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Part 3: Which Baltimore sports media entities suck? Here’s my report card…

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Part 3: Which Baltimore sports media entities suck? Here’s my report card…

Posted on 23 October 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been nearly three years since I started publicly examining the “State of Baltimore Sports Media” at WNST.net. As I predicted, the way you get your local sports news, information and analysis has seamlessly changed and now sits in the palm of your hands.

Three years ago when I wrote this in depth look at where the Baltimore sports media universe was heading, Twitter was truly at the dawn of its existence. The ability of mobile devices was far more limited and far less distributed. And the access to the genie of instant information in the palms of our hands that we’ve quickly become accustomed to will never go backward into the narrow bottle of the limited access of newspapers, television and radio waves.

Today, I will examine the current state of the Baltimore sports media experience and as much as many local journalists like to give “report cards” on the Ravens every Sunday night and Monday morning, I’m sure some folks will get their feelings hurt today.

I’ll tell you what I think about our competitors and the intentions of their bosses and their corporate, money-making media machines. Honesty. Candidly. Openly. As usual…

And, we’d love to hear what you think here in our “2012 State Of Baltimore Sports Media Survey” here.

One lucky survey entrant will win a trip next weekend to Cleveland on our Miller Lite Orange Roadtrip powered by Jiffy Lube.

As I’ve said over the past month, we’re trying to make WNST.net better every minute of every day so that we can be your primary source of Baltimore sports news and information on your mobile device.

Examining the Baltimore sports media business is the most important thing I do on a daily basis and while I rarely write about this stuff, it’s been my life’s mission to improve your experience as a local sports fan.

I find it almost hilarious and/or pathetic that anyone would listen to the radio station that calls itself  “The Fan” when the entire concept was drawn up in a board room in New York and never factors the actual “fans” into the equation when they assembled their corporate radio station team.

But competition is good. It sets the bar. At WNST.net, we’ve never ducked the obvious or taken Baltimore sports fans for granted – we know you’re judging us and comparing us every day because you utilize more than one outlet for your sports media consumption on a daily basis in 2012.

But we’re always striving to the be the FIRST place you go to get Baltimore sports information on your IPhone, Droid or mobile device.

In an effort to encourage you to give your feedback on the local Baltimore sports media scene, it’s only fair that I file my own report card.

So, who are the competitors and players on the local scene and where do you turn when breaking news happens in Baltimore?

My general overview of this is candidly clear: Baltimore is a lazy market on the new media end. I know how hard we work at WNST.net and I know what our resources are. I know the strengths and weaknesses of all of our competitors in the marketplace and many of the assembled group of “journalists” in the market have either been on my team, interviewed to be on my team or have cross-pollinated in something I’ve touched because I’ve been doing Baltimore sports media longer than virtually anyone in the marketplace.

My journey began almost 29 years ago in January 1984 at age 15 when Baltimore had three newspapers, three TV stations and a handful of AM radio stations that did local sports of any kind.

In 2012, there has been a mass fracturing in the way and convenience in which we consume media so many of the entities have “loose ends” in their coverage or holes in the strategy. Some of their portals to garner attention, feedback and building a trusted community of information are very old world and “lazy” for my tastes.

And before I begin defecating on all of our competitors – and that will be prevalent below – no less than two of these fossilized radio stations have the arrogance to call themselves “the only station that matters.”

It’s hilarious. And the truth is that WNST.net is kicking all of their asses in the only place that really matters – the internet and on your mobile device via instant access.

Here’s a report card from two weeks ago via Twitter:

Some will get their feelings hurt, but if you click to Page 2 you’ll see what I think of our “competition” at WNST.net…

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Maryland to visit Northwestern in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Posted on 14 May 2012 by WNST Staff

The 14th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Nov. 27-28 will be highlighted by North Carolina at Indiana, Ohio State at Duke and North Carolina State at Michigan, six programs expected to be highly ranked entering the 2012-13 season. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 12 games of the two-day event matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioners Cup.

All 12 games will also be available via WatchESPN, which delivers live access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 on PCs, smartphones and tablets to fans who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks or Verizon FiOS TV.

The 2012 Challenge involves nine teams ranked in an ESPN.com early preseason top 25, including five of the top nine: No. 1 Indiana, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 NC State, No. 8 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State.

The ACC won the first 10 Challenges while the Big Ten captured the Commissioner Cup for the third consecutive event, including an eight to four win advantage over the ACC last year. In the event of a 6-6 tie, the Commissioner’s Cup will remain with the conference that won the previous year. 2012 Challenge highlights:

