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Season of “Moneyball” begins for Angelos, Duquette, Buck & Orioles of 2012

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Season of “Moneyball” begins for Angelos, Duquette, Buck & Orioles of 2012

Posted on 13 July 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

The second half of the Baltimore Orioles’ re-awakening 2012 season is about to begin and the local baseball fans are a bit befuddled by it all.

As a Baltimore sports fan, I’m never allergic to exciting wins and a 12-game over .500 start to any baseball season. We’ve seen a manager who not only channels Earl Weaver in his size, stature and mannerisms but also with shrewd use of role players and borderline big leaguers. It’s been three months of watching guys who are trying hard no matter who is called up from Norfolk or who hits the disabled list. We’ve witnessed the blossoming of a true superstar in Adam Jones, who signed a record contract in mid-May against all previous precedent given by the Angelos family.

And, for the first time since 1997, this version of the Baltimore Orioles has stirred fans’ awareness – if not necessarily their emotions or beliefs – that this could be a dog-days-of-summer presentation that will bare watching as the fellows in the purple sweaters practice in Owings Mills in two weeks.

But here’s the problem: the 2012 Baltimore Orioles roster — as currently assembled on July 13th — is either in parts of tatters, simply unproven or just flat-out stinks.

I’ve been watching baseball for 40 years and I can’t think of any situation that compares to this.

The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are 45-40, now just five games over .500. However, if the season ended today they’d be in the playoffs. It’s officially the second half of the season – I watched the All-Star Game on Tuesday night even if none of the rest of you did – and the Orioles have a legitimate chance to play at least one postseason baseball game in October.

In the new Bud Selig fantasy world of more October baseball and profit, the Orioles are truly contenders in a way we couldn’t have imagined in March and haven’t seen since the Clinton administration. And no one else in the American League East looks to be galvanized to go on a tear, either.

Meanwhile the young guns of Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter are all in Norfolk after repeated self-inflicted shots into the bleachers after a series of “Ball Ones” and long, hot innings of ineffectiveness and blown leads.

The now-rested bullpen will attempt to continue to atone for the sins of the many failed starts over the past eight weeks.

The offense is in tatters. Despite the trade for a post-40 Jim Thome – yet another acquisition a player who is in the December of his career ala Sammy Sosa and Vladimir Guerrero — the Orioles are at least making some attempt to get to October after such an encouraging start.

Will Brian Roberts be a factor in the second half? Is Nick Markakis fully healed from his hamate bone injury? Can J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters provide more offense in the second half? Is Xavier Avery a star or just another so-so-outfielder from the Orioles’ depth chart?

There are far more questions than answers heading into the second season of baseball.

The Orioles have been irrelevant for 15 years. This year it appears we’ll have the first-ever Ravens’ training camp opening where the orange team will be the ones making summer headlines.

Will they trade? Who will they trade? What will they get?

One thing we know: trades for legitimate pitchers and hitters who can help the Orioles will not only cost some prospects but will involve large sums of money to pay these proven

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How can Baltimore simply allow the Orioles to rot like this under Angelos’ greed & profiteering?

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How can Baltimore simply allow the Orioles to rot like this under Angelos’ greed & profiteering?

Posted on 01 April 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

There’s no sense in shirking the responsibility here in Baltimore — the facts that show this community has been complicit in the damage done during this baseball free fall on the field and profiteering being done off the field by Peter Angelos via MASN. The truth is this: we get the government we deserve.

And the truth is that we get the Major League Baseball team that we tolerate as a community.

The Orioles are about to enter their 15th consecutive year of irrelevance and losing. Fans in Baltimore have turned away from the stadium by the millions instead of demanding a better product and an owner with the integrity to run the team in the best interests of the community.

The judges allowed this to happen by allowing television moguls to pass along unavoidable, mandatory charges you never know about and you vote for these judges.

Comcast (or your local cable TV provder) has passed along the “Angelos Tax” to you and you simply keep paying the bill.

The politicians allowed this to happen to the heart of Baltimore on summer nights and you elect the politicians. You elect the politicians who allow Major League Baseball an almost inarguable anti-trust exemption and public financing for stadia while they pad their pockets and Angelos shirks his “sacred responsibility” here in Baltimore to attempt to field a competitive team that stimulates interest and economic impact to the local economy.

Many local businesses and business owners – intimidated for one reason or another – all talk dirty out of the corner of their mouths to me at cocktail parties all over Baltimore yet no one except me and this radio station and web entity that I own have spoken up over the years and reported the dirty facts.

I am very proud of Free The Birds. I’m proud of being the only one to speak the truth and report the facts. I sleep well at night knowing that I’m TRYING to make a difference and get this corrected for the community.

WNST is the only free media company in the marketplace that is banned from covering the team while CBS Radio, The Sun, WBAL, Pressbox, etc. all have continued to exchange corporate media backrubs and “partnerships” while not demanding accountability from Peter Angelos.

