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Bisciotti vs. Angelos — Oh, those meddling owners of Baltimore sports teams…

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Bisciotti vs. Angelos — Oh, those meddling owners of Baltimore sports teams…

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Unlike most sportswriters and “journalists” around Baltimore, when you begin one of my masterpieces on sports ownership and civic expectations, at least you know where I stand. As a lifelong fan of the Colts, Orioles, Bullets/Wizards, Capitals and Ravens, it’s been my experience that nothing affects my fan experience more than who currently owns these franchises.

I have made it my life’s work via owning WNST.net to study these sports owners and how these local teams operate, function, thrive and compete.

And oft-times, checking their sobriety level and true intentions, goals and desires for their ownership becomes a guiding force for their popularity, success and profit. Somewhere deep inside of every Bob Irsay, Abe Pollin or Edward Bennett Williams, there’s a hunger for something intangible that their millions of dollars of U.S. currency can’t really buy – not that feeding their egos and wallets simultaneously would be turned down by any of these men.

But they want to be heroes. They want to be winners in a way that no court case or big sale or transaction can be felt in the traditional business world. They’re sportsmen. They want to save the city. They want to have that “one moment in time” feeling of watching the confetti drop while they toast a championship and host a ticker tape parade. Billy Joel once sang about them in a song called “Big Shot.”

No one associated with big-league sports ever lost money owning a team in Baltimore, with or without championships or competitive teams. The Colts, Orioles, Ravens all sold for more than their original purchase price. So, making money comes with the territory, even if you wreck the franchise for the fanbase, as has been witnessed here with Peter Angelos since 1993.

But I’ll also say this much: I also personally know some very good, civic-minded people who lost hundreds of thousands – if not MILLIONS of dollars – trying to run minor-leagues sports franchises in Baltimore since 1968, when I entered the planet and the local sports scene. The losses of Skipjacks, Clippers, Bandits, Lightning, Spirit, Claws, Blades, et. al. means there were some nice guys like Bill Stealey, Tom Ebright or Mike Caggiano losing a helluva lotta money on a hobby and sports dream gone wrong.

These are businesses. And as a business owner who has taken on immense risk buying and operating WNST over the years, I respect and honor the amount of work it takes to make a profit and keep customers and the community at-large happy.

I respect that Peter Angelos once bought the Baltimore Orioles to win championships and be the local hero owner. I also have watched him humiliate and degrade a whole generation of passionate Orioles fans and piss on the brand for better part of two decades with equal parts wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

This week, Steve Bisciotti, the owner of the Baltimore Ravens maneuvered quite heavy-handedly behind the scenes to oust offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, while head coach John Harbaugh took the podium to make an announcement that it was pretty clear he was uncomfortable with in just about every way.

As a fan, all I’ve ever asked for is accountability and knowing what the intentions of the owner are so I can tell Baltimore sports fans what’s really happening.

It really speaks volumes when you watch the way the two franchises in Baltimore weave through a sports calendar with incredibly expensive, risky and “no turning back” decisions.

And let’s make this really clear: Steve Bisciotti and Peter Angelos run their franchises and make the last call on virtually every decision. They’ve earned that right because they took the

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Moose memories and “Welcome Home” for wise deserter of Birdland

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Moose memories and “Welcome Home” for wise deserter of Birdland

Posted on 23 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

As Mike Mussina makes his triumphant return to Baltimore this weekend for the Orioles Hall of Fame activities it’s certainly a thought-provoking time to be a long-time observer and fan of the franchise.

Sure, the Orioles are once again relevant — playing meaningful and exciting games every night — which harkens to the days of 1996 & 1997 when “Moose” was an integral part of the magic of being an Orioles fan every fifth day during the zenith of Camden Yards’ passion and Inner Harbor energy.

Mussina has been gone from Baltimore – except for three visits a year in New York Yankees pinstripes – for 12 years now. So long ago that time has seemingly dimmed the glory of his deeds and his departure serves as a truly seminal moment in the awfulness of the Orioles franchise under the stewardship of Peter Angelos since 1993.

In the 1970’s it was routine for the Orioles to lose players to owners, markets and franchises that had more wealth, population and revenue. Many members of the franchise “Hall of Fame” and “Oriole Way” stalwarts left like Mayflowers in the middle of the night for greener pastures including Don Baylor, Bobby Grich, Reggie Jackson, Wayne Garland and Doug DeCinces and later Eddie Murray, Mike Boddicker, Mike Flanagan, B.J. Surhoff and Mike Bordick were all dealt away to save cash and get younger players.

But in the 1980’s and 1990’s, replete with a fan base from six states that pumped unprecedented money into the franchise and reached into the state’s funds to build Camden Yards and turn Baltimore into a spigot for Major League Baseball profitability, the Orioles never lost a player they wanted to keep.

