear: MASN will be firing up Hawaiian League baseball and no doubt be broadcasting the Mike Devereaux home run game from 1989 on some frigid night in December.)

We’ll see how the Orioles treat their offseason marketing efforts. I wonder what they’ll do to further make their FanFast lousy. And I wonder when they’ll announce the price increase for tickets. And I wonder when they’re going to start using some of the tens of millions of dollars they’re making with that Wayne’s World cable network.

Don’t worry. Once I get this website launched, we’ll be on red alert for their offseason comings and goings. We’ll be covering the Orioles in a major way in the new online world.

Just because most of you have long since stopped caring about the Orioles doesn’t mean that we’re not watching.

I care A LOT about the Orioles and I want them back. And I want to go to games and feel good about it. None of that has changed since FREE THE BIRDS. My love for the Orioles is sincere and lifelong.

I’m still watching them, just not their lousy meaningless games at this point. And I’m still hoping and praying for a better tomorrow for Baltimore baseball.

But now that the team has bought off virtually every media outlet in the community besides us, I don’t think you’ll be reading the proper criticism of a franchise that has turned its back on the community. That is everywhere except at WNST.net, where you’ll continue to get the truth.

They’ll have to do more than “BALTIMORE” on the road jerseys next year to get the city galvanized again.

But we’ll have our eyes open.

Let’s see what they do…

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Attendance

Posted on 04 April 2008 by roblong

It’s funny how much conversation there is about attendance at Camden Yards. I really don’t understand what the conversation is about. We get it. I’ve heard hundreds of people tell me that they aren’t going to the game. I’m sure you can say the same thing.

When people have made an effort not to go to the Yard, the results will be, small crowds, or no crowd. Fans have to see a little more to buy into what this organization is doing.

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What can we expect from Adam Jones?

Posted on 06 February 2008 by joshuahall

That is, if he is officially in an Orioles uniform. Of course, we do have to watch the snail-like pace of the Erik Bedard deal come to a close. I will be asleep possibly when this deal gets done, not because the deal will happen in the middle of the night, but because I as many of you are tired of seeing this whole deal dragged throughout the week. I’m sure Adam Jones is sick of it as well.

Let’s get the proposed trade out of the way and let’s start talking about this Adam Jones kid. According to PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm) scouts, some dubbed Adam Jones as “an exciting player, with outstanding defensive ability, a 7 rated arm (8 being the best), and tremendous range. At the plate, he has a very quick bat and average power already, projecting plus in the future. He does however, struggle with pitch recognition and can be beaten with breaking pitches. He’s going to be a star, but he’s the type of guy who can have a lot of ups and downs as he adjusts to big league pitching, especially since he hasn’t really been challenged in the minors”.

I know some of you are thinking, “aww geez, another rookie!”, but look at the big picture in terms of the future. We aren’t going anywhere in ’08. We may lose over 100 games and possibly hit the 5th place spot in the AL East. Let Adam play 162 games, odds are he’ll hit .248, have 22-25 HR’s, 80-88 RBI’s, and 90 + runs scored. It’s better than what Corey Patterson could do, why not let this young man go through the growing pains? In a couple of years, he and Nick Markakis will make up one of the best outfields in the American League. Nick started off slow but emerged as the best player on the O’s in a span of two years. I believe Adam will, if given time, become a reason for me to go to Camden Yards more often. He should be THAT good.

Lend me your thoughts on this topic! Also, check out the Bruce Cunningham Ravens Report with Aaron Wilson on Saturday’s from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. only on Sportstalk 1570 WNST!

-JH

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TIMING IS CURIOUS IN THE TEJADA TRADE

Posted on 12 December 2007 by Allen McCallum

 

Miguel Tejada is gone. It was a move that we all knew was coming, but I think that we were all hoping to get a little more out of it. Yes, the Orioles got 5 players in return for the former MVP, but is there real talent among them? Of the five, there is no question that outfielder Luke Scott is the biggest name. Yes, he has power. Yes, when he came up in ’06 he lit the world on fire for a couple of months. There are three issues with him. The first one is glaring. He is almost 30 years old. Not exactly the talented youth that we were hoping for in return. The second is his questionalble ability to hit left handers. That could make him a platoon player. He is a mediocre outfielder. He is ticketed to play left field at Camden Yards which requires more than a mediocre ability.

The rest are names we have never heard. Three young pitchers with varying degrees of potential. Finally, a left handed 3rd baseman with pop, but big holes in his swing if you follow his statistics. It seems to me that if you could have gotten one can’t miss prospect for Tejada, that might have read better. Instead, McPhail has netted five players in the hopes that two or maybe three prove to be competent major leaguers.

Here is my big question…..why now? McPhail, known as a patient and methodical mover chose today….the day before the Mitchell report is released to move Tejada. A player who has clearly lost much of his value on the trade market is now gone for a collection of “could be” players. If this were a land deal, wouldn’t that make you wonder about the ground you were purchasing?

Let me be clear about this, I have no knowledge that Tejada is in the Mitchell report, or has done anything wrong. All I know is that since Palmeiro and the B-12 insinuation, there has been a lot of smoke surrounding Tejada. A player who started in the bay area. A little guy with previously amazing if not surprising pop. A player whose numbers have diminished steadily since the new testing policies were put in place by baseball. Now he is traded the day before a report that could become the equivalent of the scarlet letter in baseball circles is released for five “could be” players?

McPhail needed to make a move. He had to find a way to fill several spots with only a few blue chip pieces to move. Wait to long, and you run the risk of injury or continued diminishing abilities further weakening his position. Move to soon and you have what happened here. You get what you can get, and swallow hard and walk away from the table with what you can.

This puts even more pressure on McPhail to get class A talent from any deals involving Bedard and Roberts. The Orioles cannot waste their bullets. They don’t have many to fire. I hope that I no Oriole is listed in tomorrow’s report, and that all of these players turn out to be stars. Maybe I am too jaded, but given the team’s recent history, neither of these hopes seems likely.

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