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Here’s what your local “sports media personality” needs to know in 2012

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Here’s what your local “sports media personality” needs to know in 2012

Posted on 15 June 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It was so much easier when I was growing up, this sports media thing. First, you learned how to write and then you went to some journalism or “communications” college or university, you did an internship and then sent resumes out and you got your dream job and lived happily ever after.

And maybe you got a gold watch if you hung around at the newspaper or TV station for 25 years or more?

Here at WNST.net this summer, we’re extending an open offer to any Baltimore sports fan who wants to be the next Baltimore Sports Media Superstar via our competition. All of the info is here…

The harsh reality of media and new media in 2012 is that it’s an all-encompassing commitment of time, experience and continuing education that makes a local personality or entity relevant as breaking news, information, analysis and the games themselves fly by in real time with your mobile device with you at all times.

And that’s just the content side.

Here’s a speech I gave to a Loyola Sports Marketing class in May 2012. This is Part 1 in a series about my current thoughts on the state of Baltimore sports media and the industry as a whole:

If you can’t sell your own personal brand – by bringing in audience, engaging them, adding value to their life experience and adding expertise or analysis that people care about – you will NOT be successful in the new media world.

If no cares to be your audience – or in this era that would be “opt in” or “follow” or “subscribe” — then no one will be available to stimulate the commerce necessary that ultimately will pay your salary via local sponsorship dollars..

In the old days it was easy – there were three TV channels, a few radio stations and a newspaper or two. Whoever the local program director or editor hired was all that the public got and all that you’d ever get from the “inside” of a sports team. The competition for those scarce jobs and the outstanding pay via expensive local television news ads fueled by automotive dealers and local advertisers was all coveted. And the public in Baltimore essentially had three choices for the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. news – WBAL, WMAR and WJZ. There were two newspapers – The Sun and The News American. And sports radio didn’t exist except for Charley Eckman screaming bloody murder about some local issue on the Johnny Walker show on WFBR.

That was the entire world of Baltimore sports media in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

And the only ones who really did it the “new world” way were Coach Eckman and Tom Davis, who bought and sold their own “in-show” advertising and made far more money than most radio “talking heads” did and certainly more than the folks at The Sun or The News American.

All of the TV and newspaper people were part of a larger ensemble and staff. The radio sports talk guys needed to fight for audience and those radio stations needed hosts who garnered real traffic and real new business for local sponsors and advertisers.

This is the world I lived in on local AM radio from 1992 until 2006, when tens of thousands of you crashed my webpage and my email with traffic from all over the world after the initial “Free The Birds” walkout and showed me a new world of WNST.net on the internet.

In the new media world, if you can’t sell your own brand as a sports media expert then how can a local sponsor or business owner trust that you can help them sell pizza or cars or beer?

The reality is that I’m in college every day at WNST.net. The college of life, emerging media and business in 2012 and how it relates to the changing ways of sports fans’ consumption of information via mobile devices in real time.

It’s taken two decades but I’ve finally figured out why I went to college back in the 1980’s. All of those beers at Jay’s off campus at the University of Baltimore and all of those evening classes about Marshall McLuhan — it’s all finally paid off. All those classes with Julie Simon and discovering the roots of communication and theory of how the “medium is the message” and emerging “global village” has changed the world in the last decade since the internet has extended our FCC towers at what was formerly a “little AM radio station” at WNST-AM 1570 and brought video and words and statistics and instant feedback into the realm of the palm of our hands via mobile via WNST.net.

I’ve finally figured out the value of my University of Baltimore education and Corporation Communications degree – it just took me 20 years!

While I’m not going to be donating to UB anytime soon – or anytime that the name of Peter G. Angelos

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I hope Ripken isn’t next Orioles hero signing up to polish Angelos’ smelly turd?

Posted on 10 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

On Tuesday night, as Camden Yards sat mostly empty on another beautiful summer night, it happened again. No, not just another “tough-luck, one-run Orioles loss” en route to what could possibly be the worst season of this era replete with 100 losses, but instead the whining, moaning and embarrassingly homerish “media” scam pulled on a nightly basis in my living room by the likes of Jim Hunter, Mike Flanagan, Rick Dempsey and company at MASN.

Along with all of the apologists at The Baltimore Sun, WBAL, PressBox and WJZ (the entire CBS “family” is in bed with the Orioles and has spent 14 years making lame, transparent excuses while taking a paycheck) – it’s amazing these employees of Peter Angelos can put their heads on a pillow at night and believe they have any integrity left in their words this community.

The crazy part is that there are still hopeless fans in the orange Kool Aid bunch who refuse to even acknowledge that all of these former “heroes of Birdland” are employed by Peter Angelos and will lie to you every night like state run media in Egypt, Syria and Libya.

It’s been said many times in many ways but it’s absolutely true to any thinking person in America circa 2011 — false praise in the absence of legitimate criticism is hollow. Perhaps these are the same morons who watch Fox News and believe they’re getting “balanced” reporting.

The media in Baltimore are not really “media” at all. They’re paid employees of the Orioles. It’s the only way you’re allowed to “report” on the team. It’s a “no criticism” rule when you sign up for the credentials and access.

Jim Hunter is as much of a journalist as Vince McMahon was when he interviewed Ivan Putski and George “The Animal” Steele on Saturday afternoons on Channel 45. And Rick Dempsey – well, sorry pal, I loved you as a ballplayer but as someone who allegedly has “insights and observations” that I’m being told to respect you’ve become a sick, nightly joke on my couch.

This is the part where I’ll let Jim Palmer off the hook for being Jim Palmer. But at this point, I’m astonished he hasn’t been fired. I really am…and most nights he goes overboard in trying to be kind to another young pitcher who has surrendered six runs in three innings in another loss. And Gary Thorne, who makes no bones about being an outsider and hired gun, is just cashing a paycheck and trying to not laugh at the nightly ineptitude, almost playing a straight man in what would be a comedy if it weren’t destroying the city on summer nights.

They should all be ashamed of themselves and allowing this civic tragedy and disgrace to continue while taking a paycheck and lying to the very fans who made them heroes.

Trust and integrity are a funny thing. You only get one chance to lie to me and I’m gone forever. And after watching a 20-minute post-game show that grilled third base umpire Phil Cuzzi for “costing the team the game” on a blown call on Nick Markakis, it’s apparent that serving up the Kool Aid is the only way to keep your job with the Angelos clan if you’re name isn’t Palmer.

The Orioles are in the midst of their fifth straight last-place season. Of course, if you watch MASN, they’re not in “last” place – the co-workers of Andy MacPhail and Buck Showalter are only allowed to refer to it as “fifth place” or else they’ll be fired.

And either way, they’ll have to grovel for their jobs, careers and lives once again next February when Angelos goes through this his usual bullying tactics and stall techniques to gain leverage over these poor over-50 former ballplayers/heroes and tarnished “media” members as they try to earn a salary for another year in the MASN empire while serving up pretzel logic and lame baseball excuses for why the team hasn’t played a meaningful game since 1997. It’s the same methodology that Steve Bisciotti experienced in trying to “partner” with Angelos and MASN last July.

The Orioles PR and marketing staff – despite the awfulness of the team and the emptiness of the stands and the downtown area in general – still employ Gestapo tactics against my staff and anyone else who doesn’t praise the team’s .393 baseball this summer as “the road to improvement.”

Intimidation and threats are a daily way of life at The Warehouse. And, if anyone doubts whether Greg Bader and the Angelos family will take away your ability to feed your family, my picture is on the wall there as the “poster child for bad behavior” by the local media.

The truth: I’m in the only one in the local media who seems to care enough to be loud about their awfulness but that’s nothing new because the WNST staff are the only ones who aren’t on their payroll. We might also be the only media members who actually purchased season tickets (not my idea, by the way) this year via Drew Forrester’s “parent and child” program.

