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Post game thoughts

Posted on 31 March 2008 by caseywillett

So the O’s are off to the 08 season with a loss to the Rays. Jeremy Guthrie was solid for the first couple of inning, and then started to get hit hard. Today is about what I expect that you will see out of Guthrie for the season, not great, but not horrible. He will give you about 5 innings of work and have to hope that your bullpen can hold the other team down. Good news for the O’s today was the performance of Matt Albers. Dave Trembley spoke highly of him after the game and said they were impressed with the job that he did today.
 
Offensively for the O’s, they are just not going to be a team that is going to score a lot of runs. I think they are going to be a NL style team. They are going to have to hope for 3-5 runs a night and hope that it is enough to give their pitcher the support that he needs.
The 1-4 hitters today were 4 -13 with 2 RBI’s ( Millar), the 5 – 9 hitters were a combined 2-13, you don’t give your pitcher a chance to win when you do that. It was so bad that after Kevin Millar’s double in the first inning, no Orioles made it past first base.
 
Some other notes from today:
-          Aubrey Huff admitted that he said some stupid stuff when he went on his famous radio show this offseason and understands fans booing him. Admits that he would have booed to if he was a fan. Kevin Millar even admitted that he was booing Aubrey.
-          Dave Trembley said the fans have the right to do whatever they want to do as it relates to Aubrey Huff
-          Adam Jones said that the nerves he was expecting to have today were not there and that it all went away when the first ball was hit to him. He is trying to get use to the rubbery type substance that the warning track is made of, but says he does not see it being a problem.
-          Rick Kranitz the O’s new pitching coach was in the clubhouse talking with Jeremy Guthrie after the game and going over some of the things that he noticed.
-          Aubrey Huff and several of the other O’s said this is not the same Rays that have been playing in years past. Several of the hitters mentioned that Jamie Shields has some tremendous pitches and gets better as game goes on.
-          Today was the first time since 2000 that an Oriole did not hit a homerun on opening day. Can you guess who leads the O’s on opening day homeruns?
-          Today was the first Orioles home opener loss since 2000 when Mike Mussina suffered a 4-1 loss to the Indians
-          One down 80 more to go

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Jamal vs Willis

Posted on 10 January 2008 by raybachman

I am a Willis McGahee fan. I think the Ravens made the right move by letting Jamal walk and bringing in Willis. But, after looking at their numbers, did they make the right move?
The Ravens decided that Jamal Lewis ran his course here in Baltimore. I agreed with their decision along with probably all of the other Raven fans. The Ravens sent their 3rd round and 7th round pick in last year’s draft along with their 2008 3rd round pick for Willis McGahee.
Here are their 2007 rushing stats :
McGahee is 26 years old. He had 1,207 yds / 4.1avg / 7 tds.
Jamal is 28 years old. He had 1,304 yds / 4.4 avg / 9 tds.
McGahee was given a 5-year deal worth 40 million bucks with a 15 million dollar bonus.
Lewis signed a 3.5 million dollar contract and ended up earning 5 million total for the year after incentives.
I still think the Ravens made the right move by getting McGahee. I think Jamal needed a change of scenery and it looked like Jamal was wearing down here in Baltimore. What do you think? Who got the better end of the deal? The Ravens or the Browns?

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Free The Birds…See The Birds…just go!

Posted on 19 September 2007 by Drew Forrester

In a manner perhaps similar to the Orioles and their much-too-often case of “scoring block”, I’ve had a couple of days of “writer’s block.”  It’s not that I don’t want to write something here, because I do.

But, in all fairness, what’s pertinent and topical this week?  Donovan McNabb?  No thanks.  I talked about it this morning and feel like I covered everything I could cover on my end.  Donovan has been the focal point of several media-generated “blow-ups” over the years and, frankly, on occasion he’s had a valid point.  This time, he’s dead wrong.  Not much else to say, or write.  He’s wrong.  Moving on…

Nothing noteworthy coming out of Owings Mills quite yet.  Most fans are off the ledge after Sunday’s scare vs. the Jets and Billick hasn’t called for a pass on a 3rd and inches this week, so the rabid anti-Billick legion doesn’t have anything to sink their teeth into on that issue.

The Orioles?  Hell, what else can be said or written?  12-0 losers again last night.  Half the team has stopped playing hard because the other half of the club has quit.  Roberts wants out, Tejada wants out, and no one wants in.  No one that matters wants in, I should say.

Monday night is Free The Birds2 at Camden Yards.  I’m going.  I’m going because it’s the last “live” baseball game I’m going to see in 2007.  I was going BEFORE Nestor unveiled plans for FTB2.  This was going to be my night to go, relax, sit in any seat I want, try and count how many people are REALLY there (my official guess for Monday – butts in seats:  4,209) and, perhaps, stay for the entire 9 innings, which I almost never do when I go to a game and sit in the press box.  Edit:  Greg Bader, you should know – and I hope you’ve been keeping an accurate count – that I worked 17 home games this season.  That’s basically 20% of the home schedule.  I doubt that gets me a season media credential next year, but I don’t care.  I proved you wrong this year.  And that’s WITH a baby arriving the first week of August.  Feel free to text me an apology.  Or is your cell phone still inoperable?  You haven’t returned a call/text since May.  I assume it’s still out of service.