 

Many others — from intimidated former Orioles players who need the autograph money to local fans, former season ticket holders and businesses who previously wrote a direct check to the Baltimore Orioles to sponsor the franchise — all now cough and “look the other way” while the city has been emptied of more than 2 million people every summer. The Ravens’ and their everlasting prosperity seems to only make it easier to turn away from the Orioles.

How can it be possible that local businesses downtown and at the Inner Harbor simply await the arrival of visiting fans from Boston, New York and Philadelphia in order to turn a profit off the fortunes of the Baltimore Orioles?

It’s unspeakable, shameful and YOU should be ashamed of our community for allowing it happen.

When all of this cowardice and the collective “turning of the heads” stops, perhaps the fate of the Baltimore Orioles will change?

Here’s what WNST.net is doing about this Thursday and Friday night as we hold a candlelight vigil and an Opening Day protest of the ownership and the way the team has been run into the ground for Baltimore and its baseball fans…

 

You can follow our Facebook page here and follow us on Twitter @FreeTheBirds12

 

Staying away from the ballpark and not contributing by buying tickets and $8 beers has simply not worked to correct the issues with Peter Angelos and improve the baseball team. We’ve been writing about it here at WNST.net and opining at AM 1570 for the better part of a decade.

Sometimes I think that everyone knows the dirty little secret about Angelos and

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Duquette sings same old, tired, unaccountable tune for King Peter

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Duquette sings same old, tired, unaccountable tune for King Peter

Posted on 09 November 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

So today is one of those days where I’m going to speak my mind regarding the Baltimore Orioles and if you’re not interested in the truth, please read no further. And all of you fellow delirious Baltimore Ravens fans might want to stand at attention and learn a little something about the way sports DOES work and the way it DOESN’T in regard to the spirit of the city and enthusiasm and public interest and affection for a sports franchise.
The Baltimore Ravens are enjoying the neon purple afterglow of the greatest regular-season victory in the history of what has become a storied franchise just 16 years into its existence.
Meanwhile, across the street where no real journalism is being done and shameless profiteering and professional ineptitude is standard operating procedure, the Baltimore Orioles held another slapstick “press conference” on Tuesday afternoon for invited guests and partners to announce their next “savior” – a guy who hasn’t had a job in Major League Baseball in a decade and who is now touted as the “best available” candidate after virtually every major junior executive and senior executive who already had MLB jobs turned down this “incredible opportunity afforded by Mr. Angelos.”
Accountability and integrity were not invited to The Warehouse on Tuesday afternoon for the proceedings, which at times rivaled any good Will Ferrell Saturday Night Live skit for its clichés, tired excuses and backslapping for a bunch of other corporate “yes” men and attorneys for the Baltimore Orioles.
The troops of Peter G. Angelos propped up their latest puppet in the announcement of Dan Duquette as their new Vice President of something or another.  As you can imagine, I have nice little list of questions for the new poobah and “face” of the Orioles over the next foreseeable future but somehow, for the fifth consecutive year after having an Orioles media credential for 21 years, I didn’t make the cut to ask questions.
Neither did our WNST.net Orioles beat man Luke Jones, who is as big of an Orioles fan and historian as I’ve ever met, who spent 30 minutes at The Warehouse with his arm in the air at a press conference to never be called on to ask a question.
(And don’t get me started on how a women who sued me, my employees and my company for $800,000 and then quietly dropped her bogus case has a media pass and is somehow asking questions of accountability to Dan Duquette and anyone in the Baltimore sports media universe could think I’m perceived as the one who is lacking integrity or is lying?)
I’ve been invited to every media event in Baltimore for 27 years – except for the Orioles, of course. I have media privileges that gotten me inside the White House, the Super Bowl, Final Fours and virtually any other sporting event on the planet.
And when I’ve seen the way this intimidation, manipulation and “ownership” of the media works — with REAL stories over the past decade like steroids all over their clubhouse, mysterious deaths like Steve Bechler, and suicide of a storied franchise member and a murder case in the Dominican involving a player — and I’m standing at the civic casket of Mike Flanagan and watching the greatness of Brooks Robinson get dogged and ignored by everyone in the Orioles organization except for Bill Stetka (who I actually remember as one of the first “journalists” I ever met as a kid at SportsF1rst 

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Duquette says he embraces challenge of turning Orioles around

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Duquette says he embraces challenge of turning Orioles around

Posted on 08 November 2011 by WNST Staff

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Orioles will officially introduce Dan Duquette to most of Baltimore media today

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Orioles will officially introduce Dan Duquette to most of Baltimore media today

Posted on 06 November 2011 by WNST Staff

As first reported and texted by WNST yesterday, the Orioles have officially hired Dan Duquette as their next general manager.

Duquette, who last spent time in Major League Baseball as GM of the Boston Red Sox, reported back to Baltimore last night to meet with owner Peter Angelos. On Sunday afternoon, it was confirmed via a team press release via their media arm of MASN.