On Tuesday night in between the innings I managed to catch the entire episode of “The Band That Wouldn’t Die” on my DVR. To see the passion and energy of John Ziemann and his cohorts with the Colts Marching Band and their still open wounds from their undying love of the local team and the Irsay move is still inspiring and amazing. I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to live long enough to have a real baseball team with a community spirit in Baltimore or whether this will go on into perpetuity and Angelos will buy another 20 years of life from the devil and continue to torture my baseball soul while making $50 million per year in profit.

To think that ANYONE still cares about the Orioles enough to watch every night is amazing enough.

But to insult our intelligence again and again, night after night with this mindless banter? Really, the joke’s on me for giving my time and energy to these clowns.

At this point, it’s become a macabre comedic act in our house to watch the post-game just to see how many excuses Hunter and Dempsey can come up with after each nightly loss. It’s particularly entertaining when the Orioles lose 17-3 and these guys can come up with ways the “home team” got screwed or were a play away from being “right back in the game.”

The Orioles didn’t lose on Tuesday night because of one call – and, sure, it was an awful call. The Orioles lose because they don’t have enough good players. The Orioles lose because good players don’t want to play for Peter Angelos. We get crappy programming because real reporters with integrity don’t want to work for Peter Angelos.

But, sadly, for some legends, they don’t have the option of staying away like Cal Ripken.

Which brings us to the next rumor – the “Ripken to join the front office of the Orioles” phonebooth whispers have begun against in earnest as they seemingly do every summer.

If Ripken is smart, he’ll stay away.

But my gut tells me he won’t be able to help himself at some point. Eventually, if the old man lives long enough, Ripken will sign up for the party and become the butt of the jokes as well.

Cal Ripken’s involvement can’t fix the Orioles. It might create a few headlines and sell Angelos some more tickets but putting gold paint on a pig still doesn’t make it more than ham and bacon.

And that would be really, really hard to watch, Ripken falling into the Jim Hunter trap.

Lord knows, watching Dempsey and Flanagan is hard enough these days…

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Maryland’s new football coach shouldn’t be hired by an apparel company

Posted on 20 December 2010 by Drew Forrester

It became official today, three days later than necessary, but official nonetheless.

The Ralph Friedgen era is over at the University of Maryland.

Strip away the wordsmithing attempts by Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and it came down to this: The school didn’t want Friedgen to coach the team anymore. Since they were locked into a deal through 2011, they sorta-kinda had to keep him around unless something or someone made it financially viable for them to part company with the 10-year coach.

Enter Vanderbilt — and James Franklin.

When Franklin took the job at Vanderbilt late last week, that absolved the Terps of a possible one million dollar payout to Franklin through the terms of his coach-in-waiting contract originally produced by former A.D. Debbie Yow.

And when Franklin started plucking coaches away from the Terps over the weekend, it made Anderson’s decision all that much easier. With little confidence that the school wanted Friedgen to run their football program after his contract expired in 2011, the decision to oust him was expedited by the mass exodus that included Franklin.

Understand?

It’s big business, I suppose, and it’s not really that “dirty” to fire a head coach, even when he just guided his team to a rather surprising 8-4 campaign and was named the ACC Coach of the Year in doing so. There’s certainly an argument that Maryland – as a football program – has fallen off the fall/winter sports radar in the DC/Baltimore corridor over the last few years. Some of that is due to the fact that the team hasn’t been very successful on the field, not forgetting this season’s success, of course. Some of that is due to the fact that Maryland’s non-conference schedule hasn’t been highly attractive. And some of that is due to the fact that Maryland’s football PROGRAM, in general, is just not that marketable — and that includes, frankly, the guy who is now formerly the head coach.

Firing Ralph Friedgen wasn’t that big of a deal. The team would have been good-to-very-good next season with him — or without him. It’s that Anderson tried to force Friedgen’s hand and make him do something — retire, gracefully or not — that he had no intention of doing just to ease the pain of having to dismiss the coach that just produced an 8-4 season.

This isn’t a great way for Kevin Anderson to start his tenure at Maryland. It might, for a while anyway, make it hard to root for the football team at College Park until the stink of Friedgen’s firing goes away in a year or two.

But there’s a more important decision looming at Maryland now.

Who gets the head coaching job?

Most people in the know are saying it’s already a done deal and that Mike Leach is a step away from getting his parking pass and painting his new office a different color just because he can.

Kevin Anderson is saying all the right things because there’s a process that needs to play out and committees have to be formed and “independent advisors” have to be retained to ensure that Maryland follows the hiring letter-of-the-law.

If Mike Leach isn’t the next coach, I’d be shocked.

But SHOULD he be the next coach?

That’s a fair question.

And despite the fact that most people close to the situation are hinting that a certain sports apparel entrepreneur is the guy calling (continued)

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Happy 91st Birthday to the “real” creator of WNST

Posted on 05 March 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear Pop:

Happy 91st birthday!!! I know you might be used to me doing the radio show dedicated to you every year here on March 5th but this year I’m “off” the radio (the listeners call it “retirement” and I call it “sabbatical”) so I’m just gonna write you this letter and hope it gets to you. And instead of taking calls all afternoon, I’m gonna take comments from folks on this space-aged thing called the internet. (I’ll explain it to you later but there’s a lot of stuff in the world here in 2010 you wouldn’t really understand without seeing it!)

A lot has changed since you left us back in July 1992 and I just thought I’d check in and update you a little with this letter – just kind of catch you up a little bit because every single day I think “What would Pop think of this crazy place now?”

And I know how much you love to read, so I thought I’d put it in writing for your birthday – how much different this place is in 2010!

Yes, I still write “for the paper” occasionally, but they just don’t call it a newspaper anymore. The words kinda live on a little television set and you don’t have to print them. You just “click” and you can get almost any information in the world. It’s kinda like the radio, TV and newspaper worlds have all gone into one place, if you can understand that. It’s called the “internet” – and really, I’d probably have a helluva time trying to make you understand it but I’m gonna try.

These days I’m so freaking busy building this sports media business I’ve created that I don’t even get to write about sports or talk about sports as much as I’d like but I’ll be doing more this baseball season for you and keep you in the loop on the Orioles and stuff. I’m also doing a book that I’m gonna send you a copy of later this year. It’s about coaching and leadership – I think you’ll dig it because it’s a lot of the stuff that you were always trying to teach me only put into words and kinda organized with words of wisdom from all of the coaches that I’ve met since 1984 who’ve taught me about life through sports.

Pop, a LOT of these people really helped make me the person I am since you’ve been gone. You remember Gene Ubriaco from the Skipjacks? Well he kinda gave me the idea since he was the first coach I talked to back in the day and he visited me recently and inspired me. I remember introducing him to you back at the Civic Center when I first covered the team for The News American.

Anyway, I remember that summer back in 1986 when we coached that Little League baseball team at Eastwood together. (One of those kids is now my Facebook friend, but I’ll save explaining that for next year’s letter, OK?)

I think a lot about you managing the 1973 Colgate Pirates, when I was the batboy, and we won the championship. I’m gonna write a little bit about it in the book. Gus Kaplanges still calls me and I ran into Teddy Boccia at Pizza John’s in Essex a few weeks ago. Tom Duni always sends along his best when I see him on the mornings when I take Mom to the IHOP over on Merritt Boulevard. It’s the “International House of Pancakes” – right in Dundalk. I know how much you love pancakes. They even have all of the fancy syrups!

So when I heard they just got email up there where you are I thought I’d send you a birthday card with some updates here from Planet Earth instead of doing the radio show. (Wait’ll you get a load of these “smart” phones when they get there with the “internet” on them. And wait’ll you see this thing called “texting”!)