So, keeping in mind I get up every day at 4:30 am (and once earlier in the night for Ethan’s feeding and a rundown of the west coast baseball scores…he likes to know what’s going on in the pennant races), I might stay for all 9 innings on Monday and I might not.  I might leave once the O’s fall behind 6-0.  I might leave once they make their first error of the game.

I don’t know what I’m doing Monday night, but I’m going.

I’m not going in protest.

I’m going to show my respects.

I’m going because about six players on the team have actually cared enough this year to put out a reasonably professional effort night in and night out.

I’m really hoping those six guys are GONE next year, because they don’t deserve to suffer with this losing anymore.

I’m going on Monday because it’s Fall.  And crisp air is the PERFECT weather for baseball, with all due respect to 97 and sunny with no breeze.  Baseball – the kind that matters – was meant to be played in September and October.

Every single one of you reading this hasn’t been to a September baseball game in Baltimore that mattered since 1997.

1997.

Yes, it’s been a long time.

So Monday night I’ll play make believe and close my eyes and pretend there are 42,000 there instead of 4,200.

I’ll close my eyes and pretend that Nick Markakis’ 3-run homer in the 8th inning gives the O’s a 5-3 lead and puts them three outs away from clinching the division title.

I’ll close my eyes and see the Royals out there with “KANSAS CITY” proudly emblazoned on their away jerseys.

Check that – the Royals ARE proud of KANSAS CITY.  That’s not a dream.  They really do have that on their away jerseys.

I’ll sit back, breathe in the fresh, Fall air, and start trying to figure out who I’m going to call for playoff tickets once the O’s clinch the division.

Monday night will be a night for dreaming.

It wasn’t so long ago that I didn’t have to dream about all of that stuff I wrote about above.

The Orioles made it all a reality.

These days, the reality they’ve made for us isn’t a dream.  It’s a nightmare.

They were supposed to fix it this year.  Come to think of it, they were supposed to fix it LAST year.  And the year before that.  And I’m thinking back in ’04 they promised us all it would get better.

I’m going out on Monday night to remind them – in my own, personal way – that I know that they know that I know that they know they promised us all it would get better – and that it hasn’t gotten any better.  In fact, it’s worse now than ever before.

I know it.

I’m going out there on Monday just to say that.  “Here I am…me and 4,200 other lunatics…watching a game that doesn’t matter again…just wanted you to know I’m not letting you guys off the hook.  Fix this franchise.  Thank you.”

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Faithful O’s fans seeing the REAL picture now?

Posted on 13 September 2007 by Drew Forrester

I had three interesting e-mails in my inbox today when I first arrived at WNST to prepare for the Comcast Morning Show.  One was from a frequent contributor, Bruce, who chastised me for NOT pounding on the O’s more over the last month or so, during this historically inept portion of the ’07 season.  For the uninitiated, right before Ravens training camp, with another losing baseball season on the horizon and enough aggravation since April to last me TWO seasons, I confessed that I was going to reduce my focus on the O’s and concentrate more on the Ravens and their upcoming season.  Naturally, the 30-3 walloping and the home sweep to Tampa Bay kept me talking O’s baseball — and even though I really didn’t want to follow what was going on, the embarrassing crowds, half-assed efforts by some of the players and the absolute rock-bottom results left me no option but to at least MENTION the team every day.  But, I’ll admit, I intentionally took it easy on them throughout August.   Why?  Well (and I even wrote this in a blog last month), I honestly started to feel sorry for them.  There are people on that team and in that organization who do NOT deserve to be affiliated with this fiasco.  And, with that in mind, I eased off the gas pedal a little bit.

And today, Bruce called me out for it.  He wrote, “Drew, you’ve become the voice of the people in this city who completely understand that what has happened to this organization is an outrage.  You need to be MORE vocal, not LESS vocal.  You know what’s going on down at the stadium is wrong.  YOU KNOW IT!  Speak out on it.”  There was more, but that was the general theme.

And he’s right, I guess.  I just lost my energy for pointing out the obvious.  And, in all reality, the team really doesn’t care what the fans think – and even though I’m on the air every day, I’m still a fan.  But they don’t care what I think, or what YOU think, or what Joe in Parkville thinks, or what Tom in Lutherville thinks or what anyone else thinks.  And that’s the truth.

The second e-mail I opened had a subject line of this:  FINALLY.

I opened it up.  It read, very simply:  “Drew, last night finished me off.  18-6…Tejada and Roberts not even trying to make major league plays.  A pitcher – Rocky Cherry – who has no business pitching in the majors.  And a manager who disgraced his profession with that embarrassing tirade aimed at the umpires.  I can’t take it anymore.  I have two games left to use in my 13-game plan.  I think I’ll just donate them to charity and pack it in for the season.”