  • Off a Ratings High: ESPN’s telecast of Ohio State’s 85-63 victory over Duke last year was the highest-rated and most-viewed Challenge game ever, averaging a 2.6 rating and 2,618,000 households. The telecast propelled ESPN to its most-viewed Challenge, averaging 1,555,000 households, based on a 1.6 rating.
  • One more Shot at the Dozen: Duke, which has won 11 of its 13 Challenge games, will host Ohio State in its quest for an event-record 12th victory. Duke lost to Ohio State last year and to Wisconsin in 2009.
  • First Challenge Matchups: Four of the telecasts will feature first-time Challenge matchups: Virginia at No. 22 Wisconsin, Maryland at Northwestern, No. 9 Michigan State at Miami and Georgia Tech at Illinois.
    • In addition to first-time Challenge games, several of the teams are infrequent opponents: Michigan State and Miami have never met; Northwestern and Maryland played one other time, a Northwestern victory in 1958; Virginia and Wisconsin split its two games, Virginia in 1975 and Wisconsin in 1999; and Illinois has defeated Georgia Tech in six of its seven games, including the last one in 2001.
  • Tourney Teams: Eleven teams between the two conferences played in the 2012 NCAA Tournament: Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia from the ACC, and Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin from the Big Ten.
  • Following a First with a Rematch: Boston College and Penn State and Nebraska and Wake Forest will follow first-time Challenge meetings with a second consecutive showdown in the event.
    • Boston College, which won its first five games, lost to Penn State last year, while Nebraska lost its Challenge debut to Wake Forest.
  • Threepeat: Five of the games will mark three-time Challenge matchups: North Carolina at Indiana (Indiana win in 2001 and North Carolina in 2004), NC State at Michigan (Michigan win in 2003 and NC State in 2006), Ohio State at Duke (Duke win in 2002 and Ohio State in 2011), Iowa at Virginia Tech (won by Virginia Tech in 2006 and 2009) and Purdue at Clemson (Purdue win in 2003 and Clemson in 2007).
  • Three and one more: Minnesota and Florida State will meet for the fourth time (Minnesota won in 2000 and Florida State in 2004 and 2007).

2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule (times and networks are to be determined):

Date Game
Tue, Nov 27 No. 13 North Carolina at No. 1 Indiana
  No. 6 NC State at No. 5 Michigan
  No. 25 Minnesota at Florida State
  Maryland at Northwestern
  Iowa at Virginia Tech
  Nebraska at Wake Forest
Wed, Nov 28 No. 8 Ohio State at No. 15 Duke
Virginia at No. 22 Wisconsin
No. 9 Michigan State at Miami
Purdue at Clemson
Georgia Tech at Illinois
Boston College at Penn State

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Upcoming UMBC Lax Game Gets TV Coverage

Posted on 09 April 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE – The UMBC men’s lacrosse America East contest vs. Albany on Sat., April 21 will be televised live by Live Well Network, WMAR-TV’s (ABC2) digital channel. UMBC will also honor its three seniors competing in their final regular season home game before the contest. The pre-game show and senior ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m., and the opening face-off is slated for 1:10 p.m.

The network can be accessed over the air at channel 2.2, on Comcast on channel 204, and on Verizon on channel 463. The game will be produced by Jomar Productions and Steve Stofberg will be performing play-by-play duties.

The Retrievers and Great Danes have forged an outstanding north-south rivalry in America East. The two teams have met in three league
championship games, with UMBC prevailing twice (2006, 2008) and Albany taking the 2007 title match-up. The Retrievers have won five of the last six games, including a 13-9 decision in New York in 2011. UMBC leads the all-time series, 9-4.

This will be UMBC Athletics’ sixth televised game on LWN in the 2011-12 academic year. The fledgling network previously aired three men’s soccer games and a women’s and men’s doubleheader.

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Stevenson Falters After Half In Loss at Cortland

Posted on 17 March 2012 by WNST Staff

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Greg Wright scored all three of his goals in the third quarter while Cody Consul totaled two of his game-high six points as No. 3 SUNY Cortland outscored the No. 9-ranked Stevenson men’s lacrosse team by four en route to a 13-9 victory Saturday at the Stadium Complex.

The Mustangs (5-2) suffered their first loss in three career meetings against the Red Dragons and their second in as many road games this season. The last time Stevenson lost at least two games on the road was during the 2005 season against Gettysburg, Lynchburg and Salisbury.

Freshmen Stephen Banick (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic) and Pat Candon (Long Beach, N.Y./Holy Trinity) led the Mustangs with two goals apiece while freshman Michael Crowe (Arlington, Va./Yorktown) tied his career-high with two points on a goal and an assist.

Stevenson was outshot 40-28 and were 0-for-4 on the man advantage. The team has not scored on its last 15 extra-man opportunities, a stretch that spans the last three games.

Consul led Cortland (4-0) with three goals and three assists while Wright finished with four points.

Today’s loss marks the first time this season that Stevenson’s ninth-ranked scoring defense allowed more than six goals in a game this season. The Mustangs’ six-game streak of six goals or less was the longest in school history, eclipsing the previous mark set in 2003 when they held five consecutive opponents to six goals or less from April 10 to April 22.

Stevenson is 86-2 all-time when allowing six goals or less. The team had won 52-straight before falling at No. 9 Lynchburg last Saturday, 6-3.

Freshman Parker Bratton (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) led the defense with five caused turnovers and three ground balls.

The Red Dragons jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the game’s first eight minutes before the Mustangs scored four of the next five goals to take its only lead of the game at 5-4 with 13:11 remaining in the second quarter.

Cortland answered with a quick 3-0 burst to go back in front 7-5 before Stevenson scored two goals in the final 52 seconds of the first half to tie the game at 7-7 going into halftime.

However, the Red Dragons outscored the Mustangs 5-1 in a decisive third quarter and 6-2 in the second half.

Senior Ian Bolland (Mountain Lakes, N.J./Mountain Lakes) was credited with 12 saves while counterpart Mike Kaminski had 14, including five in the fourth quarter.

Stevenson returns home to face No. 2 Tufts on Tuesday at Mustang Stadium beginning at 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised live on Maryland Public Television’s MPT2 which can be seen on Comcast 268 and Verizon Fios 480. It will also be simulcast live at GoMustangSports.com.

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Terrell Suggs Named Co-Winner of Pro Butkus Award

Posted on 27 January 2012 by WNST Staff

Suggs, Ware Named Co-Winners of 4th Professional Butkus Award®                                                                 

CHICAGO – (January 27, 2012) – Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware were named co-winners of the fourth annual professional Butkus Award®, honoring the best linebackers. It is the second such honor for Ware, who won the first ever professional Butkus Award in 2008.