Look, some of this stuff you’re not gonna understand. You’re just not, no matter what I do or how I try to explain it. Lemme just start with this – we have a black President of the United States, so you KNOW things are little different but the changes these last 18 or so years have been incredible – especially the last few years. You wouldn’t believe what’s happened in Baltimore with sports media and sports in general.

You were right about ESPN – they’re still around and they have a monopoly on virtually every sport and they have this 24-hour a day newspaper that people read all the time. You can even listen to the radio and watch videos on a screen without an antenna! (It’s all on that “internet” thing I told you about. And it’s all in the palm of your hand on this thing that’s like a phone. I’d try to compare it to a “cell” phone but even that would be hard.)

You know me, I still love hockey and the NHL is fun. The Capitals are really good and I think you’d even get on this bandwagon, even though you always hated hockey and Washington, D.C. The Caps have this Russian kid named Ovechkin – he’s like Gretzky, only bigger and meaner. It’s a fun time and the Caps SUCKED big time for a long time, kinda like they did when back when I started dragging you down there to the Capital Centre in 1981. I’m really sorry you never liked hockey, but I really do appreciate you taking me down to those Clippers games back in the day! You have no idea how great those memories are for me and how much hockey still means to me!

The Terps are having a great year – they even won a BIG one against Duke the other night and they play in this shiny new building and Gary Williams is STILL the coach! They finally won the National Championship back in 2002 and it was a lot of fun. I know how much you loved March Madness around the house and it’s still pretty much the same although they wear these long pants these days. And people don’t play bracket pools on paper – they do it on this “internet” thing!

The NBA kinda sucks these days and nobody watches. I know you saw Abe Pollin up there a few weeks ago. I hope you guys made up – he really did do some good things, though that would be hard for me to explain to you. The new guy here who owns the old Bullets (they call them the “Wizards” now — again, don’t ask…really some of this s&%t is too crazy to even try to explain!) is a guy named Ted Leonsis. Good dude and now he owns the Caps. I know him a little through the radio show. They moved outta the Capital Centre into downtown D.C. back in 1998 and they play in this place that kinda looks like a mall with windows. It’s wild, man, the way the stadiums and the arenas have changed. It’s all about business now with sports – lots of money, but still a lot of fun most of the time. And people love it more than ever!

But there’s even these new sports like this “mixed martial arts” — where guys literally beat the s&*t outta each other like something in one of those weekend Roman gladiator movies on Channel 45. It’s crazy. It’s like boxing, kinda, without gloves. It’s kinda like WWF only it’s REAL. Swear to God! But people love it!

Oh, about “rassling,” one of your favorites. It’s now called World Wrestling “ENTERTAINMENT” these days. Vince McMahon is still running it and making money but they’ve admitted what you said along: “It’s fake.” But nobody seems to mind and they still sell a lot of tickets.

Stock car racing (they just call it NASCAR these days) is this HUGE thing – these fancy cars, crowds of over 100,000 and big TV ratings. They moved the Olympics into every two years – summer and winter alternate – and they have these skateboard kids who surf on the snow getting medals. It’s exciting – you might even like it!

The Preakness is a mess. They took the beer away last year and now nobody goes but no one here seems to care too much about horse racing. Kinda sad. I know you never liked it too much but it’s tough to see it die like this, especially in May when Baltimore used to rock for the Preakness. They’re doing this new thing this year – “Get Your Preak On” – we’ll see how it goes.

I know I haven’t mentioned the Orioles because, well, you really don’t want to know. I know when you left us back in July of ’92 you were sorta losing it a little for life and sports and I know you thought Camden Yards looked nice on TV. Sorry I never took you down there before you left but honestly you haven’t really missed much down there, Pop.

This guy from Highlandtown named Peter Angelos bought the team about a year after you left us. Hotshot lawyer, got involved with some union guys who died from asbestos and made a zillion dollars, bought the team in 1994 and, well, they’ve turned into the worst franchise in sports.

They lose every year. They lie every year. They’re really rather disgraceful! And nobody goes to the games anymore. Mom still watches – we all kinda do – but no one goes to the games and the owner is the biggest heel since Bob Irsay.

Pop, some people hate him even MORE than Irsay and I’m not kidding!

I know it sounds crazy, but he’s kinda at war with me personally because I have had the balls and the voice to do what you’d have done if you were me – I tell the truth about the losing and the sad state of the city on summer night. But you’d dig it that some of the old Orioles from when we were taking the No. 22 outta Highlandtown are still around and are really cool to me. Those old Orioles come up to me and tell me to continue to fight with him but, really, Pop, it’s not the same and I’m tired of fighting with these lunatics.

I don’t even wanna bore you with it. (I’d tell you to “Google it” but you’d have no idea what the hell that means but I think you’d really think it’s cool. Imagine one of those World Book encyclopedias you bought me combined with every library in the world and all available in one place and you’ll begin to grasp it. Yeah, I know, you’re a little confused…so is Mom, don’t worry.)

But more than ANYONE, you’d be the proudest of how I’ve stood up and fought for what’s right. I take a lot of heat. People write me hate mail, threaten my life on occasion – but I know I’m right. This Angelos guy can’t even get along with Brooks Robinson, who’s still alive and has battled some illnesses recently.

This spring, I’m going to get behind a big civic movement to get a statue built for No. 5. I’ve sorta gotten to know Brooks since you left us and he’s just as great of a guy as you always thought he was and he deserves it. So I’m gonna help these guys who want to do this and I want to do it in your honor, if you’ll let me. I always tell Brooks about how you took me to “Thanks, Brooks Day” way back in 1977 and how we spent the day together out in left field like we always did in those days on 33rd Street.

By the way – I’ve got some more bad news. They tore down Memorial Stadium about 10 years ago. It really PISSED me off. I drive by there, think of you and get all pissed off again. I can’t even turn the corner up by Lake Montebello without getting depressed. The old site was turned into a YMCA. You’d hate it — trust me! Some days, I think you’re better off where you are and I can’t wait to join you!

I’m writing you this letter from a plane tonight and I’m going to spring training – but it’s not Florida, it’s Arizona. I’m doing some research work on this book on coaching and leadership. I’m going to be interviewing over 100 coaches with Baltimore ties and writing about their feelings on life, leadership and sports. I’m in Arizona and because the Orioles don’t let me come to their spring training games (or any games, really) because I did this protest of their ownership back in 2006. I had a press pass for all those years after you left but they took my pass away for telling the truth. I know, it’s kinda what you’d expect in Cuba or Russia, but that’s the way it is these days in America when you tell the truth – people hate you, abuse you and fail to be accountable. Especially when they’re rich and they threaten people with lawsuits every day. It’s a sick world. The more I know, the less I want to know about a lot of this stuff.

But that’s OK. I’m happy standing for what’s right and not falling for anything. Like I said, I know you’d be proud of me!

So anyway, I’m on this flight to Phoenix and I’m writing to you (we do it on these fancy computers that are kinda like typewriters that sit on your lap) and there’s a guy from the Ravens sitting behind me. His name is Justin Green – he’s a running back who used to play on the NFL team we have now in Baltimore.

I’m sorry it took me so long to tell you about the Ravens. But I wanted to save the good news for the end!

The Ravens are our new NFL team!

I know, I know. You said we’d NEVER get another NFL team but we did. It was something like a miracle, Pop, this team that Art Modell brought to Baltimore from Cleveland back in 1996. No, the Browns colors and logos stayed in Cleveland where they replaced the team but those people are STILL pissed, kinda like you were with Irsay until you left us.

(I’m assuming if you’ve ever run into Irsay up there you’re in the WRONG place…so I’ll just tell you that he died a few years ago!)

But Modell was great for Baltimore! He even hired Ted Marchibroda to be the first coach! It’s been a LOT of fun since this football team came to town.