And finally, Mark e-mailed me with this information:  “Drew, don’t know if you’ve had the chance to read Orioles Hangout today, but there’s a thread on the site started by Dipper9 (and there was a link attached) that you really need to read and, maybe, use on the air.  I’m a regular on O’s Hangout and this guy Dipper9 can’t stand you or WNST.  He’s always crushing you guys about how negative you all are and how none of you really care about the organization and how you don’t speak for the fans.  He always talks about how much he dislikes you.  Well, read the link I’ve provided.  Seems like Dipper9 might have seen the light last night at the stadium.”

So, I read the link (here it is…read it yourself…it’s the very first post of the thread) and found it so interesting that I actually talked about it on the air.  Orioles Hangout is a web-site that is generally dedicated to the Orioles franchise, although there is some general baseball content on the site as well.  The O’s Hangout regulars are probably the last of a dying breed in Baltimore.  The O’s could lose, well, 30-3, and someone on the site would start a thread that would read:  “Markakis goes 4-for-5 in 30-3 defeat” and 39 people would respond to that by commenting about how the team “ran into some bad luck tonight” or “things are going to get better real soon”, etc.  You get the picture.  It’s where most of the apologists gather to laud the team for the two good things they do each week and ignore the drastically diminishing attendance at OPACY, the race for last place with the Devil Rays, the club’s continued refusal to do the right thing and put BALTIMORE on the road jerseys and, overall, anything contributed by a “newbie” that is considered negative gets met with great venom by the regulars who don’t want to face the truth.

I assume, by the way, that virtually every major league sports franchise has an “O’s Hangout” type site.  There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with Orioles Hangout or any other team-related site that serves as a quasi promotional vehicle for any organization.  In fact, the people who regularly post at O’s Hangout and still think the franchise is headed in the right direction deserve a medal of some kind from the club.  Really, they do.  Most of us, or at least the 500,000 or so who no longer go to the games, aren’t buying it anymore.

So Dipper9 went to last night’s game and finally saw the light.  5,000 people IN THE STANDS (15,000 announced), half the team NOT trying, a pitching staff that probaby couldn’t strike out Willie Mays Hayes from the movie Major League and a manager who has been so unfairly humiliated with this roster of rag-a-muffins he’s been given that he finally blew his top last night in one of the most shameful displays of anger we’ve seen in Baltimore in 20 years.

Three e-mails changed my morning.  They each served to remind me that we at WNST have been carrying a blazing torch in Baltimore for the last few years as we try to get the team to own up to their misgivings and strive to once again give us an organization and an on-field product we can all be proud of.  Steroids, a half-lunatic pitcher who throws at people anytime the going gets tough, a 27-run loss, 18 defeats in 21 games, a 10th straight losing season and – most importantly – fewer people IN THE SEATS than in any previous season at OPACY…you can be the most ardent O’s fan out there and I think, in your heart of hearts, you can’t possibly be proud of anything you’ve seen out there since opening day (Bedard and Markakis notwithstanding).

Last night, even Dipper9 had to face the stark reality that the remainder of 2007 might dawn a new O’s marketing slogan:  “You really don’t wanna be here for this…”

We all deserve better.  Especially the regulars at Orioles Hangout who have defended the franchise throughout this “decade of despair”.

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O’s good deeds are going unheard

Posted on 22 August 2007 by Drew Forrester

A couple of weeks back, Rick Maese of The Sun wrote a piece on the Orioles that documented their new community relations efforts and a program called OriolesREACH.  The article by Maese essentially indicated that the Orioles are going to be more aggressive with their out-bound PR – meaning they’ll now be a little bit more vocal when it comes to telling everyone in the community about the good work being done by their players and the organization in general.  Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with that – the Ravens have perfected the art of self-promotion over the years and the media, in turn, does a fair bit of “back rub” coverage of Ravens players who are out and about in the community each week during the football season.  But it’s good for the community to see these athletes “giving back”…it validates that they realize their lifestyle and athlete status in town doesn’t make them any better or any more gifted than the rest of us…they just happen to play football, baseball, etc. for a living.

Fast forward to this week.  I received – and I can’t help but think it might have been an accident that the O’s PR staff forwarded me the information – a detailed OriolesREACH press release that chronicled all of the team’s community efforts for the next 7 days.  One of the player-driven events is a fund-raiser being held by Brian Roberts next Sunday to benefit the University of Maryland Medical Center.  As most of you know, I run the WNST charity golf outing each spring and I have first-hand knowledge of the work that goes into these kind of one-day fund-raising events and I also know how important it is to “get the word out” – after all, the more people who know about your event, the better chance you have of raising MORE money.

I was particularly intrigued by Roberts’ fund-raiser, although there were several other OriolesREACH programs going on this week that deserved attention as well.  To that end, I contacted the O’s PR department on Monday and asked if one of their PR/Community Relations representatives would like to come on my show and talk about OriolesREACH and, the events going on this week.  Additionally, in an effort to help Roberts sell as many of his $200 per-person tickets as possible, I invited him on the show (going through the PR department to request that appearance) and figured, with the team in town this week, it might be a convenient time for Roberts to get up at 9:00 am one day and spend 15-20 minutes with me on the phone to discuss his very worthy fund-raiser.