Not until they lost the best player and pitcher of his generation of Baltimore baseball when Mike Mussina wore the “turncoat” label and bolted for the New York Yankees.

After the 2000 season, tired of three years of losing and Angelos’ low-balling and obvious meddling and mismanagement, Mussina simply took the advice of his agent Arn Tellem and played out his option and walked. On Dec. 7, 2001 after years of eschewing the notion of playing in big, bad New York he signed a six-year, $88.5 million deal to play for the Evil Empire.

I’ll share my many personal memories and my friendship with Mussina later in this blog but I can remember the surreal nature of watching that press conference from The Bronx from Chicago’s Sporting News Radio studios with my jaw open. It was the definitive signal that quality Major League Baseball players simply didn’t want to be in Baltimore anymore and it had little to do with crab cakes or the American League East.

Mussina was thought to be “irreplaceable” at the time and 11 years later time has borne out that diagnosis.

Mussina left the Baltimore Orioles because the owner stunk. He knew it and everyone in baseball knew it.

So, Mussina will finally return and don Orioles colors this weekend for the final time and he’ll find a few fresh statues on the veranda, a team in the midst of its first pennant run in 15 years and a seemingly soulless shell of a former love affair for baseball in Baltimore.

There’ll be plenty of empty seats and shoulder shrugs at his mostly sweet and sour induction into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame this weekend. Certainly a worthy candidate if there ever were one, Mussina’s time as a starter for the Birds is only eclipsed by the deeds of Jim Palmer, who as I’ve said many times is the greatest (and most underappreciated) Oriole of all time by any measurement.

Palmer let loose with a haughty pronouncement on a MASN broadcast earlier this week in promoting this weekend’s festivities. “The Moose is going to Cooperstown – at least I hope. He’s got 270 wins,” said Palmer, who went on to proclaim that in the steroid era to win all of those games and Gold Gloves and remain a “clean figure” in the needle witch hunt of the Mitchell Report should get him a Hall of Fame ballot punched in 2014.

For “real” Orioles fans, he’ll always be known as the Benedict Arnold of the modern generation for leaving the

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Orioles are finally in pennant race — but where are Baltimore baseball fans?

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Orioles are finally in pennant race — but where are Baltimore baseball fans?

Posted on 08 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve argued with WNST morning show host Drew Forrester for a decade about this. He’s always said – much like everyone in the Angelos family – “When the Orioles win they’ll ALL come back!”

Well, in case you haven’t noticed while you were dusting off your purple gear this week for tomorrow night’s meaningless and mostly unentertaining Ravens game in Atlanta, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles are just about everything you’d want in a MLB team in a “small market” where the owner is pocketing over $100 million in profit every year.

They have young stars. They are exciting every night – including last night’s 14-inning marathon victory over the Seattle Mariners that unfolded like The Ilyiad. They seem to play sudden death baseball a lot. It’s almost like they WANT you to fall asleep on them.

And these days, it appears, that most Baltimore sports fans have in fact “gone to sleep on the Orioles.”

By and large, most of you are not coming to Orioles games right now. The Orioles haven’t inspired you to buy a ticket, despite their good fortunes and entertainment value on the field.

This is a perfect day for me to write about going to Orioles games because I’m going to the game tonight.

Why?

Well, I got free tickets.

My complaints and reasons for not giving Peter Angelos my money are legendary and well-documented. The incident when the team stiffed me on a $30,000 sponsorship, then attacked me at a game in 2004 and sent an apology note signed, “The Bird.” Then, after 21 years of covering the Baltimore Orioles through three ownership groups, they took my press pass in 2007 and have summarily lied about why, which is standard operating procedure from the Angelos family.

Hell, four months ago at a charity cocktail function, Brady Anderson told me I “should leave Baltimore if I don’t like the way the team is being run.”

But I still watch them every night – which either makes me a sucker, a fool or an eternal optimist. Or maybe just someone who loves Baltimore and the Orioles and remembers how much fun baseball was for the entire community before Angelos wrecked the franchise for anyone who takes the time to examine all of the facts.

Oh, here’s one more warm and fuzzy — this Friday will mark the one-year anniversary that one of their legendary players, broadcaster and caring front office man Mike Flanagan put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.

The Orioles have played 110 games this year. I’ve watched about 95 of them in their entirety. The other 15 I’ve either fallen asleep (like last night) or kept track via my mobile device on WNST’s live box score feature.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might find five games where I haven’t been live tweeting most of the evening from my couch. So, I’m qualified to bitch in many ways because I’m the biggest Baltimore Orioles fan you’ll ever find.

And, again, I’m not giving Angelos my money – not tonight or any night.

In Dundalk, we would simply call him a scumbag and leave it at that.

But he doesn’t care about whether you or I come to the ballpark. He’s sucking that $3.00 per month from my cable bill and yours, 

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