We have a young local owner named Steve Bisciotti, who does his best to not be the jerk that Angelos is and Irsay was. He’s interested in winning and making the team fun every year and Baltimore appreciates that!

The Ravens have the best defensive player I’ve ever seen – a guy like Butkus and Curtis and Singletary but only better! His name is Ray Lewis and he’s fun to watch. He was a rookie on the first team back in 1996 and he’s still playing but the Ravens have really had a lot of good players and they win most years and the games are fun and it kinda reminds everyone here of those fun days you had with the Colts back in the ’50s and ’60s with Mom and Johnny Unitas. (I hope you said hi to No. 19 when he dropped by a few years ago. He stood on the sidelines here for the Ravens on game days and people thought it was cool! I talked to him a few days before he came to be with you…)

I miss you the most on those Ravens game days in the fall because you’d LOVE this football team. They wear purple, your favorite color. The band still plays, they’re just called “The Ravens Marching Band.” People come to the games really early and have picnics and drink beer. They call it “tailgating” because they sit on the trunk of the car and dine on swine and wait for the game and play catch. We’ve got this new stadium down where the railroad tracks used to be on the other side of the harbor, right next to the baseball stadium. It’s wild driving into downtown now and seeing those giant stadiums and all of the purple.

But I really miss you on those days when the team plays. I think of you every Sunday. I really do!

Because of what I do for work, I even get to go to all of the road games and sometimes we even take people who listen to the radio station and read my columns (we call ‘em “blogs” now) on the internet with us and it makes it more fun. Beer drinking, good food, football cheers – Pop, you’d LOVE it!

So, even though I did the radio show for a long time, I’m still here doing my media thing on this “internet” contraption and some of the people haven’t really changed. You remember Tom Davis and Scott Garceau – they work for my competitor. Stan The Fan still does this magazine every month. And Phil Jackman is still my friend and he’s gotten even older and even crankier. It’s fun to watch!

But I turned the old radio station into this 24-hour-a-day “internet” sports place with radio, television and news all in one place. We even have all of the box scores and standings for you! I wish you could see it!!! It’s like the Sporting News back in the day only even more in depth. You’d be really proud, Pop!

I have these awesome business partners – led by a guy named Brian Billick. He was the Ravens coach back when they won the Super Bowl in 2001. (I’ll tell you more about that later!)

Billick is sorta like Earl Weaver was to the Orioles – only taller, but he does cuss just as much! I’d pay a lot of money to see you and Billick have a conversation about sports. You’d make him laugh for sure!

Billick is just a fabulous guy and I really wish you two would’ve gotten a chance to meet. He joined me about 18 months ago as a business partner but all of the money we ever make on his behalf goes directly back to the community through this charity called “Living Classrooms” which helps the kids in the city who are trying to stay out of trouble, learn and get jobs. One day, we’ll make a lot of money for the people of Baltimore together! You always taught me to give something back and that’s what I’m trying to do because people have really been great to me as I’ve gotten older and you’ve left us.

I just wish you could see it – even for one day, what my life has been like! The travel. The roadtrips. The time I’ve spent in Europe, South America and Asia. I went to China with Cal Ripken Jr., who just like you told me, wound up in the Hall of Fame. We even went to Cooperstown for the induction!

But I’ve done World Cups, a bunch of World Series, All Star Games, Stanley Cups, Final Fours, Kentucky Derbies, Super Bowls — you name it! I’ve really had a great life – a great time since you left me!

Oh – that’s right – I almost forgot. The Super Bowl!

Yep, Baltimore WON the Super Bowl back in 2001. I sorta forgot that you didn’t know that…

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mom happier than she was when the Ravens beat the Giants that night. I was at the game that night in Tampa under the stars but she called me, bawling like a baby – she really loves the Ravens, Pop. I wish you could be there to watch those games with her on Sunday.

I took her to a game back in August to see the guys in purple play. I’m not sure if you get You Tube up where you are, but if you do here’s what it looked like:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTH5Vk6_Re0[/youtube]

She calls me every weekend and a lot of times I’m there at the games in all these far-flung places like Minnesota or Green Bay or New England and she wants updates. We have this tall quarterback named Joe Flacco who is her favorite. He wears No. 5 – just like Brooksie!

But sports and radio and Baltimore have been good to me all these years. All those things you taught me – fairness, integrity, working hard, practicing hard, being a good teammate, running out every groundball, looking for the cutoff man, playing by the rules – that’s all really helped me in the business world. Some days I feel like a success, some days I feel like the world’s biggest failure but I never give up. I never, ever give up!

And I always try to do the right thing…

And even though things are kinda crappy – the economy is worse than it was back in 1979, when you came home every day scared to death that you were gonna lose your job at ‘The Point – I’m in a good spot. I have a really good product and it’s growing every day but it’s hard work. Nothing I’m allergic to though. (Don’t worry…I never take a “scratch” either!)

But there’s lots of stuff you’d really like about the world in 2010 and stuff that reminds me of you every day.

They have Chick-Fil-A’s now where you don’t have to go into the mall. These computers have kinda taken over the world and you wouldn’t have to wait for The Sporting News or the Baseball Digest anymore. Heck, you wouldn’t even be pissed every morning at 5 a.m. because The Sun came late and you didn’t get to read it before work. You can read it ANYTIME on this device! Sounds kinda like a “dream,” doesn’t it?

You could even take your phone into the bathroom and READ on it while seated instead of taking the newspaper up there when you stink up the joint!

Ha!!! (Made you laugh!!!)

But we’re cool down here. Mom is fine, still feisty and nagging the hell outta me the way I like it. Barry is 25 now and helps me at WNST and is good guy. You two would be hell together watching Orioles games in high definition TV. (They call it HD – it’s kinda like 3D, just a little different. It’s just a really, really clear TV – everybody has them now and it’s kinda neat, makes you feel like you’re right on the field!)

I have an awesome wife that I met at a hockey game who likes sports even more than I do — most days anyway. She’s a Red Sox fan and she gets to have all of the fun in baseball season because the Orioles haven’t played a meaningful game since 1997. They stink every stinking year! It’s awful, really…but like I told you, google it!

Maybe I really just wish you were here from August through January every year — but you’re really not missing much from April through the summer…

So, I just wanted to say hi and share this letter. I’m gonna share it with the people who read my “internet column” and hope that they write me some neat stories about their lives and memories and emotions with their Pop. You wouldn’t believe what a big “celeb” I turn you into every March 5th!

People write me every year and ask me about my “radio show for my Pop.” Well, this year for your 91st birthday, I thought I’d do something extra special and write you a letter instead. Maybe this will be the new format every year, who knows?

But I hope you’re resting comfortably and that someone is watching over me down here.

Life is good. Times are tough. The world is changing. Sports is in a weird place in Baltimore but I have a good feeling about things and I’m even optimistic that one day the Orioles will be good and kind and honorable again and the games will be fun for me.

Give Steady my best if you see him. Tell all of my friends like Clem Florio and the other fellas that “Nasty loves ‘em and misses ‘em!” (OH…I almost forgot! I really hope you got to say hello to Ted Williams a few years ago. I know how much you loved him!)

In the meantime, I’m sure the Ravens will give me plenty to write you about and the business stuff and building this company has been a lot of fun and keeps me plenty busy.

And if you ever bump into Howard Cosell, you should apologize, Pop! You were really wrong about him! He really DID know what the hell he was talking about!

Have a great birthday, Mr. Pisces! I’ll have some strawberry shortcake out in Phoenix in your honor!

Strangely enough, I’m having breakfast with Frank Kush today at his office at Arizona State and lunch with a bunch of the San Diego Padres front office folks. (Aunt Jane would really dig it!)

I have a feeling your name will come up!

Happy Birthday, you old fart!