That e-mail request went out at noon on Monday.  It’s now 8:45 pm on Tuesday.  I’ve taken the liberty of writing the response I’ve received from the Orioles in the space below.  Here it is:

(                        )

No reply.

My first thought is this:  I wonder how pissed off Brian Roberts would be if he found out the team didn’t even notify him that the only local morning drive sports talk show in town gave him an open invitation to call-in at some point this week and promote the fund-raiser he’s running on Sunday night?

As a follow up to that question, if anyone out there wants to show Brian this and let him know he has an open invitation to come on the show this week, feel free to do so.  Brian, call me at 410-481-1570 anytime between 6a-10a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and you can “own” the next 20 minutes.  I want to help you promote your worthwhile event.

The team’s failure to even return my e-mail is bothersome enough, but what kind of message are they sending to their players when they won’t even allow me or anyone at WNST to help promote what they’re doing in the community?

Somewhere, one of you reading this will say, “Why should the Orioles help YOU, and YOUR station, Drew?  Everyone in town knows there’s a battle going on between the Orioles and WNST.”

To which I would answer:  “We’re trying to help THEM.  We’re extending the olive branch.  We’d like to promote THEIR good deeds.”

The OriolesREACH information that I saw on Monday looks to me to be a very well developed program that extends the club into the community in a manner we should (and would) be proud of.

I assume they sent me the press release because they WANT me to talk about it on the air, right?  I mean, honestly, is there any other reason why they sent it out?  I know when I sent out community relations information during my days as the P.R. Director of the Blast that I did so with the hope that members of the media would find it worthy of on-air exposure.

So, why send it if you’re not going to allow me to talk about it?  Why tell me about this great event Brian Roberts is hosting and then not allow Brian to come on and promote it to the community?  Why tell me that Erik Bedard is going to be out on the town signing autographs on Thursday, then refuse to have one of your P.R. people come on the show to tell YOU where he’s going to be?

A lot of people think WNST has been too heavy handed with the Orioles over the last couple of years.

Well, at some point, – and I’m speaking for myself here – I’d like to see WNST and the Orioles have the same kind of relationship that the station has with the Ravens.  We cover the games, allow listener feedback on the good, the bad and the ugly and also serve as an outlet for the team’s efforts in the community that can only serve to bring us all together to be proud of our sports heritage in Baltimore.

So, because I would like to see WNST and the Orioles forge a new, better relationship, I offered them the opportunity to promote their OriolesREACH program and I also wanted to help their star player sell tickets to his fund-raiser this Sunday.

Sadly, WNST appears like we’re the only ones trying to improve the relationship.

I hope Brian’s event goes well.

I only wish more of you knew about it.

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Mark my words — this weekend will…

Posted on 13 August 2007 by Drew Forrester

…stick with the O’s for a while.

And it will stick with them for a variety of reasons.

First, of course, they beat the Red Sox twice.  Well, I guess it would be fair to say they didn’t really beat the RED SOX twice…rather, Eric Gagne lost a couple of games for Boston.  Hey, they signed the guy…what’s the old saying?  “Caveat Emptor” — let the buyer beware.  I think Baby Ethan might throw harder than Gagne does now.  Wow…they thought he was going to get them over the top come playoff time?  “Holy-undependable, Batman”…how quickly Gagne has become a liability.

Anyway, those two wins – regardless of how they were achieved – were good for the O’s.  A 6-3 mark against the Yanks so far this season and a couple of triumphs over the best team in baseball are proof that “on any given day”, the Birds can compete.

But this weekend will stick with the Orioles for other reasons as well.

The post-game bitch sessions from Brian Roberts and Dave Trembley after Friday’s game showed that the engineers of the ON-FIELD product are taking notice of the OFF-FIELD efforts.  And they’re not happy about it.  Roberts and Trembley conveniently tried to blame the fans, of course, but in their heart of hearts, they both know who’s to blame.  And it’s NOT Baltimore baseball fans.

This weekend also represented a missed opportunity for the club to capitalize on the positive home-town P.R. that could have been generated with the announcement of a Matt Wieters signing.  Remember how the Yankees announced Clemens’ return this past May?

They waited until they had a home game…and then waited until the 7th inning…and then they allowed Roger to address the crowd.  The place went wild…fans appreciated the way the announcement was made…and everyone lived happily ever after.

The O’s should have ended this Wieters negotiation by Friday, had the kid in here on Saturday and did a two-day “Wieters Dog and Pony Show” before sending him out 1-70 west to Frederick for the next four weeks.