The Orioles tried desperately to woo Toronto Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava earlier in the week and went through a list of another six candidates who expressed little or no interest in working for the Orioles in Baltimore in a situation that would essentially give current field manager Buck Showalter the lion’s share of decision making for the major-league roster.

The Orioles expect to hold a press conference with Duquette later this week.

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My last day on air at AM 1570: Goodbye to radio, hello to the brave world of the web!

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My last day on air at AM 1570: Goodbye to radio, hello to the brave world of the web!

Posted on 29 January 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

As you probably know, beginning on Monday, we’re going to begin a week-long series on the state of Baltimore sports journalism. And where this is all going? And how this radio, print, television & “new media thing” really works. “A WNST Expose’ on Sports Journalism in Baltimore: Is this Medium Well Done?” will be an eye-opening look at the inner-workings of sports media here in the town that I’ve loved since 1968 told by a true insider – me!

Expose

It’s more of a mini-series than a blog. It’s designed to separate facts from fiction of media past, present and future. It’s taken me about 26 years of living it and now that WNST.net is the No. 1 most-visited sports website in the region, I think it’s time that I’ve said a few things that need to be said about the state of this business and how much “times have changed.”

It’ll be the true story of life in the 2010 world of Baltimore sports media that Ray Frager — a former boss and media “critic” of mine at The Baltimore Sun who publicly hated, doubted and discarded my show and my brand and my expertise, information and business for more than a decade with his witticisms and a keen “out of town” perspective about Baltimore sports media – never got around to telling you about because he never took the time to understand the business, politics and measurement of local sports media.

He didn’t even understand what the Arbitron ratings represented but he knew how to parrot out the statistics, which we’ll prove next week are not even remotely accurate if not outright lies! But we all know that once the lie gets told once, it gets repeated a thousand times.

If you’re one of those who keeps up with local business (in other words, one of the “smart” ones), this will be an eye-opening look at what’s happened to the integrity in the Baltimore sports media over the last 25 years since the passing of the likes of Jim McKay, Chris Thomas, Charley Eckman and John Steadman – and the “moving on” of Frank DeFord and dozens of other writers and broadcasters to a national position from Dan Shaughnessy to Nick Charles from Ken Rosenthal to Tim Kurkjian to Buster Olney to John Saunders and on and on — who were the pioneers over the last 30 years and who left legacies that I still chase every day of my life.

If you’re one of those who doesn’t understand “the business of media” and you can’t possibly comprehend how happy the Orioles’ ownership is to be making $40 million in profit while the stadium and downtown sits empty and they lose 98 games every year – all while OWNING the pockets and voices of most of the traditional media in Baltimore, well, honestly – this is all going to go a little over your head. You might want to skip it for fear of actually learning something that resembles the truth.

(It’s kinda like the Rodney Dangerfield scene in “Back To School” where he teaches the “real” way business is conducted not the way they teach it formally in college! You either get it, or you don’t. And if you do want to “get it” and be educated, I’m here to give you a Master’s dissertation at 41 and after living this reality of Baltimore sports media over the last 26 years.)

If you’re one of those who can somehow defend the actions, business practices and stewardship of Peter Angelos and the Orioles over the last 13 years, then you’ll probably find a way to refute the facts of the next week in regard to statistical data bearing out that WNST.net is fastest-growing media company in the state of Maryland. You might even be foolish enough to not realize that all of the employees of MASN, CBS Radio, WJZ-TV and Pressbox ostensibly work for him.

But as Forrest Gump so boldly put it: “Stupid is as Stupid does…”

I can only state the facts and back them up with evidence and empirical data – just like Steadman and my father taught me. After that it’s up to you…and we even let you write and encourage you to write what YOU think here on WNST.net. The only thing we ask is that you spell your name correctly and take accountability for your thoughts and words.

Thus is the beauty of the internet and my intoxication with it: free speech in an open and shareable platform in a world that embraces individuality and excellence. It’s a great, magical time to be alive for a guy like me with a brand like WNST.net and the walls of corporate media domination rapidly falling in every corner of the world.

Hence, I’m hosting my final week of radio next week in Miami after hosting my final “in studio” show as a daily host today. After taking a four-year hiatus from daily hosting, I’ve been back on the air for the past 55 weeks for a variety of reasons and I’m delighted to be once again returning to my very happy life “behind the scenes” building the business of WNST in 2010 and beyond.

If anything, over the past year the internet has allowed me to be MUCH closer to my audience and Baltimore sports fans and I don’t look at “leaving radio” as anything more than “moving mediums” to the internet, where I can be in your ear as much as you want me. And WNST is in your pocket everywhere you go if you have a mobile device.

Don’t worry: I’ll never stop talking Baltimore sports.