Ninety one would’ve been fun but, hopefully, you’re getting satellite up there so you can watch the Terps game this weekend.

And if the MASN feed doesn’t come in, don’t feel so bad. You’re better off with the VHS tapes you left with from 1983…

Love,

Me

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Finale: Part 5 – What is the future of sports media in Baltimore?

Posted on 10 February 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

“I will never, EVER “text” with you!” I screamed into my cell phone to my beloved son, Barry, during the summer of 2006 when he filled up my text inbox with messages that I had no idea how to access. “If you don’t call me on the phone, you won’t find me!”

What’s that axiom? “It’s what you learn after you know everything that really counts!”

Yet again, more words wasted and crow swallowed. It was just another humbling, woefully wrong prediction for my own actions and a future gone awry as I continue to grow in years and wisdom in my 40’s.

If there’s one pearl of wisdom I’ve learned the hard way it’s this: the learning NEVER stops and the world never stops changing. I’ve committed myself to be a student of life and it’s what gets me out of bed and keeps me alive and vibrant during these tough times.

The entrepreneur in me just got back from eight days in Fort Lauderdale at the Super Bowl watching all of the “big boys” do what they do – television, radio, newspapers, web entities, etc. It’s gone from old days of “Radio Row” to a hodgepodge of different media resources at the Media Center in 2010. And the national media outlets are all scrambling, trying to figure out how to serve a sports fan base that is now fractured via age and technological savvy and dinosaur systems and old-world employees and employers who have no idea how to make this emerging world of new media work to their advantage.

In one corner the NFL owns all of the Sirius/XM programming and the centerpiece of the NFL Network set and in the other corner Motorola is dropping big bucks to buy sponsorship of a “beer-less” media hospitality area and underwriting the “OCNN” – the Ocho Cinco News Network, featuring Chad himself and friends like Ray Rice and Chris Cooley.

The world of sports media has changed forever and the Super Bowl continued to prove what I already know: the web will rule the new world.

If you want to read a sensational book on this brave new world, pick up Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It” and thank me later. Most of what I would predict for the future would be contained in his 132-page “must read.”

I delayed this blog for a few days – mainly because of the weather, flight issues and my illness but also because I wanted to take in the full Fort Lauderdale week and observe what I was seeing at the Super Bowl before I wrote the “finale” to my five-part missive here on the “state” of the media – and not just local sports media, but media in general.

There’s no bigger event than that monstrous marvel they put on in Miami on Sunday night, and virtually everything there from a media standpoint is “cutting edge” when it comes to the marketing and delivery of news, information and hype for the biggest game of them all. And while MLB and the NBA continue to shrink in our culture and the NHL still can’t grow its sport, the NFL continues to soar to heights so high that the only thing that’ll hold it back is how greedy all of the parties will get in how to divide up so much money, interest, love and passion. To the world of SaatchiKevin (another of my web resource/genius links), it’s a “Lovemark” – the most rare of brand breeds.

If you believe the TV ratings, Sunday’s game was watched by more people than any event in the history of the American universe. (By the way, I don’t necessarily believe the previous statement – as I’ve written this week — but who am I to argue and what difference does it make? A LOT of people watched the game on Sunday! Certainly more than anything else our culture offers, the Super Bowl is “THE” American event! A lot of marketing was done. And those commercials are a couple of million bucks a piece for a reason…)

I’ve made a lot of strong statements over the last week. Many have been backed up with new sciences of measurement, technology, your mobile device and 26 years of studying how all of this sports media stuff works. It’s been my passion for as long as I can remember.

But like every other “expert” in the marketplace, we’re all guessing what this thing is going to look like in three-to-five years.

I know where it’s NOT going. And that’s back to three TV stations, a few powerful, dominant radio stations (FM or AM) and it certainly will have nothing to do with printing the news today and delivering it tomorrow on a paper product.

The future is in your pocket. It’s in your phone and it will evolve – much more quickly than any of us can imagine – from there.

Virtual keyboards. Virtual porn. Virtual sports. Live HD broadcasts of sporting events where you pick your seat. Since the purchase of my Droid back in November, I’ve had less use for my laptop every single day. The “third screen” as they call it in the industry is exploding and it’ll never regress. It makes life too easy, too accessible. Just having something as trivial as Google maps on my phone has given me hours of my life back to use building WNST.net.

Honestly, just think about how far it has evolved in the last 12 months with the advances of social media like Facebook and Twitter? Or the last three years, with the ability to now stream most anything to a mobile device? Or the last five years, when you had never seen HD TV before? Or the last 10 years, where websites now break news all day and everything happens in “real” time?

I’ve now been a consumer of the media for about 38 years and a producer of sports media-related content in Baltimore for 26 years.

I’m closer to your uncle’s age than your son or daughter. Now, think about how much that “old guy” uncle of yours who has eschewed modern media is missing by not texting, not using a computer, getting online or using email. Everybody has someone “older” in their life whom hasn’t caught on to this “media” and “mobile” thing yet, right?

I had employees at my company as recently as six months ago still using fax machines to relay information. Some people in my world still don’t text. Some people don’t do social media. Some people still wait for the 11 o’clock news. Or ‘til the next morning to pick up a newspaper at the Royal Farms on the corner. And some people, like me, are on Facebook and Twitter via the palm of their hands 24 hours a day.

It’s a very tangled web with so many ways to reach people and ways of giving them the information where they want it but the great equalizer will be the web. Because — eventually – the dinosaurs like newspapers, TV and radio will not roam the earth and the simplicity, connectedness and exchange of information via mobile devices will flatten the earth for companies like WNST.net.

A Haiti-sized earthquake, a Hurricane Katrina-style whirlwind has moved into the sphere of media and has forever altered the way we get information about virtually anything in the world. The web has replaced all of the libraries of the world and amassed their information, all of the record stores and malls in the world and put their goods on sale at a stroke and allowed everyone to communicate freely in real time. If you’re not using Skype, I pray for you…

This five-part series of many words, concepts, facts, accusations and observations was written to make you – the eventual user of all of this stuff and consumer of this information – think about the future and how you consume your local sports media.

We’ve also provided a detailed WNST “State of Baltimore Sports Media” survey to accompany the blogs so that you could give us honest feedback so that we can make WNST.net better. I sincerely hope you fill it out and be as honest as you feel you should be.

We want to be the best. I won’t apologize for that. I won’t accept anything less than that from myself, or any of our employees or partners at WNST.net.

I asked a lot of specific questions in the survey. But when it comes to the future, the best questions are the ones that can’t be answered. Most of this stuff has no “set” answer only a rearview mirror of the way things “used to be.” Kind of like life itself. We’re never going backwards on the technology and the past does not equal the future.

The NFL doesn’t know where this new world of media is going. Drew and I chatted with Sean McManus – a Baltimorean, son of Jim McKay and the current President of CBS News and Sports — and he has no real idea where this world of new media is going.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMAT0VY1Jq0[/youtube]

I go to seminars in New York all of the time with the biggest and brightest in world of media and they’re as befuddled as the rest of us. And the rank and rile sportswriters and broadcasters that I’ve spoken with over the past three years are a mess. I reaffirmed that last week when I quizzed dozens of people about our industry only to get a myriad of bizarre observations and old-way-of-thinking sadness. Most are just beginning the first steps to understanding how the new world of measurement will affect them and their personal brands.

I just know it’s changing more rapidly than anyone imagined and I see it and experience it every day. I use it all – web apps, email, text, Facebook, Twitter, social media, Droid, Four Square, etc. – I and think it’s cool and so does everyone else I interact with online.

For the younger generation, it’s their way of life!