They didn’t sign him, of course.  Now, IF they were talking to the media (and telling the truth), you’d hear words like “slotting” and “embargos” and “protocol” from the O’s brass.  They’d want to convince you that they have to follow a certain set of strict rules in signing Wieters and announcing it.  Actually, the league generally approves EVERY announcement a team wants to make with regard to their draft pick…they just want to make sure the contract falls within the parameters of the standard player agreement so that no one player (particularly a rookie) gets to shape his agreement in a manner that might upset the standardization of the rookie contract.  Every agent wants HIS player to be the special-case guy…the player who gets the guaranteed September call-up…or the whopping signing bonus…etc.

They didn’t sign Wieters yet for only one reason:  Money.  Their inability to announce Wieters this weekend had nothing at all to do with slotting or protocol.  They didn’t announce his signing because they don’t yet have a deal and the deadline is August 15.

How sad is that?  Here’s a club with a payroll of $85 million this year and a TV network that generates about $96 million in revenue and another $50 million in ticket sales and they’re going to haggle over a million bucks with a kid who could help them turn their franchise around if he’s all he’s cracked up to be.  Boy, talking about getting your employment off to a good start, huh?  The kid wants to come to work and his employer would rather have him sit out in the lobby while they continue to review his resume.  Silly, if you ask me.

Lastly, I was galvanized by the Roberts-Trembley tissue-fest on Friday night.  And by the Orioles play over the weekend against an obviously superior Boston team.

I’m sure the team doesn’t care if I’m “re-energized”, but I am.  There are times when I find some of their blunders so puzzling that I laugh, then say, “why do I even care about that team anymore?”.  But, just when I’m thinking it might be time to give-up and NEVER again talk about their civic duty to the fans of Baltimore, or their responsibility to the fiscal growth of downtown Baltimore, or re-storing BALTIMORE to the road jerseys…something happens and I get red-bulled-up and say, “This is still a fight worth fighting…”

All I want is for the club to treat the fans the right way.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Just show the fans of BALTIMORE that you appreciate them…it’s been a long time since that kind of respect was on display from the ballclub.

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Roberts and Trembley have a right to be mad…

Posted on 12 August 2007 by Drew Forrester

Now…it’s starting to get good.

For once, WNST isn’t being called on the carpet for being “the bad guy” or the “sh*t stirrer”.

Last night, Brian Roberts and manager Dave Trembley broke out their straws and did ALL the stirring necessary.

And guess what?  They both have a right to be mad.

The problem?  Their post-game tirades following Friday’s game with the Red Sox were directed at the wrong people.

I agree with Roberts.  Having all those Boston fans invade OPACY is “getting old”.  You’re right about that, BRob.  But if you think that’s the people of BALTIMORE’S fault, you’re mistaken, bro.  That’s YOUR EMPLOYER’S fault.

And for Dave Trembley to say, “shame on those people that left early”…well, hold on a second there skipper while I get myself ready to respond to that.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Are you kidding me, Dave?  Your team (the one you inherited) has dropped about a dozen or so games precisely like the one you nearly squandered on Friday night before Eric Gagne and his 87mph fast ball gift wrapped the O’s a shocking win.  Do you realize that?  The people who left early did so because they’ve seen that act so many times this year they’ve got all the lines memorized.

“Shame on those people that left early?”

How about this, Dave?  “Thanks to the 25,000 Orioles fans who DID show up tonight, otherwise there would have been 25,000 Boston fans in the place and about 6,000 O’s supporters.”

Hey Dave, ponder this:

Shame on the Orioles for putting the fans through 10 straight losing seasons.  Shame on the Orioles for not signing Vlad Guerrero a few years back.  Shame on the O’s for hiring Lee Mazzilli.  Shame on the O’s for not having Baltimore on the road jerseys.  Shame on the O’s for not honoring the ’66 World Series team.  Shame on the O’s for signing Deivi Cruz, Rick Hellling, Omar Daal, David Segui and passing them off to the fans as “players who are going to help us win.”

Shall I go on?

I feel bad for Roberts, actually, because he’s one of the few guys on the team who will be out somewhere in the city tomorrow morning having a coffee and a bagel…he’ll have to see all those Boston fans wandering around the Inner Harbor again before they take over the ballpark one more time.  Roberts is a guy who puts his best effort out there every night and I’m sure it pisses him off to no end to see Wily Mo Pena get a freakin’ standing ovation after his key 8th inning hit on Friday night.

But Roberts has ZERO business being angry with the fans who didn’t show up on Friday and allowed the Red Sox faithful to turn the place into Fenway Park South.  I’ve never heard Brian complain on a Tuesday night in May when 9,000 are in OPACY to watch the O’s and Blue Jays, for example.  I get it now…it’s better to have 35,000 empty seats and NONE of the other team’s fans in the park than to have NO EMPTY SEATS and 25,000 of the other team’s fans on hand?  OK…I might buy that players-only-logic, since Brian gets his however-many-millions no matter what the crowds are in Baltimore.

But for Roberts and Trembley to call out the fans last night…wow…talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

I’ve got a suggestion for Trembley and Roberts.  Go to the powers-that-be in The Warehouse on Monday and ask THEM when the crowds are going to start coming back to the ballpark.

Don’t ask the fans when THEY are coming back.  Ask the team when they’re going to try and re-connect with the city.