The Awards will be announced formally on a special broadcast of Pro Football Weekly the weekend of January 27-29 on Comcast and Fox Sports Network (check local listings).

Suggs and Ware both received 46 points and 10 first place votes from the panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists, coordinated by Pro Football Weekly.  Meanwhile, rookie Von Miller of the Denver Broncos finished third with 14 points, after having won the collegiate Butkus Award in 2010 while at Texas A&M University.  NaVorro Bowman of the San Francisco 49ers and Derrick Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs finished fourth and fifth, with 10 points.  Six other players received votes, including 2010 winner Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers and 2009 winner Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers.

“Suggs and Ware excelled at beating their blockers and terrorizing quarterbacks,” said Hub Arkush, editor of Pro Football Weekly. 

“Terrell Suggs had his best year in 2011 of his nine years in the NFL, especially against the run.  He understands blocking angles as well as anyone, and has been one of the most consistent pass rushers during his career.  He really stepped up his dominant play when Ray Lewis had a late-season injury.

“DeMarcus Ware is the best pure pass rusher in football.  He is a persistent and dominating defensive player, and overcame an off-season foot surgery to regain his speed and explosion during 2011.”  

In addition to Suggs and Ware, other 2011 season honorees include collegiate winner Luke Kuechly of Boston College and high school winner Noor Davis of Leesburg High School in Florida.  A complete list of winners is available at www.thebutkusaward.com.

The Butkus Award honors legendary linebacker Dick Butkus, who wants athletes, coaches and fans to join him in the I Play Clean™ campaign, which encourages teen athletes to train hard, eat well and play with attitude instead of resorting to illegal steroids.  More information is at www.iplayclean.org

Considered one of the greatest football players in history, Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School. Meanwhile, his son Matt was a defensive lineman for the University of Southern California, and joins his father in philanthropic efforts. Friend him at www.facebook.com/51.butkus. 

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Towson’s Frank Beltre Named To Pre-Season All-CAA Team

Posted on 28 July 2011 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. - Junior defensive end Frank Beltre (Randolph H.S./Randolph, N.J.) of Towson University was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association Pre-Season Football team which was announced at the annual CAA Football Media Day which was held at M&T Bank Stadium on Wednesday.

Beltre, who ranked second among all CAA defensive linemen last season with 85 tackles, was the only Tiger to earn Pre-Season All-CAA honors. As a sophomore, he was named third team All-CAA. In his first season as a starter for the Tigers, he tied for second on the team with 85 tackles. He also ranked sixth in the CAA by making 12.5 tackles for lost yardage.

William & Mary, the CAA pre-season favorite, led all schools with six players named to the 30-player Pre-Season All-CAA squad. Delaware, the NCAA FCS runner-up last season, placed five student-athletes on the team while James Madison and Villanova each had four honorees.

For the sixth consecutive year, CAA Football Media Day was held in Baltimore. Coach Rob Ambrose did a number of interviews with the assembled media while senior defensive tackle Marcus Valentine (below) (Winslow Township H.S./Sicklerville, N.J.) and Beltre were also interviewed.

“We’re very happy that Frank was named to the Pre-Season All-CAA team,” said Coach Rob Ambrose, who will be starting his third season as the Tigers’ coach. “He is one of those guys who loves to play football and he works hard at it. We are expecting big things from Frank this season.”

Coach Ambrose told the media, “For the first time since we came back to Towson, we are talking about wins. Two years ago, our focus was changing attitudes and working hard. Last year, we worked to close the gap and we did that.

“Now, we can talk about winning some games,” he added. “There is so much momentum around this program right now. We have a lot of people who believe in us and they are excited. One of the most amazing things about last season was our attendance at home. We averaged more than 7,000 fans per home game – and we had only one win. So, we know there are a lot of people behind us and they are rooting for us.”

The Tigers, who have eight starters returning on offense and defense, will open their 43rd season of college football on Sept. 3 when they host Morgan State University at Johnny Unitas® Stadium at 7:00 p.m.

At CAA Media Day, the CAA also announced its schedule of televised games for the 2011 season. The CAA has the most watched FCS Television Package in the nation as 28 games are scheduled to be aired this season.

Of the 28 games, 19 will be televised by the Comcast Sports Group.

On October 29, Comcast will visit Unitas Stadium to televise the Towson-Delaware football game at 7:00 p.m.

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Celebrating Alomar and Gillick with Top 10 96-97 O’s Moments

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Celebrating Alomar and Gillick with Top 10 96-97 O’s Moments

Posted on 22 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

On Friday’s edition of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST, Thyrl Nelson and I celebrated Sunday’s Cooperstown Hall of Fame inductions of Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick with a four hour tribute to the 1996 & 1997 Baltimore Orioles.

During the show, I named my Top 10 moments during that special run in O’s history. As I explained last week, these Birds represented “The Only Magic I’ve Ever Known.”

(I didn’t include Jeffrey Maier or the season ending games in either season on this list. These were the memories we WANT to remember.)

10. Ripken passes Kinugasa (June 15, 1996)

ripkenkinugasu

When Cal Ripken played in his 2,216th consecutive game in Kansas City, he already owned the record for consecutive games played.

If he had stopped at 2,210 consecutive games, there would have been no argument that he didn’t hold the record.

With no offense to Sachio Kinugasa, but nothing that happens in Japan can be fairly compared to anything in Major League Baseball. When Ripken surpassed Lou Gehrig in 1995, the record was his.