To anyone over 30, we’ll will never be able to relate in the same way because the ingrained simplicity for the next generation will cause a synapse in all sorts of ways – kinda like when my son was texting me five years ago and I had no idea how to retrieve the messages on my phone let alone respond on my 12-digit keypad. Every day more of that goes on in the world of emerging technology. And every day it’s a full time job to keep up with it all. Personally, I rely on Mashable, but you can pick a myriad of different ways to get this social media world brought to you.

And anyone who calls themselves an expert in this new world of new media is a liar or a speculative snake oil salesperson or latter-day clairvoyant.

I think I know a lot about it. And I certainly know enough to know that we’re only at the very beginning of a modern-day miracle of transformation in how we take in media – and I don’t just mean sports media in Baltimore. EVERYTHING that we knew about the world of media from the 1950s until two years ago is now a dinosaur when a guy from Dundalk like me can build a company like WNST.net. – one that essentially transmits news, information, audio, video and community in real time from anywhere in the world. We’re unlimited in our scope or the ability to transform sports media in Baltimore. We’re only limited in the resources that the marketplace provides via sponsorship.

After doing the last 16 “Radio Row” stints, it’s really remarkable when I see how polarizing and different the strategies of various companies – from the largest networks to the smallest radio stations – are handling the emerging changes in media and how the content is distributed.

But I’ll give you one key indicator. It always starts with what the sponsors and advertisers want. They pay for all of it and nearly all of the Super Bowl advertisers of substance and vision were chasing people to their computers to get folks on their Facebook, Twitter or dedicated online places with their uber-expensive, :30 second ads the other night. It’s not just Highlandtown’s C.E.O. Bob Parsons and Go Daddy who are trying to get you to watch the rest of the Danica Patrick commercial online and then chat about it on Twitter or Facebook anymore.

Virtually EVERY advertiser was chasing Super Bowl watchers to their laptops or PDA’s during the Saints 31-17 win on Sunday night. And aside from natural disasters and blizzards, the last bastion of “live” event programming is sports. Every other thing on your television is “DVR-able.” People still watch sports live – and probably always will – meaning the sponsor messages actually get seen and not fast-forwarded through. Radio is also considered more effective by marketers because folks have yet to figure a way to skip messages other than changing the channel, which is more of an FM habit.

So, if the Super Bowl is the “cutting edge” and the advertising was primarily sending traffic to the web, then I’m certainly doing the right thing here at WNST.net by attempting to build the greatest Baltimore sports media experience possible on the web. We want to be the place Baltimore communes during games to chat about the games in progress. We want to be the first place you turn for reliable information – when you want it and how you want it.

If you doubt the power of sports to bring people together all you needed to do was watch that parade in New Orleans on Tuesday night and remember what the Ravens’ 2001 championship did for Baltimore. If the Saints’ Super Bowl was vindication for Katrina, then Trent Dilfer and that defense was a massive vindication for all of us here and the Irsay/Mayflower memories and civic sadness. Sports brings people together. The Ravens bring people together like the Orioles used to when they cared about the community. WNST is designed to do that as well.

More than 1,000 of you have helped this week by filling out our survey. Honestly, we want more because we want our research to be as accurate as possible. We’re giving away a Panasonic 50-inch HDTV to one lucky winner.

Fill out our WNST State of Baltimore Sports Media Survey…

Now that I’m off of the radio and this blog will be my primary source to divulge information and my opinions and observations, this year I’ll become much more unabashed in what I’m writing about business, media and how it all works in Baltimore. The truth: I got off the radio to run the business. It’s really where my passion lies in 2010 and where my daily focus needs to be for the future of WNST.net. Anyone who really knows me knows this.

I’ll be doing some videos on the stuff that we’re doing to make WNST.net better as we install new developments and technology. We might even do some video tutorials with some features on the site. And if you give me a good ideas, we’ll try to install them somehow. I love when I see creative stuff on the web.

I’m trying to build a special kind of business with free speech and community and commerce at its core at WNST.net.

We want to cover the local high schools better. We want to do more with lacrosse. We want the Orioles to get “fixed” at some point. We want to be an “all seasons” sports resource for the Baltimore community. We want to find young, rock star writers and contributors and we’ll be doing another “Coors Light King of Baltimore Sports Media” competition this spring. People who love Baltimore sports as much as we do.

We want to take what we’re learning from our current poll and give you more of what you want. The company is nothing without the people who power it. I never forget that fact.

It’s why I started WNST.net in the first place.

Unlike the baseball owner in town, I’m happily held accountable.

We’ve made it this far against all of the odds. We’re No. 1 in the marketplace in daily traffic for Baltimore sports. That’s just a measurable fact.

Our product has NEVER been better. We’ve never had MORE people involved in the WNST message and every day we set out to be “different” than the corporate, out-of-town managed and produced sports radio, television and newspaper types in town.

We can move quicker. We can get you the information in the format you want it. And we’ll get it right every time and hopefully make you think – and feedback – in a variety of ways.

I’ll be unabashed, honest, just like I’ve always been. But it gets harder every day with various political and financial pressure and censorship as we’ve outline this week.

The old media is fading. They’re for sale and it’s obvious. The ratings are for sale, too, really. Press passes and freedom of speech mean nothing. And lies published about you in the new world of the internet take on lives of their own.

But to me, you can’t sell the city off to the gypsies and live to tell. Baltimore is a national punch line in many ways. The Mayor just got indicted and convicted. The Wire is the paranoia of the public relations people in town but it’s how a large segment of the country views us. The Orioles are so “uncool” and irrelevant that Leno and Letterman don’t even make jokes about them. They’re THAT bad…that insignificant. The Baltimore Sun is in bankruptcy.

Where will the voices of Baltimore come from in the coming years? If it’s not WNST.net it’ll be someplace like it — a community “town hall” that will be more representative than a corporate, out-of-town news organization with no vested interest in Baltimore.

We believe in free speech. We don’t ban the media. We are accountable.
And we’re growing. Are you coming with us?

What more can we do at WNST other than state our mission and follow up on it with hard work every day? And hopefully you’ll talk about it and tell your sports friends about WNST and how we’re “different” than the other guys. We’re proud of that!

Fill out our survey! Tell us what we’re missing. Tell us how we suck. Tell us that we’re great. Tell us whatever you want.

Do you want mobile apps? Widgets? Better information? Honest, accurate information? Sent directly to your PDA? Available from anywhere in the world?

So much for that “little radio station,” right?

So what does the future digital world look like?

Are the bloggers going to take over the universe, the greatest fear of the Buzz Bizzinger types?

Will Twitter become the world’s biggest online “newspaper” in real time?

And will team websites evolve past the modern day extension of the current Jim Hunter and include analysis and/or criticism of themselves and their employees? (Probably not…)

We’ll keep working hard and communicating and trying to get better. That’s been my solemn vow from the beginning, to be the best.

My staff and I wake up every morning fully committed to fulfilling that goal.

How are we doing?

Go ahead and drop me a personal note…nasty@wnst.net. Get it off your chest!

To all of the folks who’ve given us the support and enthusiasm over the years – do us two favors:

1. Say nice things to your friends and recommend the stuff you really like at WNST.net. It’s the most robust, easily-accessible and FREE website in the marketplace.
2. Join our contests, events, promotions and clubs at WNST.net.

And if you’re STILL not satisfied, just do me a favor: send me a note right now either here or on Facebook. My Facebook name is Nestor J. Aparicio and I approve all people who want to be “friends” with me on my friends and personal page.

I worked at The Sun, wrote The Moon and now I will attempt to shape the next decade of sports media in Baltimore and where it’s going by building a company that serves our community. (Maybe we’ll call that “The Stars.”)

Here’s my personal email again (it’s the only one I have): nasty@wnst.net

As usual, we strive to stay ahead of the curve on technology.

The WNST story continues…

I really hope you choose to be a part of it!