I’ll be more accessible than ever — blogging, doing commercials, selling advertising, making videos, doing roadtrips, having fun in writing a book this year, gabbing in social media, hosting parties and doing the most important work of all – the business development of WNST.net as we grow into the new decade as the unquestioned market leader in Baltimore sports information in the only medium that matters moving forward – the internet.

And it’s my solemn vow to use what I know to educate our fans from this point forward in all aspects of Baltimore sports, including the business of local sports of which I’m an expert in the field of local marketing, journalism and the media business. No one in Baltimore can match up with the way we cover sports on the web.

In the “old world” that I was raised in here in Baltimore, it was the radio, television and newspaper. Now – instead in the Jetsons world of 2010 — I’ll be using the audio, video and blog components of WNST.net to give a reality-based look at life in Baltimore sports.

As such, next week each day we’ll present, discuss and opine about the whole gamut of Baltimore media:

Part 1 – “Baltimore’s sports media lineup” — We’ll identify the frauds in the media & some feelings will be hurt here…

Part 2 – Alexa – “Who is She?” The little retold lie about WNST having 10 listeners…

Part 3 – Content & Distribution – “Where do you get your Baltimore sports news & info and why?”

Part 4 – “Who are the biggest corporate whores in Baltimore sports media?” In other words: “Who is for sale, and who can you trust?”

Part 5 – “What is the future of Baltimore sports media?” What is catching your eyes & ears these days?

You might be shocked by some of this information. You’ll certainly be surprised at how a lot of this local sports media business works and how dramatically it’s changed. And you won’t be shocked to find out how unpopular it is amongst our competitors that “little WNST” is crushing the
“traditional big boys” in the new world of new media and social media, which makes them hate me even more.

That’s why they take away my press pass at Orioles games and none of my other “colleagues” even acknowledge how wrong it is. That’s why they keep telling the lies about signal strength and Arbitron numbers and lack of distribution. And that’s why they keep refusing to acknowledge any of our events, charitable work in the community or impact on the reporting of breaking sports news in Baltimore.

But that’s OK. I’ve been breaking news stories in Baltimore for 26 years and for 18 years on the radio and I’ve never, ever ONCE seen The Sun write “As first reported by WNST.net”…

And at this point, I don’t really want that to change. I kind of get a kick out of it!

But if I tweeted every time we send out a text on a story that ISN’T on the website of The Sun or MASN or any other local web entity, I’d seem like a bragging ass. But isn’t that what they all do at the alphabet-soup world of corporate media?

“As first reported by ESPN…blah-blah-blah…”

(And if you’re one of the 5,200 on our Text Service, then you know how good it is without me telling you about it. And if you’re NOT on the service and JOIN OUR TEXT SERVICE NOW, you won’t be disappointed. It’s the best thing we do at WNST!)

So this purposely self-indulgent yet informative piece of journalistic truth and analysis will be an ode to Ray Frager, who was the King of Arbitron ratings without ever writing the truth about the “fictional data mining” that they’ve been doing a for a few decades. I’ll expose that and “People Meters” next Tuesday.

So, in Frager’s honor and honor of his blog – “Medium Well” — I’m dubbing this weeklong, “investigative” look as “Medium Well Done?”

Along with my long-windedness, arrogance and accusations, that’s really the question I’m asking you:

Is Baltimore media well done?

For the record, I don’t think so. And that’s why I love WNST.net so much! Because I think we’re the best! And we wake up and work our asses off all day, every day to make it that way. And it’s finally being realized in the real data, numbers, volume of real people who interact with the WNST brand every day in Baltimore.

Some people are going to get their feelings hurt, but I’m writing a Master’s thesis in how this all works – the business of local sports media in Baltimore circa 2010. Where’s it’s been, where it’s “at” and where it’s going…

I’ve dedicated my entire life – ask anyone who’s ever really known me — to building Baltimore’s ultimate sports information company every day of my life since Jan. 23, 1984 when I was “hired” as an intern for “SportsFirst,” a daily train-wreck of a business model newspaper housed by the Hearst Corporation. Honestly, it’s been a strange kind of destiny over the past 26 years since I walked into The News American as a 15-year old intern from Dundalk who couldn’t type, with a pregnant girlfriend, that the world has opened up on the internet to give a guy like me a chance to go toe-to-toe and now surpass “the big boys” and corporate whores who’ve for so long dominated and stilted the way we consume our information about sports in Baltimore.

The internet and the phone that is in your hand or pocket is the ultimate equalizer. EVERYONE has access to WNST.net from anywhere in the world where there is cellphone service. Every day more people find us — on Twitter, Facebook, Google, You Tube, etc. And our website is clearly the best in the market for technology, distribution of the sponsors who keep us in business and the timely distribution of content.

There’s no more having a “small signal” or the inability to instantly transmit information or need for a printing press, an FCC license or a TV antenna to break news or give analysis or to move people to action. And in our sphere here at WNST.net, the engine is powered by the people who care enough to be involved daily – the real Baltimore sports fans who power these teams and their financial ability to be sustained.