That being said, the fact that Kinugasa was able to attend the game at Kauffman Stadium made the warm June night pretty special. The evident connection between the two men made the night even more fun for baseball fans.

If you ever get the chance to chat with CSNBaltimore.com writer (and longtime Baltimore Sun columnist) John Eisenberg about this night, please do. The stories are a LOT of fun. I’d tell you myself, but they aren’t my stories.

9. Mussina NEARLY perfect (May 30, 1997)

moose

I have never been more captivated by watching a baseball game than I was that Friday night.

At the time, Home Team Sports (HTS) was still a premium channel on Comcast in Baltimore County. Friday night games however were regularly available over the air (most on WNUV 54), allowing 8th graders like myself to sit at home and watch the games instead of hanging out with our friends.

I’ll never forgive Sandy Alomar for the hit that he managed off Mike Mussina in the 9th inning that night. His brother is my baseball idol, but his name is evil in my mind.

There’s been only one Orioles no-hitter in my lifetime (a combined effort from Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson in 1991), never a solo no-hitter. I’ve seen the Orioles no-hit themselves a couple of times, but I’ve never seen an Orioles pitcher throw a no-no.

I really thought I was going to that night.

8. Wire to wire (September 25, 1997)

aleast

With their 9-3 defeat of the Blue Jays at the building formerly known as SkyDome, the O’s clinched their first AL East title since 1983.

More significantly, they became only the sixth team in MLB history to win the division title going “wire to wire”, in first place from Opening Day to Game 162.

It was a remarkable run for the Birds, although 14 year old Glenn Clark may not have fully realized how significant it was because he was too worried about playoff matchups and hoping to avoid the Yankees in the ALCS.

He got his way. Unfortunately it didn’t end up making much of a difference.

7. Brady gets 50 (September 29, 1996)

bradya

The legacy of Brady Anderson’s 50 home run season in 1996 can certainly be labeled as “clouded” at best.

That being said, whether the 50 home run campaign (which concluded with a dinger on the season’s final day in Toronto) was aided by substance or simply a result of a former leadoff hitter “reaching his athletic opus”, it still stands as the only time in Orioles history a player has reached the mark.

(Frank Robinson previously held the team record with 49.)

Despite the rumors, following Brady’s home run exploits in 1996 was fun for Orioles fans-especially the stretch were he lead off four straight games by going yard.

And no matter how we felt about it, there’s little chance the Orioles make a run to the ALCS in 1996 without those 50 home runs.

6. A walk off slam (May 17, 1996)

hoiles

Anderson’s “moment” was a season in the making. The Ripken “moment” was nearly 14 years in the making.

Hoiles’ “moment”? Roughly one swing in the making.

The Orioles trailed the Seattle Mariners 13-10 in the 9th inning. What happened next was something I had practiced in my back yard roughly 160,000,000,000 times.

With two outs, the bases loaded and a 3-2 count (of COURSE it was a 3-2 count), Chris Hoiles hit what can only be described as the MOST ultimate of “ultimate grand slams.”

Thank God I hadn’t stopped watching that night.

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Remembering Only “Magic” I’ve Known

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Glenn Clark

I know just how frustrating the 2011 season has been for Baltimore Orioles fans.

I also know how frustrating the 2010 season was. And 2009. And 2008. And 2007. And 2006. And…I think you get the point.

I was born on September 6, 1983. Just over a month later (October 16) the O’s vanquished the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 to claim their third (and still most recent) World Series title. Despite being alive for 40 days when it happened, I’m ashamed to say I have no memories of the title.

The 1989 Birds were a special group. I’ve watched the “Why Not” video a number of times in my life, mostly thanks to my friends BJ and Chris Appel. While they finished short of winning the American League East crown, the team has left many folks in Charm City with special memories.

Unfortunately, I had just turned six years old when the season was cut short. My memories of the ’89 Orioles are extremely limited, and the team itself really didn’t mean much to me as a baseball fan.

I’ve made it quite clear that I am much more of a lacrosse person than I am a baseball person. I’ve made it obvious that certain things about baseball in recent years have made me turn from the game. That’s been made worse by the fact that the team here in Baltimore has given me almost nothing to enjoy for nearly 15 years now. Like many other fans in this city, the demise of our own team has lead to a lessened interested in the sport in general.

That wasn’t the case in 1996.

My 12th birthday was September 5, 1995. It was a special day to be an Orioles fan (like I need to tell you) as Cal Ripken passed Lou Gehrig by playing in his 2,131st consecutive game. My parents were kind enough to purchase me EXACTLY what I wanted for my birthday that year-an oversized Orioles “Starter” brand jacket.

(I know I wasn’t the only one who wore a Starter jacket at the time.)

I’m pretty sure I didn’t take that jacket off for two years-even in the summer.

Baseball was my most significant love in 1996. The Ravens came into existence during the offseason but wouldn’t “take over” the city for another three to four years. In fact, as rabid as we were in Baltimore for the return of the NFL, there were multiple games between Memorial Stadium and what was then known as PSINet Stadium in the early years of the Ravens’ existence that were “sold out”, but featured less than empty crowds.

It was a baseball town, and I loved the Orioles more than I even loved girls.

One of the most exciting moments of my life was the day I found out Home Team Sports (HTS) had been moved from the “premium” tier of Comcast programming in Baltimore County and instead became a basic cable channel.

I was that crazy about the Orioles.

In 8th grade, I was often caught not paying attention to teachers in class. While other kids were writing love notes, I was found to be drawing miniature baseball diamonds and impressing my friends with my ability to name the starting nine for every other team in Major League Baseball.