I’ve got an idea for you, BRob.  Ask Communications Director Greg Bader if you can stop by the WNST studios sometime in the next week or so and do a couple of hours of radio with me, Haynie, Long or Popovec.  Tell Greg you’d like to take some calls from “the fans” and see if you can figure out for yourself why people aren’t coming.  Go ahead, ask Greg Bader that question.

As for Trembley, I’d ask your front office execs which #2 free-agent pitcher they’re going to fetch for you in the off-season.  I’d start quizzing them NOW…”hey guys, we need a couple of big bats in the off-season…who we going after?”  You’ve been in baseball a long time, Dave…stop by the marketing offices or poke your head in the lunch room while John Angelos is having his chicken salad sandwich and ask – nicely of course – “hey, gang, how come we eschew what is basically a long-time baseball tradition and don’t have BALTIMORE on our road jerseys?”.  You’ll get a bunch of big marketing buzz words like “branding” and “regionalization” and “awareness” – none of which will make any sense to you since you’re “just” a baseball guy and you know the word “BALTIMORE” has to be on the front of the team’s road uniforms, just like the rest of us know it as well.

I’m here to say that what happened on Friday night is good.

For a long time now, a lot of people in town have been openly critical of the club’s marketing, PR and ticketing efforts and most of those folks (I’m one of them) have been labeled, “self-promoters”, “publicity-stunt seekers”, “fair weather fans” and “negative”.

For once, the people ON THE FIELD are starting to see what’s wrong OFF THE FIELD.

When I say things are wrong off the field, I’m just being “negative”.  When Roberts or Trembley notice the same things I notice, they’re lauded for their honesty.

It doesn’t matter how it happens, but the organization has to figure out that they either MUST get this franchise fixed – and that goes for ON and OFF the field – or they’ll have no one in the ballpark in 2-3 years.

Once the in-fighting begins among your own, you know the problem has reached new heights.

I laughed like hell when I heard Roberts and Trembley speak after Friday’s game.

Finally, some new voices — singing the same old tune.

Music to my ears…

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O’s can do the right thing this weekend…

Posted on 10 August 2007 by Drew Forrester

…now the only question that remains:  Will they?

The deadline is rapidly approaching for the Orioles to sign their 2007 1st round draft pick, catcher-wonder-boy Matt Wieters.

The deal must be done on or before August 15.

Wieters is – and this is a thought echoed by virtually every reputable major league scout – a virtual “can’t miss” prospect.  How the Orioles stumbled upon him and actually made the RIGHT pick for once is mysterious, but they now have the chance to get him in the fold and help solidify the future of the catching position in Baltimore (oops…I meant to write: the catching position in the Middle Atlantic region – don’t want to offend any of you reading this in Smyrna, DE or Fairfax, VA).

So, that brings us to this weekend.

Here it is, nearly mid-August and once again, the O’s are an afterthought in the American League East.  To that end, football season has started here in Baltimore (oops, I mean, “the region”) and it was just a week ago that an announced crowd of 25,000 wandered out to steamy M&T Bank Stadium to watch the Ravens and Redskins play what basically amounted to a 2-hour session of flag football.  The Orioles can’t draw 25,000 live bodies for two weeknight games in a row and the football team had 25,000 or so in the stadium in 100 degree heat to watch a glorified two-team practice session.  My point?  Football is upon us - and another season of disappointing baseball is winding down.

This weekend, though…the Orioles could steal some of the pigskin spotlight AND, at the same time, reward their fans for hanging in there with them through this “decade of despair”.

I know the Birds don’t take well to ideas that originate on WNST – but this is a directive they should absolutely follow at some point this Saturday or Sunday.

SIGN MATT WIETERS RIGHT NOW AND GET HIM TO THE PITCHER’S MOUND TO THROW OUT THE FIRST PITCH IN ONE OF THIS WEEKEND’S HOME GAMES.

That IS a directive.  Do it.  Get it done.  For once, think about the FANS first and the money and/or your pride second.

We are all aware that the club has to deal with Scott Boras in the Wieters negotiations.  And that means, like it or not, “the kid” is gonna win the fight.

He wants $10 million to sign.  EVERYONE in baseball knows that is his number.  He’s a bonafide future All-Star, if all the experts are right.

The Orioles have been losing for 10 years.  No free agents want to come here.  The fan base has dwindled down to “family and friends” over the last six years.

Let’s see – who has the leverage?  The O’s?  Or Matt Wieters?

Hmmm…would the answer be, “Matt Wieters”?  Yep, it would.

Give him the money.  Stop pussy-footing around over the $500k or whatever it is that you’re haggling over…and just give Wieters the money, have him throw out the first pitch on Saturday or Sunday, and show the fans you really ARE worried about winning and losing.

And, that’s winning and losing ON THE FIELD.

Sure, if they cave in and give him the $10 mil, they’ll feel like losers at the bargaining table.  Well, that’s the price you pay for losing ten straight seasons.