All the walls have fallen in traditional media. It’s only the old, white people on the country club golf courses who haven’t caught up. Sadly, that encompasses much of the local sports media world.

My inspiration to ignite Free The Birds in 2006 was the Berlin Wall and that wall fell, too. And just like one day the Orioles will be owned by someone who help them win again and they will be revered in the community instead of a source of annual civic shame and embarrassment, the walls of information and media around the local sports scene have fallen dramatically and the joke is on the establishment that doesn’t recognize that they can no longer control the information, spin the truth or mask the lies.

And some in the establishment are still playing the Marxist “We’ll control all state information” role like Baghdad Bob with the Orioles. That’s just stupid and will never work in a free society with tools like the internet and social media.

Over the next week I’ll be presenting an in-depth look at the current “status” of local media and the measurement systems that in the new world of new media will evaluate the size of an entity, the reach of an entity and the influence of an entity.

We’ll ask you who YOU trust with your news, information and where you get it and why you get it from them. I hope you share it with your friends because I’d love to hear from all sorts of Baltimore sports fans because we want to make WNST.net the best – period!

Three years ago, this would’ve been impossible – this website launch and the power and reach and immediacy of social media. But, now through the power of what until recently was referred to as your “phone” – now a PDA, Blackberry, Iphone, Palm or Droid – you have WNST.net with you everywhere you go and available anytime and anyplace you want it.

So much for “how far does your signal go at little WNST-AM?”

Well, it goes AROUND THE WORLD in the PALM OF YOUR HAND now!

How’s that for “power” or “reach”? It doesn’t sound like 5,000 watts anymore, does it?

So much for the days of people saying: “Hey Nasty, I love your radio station but I can’t get it at night.” Now, I just say: “Are you on our text service?” or “Facebook friend me” or “Follow us on Twitter” or drop me an email at nasty@wnst.net and we’ll rock your world with what we’re doing on the web at WNST.net.

In Indianapolis two weeks ago where we threw the biggest party in town and took four busloads of Ravens Maniacs to Irsayland, the biggest music to my ears was having people say: “Hey Nestor, I’m your Facebook friend or I subscribe to your text service or I read your blogs every day on my phone.”

Over the next week I will prove to you – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that we are the fastest growing media entity in the city of Baltimore or anywhere in the region.

Actually, we’re the ONLY “growing” entity in the marketplace across all of the terrestrial (or is it dinosaur?) media: print, television and radio.

And I’ll also show you why we STILL aren’t being acknowledged as the market leader in the one place it counts – the cash register. And that’s mainly because the dinosaurs who run the local ad agencies and the local teams still don’t fully comprehend or acknowledge the power of the internet, which is astonishing when you consider how much of everyone’s day in our world is consumed with information, email, text and social media on a video screen of some kind.

(And unless you’re my 90-year old mother, you’re involved in several or all of the aforementioned! How do I know? Well, you’re READING THIS ON THE INTERNET!!!)

And I didn’t need a TV signal, a sweetheart cable deal or a printing press to get it to you. I own an FCC license, but I probably didn’t even use that to find you!

WNST.net is building a local social media firestorm and creating a new kind of company in a new kind of space on the internet. Like any other new company in a completely new era of marketing, we’ll continue to feel our way through the process, doing some things well and others not so well.

And that’s where our WNST Baltimore Sports Media Survey comes in…

Unlike the Orioles of Peter Angelos, we’re accountable here at WNST.net. I own the place. I’m out in front. I’ll take your questions. I’ll take your criticisms and try to improve what we do. I LOVE the pressure of the accountability of being great and being measured. I live for it! (Ask anybody who knows me…)

We don’t just think our product is the best in the marketplace, we think you think so too!

Beginning Monday, we’re distributing an extensive survey to all of our WNST.net users (new and old). It’ll be available all during the month of February. We’re giving away a 50” Big Screen TV to one lucky person who fills out the questionnaire in the hopes that you and all of your friends will take a few minutes to fill it out and tell us how we can make WNST.net better in 2010.

We’re very serious about trying to make our company the best in the market. We really ARE the company that will take your advice because we’re building this web community for the people of Baltimore who love sports.

But, more than any of the other corporate whores who will be getting “outed” next week for their brazen lies, partnerships and duplicity – WNST.net will continue to be a place for an honest exchange of information.

We don’t ban free speech. We’re accessible and accountable for the news and information we dispense. We’re rooted in the community – rooted so deeply that 5% of all of our profits into perpetuity go back to the Living Classrooms Foundation thanks to Brian Billick’s involvement in ownership of WNST.net.

Here’s our mission statement, in case you missed it at the bottom of the site:

MISSION STATEMENT

To fully realize the potential of the vast audience our brand has acquired in Maryland over the past 18 years, WNST.net will be the dominant, honest voice in Maryland media by providing the “real” content of what’s happening in sports in our area.