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“Rock The Red” with WNST and Caps at Silver Spring Mining Company Monday night

Posted on 18 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

We attempted to put together some “Puck Bus” activities for the Capitals playoff games this past week but we just couldn’t acquire the tickets to pull it off. So, instead, we’re offering all Baltimore-area Caps fans a chance to come out and “Rock The Red” in unity on Monday at Silver Spring Mining Company in Perry Hall for Game 3.

Hopefully, a Caps victory today will tie the series and Alex Ovechkin and company will be going for a series lead on Monday.

We will also be having a group outing on Wednesday night at the Hunt Valley location of Silver Spring Mining Company for Game 4.

We will have Michelob Ultra specials for both events and hope you wear your red and come out and enjoy watching the Stanley Cup playoffs with other “Puckheads” as we “Rock The Red.”

As you may know, Silver Spring Mining Company is owned by former NHLer and Baltimore Skipjack, Gary Rissling, who still loves the sport and has made a life in Baltimore after his days playing in the AHL during the mid-1980′s.

Let’s make Silver Spring Mining Company a REAL hockey bar on Monday night in Perry Hall and Wednesday night in Hunt Valley.

Hope to see you there!

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Orioles hold on again, beat Yankees 7-5 to start season with pair of wins

Posted on 08 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It shouldn’t have been so close in the end, but tonight was another “Oriole Magic” kinda night as the Birds jumped out to a big lead over the Yankees behind a nice starting effort from Koji Uehara and eventually held on to win 7-5 before a split crowd of orange and pinstripes.

Nick Markakis got three hits and the bullpen got sloppy at the end, but the Birds are 2-0 and coming back to Camden Yards at 1:35 tomorrow with a chance to sweep the Yankees to start the season.

Here’s my running blog from the game. As always, feel free to comment!

9:59 p.m. — Geez, not much has changed with Dennis Sarfate. Brought on to basically do a ninth-inning mop up, he’s now pushed my American Idol starting time back another 10 minutes and has forced George Sherrill into a game they’d probably rather have not used him. As my Pop would say, “the walks will kill ya!”

The Yankees lineup is dangerous — as Derek Jeter just showed. Jim Palmer is railing about the 27th out. The crowd gave Teixeira the rasberries and he just poked an RBI double into the gap and this has gotten frightening. Johnny Damon scored and here comes Hideki Matsui with the potential game-tying run at the plate. It’s a ballgame.

9:41 p.m. — The Orioles continue to just mow down the Yankees. They can’t hit the ball out of the infield. Danys Baez has retired six straight. Brian Roberts is flashing leather. Jim Palmer is talking ply-o-metrics. I might be catching up on American Idol by 10 p.m at this rate. Great game. Great start to the season. The Orioles are three outs away from bringing brooms back to the ballpark in the morning for a potential sweep by 4:30 tomorrow.

9:30 p.m. — Danys Baez just dropped Mark Teixeira to 0-for-8 on the season and 8-for-8 in post at-bat jeers, curses and boos. The crowd is relentless. It’s really kinda fun to boo him, I think. I’m squarely behind the effort but it’s kinda mindless when you really think about it. It’s NOT Teixeira’s fault the organization has become a national disgrace and no player of his caliber would want to play here. It’s Peter Angelos’ and the ownership group’s fault for seeing him in pinstripes. To even imply it’s anything less than that is just foolish. In 1996 and 1997, I have a feeling Teixeira dreamed of being an Oriole and being Cal Ripken. The reality of 2009 is that “deal” and “dream” isn’t remotely available for him. He made the right call for him. Maybe the fans get it? Maybe they don’t? Either way, it’s kinda fun and it’s what he gets for being a Yankee. Even if he wasn’t willing to take $50 million less to play here and lose for the forseeable future.

9:26 p.m. — Instead of an extra base hit, Adam Jones literally Paul Blair’d a ball into the left center field gap while blowing a bubble with his gum and, like Sheriff Buford T. Justice, “In HIGH SPEED PURSUIT.” Nice play. Two outs instead of a double and a guy standing on second. Defense. Nice!

9:20 p.m. — Gotta love the early-season boxscores with averages and ERAs. First, we had the Chris Ray 52.00 ERA yesterday. And now, after going 3-for-3 so far tonight, Nick Markakis is hitting .714. Of course, Chian-Ming Wang isn’t going to like his 17.18 ERA for the next four days either.

9:12 p.m. — Koji Uehara’s final line is more than acceptable: 5 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run and 1.80 ERA to start the season. Gimme 31 more of those.

With a six-run lead, for now I’ll forgive Matt Albers his sins.

8:55 p.m. — I’m sure someone will tell Gary Thorne it’s BUILD me up buttercup, not FILL me up buttercup. So I won’t bother him with it. He should be doing hockey games anyway! The Birds are rolling. My boy Don has been sending me texts about how much fun he’s having…

Oriole Magic, feel it happen!

8:40 p.m. — Damn…3 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 7 earned runs, 3 walks…a bed-wetting of biblical proportions for Wang. The New York tabloid headline writers are hard at work right now…

8:38 p.m. — Call me old school, but I like the sacrifice fly and the bunt and the “hitting the cutoff man.” After Melvin Mora kicked a grounder and a base-running gaffe earlier by Aubrey Huff, this inning has been contained some Orioles Magic. Doubles, sacrifice flies and a giant tater from Nick Markakis and the Yankees are staring up at 0-2 and the Orioles are flying high. It’s 7-1 and the pinstripers have gone to the pen in the 4th inning. The Yankees’ No. 1 and No. 2 starters have been drilled. The “shaky” Orioles rotation has delivered two big mid-game leads. Baseball can be crazy at times.

8:29 p.m. — I’m unabashed in my affection for Gregg Zaun, whose presence on the team alone makes me a much bigger fan of the 2009 Orioles. I’ve known Zaun since the beginning. He’s a great dude. I think he’ll be a manager one day. He’s an asset to the franchise and he just doubled in a run off the wall.

8:20 p.m. — Cody Ransom just came two feet away from tagging Koji Uehara for his first big-league dinger. Just when he was on the verge of getting into “quality start” area, it’s now a mini-threat. Young Brett Gardner gets his chance to be a hero and tie the game. He gets jammed and Uehara only gives up one run. Not bad. Let’s assess:

4 innings pitched, 1 run allowed. I’ll take this every night, especially against the Yankees. Let’s see how far he can go. My gut says, he’ll get to the 7th inning. My gut says a kid who leaves Japan to come here has guts and some fight in him, especially at 34 years of age. His stuff doesn’t look dominating, but if the Orioles had five of this guy we’ve seen over four innings, they might be the 80-win team some of the Kool Aid drinkers think they can be.

Gotta go listen to Ty Wigginton. He’s in line to be my “favorite Oriole of 2009.”

8:13 p.m. — OK, So Gary Thorne says there will be 20 million watching the game in Japan. I hope whoever is counting them isn’t the one who announces the Orioles home attendance. But it’s pretty hardcore in Japan for sure. I wish every American baseball fan could go to Japan and see the deal there. It’s a like a whole country of Red Sox fans. They’re into Bobby Valentine and that crazy Hello Kitty thing. Did anyone see the ESPN Valentine special last fall? Pretty spectacular show, really. It was a well done and “reality” in the truest sense of the word.

8:11 p.m. — MASN is going “behind the scenes” with the Japanese broadcast after this commercial. Funny I just wrote about it. But this oughta be pretty good…

DAMN…these MASN commercials almost make me want to DVR the game and skip them…they’re just dreadful, phony…eeeeeeeewwww!!!!

8:09 p.m. — I want Aubrey Huff to whack it!

7:59 p.m. — Political correctness is out the window. How about “O’s wing Wang’s number”?