I was a complete and total nutjob when it came to baseball.

I’m not sure I can fairly explain how much those 1996 & 1997 teams meant to me as I hit puberty. My entire attitude was determined by what the Orioles had done the night before.

I still remember coming home from Perry Hall High School one late fall afternoon in 1995 to have my dad tell me the Orioles had signed Roberto Alomar. I didn’t believe him at first, but ultimately celebrated as if I had received straight A’s on my report card.

The 1996 & 1997 Orioles gave me some of the happiest memories of my life as a sports fan. They also of course gave me some of the saddest memories of my life, as they failed to advance past the ALCS in both years.

As far as “Orioles Magic” is concerned, the only thing I REALLY know about “magic” for the Orioles franchise happened during those two seasons.

I’ve explained my excitement about Alomar’s impending induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame many times. Part of my identity as a Baltimore sports personality is tied to my affection to the man who will take his place in Cooperstown next weekend.

I find it fitting that as Alomar enters the Hall of Fame, he will share the stage with the architect of those Orioles teams, former General Manager Pat Gillick. Gillick’s career is directly tied to Alomar, having brought the second baseman to the Toronto Blue Jays, where the pair would win two World Series titles. Gillick would go on to bring Alomar to Baltimore, where he would lead the O’s to their only Wild Card playoff berth and their first AL East crown in 14 seasons.

My guess is that most of the coverage surrounding next weekend’s induction ceremony will be about the time Alomar and Gillick shared with the Jays. But for Orioles fans, next weekend’s ceremony will be a reminder of a special (albeit short) era of success in Baltimore.

It’s with that in mind that I am happy to announce that Thyrl Nelson and I have come together to dedicate next Friday’s (7/22) edition of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to the 1996 & 1997 Baltimore Orioles.

We’ll use the show to congratulate Alomar and Gillick on entering the Hall of Fame, as well as to honor the teams that were truthfully the most special in my lifetime.

We’ll talk to players, coaches, broadcasters and even fans who were around those teams. Some interviews will be live, some will be taped earlier in the week. As guests continue to confirm, I’ll do my best to pass them along.

Older Orioles fans might not look back on the ’96 and ’97 with the same fondness that I do. But this is all I’ve known of winning baseball in Baltimore…well…ever.

It’s going to be a lot of fun. I hope you’ll tune in next Friday to AM1570 WNST or online at WNST.net to join in the celebration. I hope you’ll chime in with calls, emails, Tweets (@WNST or @GlennClarkWNST on Twitter), Facebook messages and other memories of those teams.

It’s the only “Magic” I’ve ever experienced, and it doesn’t look like it will be changing soon.

(Eds. Note: A previous version of this post mistakenly stated the Ravens had experienced “multiple blackouts” in their early years.)

-G

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EXCLUSIVE: It was Peter Angelos vs. Steve Bisciotti in latest skirmish over MASN & Ravens TV rights

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EXCLUSIVE: It was Peter Angelos vs. Steve Bisciotti in latest skirmish over MASN & Ravens TV rights

Posted on 08 August 2010 by WNST Staff

In a city with two sports teams and a major regional sports TV network that’s owned by one of them, conflict is inevitable.

So, when the Ravens sat down at the negotiating table with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) last spring to hammer out the details of a new contract, the football team was prepared for a difficult negotation but maintained confidence a deal would get done for their pre-season games and weekly TV shows such as The John Harbaugh Show.

Instead, the Ravens abruptly lost their broadcast partner last week in an 11th-hour flip by MASN owner Peter Angelos, who also owns the rival sports franchise in Baltimore, the MLB Orioles.

The two parties, led by high ranking officials from the Ravens and MASN, reached a verbal agreement on a new four-year deal in April.  “It actually went more smoothly than we thought it might,” said a Ravens source.  “We went in asking that our old four-year deal just be renewed under the same terms and conditions and they (MASN) were agreeable.  The deal was beneficial for both of us.  MASN got winter programming exclusive to their network and we were able to bring the shows that comprised Rave TV to the Ravens fan base throughout the Mid Atlantic.”

There were a few new twists to the agreement, including more prominently placed signage for MASN at M&T Bank Stadium and the installation of permanent fiber-optic wiring in the press rooms at the stadium to give MASN the highest quality production capabilities.

“We put in an extensive amount of work and product in June and July,” said a Maryland Stadium Authority source, who was part of the team that supervised the installation. “And the Ravens paid for all of it.”

At stake now, are various forms of Ravens-exclusive programming that range from weekly shows to pre- and post-game specials for both home and away games.

“The deal is dead,” said a Ravens source. “Angelos killed it at the end of July when our staff was already on the street selling packages.”

A MASN source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the change in the agreement occurred earlier in the summer when Orioles majority owner and MASN managing partner Peter Angelos got involved.  When the two parties consummated their first deal in 2006, the elder Angelos wasn’t involved in the final stages of the negotiation. It was more John Angelos and other officials, who were just launching the money-making regional network after the birth of Washington Nationals spawned the deal.

An insider on that initial deal said: “It was a perfect marriage. The Ravens didn’t want to deal with Comcast Sportsnet, which was featuring Washington Redskins programming and treated Baltimore and the Ravens like a second-class citizen. MASN was just getting started and needed fall and winter programming and credibility and market awareness. They had a presence and partnership with the best brand in Baltimore. Everyone was happy!”

This time around, though, citing changes in the upper management structure of MASN, Peter Angelos stepped in after a verbal agreement was made in April and the deal was ready to be signed in late spring.