We will deal with all of our listeners and sponsors with charity, benevolence, dignity and in the effort to educate and help sports fans in Baltimore better understand the big picture of sports so they can enjoy it even more.

We will be an advocate of all things Baltimore and Baltimore sports while keeping a keen “21st Century-oriented” approach to build a bridge between sports and its fans through our website, broadcasts and community activism.

Integrity in reporting and accuracy will be our calling card.

We will:

Educate fans

Serve our community

Promote Baltimore

Promote sports and how it shapes young people’s lives

Promote and support charitable endeavors

Help others make their businesses stronger via integrity-based marketing which will strengthen our community

Show Baltimore that we care as much about our hometown and our local sports as much as they do

Recognize that profitability is the key to survival for our partners, employees and sponsors

We’re not only “sports media” people here at WNST.net. We’re also fans — BIG fans.

If you’ve ever tuned in you know that WNST hosts are the “real deal.” Every host I have at WNST was a fan of Tom Davis and Vince Bagli and John Steadman and Charley Eckman before they got involved in the media side. We all had hosts, writers, commentators that we liked and disliked back in the 1970s and 1980s.

If WNST was originally dubbed, “The Station With Balls,” next week we’ll prove for sure that many of the other “trusted” sources in the marketplace are truly the old world/boys network media who are “ball-less” except for the fact that they carry the play-by-play of the ballclubs – or own the actual network — that no one listens to anymore and none of these media companies can figure out how to make money off of these broadcasts while they allow their “editorial” privilege to go down the drain like a useless infomercial of Baghdad Bob rhetoric and faux-sophistication.

You could say they give up their “balls” to buy other ones…

Sharpen up your Facebook statuses and your Twitter conversations and your sharing tabs because my insights are coming. And I hope to hear yours. Speak out! Tell us how we could be better!

If we suck, tell us! And tell us how to fix it!

Complain about our competitors! (Lord knows, I think most them suck, too!)

You don’t have to worry about any of them reading our site or survey because no one cares what little WNST has to say, right?

“They’ve only got 10 listeners.”

“Their radio signal is too weak.”

“They won’t attract the top-notch talent.”

“Two tin cans and a string.”

These were all direct quotes from The Sun – the dinosaur printed edition — over the years about WNST. Not on a message board. This was allegedly “responsible” journalism by staff writers from The Sun, who only seemed to call me for a quote when some idiot accused me of doing something inappropriate on some internet, toilet message board.

Potty talk about me on message boards are commonplace but assessments like the aforementioned in the biggest daily newspaper are very damaging to a small business but through the loyalty of our sponsors, listeners and now – users to our website – we have thrived amidst economic storm and a rapidly changing medium where the paradigms have been forever altered and no one in the “old boys club” is acknowledging it or recognizing it.

And it’s 2010 and now we’re the market leader because we’ve utilized this tool called the internet by delivering reliable, accurate, instant news, information and expertise in the palm of your hand whenever you want it. We’ve evolved far past being an AM radio station.

And we believe in free speech, not the blatant censorship for profit that our competitors have embraced and think you’re too stupid to recognize.

And we don’t plan on changing that at all!

Because if WNST.net is to be a true voice of the people – and it has always been a community-based company — quite frankly, our content and integrity and authority will speak for itself.

Your graduate class begins on Monday…see you bright and early!

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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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Ravens will sport a new look in ’09

Posted on 20 January 2009 by Drew Forrester

Where will we be this time NEXT year?  

The Ravens’ playoff run for the 2008 season hasn’t been over for 48 hours and they are already forging ahead at Owings Mills in preparation for 2009.

A suggested theme:  ”Let’s play one more game”.

After all, in 2008, the MAXIMUM amount of games a team could have played — 20.  The Ravens played 19.

If only they could have played one more game.

Maybe next year.

But, there will be a lot of action, a lot of news and a lot of changes next year in Baltimore.  Those changes are both obvious and subtle, but equally important.  Some might be changes for the better.  Some might not.  

We won’t know until this time next year.

The most glaring of the changes will be the departure of Baltimore’s long-time defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.  Rex was not only a fixture here, but he takes with him to New York the one intangible that every coach in any sport craves to own — his players enjoyed playing for him.

Forget about the money.  Forget the “contract year” stuff.  Dismiss styles, schemes, etc.  

Almost to a man in Owings Mills, the players played for Rex Ryan first and foremost.

He will be missed.  The players knew his departure was inevitable.  But that won’t make it any easier when training camp rolls around next July.  Will the new defensive coordinator command the same respect as Rex?  Only time will tell.

When a coach leaves, other’s follow.  Players look around the room and say, “that was MY guy…maybe the next coach won’t appreciate me the way Rex did.”  Some might head out of Baltimore with that thought in mind.  A few players have openly talked about Rex in New York and wondered aloud if perhaps their career trail might lead them to the Jets and a stint in the Big Apple.  