Here’s the funniest part of the whole thing:  The Orioles ARE going to sign Matt Wieters.  And they ARE going to give him $10 million to sign.  That IS going to happen either on or before August 15.

So, given that, why on earth wouldn’t they just get him signed right now and let him stroll out there to the pitcher’s mound with his chest puffed out and his wallet stuffed with money on Sunday and toss a ball to Paul Bako (you know he’ll be behind the plate on Sunday)?  Don’t let the team head off to New York next week and then sign Wieters at the 11th hour next Wednesday and lose the chance to show him off to the faithful THIS weekend.  Sign him EARLY…give in a little…hell, the fans have been giving in since 1998 or so…the team needs to give in a little and understand it’s time they take advantage of the very rare positive PR chances they’re presented with and act on them.

I know the crowds this weekend will look more like Fenway Park at Camden Yards than Oriole Park at Camden Yards and that’s even more of a reason to pull off this signing-stunt.  Let the Red Sox faithful sit there for 10 minutes and soak in the fact that the team is once again SERIOUS about competing in the American League East.  Matt Wieters is one of the first steps they can take to proving that point to the fans both in Baltimore and Boston.

The spotlight is once again on the Orioles.  Will they do the RIGHT thing this weekend and get this done in front of the hometown faithful?

If they care about their fans, they will.

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NEWS ALERT!! O’s are promoting again…

Posted on 09 August 2007 by Drew Forrester

First of all, on behalf of Joanne and Ethan, I offer our thanks to all of you who sent well wishes after the birth of our baby boy on Tuesday afternoon.  Ethan is doing well (and so is Joanne), although he started crying uncontrollably last night right about the time Rob Bell came in to pitch in that loss to the Mariners.  Poor little fella…he’s been on this planet nearly two full days and he hasn’t seen the hometown team win a game yet.  lol

Now…did any of you find it INCREDIBLY conflicting to see the Orioles and, in specific, Communications Director Greg Bader, promoting themselves in Wednesday’s edition of The Sun?  Here’s the story, if you didn’t see it, written by columnist Rick Maese.  The content of the column wasn’t the issue – after all, it IS encouraging to see the Orioles doing good work in the community…I think we can all agree on that.  They SHOULD be inviting wounded soldiers to the games at OPACY.  They SHOULD be donating money to local charities.  They SHOULD be giving away tickets to worthwhile organizations like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, P.A.L., etc.

What was conflicting, you ask?  How about the fact that Greg Bader – and virtually every other top executive with the club – has disappeared more than David Copperfield over the last four months or so.  Seriously, I thought Bader was on a 3-month Peace Corps mission – it’s been THAT long since he’s returned an e-mail, a phone call, a text message, etc.

So, when a radio station in town (and this is NOT a WNST-only problem…the O’s are dodging EVERY media outlet in town except for CBS Radio and MASN) wants to allow the fans to ask “hard questions” of Andy MacPhail, or Mike Flanagan, or, even, Greg Bader, we don’t get that opportunity.  But, when the team NEEDS the media to help push THEIR agenda, suddenly Bader appears out of nowhere and he’s a quote-machine, talking about how the team is stepping up its efforts in the community by bringing wounded soldiers to baseball games, giving away free tickets to kids, etc.

And, again, all of those charity endeavors developed by the Orioles are WORTHWHILE EFFORTS…but when is the team going to do something for THE FANS?

When do THE FANS get to have a say?  When do THE FANS get to ask questions?  When will the team take some time to show THE FANS that they care about them?

Now, before any of you say, “Drew, wait just a sec…they have had a couple of Q&A sessions at the ESPN Zone this year and those were done specifically to give fans a chance to ask questions to front office execs” — let me remind you of a few things.  a) the softball questions lobbed in at those staged-meet-the-front-office gatherings registered about 11mph on the radar gun.  King Eddie Feigner threw softballs harder than those questions at the Glen Burnie Carnival back in 1980.  b) about 30 people showed up at those ESPN Zone shin-digs…I’d hardly consider those 30 to be representative of the 500,000 or so who aren’t going to the games anymore, do you?

And, despite what they think (and this is NOT a shot at the on-air people at CBS Radio) in The Warehouse, not every single radio in town is tuned to WJFK/WHFS anytime an O’s exec is on the air there for a question and answer segment with the listening audience. There are people in town who actually listen to WBAL, WPOC, WLIF, WCBM and, gasp!, even WNST.  Keeping O’s execs OFF of those stations – and away from COMCAST SportsNet – is merely serving to expose them as being afraid to deal with their paying customers.

Lastly, if ANY of you out there think this “policy” of their’s (not having anyone from their station on at WNST, for example) is a smart way to do business, answer THIS question for me.  How many other teams in professional sports have a similar edict in which they don’t allow their employees to spread themselves out to virtually every media entity in town and, thereby, gain as much promotional exposure as humanly possible?  If you answered, “ZERO”, you’re a winner.

That’s why Wednesday’s article was so conflicting.