“Peter didn’t like the deal once he read through it all and saw the terms,” said a MASN source. “He contended that a network should NEVER pay a team a rights fee for programming if it’s not all entirely live. So we had to go back to the Ravens and tell them we weren’t going to pay them the same fee we had provided in the past. We knew it was about to get ugly.”

A source familiar with the negotiations said MASN went to the Ravens with an offer that included a “greatly reduced rights fee” and the freedom for MASN to re-run the exclusive Ravens programming with no additional compensation to the football organization.

At first, it didn’t get ugly because the Ravens weren’t totally sure what the new offer or new terms were going to be. But, eschewing the history of how the Orioles and MASN conduct business under Angelos, they remained patient, hopeful and confident that a deal was sensible and reachable.

“We couldn’t really figure out what they wanted,” says a Ravens source.  “They would always talk in generalities like, ‘We need to re-work some things’ and they’d never be real specific about what they wanted changed or what the offer was.”

“We called in early June to remind them that the deal needed to be signed and we were told then that some parts of it hadn’t yet been approved by Mr. Angelos and that they’d get back to us with some revisions.”

As has been customary and legendary from those in the MLB world who’ve dealt with Angelos, those revisions sat on Angelos’ desk for weeks and the “official answer” never came.

Just after the July 4th holiday, the Ravens again contacted MASN and asked for the signed deal so they could continue selling advertising and sponsorships for the various MASN-aired programming.

“We were getting nervous by then,” a Ravens staffer said.  “We pressed them a little bit for a signed contract, and that’s when we were told the original deal wasn’t going to be honored,” explained a Ravens source. “We were told at that point that Peter wasn’t happy about paying a rights fee and that he wanted to speak directly with owner Steve Bisciotti.”

The MASN source explained it like this: “Peter never wants to talk to a mid-level or high-level employee. It’s the top of the ladder or nothing.”

That apparently was Ravens president Dick Cass, who allegedly met with Angelos.

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

“One of Steve’s fundamental beliefs is that he employs good people who understand his business and that’s what he pays them for – to conduct business on his behalf,” said the Ravens staffer.  “When Steve got wind of the Angelos request, he said, ‘I don’t need to talk with him about this.  You people know much more about this than I do.  Get the deal done!’ ”

So that became an issue that no one at either MASN or the Ravens could fix.  One person – Angelos – who didn’t want to talk to anyone BUT the owner and another person – Bisciotti – who felt it wasn’t his position to interfere with his people’s work.

“It’s not like Peter suddenly started operating like this,” said the MASN source.  “When the time comes for the deal to get done or not, he wants to look the other guy right in the eye or at the very least speak directly with the person on the other end who is his equivalent.  This time around, it backfired on us.”

It backfired when the Ravens made a final inquiry in late July and were told that MASN’s position wasn’t changing.  A reduction in the rights fee was now the only valid offer and Angelos was adamant that Bisciotti get involved during the final days of negotiation.

Bisciotti eventually did call Angelos, but he did so to simply tell the MASN head honcho, “My people say this deal is no good for us, so we’re going to pass.”

In the aftermath, the MASN public relations people tried to soft-peddle the break-up in early August by claiming the split was amicable.  MASN spokesman Todd Webster included a “we wish the Ravens nothing but success” throwaway line when commenting to the local media, most of whom who are on the payroll or in the profit chain of MASN or Angelos himself.

(A request to speak on the record with members of the MASN executive staff about this exclusive story at WNST.net was refused.)

But WNST.net is reporting that the “split” was anything but amicable.

“We’re basically six weeks from the start of the season with a sales package on the street and a handshake for a deal from April and an existing relationship and they pulled the rug out from under us,” says the Ravens source . “There’s no way that’s going to be amicable.”

The MASN source interviewed for this exclusive piece says the Ravens knew in early June there was a potential roadblock with the deal.

“They knew as soon as Peter (Angelos) got involved there was potentially going to be trouble.  They knew the deal was shaky at that point.”

When given that response, a Ravens staffer pointed to to the recent work done at M&T Bank Stadium.  “If we really thought the deal was in trouble, we wouldn’t have spent all that money to get the stadium ready for MASN.”

A Maryland Stadium Authority source said MASN remains a valuable working partner but they acknowledge it’s not always a bed of roses working with them.  “They’ve been involved in some battles with Comcast and WBAL at the baseball stadium that got very ugly.  It almost always relates to money and it always involves Peter.  And it’s always a last minute kind of thing.  That’s their M.O.  They wait until the last minute to start trying to get things done.”

And that’s how the deal with the Ravens eventually ended.  “We just ran out of time,” says a Ravens staffer.  “We had their (MASN) signage up, so that had to come down, and our people are out now trying to re-sell it.  We have shows to produce with sponsors lined up and there’s nowhere to air them.  We’re scrambling now.”

The break-up with MASN and loss of key programming doesn’t just hurt the Ravens financially – “we were nearly sold out of inventory” the Ravens source said – but it puts a crimp on their regional branding and marketing efforts.

“We count on that programming to satisfy our fans’ needs in the outlying areas that are important to us like Frederick, Hagerstown, York, Harrisburg and Lancaster,” said a Ravens official.  “That’s one of the reasons we like MASN so much.  They truly are regional for us.  And that’s important.”

One local media expert says the break-up was not only initiated by MASN, but might have come more as a result of sagging sales efforts.

“The real truth of the whole relationship with the Ravens is that MASN’s heart was never in it.  They just wanted to take something away from Comcast,” said the media source.  “They probably lost a lot of money over the last few years with their Ravens programming and they’re getting paid the same amount by a few million subscribers whether the Ravens are on the network or whether they’re airing Hawaiian League Baseball.”