While the Rex decision didn’t fall at the feet of the Ravens, the Ray Lewis decision most certainly will be one they make on their clock.

It will go down as the hot-button topic of the off-season, without a doubt.

It appears as if Ozzie’s summer of ’08 gamble to let Ray play out his contract is going to come back to haunt Steve Bisciotti where it hurts the most – at the bank.  Ray kept his mouth shut all year and played football.  At a high-level.  And when Baltimore trotted out of the locker room on Sunday night in Pittsburgh, they took to the field in large part because of #52′s fearless competitive streak and his Hall-of-Fame performance in 2008.  

Ray deserves to get paid.  

Someone in the league WILL pay him.

It would be grossly unfair if it weren’t the Ravens.

But that’s THEIR decision now.  They have a variety of options.  They can re-sign Ray and give him some sort of staggering signing bonus in the vicinity of $20 million for a 4 or 5 year deal.  They can slap the franchise tag on him and extend him one more season – but Lewis will most likely bristle at that option since he’ll say he played 2008 “in good faith” and the franchise tag is looked upon by most players as a method the club uses to duck out of their obligation to reward a player.  They can also apply the little-used transition tag on Ray and allow him the chance to go out on the open market and secure his best deal – and then the Ravens can match it, and keep him, or let him wander off to (insert team here).

As Ray goes, so will the rest of the off-season.

Baltimore has a number of key players getting to roam around sniffing for a new deal.  If Ray signs, where does that leave Terrell Suggs?  What about Bart Scott?  Jim Leonhard?  Jason Brown?

Who is going to catch the football for Baltimore in 2008?  Isn’t it time for the franchise to make a dedicated commitment – like they did with the QB position last April – to the passing game by adding a couple of quality, reliable, wide receievers who can endure the tough AFC North?  It would appear that the triple threat of Mason-Clayton-DWilliams isn’t going to get the job done.  That’s not to say that one or two of those players can’t fill a role on next year’s team, but Baltimore needs an upgrade at the receiver position. No hard feelings.  

The secondary is in need of an overhaul and a move toward youth.  Perhaps no department on the team battled injuries like this year’s secondary and on the “heart meter”, it zooms past 10 and goes straight to the top.  But, as we saw Sunday night in Pittsburgh, you can have all the heart in the world but that doesn’t matter to Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes.  The Ravens need to add experience, speed and strength in the secondary.  Better ball hawks.  Better tacklers.  Better players.  That’s what they need back there if they want to beat the Steelers next year.  

George Kokinis will be heading off to Cleveland to take over as the Browns’ GM and the Ravens will lose a high-quality front office mind.  He’s a behind-the-scenes guy at Owings Mills that very few people know. I’ll sum up Kokinis for you in about 50 words.  Do you like Jim Leonhard as a player? Justin Bannan? Fabian Washington?  Those are three important parts of the ’08 team that were all signed off on by Kokinis and handed over to Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh.  Kokinis will be missed.

There’s little doubt that chemistry and personal affection for one another – to a man – had as much to do with Baltimore’s success in ’08 as any element of on-field play with perhaps the exception of the new quarterback from Delaware.  

There’s an old saying:  ”you can’t catch lightning in a bottle…twice.”

How will this team come together next year?  New people.  New personal agendas.  New philosophies.

It might be better, of course.  

But, it might not be.

Joe Flacco will be better.  So will Jared Gaither.  Most of the young players who played a role this year have plenty of upside.  It’s the team experienced corps of veterans who are starting to show the inevitable wear and tear.  But those veterans also comprise the heart and soul of the locker room.  Dan Wilcox is a lion and a player that every man in that locker room looks up to — and he might be moving on if the Ravens elect to not sign him to a new contract.  What happens if Ray Lewis doesn’t get rewarded like he believes he should? Who steps in for him and becomes the team’s beating heart?  

That’s why losing on Sunday was so damaging.

This team – this exact gathering of men – will not be back for a second go-round next season.

These chances don’t come along very often.  

And that’s why Sunday’s loss hurts.

But, teams lose coaches and players every year and they all stay in business and they all do their best to rebound and move on to the next challenge.

For the Ravens, though, the next challenge will come with different people in place.

We trusted the folks in charge of the challenge this year.

It will be hard to replace those that have departed or will move on in the next month or so.

Let’s hope we don’t learn a hard lesson in 2009.

2008 was just too much fun.

And, after all, we’re only asking for the team to play one more game next year.

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Stop worrying about what everyone is saying…

Posted on 12 January 2009 by Drew Forrester

Consider this “A Beginner’s Guide to dealing with critics”.

My second call on today’s edition of The Comcast Morning Show was from someone who wanted to talk about how the TV announcing team (Gumbel and Dierdorf) kept talking about the Titans and their bad luck on Saturday…while not giving the Ravens any credit.