How come it’s OK for Greg Bader to speak with The Sun when HE has an agenda to share and decides the best way to do that is through the media?  But it’s NOT OK for Bader to allow any of the front office execs to let the fans go through the media to ask the Orioles the hard questions that the paying customers have the right to ask?

Conflicting?  Absolutely.

But, as I’ve said all along, it’s the new “Oriole Way”.

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A tale of two teams

Posted on 02 August 2007 by Drew Forrester

Although I’m going to analyze the way the Ravens AND the Orioles handle the “communications” with the fans/media, I’m really targeting the football team, for the most part.  The baseball team, as you’ll figure out, is so far behind the only thing left for them to do is take a refresher course – or two…or three.

Today was an interesting day.  For starters, Ravens Asst. Offensive Line Coach Greg Roman appeared on The Comcast Morning Show with me (via phone) around 7:30 am.  He spent nearly 15 minutes with me – mind you he was preparing for an 8:00 am meeting and was just about to embark on another 14-hour work-day – discussing training camp, personnel, etc.  It was, to the fans listening who crave that type of in-depth football information, a great opportunity to get their early-morning Ravens fix from someone on the inside…a member of the coaching staff.

Driving out to Westminster a little before noon today, I heard WNST’s Bob Haynie interviewing Haloti Ngata as he stepped off the practice field.  I caught a few minutes of Mark Viviano’s show on ‘JFK and I heard Mark chatting with Rick Neuheisel, Ravens offensive coordinator.

Get the picture?

The Ravens have mastered the art of “communicating” with their fans – and they do it through the media.  Sure, they have an obligation to their flagship station, WBAL/98 Rock, and those two stations most certainly get perks that WNST, WJFK, WCBM, WPOC, etc. don’t get.

But the Ravens NEVER restrict any member of their organization from talking with the media and they certainly go above and beyond the call of duty to actually ASSIST the radio and TV stations with as many interviews that are practical on a day-to-day basis.

Rex Ryan does his “Rex Ryan Report” every Monday morning with me during the football season.  Players have shows on three or four different radio stations in town.  Brian Billick was on my show last Friday morning.  I assume, sometime soon, he’ll sit down with someone over at WJFK.

All of this “open-door” stuff is the way you’re supposed to do it.

The baseball team?  Well, their idea of media relations is to only allow their players and executives on one radio station and one TV station (for any kind of “in-depth” discussion).  They still allow some of their personnel to do game-night “live shots” at the ballpark when they need to sell tickets, but those are essentially “back rubs” and nothing more.

Andy MacPhail has been on the job 6 weeks now and he hasn’t appeared on WNST, WBAL, WPOC, WCBM, WMIX – and the list goes on and on.  Eric DeCosta of the Ravens has been on more stations in the last 6 days than MacPhail’s been on in 6 weeks.  And that’s NOT MacPhail’s fault, of course.  Someone’s handing him the rules and he’s abiding by them.

Players?   They appear NO WHERE on the air – in town.  Except for the flagship station(s), of course.  The Manager?  I’d love to have 30 minutes with him…mostly to applaud him for the way he’s re-constructed the locker room and got his team to play as a team for the first time in a long time.  Can’t have him, though.  Neither can anyone else…except the flagship.

All that does is keep Orioles fans from getting information.

They (the O’s) will say, “Our fans can still get all the information they need by tuning into our flagship station where we will provide them with up-to-the-minute detailed news on the Orioles franchise.”

How come the Ravens don’t do that?

Funny, and I’ll be careful here, but it’s VERY important for all of you to know this in the matter of full disclosure.  The Ravens and CBS Radio have been embroiled in a fairly lengthy “business/off the field” battle for the better part of 15 months now.  No use getting into the ugly details, but let’s just say that CBS has gone out of their way to make life EXTREMELY difficult for the Ravens.

In fact, oddly enough, I’d liken it to the way the Orioles have tried to make life difficult for WNST over the last 10 months or so.

They’re both “off the field” battles.  The O’s battling WNST because of what we stand for and our position against their business practices and the Ravens are battling CBS Radio because of their conflicting business practices.

Yet – and this is VERY important to note – the Ravens STILL allow their players, coaches, etc. to appear on talk shows at CBS Radio owned WJFK.  As I mentioned, Rick Neuheisel was on with Mark Viviano today.  Several Ravens players have shows on WJFK during the season.  The Ravens – while battling the higher-ups at CBS Radio – still understand that Viviano, Yaffe, Marks, etc. deserve to be treated with the same fairness as the other radio stations in town.  After all, the Ravens realize that Viviano, Yaffe and Marks have nothing at all to do with the pissing match “at the top” between CBS and the football team.

If only the people “at the top” of the Orioles could see how destructive their actions have become.

People in town – members of the media, me included – WOULD LOVE TO TALK WITH ORIOLES OFFICIALS about the team, the season, etc.

Rather than follow the Ravens highly-successful “open-door” policy – where everyone in the media gets access to virtually everyone in the organization - the Orioles seem to think their method is the more suitable one to employ.

25,000 empty seats per-night tell me they’re doing it wrong.

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