So why enter into a business agreement with the Ravens?  What’s in it for MASN?

“They (MASN) owned inventory in each of those Ravens programs, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes depending on the show and its length,” the media source explained.  “And MASN needs to sell that commercial inventory to make up for the rights fee they hand over to the Ravens.   If they can’t sell it, the whole relationship becomes a loser for MASN, except they have relevant programming to plug in during the winter months.”

“All you have to do is follow the Orioles broadcasts on MASN and you can pretty much figure out they’re having a tough time selling commercials in the baseball games.  I guess you have to ask yourself, ‘If we can’t sell all the ad space in the live programming we air 162 times a year with a Major League Baseball team, what are the odds we can sell ad space in the football season with taped shows?’ And if they were forking over $100,000 or so to the Ravens for the rights fee, that’s a lot of advertising to sell just to make that up, let alone make a profit out of it.”

A Ravens source would not confirm the amount of money MASN provided to the football team, saying only, “It was a six figure deal with our benefit being that we owned most of the time to sell to our corporate partners.”

The local media expert figures that MASN spent the early part of the spring and summer trying to sell their portion of advertising.  And when they couldn’t, they decided to go back to the Ravens and change the deal.

“That happens a lot,” says the media source.  “You’re on the hook for a lot of money and you figure you’ll sell enough to offset it.  When you initially go out and try to sell it and you can’t, you get nervous and try to change the fee structure.”

The Ravens continue to work hard to try and have their programming in place by Labor Day.  WNST has been told that Comcast SportsNet is not an option for them.

One less-appealing option is WBAL TV’s digital channel, which would serve as an olive branch from the Ravens since they’d likely make no revenue from the arrangement with WBAL.

“We’d be doing that because we want to help our broadcast partner out,” said a Ravens staffer.  “We clearly wouldn’t be involved in the same kind of rights fee deal we had with MASN, but the programming would air and that’s what’s most important at this point.”

The other obvious answer would be to air the unique programming of Rave TV on the team website, which could drive more traffic to their online hub.

The fallout of Steve Bisciotti vs. Peter Angelos and Orioles vs. Ravens will continue to be monitored at WNST.net.

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The Orioles & Andy MacPhail – 5 Mistakes In 3 Years (Part I of V) …..

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The Orioles & Andy MacPhail – 5 Mistakes In 3 Years (Part I of V) …..

Posted on 14 April 2010 by Rex Snider

I can honestly proclaim my fair and balanced treatment of Andy MacPhail, since the day he seized control of the Orioles’ Baseball Operations.

Okay, I haven’t necessarily been an ORANGE KOOL-AID drinkin’ son of a gun, but I’ve certainly been heavy on the patience and guarded praise, while leveling mild criticism on justified, sporadic occasions. In fact, I absolutely believe I’ve given Mr. MacPhail the benefit of the doubt on many occasions – and, I don’t regret it.

Has he made mistakes? Sure. But, I’ve maintained his decisions were in the best interest of the Orioles franchise – and the greater good of Baltimore’s vulnerable baseball fans.

Yet, I think it’s also fair to say Andy MacPhail and the Orioles, as an organization, have fallen short on numerous decisions and transactions, over these last 3 seasons.

I’m not beating them up. That’s not productive. However, I can think of 5 distinguishing events, moves or directives that have resulted in a LOSS for the Orioles. Of course, I’ll qualify my opinions by asserting my FAN CARD …..

I have absolutely no working knowledge or experience concerning the inner-sanctum of a professional baseball organization. I’ve never stuck my hands inside a baseball product ABOVE the college level. And, I think this disclosure is important, because nearly everyone who stands in my shoes (from a media perspective) is also standing on the “same ground.”

That said, I’d like to believe I’m an educated guy and open-minded regarding most topics.

Baseball is one such topic. I love the science of baseball ….. the history of baseball ….. the modern day culture of baseball ….. and, the game as a whole.

Agree with me. Disagree with me. I understand – and, I don’t take it personally.

My first observed/recalled “MacPhail Mistake” can be found below. I’ll write 5 such blogs over the next 5 days. Of course, I reserve judgement to include a 6th mistake if this losing streak doesn’t end soon …..

Mistake #1  -  Letting Joe Girardi Get Away

One of Andy MacPhail’s first decisions was finding a successor to Sam Perlozzo, who was dismissed in the same window that allowed MacPhail’s entrance as the new President of Baseball Operations. While Dave Trembley was named as the interim skipper, MacPhail conducted a thorough search and even levied a firm three year offer to his most coveted candidate.

Of course, EVERYONE knew Andy MacPhail had a solid relationship with Joe Girardi. And, Girardi, who owned the distinction of winning “NL Manager Of The Year” and being fired after the same season was readily available …..
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No, Joe Girardi didn’t get fired for legal or character reasons. He’s a SOLID CHARACTER guy. He was fired by an owner who didn’t like being told to “SHUT UP.” While most employees would get fired for saying such a thing to their boss, lets remember, Jeffrey Luria was heckling the umpire when it happened. And, Joe Girardi does things the right way.

Never mind the task of taking a young, disorganized group of kids and instilling discipline and a WINNING attitude, in less than six months. That’s not important to Jeffrey Luria. Hmmm …. I wonder if he feels good about firing Girardi – TODAY.

Nevertheless, Joe Girardi was Andy MacPhail’s GUY.

In fact, MacPhail and others flew to Girardi’s neck of the woods, near Chicago, to woo and tempt the hottest managerial free agent. When is the last time a TEAM went to the CANDIDATE to conduct an interview?