Who cares?

I took another couple of e-mails early on from folks who were upset at things Bill Cowher said about the Ravens “run” during the Steelers/Chargers pre-game show on Sunday.

Who cares?

Seriously, why are we SO consumed with what the national media and broadcast teams say about the Ravens? 

We’re going to Pittsburgh.  Period.

A bunch of black and gold fans have reached out to me via e-mail to chide me about “the way” the Ravens won in Tennessee on Saturday.

“You guys wouldn’t have won if Chris Johnson would have played the whole game.”

You’re probably right about that.

“If you don’t get that play-clock call, you guys don’t win.”

You might be right about that, also.

But guess what, guys?  None of that matters.

It doesn’t matter what Greg Gumbel says.  It doesn’t matter what Bill Cowher thinks.  And it doesn’t matter that we MIGHT have lost if Chris Johnson would have played.

We’re going to Pittsburgh.

So, let’s stop bellyaching about what the media is saying or writing about us.

Let’s not worry about what everyone is saying about HOW we won on Saturday.

30 years from now when my boy Ethan is sitting around the fireplace talking to his two kids about the Ravens and their Super Bowl season of 2008, I can’t imagine he’s going to say, “You know, when we won the championship in ’08 the best player from the Titans didn’t play the second half.” 

Instead, he’ll just say, “The Ravens won the Super Bowl in ’08 with a rookie quarterback, a Hall of Fame linebacker and a rookie coach who put together a great staff.”

I doubt he’ll mention Chris Johnson or Joe Flacco’s play-clock violation.

It doesn’t matter.  Well, it matters in Tennessee. 

But, we’re in Baltimore.

And, we’re going to Pittsburgh.

So, let them say and write whatever they want all week.  Just agree with them, it’s easier that way.

We’re on our way to Tampa, with a quick stop-over in Pittsburgh.

Nothing anyone says can change that.

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Check out the cool purple videos with your football today

Posted on 21 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Like the rest of you, I’m monitoring all of the Sunday NFL action today, albeit running through an airport or two en route back to Baltimore from frigid Dallas. When we arrived here on Friday, it was 78 degrees. This morning it was 19 degrees. Right now, it’s about 34 degrees.

It’s amazing what a “pep in your step” we all get when the Ravens win a game like that. From what I’m hearing and feeling at home – via WNST.net and Facebook – I get the vibe that the city is jacked up for the holidays and next Sunday’s game against Jacksonville. (My wife is talking about busting out the purple rope lights!)

I spent most of the morning watching the “Miller Lite Purple Palace entries.” It’s AMAZING some of the stuff we’ve gotten for entries. Click here if you want to see all of the contestants. Feel free to comment here as well. We’ll have our three finalists selected (the WNST staff is feeding back) tomorrow morning.

Usually, on a Sunday like this we’d all have to be watching some of these snowy games with a rooting interest, cheerinf madly for a team that would help the Ravens’ situation. The truth this year? What difference does it make who wins today if the Ravens beat the Jaguars next week? The Ravens have no excuses and shouldn’t be concerned with “backing in” to the playoffs. So today is a bit voyeuristic. Just watching a few games — this Pittsburgh-Tennessee game looks enticing — and hoping to be entertained. And then you can select where you’d like the Ravens to go: New England, Miami or New York?

Right now, I’m checking outta Dallas and watching the CBS pregame show, where they’ve elected to do a whole segment on the goal line play from last week’s Pittsburgh game. They’re using “hyperzoom” technology and justifying the call by Walt Coleman (no doubt per the orders of Roger Goodell and Mike Perreira). Now, after beating Dallas, we get more clarity about the significance of the call. The Ravens, with a fourth-down stuff or Mike Tomlin’s choice to kick a field goal, might be in a position to have a first-round bye instead of prepping to travel on the road for good in 2009.

(Once again, we WILL be doing a Miller Lite Football Roadtrip to the Ravens’ first road game. Just drop me a note if you want to be on the “interest” list. Lots of possibilities and we’ll keep you in the loop on the site.)

For record, Dan Marino – Pittsburgh’ native son – thinks Coleman made the right call. Another reason to hate Pittsburgh: Marino!

When you think about it, if the Ravens win their next two games, maybe ‘yins will get a rematch at Heinz Field the second weekend of 2009. Hey, if you can’t dream a little today and in your mind find reasons that the Ravens can go on a tear, then why be a fan?

For the record, I’m pulling for the Jets as the Ravens’ opponent. I like the Ravens chances of going there and winning better than going to New England. Miami, too, would be a better matchup for us on the road and the weather would be better and the trip would be a helluva lot of fun. But there’s something gritty and “for my Pop” about smacking the Super Bowl III New York Jets in the mouth in the playoffs. Beating New York and competing in New York is always fun.

And that would be one helluva bus trip for the WNST crew.

Just my two cents…

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