Days later – on June 21st of 2007 – Joe Girardi told Andy and the O’s “uhh, thanks …. but, no thanks.”

That’s a day I’ll never forget. Why? It’s this girl’s birthday …..
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And, regardless of Joe Girardi falling thru the holes of the Orioles crab net, I’d better never forget the significance of June 21st – ANY YEAR.

Why did Joe Girardi decline the Orioles offer to become the next manager? Of course, I’ll rely on my earlier disclosure – I have no working knowledge of the Orioles inner circle. But, I can imagine or make an educated guess of some possible reasons.

Maybe, he talked with some baseball friends, who have intimate knowledge of the Orioles dysfunction, prior to MacPhail’s arrival. Who? Perhaps, he had coffee with Davey Johnson. Maybe, he had dinner with his former coach, Lee Mazilli. Better yet, I guess he could’ve just had a very long phone conversation with George, Hank or Hal Steinbrenner.

But, something made Joe Girardi reject the Orioles 3 year/$3 million offer. Heck, maybe that’s it.

I realize most managers aren’t breaking the bank with contracts in the same neighborhood as many players. Yet, if a manager with any resume’ of success is going to soil his career with a stint on the Orioles bench, I’ll assume the money will have to do the talking – not a bunch of bigwigs flying into the guy’s hometown.

If Andy MacPhail was serious about hiring Joe Girardi as the next skipper, and he flew 750 miles to meet with him, I’d like to think he had the company checkbook in hand.

What’s the one thing we know about today’s world of pro sports and signing free agents? If you want the guy, don’t let him leave the room without a deal. Do you doubt me? This philosophy brought the Baltimore Ravens a Super Bowl winning head coach …..
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It also landed the Chicago White Sox one of the hottest managerial prospects, following the Florida Marlins 2003 World Championship …..
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And, as the we know, he skippered the team to a World Championship, just a couple seasons later.

Andy MacPhail should’ve never let Joe Girardi leave that meeting – not if he was the guy. And, how does an offer like $3 million, in 3 years, inspire a guy of Girardi’s caliber to take this job? I’m not talking about the Joe Girardi who manages the New York Yankees. I’m talking about the Joe Girardi who broke the disruptive spirit of players who initially balked at his managerial powers, in the Marlins clubhouse.

As many know, I’m a devout listener of the Comcast Morning Show. I was listening to Drew before I knew where the WNST station was located. He makes sense ….. and he’s right on many occasions.

Recently, Drew has pointed out the lackluster and non-chalant attitude of Adam Jones. Whether it’s blowing bubbles on dropped flyballs or stupid baserunning blunders, Jones doesn’t seem to be busting his hump or devoting maximum concentration to the game itself.

And, as Drew has also suggested …. what can Dave Trembley do about it? Counsel Jones? Bench him? Fine him?

Adam Jones has every hunch to assume his manager is just one banana peel OR LOSS away from being a former employee. If such exchanges or relationships exist, would any of us be surprised?

Now, put Joe Girardi in that clubhouse and dugout.

Does Adam Jones or anyone challenge him? If they do, they’ll lose. Just ask Miguel Cabrera. He balked at Girardi’s policies regarding junk food in the clubhouse and locker room. Girardi didn’t bend his rules – and Cabrera didn’t bring skittles to the ballpark.

Marlins players had every reason to dismiss Jor Girardi, as the season neared an end. Everyone knew the manager was getting fired and the team had a losing record. That said, those players respected him and they played hard. The Marlins opened the 2006 season with SIX ROOKIES in the lineup and a $14 million payroll. Okay, some sources have the payroll as high as $21 million – but, I’m certain you get the point.

Joe Girardi was fired, because the owner didn’t like him.

You gotta have that guy, right? He doesn’t tolerate off-field distractions. He doesn’t permit lackluster performances. And, he always protects him team …..
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But, if MacPhail wanted the guy, why offer a measly 3 million bucks? I’ve always wondered if things would’ve turned out differently if Andy slid a blank check across the table, in Chicago. My gut says YES. My head says YES.

I’ll imagine Joe Girardi had enough time to look at the $3 million offer and consider the Orioles plight, as well as the recent history regarding managers. I’ll conclude that he probably thought …. “in a few seasons, OR LESS, I’ll have a few million bucks in my pocket, but I’ll also be that guy who’s possibly been fired from two jobs, in less than 5 years.” “I don’t mind the risk, but it’s not enough money – not near enough money.”

He probably reasoned the Orioles job could ruin him, as far as future managerial prospects go. If that’s the case, the reward had to be greater.

In case “Franchise” is reading this, I don’t see Joe Girardi as a “what if” kinda guy. He rejected the Orioles halfway thru the 2007 season. He had no reason to believe he was going to be the Yankees new manager, just a few months later.

Yeah, we all heard that Girardi or Don Mattingly would eventually succeed Joe Torre, as Yankees skipper. But, if the Yankees would’ve beaten the Cleveland Indians and BUGS, in the 2007 ALDS, we might’ve never seen a managerial change.
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After all, Joe Torre turned down a one year extension.

Joe Girardi rejected the Orioles, because it wasn’t enough money for such a risky gamble. Who wants to hire a former Orioles manager?

Maybe Joe Girardi would’ve taken the O’s job for 3 years/$10 million. But, that’s an extra $7 million – which means the Orioles couldn’t afford Aubrey Huff. Umm …. make that TWO Aubrey Huffs.

A note to Andy ….. Ozzie Guillen is a free agent, following the 2012 season. If you’re gonna offer 3 years/$3 million, don’t waste his time or yours.

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