It’s the third inning. The game has been interesting. A sea of empty seats. Lots of Yankees fans. Not too many O’s fans but the ones there are crushing Teixeira, which is officially a “tradition” now after 48 hours. And while all of the passion in the stadium is for Tex, the real story tonight is how many Japanese folks (literally MILLIONS) are watching tonight’s game with a nationalistic pride that we give to things like the 1980 Olympic hockey team. When Uehara and Hideki Matsui face off, the Japanese media are at a fever pitch. Tokyo is at a fever pitch. I had Jim Traber on tonight to talk about baseball and Japan. The videos I shot at Dodger Stadium two weeks ago are pretty cool. Thousands of hardcore Japanese baseball fans who care more about their national players than they do whether the Yankees or the Orioles win. It’s kinda cool.

Brian Roberts just drew a leadoff walk in the 3rd. Nice start. A little rally would be nice…

7:40 p.m. — I was one of the many screaming for MASN to finally get into the 21st century and deliver these games in HD. Especially given how the public was completely hoodwinked into having to pay the Mister Angelos and Sons Network a cool $2.60 per month for Hawaiian League Baseball and reruns of the 1970 World Series that I already own on pirated DVDs. (Thanks to the person who provided these…)

Melvin Mora just botched a pretty routine grounder with a bad grip. Jim Palmer is telling old Brooks Robinson fielding stories. I like Jim Palmer’s old stories. I like when Gary Thorne is calling the games, even though he should be doing hockey games next week, which God created him to do. But, I’m happy to have him.

Koji Uehara has made it through a leadoff walk to Jeter and a second-inning jam unscathed. All is well.

The one thing I didn’t consider with MASN HD was seeing so many freaking Yankees fans in HD behind home plate. Bring back Home Team Sports! Or Super TV!

7:27 p.m. — What the hell was Aubrey Huff doing? Trying to steal third? Yikes! Finally the Yankees fans manage a cheer. A substantial cheer, unfortunately, tonight. Mora’s single would’ve scored Huff. They gave a run away. With their pitching issues, giving runs away against the Yankees is not advised…

7:23 p.m. — Nick Markakis just one-hopped one off the wall after Adam Jones roped one off of Chian-Ming Wang, and the O’s are up 1-0. There is nothing more dramatic than seeing how empty the stadium is after so many people were there 48 hours ago. Kinda sad, especially when I remember the nights when the ballpark would be crazy full tonight and the city would be rocking. I drove through downtown an hour ago and it was barely like there was a game. This crowd is tiny and Aubrey Huff just added to the pop with a double to right field. It’s now 2-0.

7:20 p.m. — Damn, they’re booing Teixeira every time he TOUCHES THE BALL! He IS Larry Murphy! It might be worth going to a game when the Yankees come to town JUST TO DO IT! It’s like a new dance, or something!

7:14 p.m. — Koji walked his first major league hitter, Derek Jeter. Now Mark Teixeira is getting HAMMERED by the handful of Orioles fans in what appears to be a sea of Yankees fans. Prediction: this will be ugly forever. This is the beginning of what I’ll call the “Larry Murphy” rule. Once Murphy left the Caps and went to the Red Wings he got “whooooped” until the end of time. Teixeira will come to Baltimore roughly 60 times over the next six years (Yankee-Orioles playoff games not included…but then again, I’m not exactly holding my breath on that!). He will be roundly, doggedly booed for “sport” until his dying day as a Yankee. It’s kinda “caught on.”

Koji Uehara had a solid first inning after the walk and his ERA is markedly better than Chris Ray’s first inning of the season.

7:05 p.m. — Ok, this’ll be my first crack at a live blog during an O’s game. Since most of us tend to watch the game on TV and the game of baseball lends itself to “instant” observations, this will be a lot of fun. I’m not sure how much to write, or how much you’ll participate, but at least I get to speak my mind and have some fun.

And, it’ll beat watching the game “alone.”

So far, I’ve been watching MASN HD for the last 20 minutes and I’ve been subjected to a pimp-a-thon by Greg Bader about every upcoming promotion and Rick Dempsey talking about his nephew Gregg Zaun, which is just a little weird, even though I like them both very much.

Koji Uehara has taken the hill and his first pitch is a strike. Nice start…

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 19 March 2009 by Glenn Clark

Maryland 68, Cal 61

If Cal gets hot; they’ll win. I’m counting on them not getting hot. This should be the type of game where Landon Milbourne scores 24 using his size and range to his advantage.

Oklahoma 87, Morgan State 75

I think they’ll cover. But Kevin Thompson can’t mark Blake Griffin. Sooners roll.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say…..

Best of Wednesday’s WNST Blogs:

Rex Snider thinks Maryland should be competing with Duke, North Carolina annually

Glenn Clark says Gary gets good news from Forbes magazine

Bob Haynie wonders how far Terps can advance

Chris Bonetti remembers Bias in picture

Drew Forrester thinks Orioles may be wrong about number of listeners

Nestor Aparicio offers Chapter 11 of Orioles book

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Ravens officially part ways with Rolle

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Carr officially signs with Ravens

The Official Site says Carr believes he can make ‘big impact’ at CB

The Official Site’s Geoff Peckham says secondary has undergone ‘major facelift’

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens trying to solve Right Tackle puzzle with Pace

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens see Carr as 3rd QB

The Sun’s Ray Frager says MASN will carry 52 press conference live

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says L.J. Smith to take physical today

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens should draft right tackle; not sign another aging veteran

Examiner Steve DeClue says signing Pace ‘makes little sense’

Carroll County Times says Ravens free $4.1 million by letting Rolle go

ESPN.com’s James Walker wonders what Pace signing would mean for Willie Anderson

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Fabian Washington helped get Carr to Baltimore

ESPN.com’s James Walker thinks Ravens have done nice job of replacing free agents lost

NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan mocks Harvin to Ravens

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says home portion of split squad doubleheader with Cardinals rained out

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says rotation remains ‘unsettled’

The Official Site’s Steve Dorsey says Eaton solid; but Birds fall to Cardinals

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Roberts thinks WBC amongst ‘best experiences of life’

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Penn, Bergesen miss chances to pitch with rainout

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck ‘projects’ Eaton as #3 starter

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Simon, Penn, Liz, Sarfate to pitch for O’s today

Examiner Jay Trucker says Guthrie struggles in Team USA loss to Venezuela

The AP says Trembley thinks Birds have ‘no clear front runners’ for other 3 rotation spots

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Jerome Randle-Vasquez matchup key to today’s first round game

California Official Site says Randle knows Bears trying to ‘contain’ Vasquez

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Gary challenged Terps after Carolina loss; team responded with win in College Park

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Terps need scoring from someone besides Greivis

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Neal has become ‘backbone’ of Terps

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says Stephenson still considering Terps

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Mosley thought Terps ‘struck’ by Gary’s UNC move

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Bowie went back to mohawk

The Sun offers video of Vasquez/Neal/Milbourne press conference

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Montgomery knows both teams will try to get up and down floor

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Gary defends recruiting again

The Sun’s Rick Maese says hundreds watched Maryland practice at Sprint Center

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Obama likes Terps today

The Sun’s Rick Maese shares story of Cal big man Jordan Wilkes

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson will also be outside factors for Golden Bears

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Hayes now ‘steady game manager’ for Terps

Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg says Gary not a fan of ‘recruiting geeks’

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Bowie will have size advantage over Randle

Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Maryland-Cal matchup of ‘distinguished coaches’

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Obama has Memphis over Terps in 2nd round

Washington Post’s Steve Yanda says Gary thinks Cal similar to Duke; who Maryland lost twice to

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Milbourne getting first chance to PLAY in NCAA Tournament today

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Montgomery has been perfect fit in Berkeley

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Bears will have to find way to stop Vasquez

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Vasquez hit midcourt shot to end Wednesday practice

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Brando, Gminski calling today’s game

DC Examiner’s Kevin Dunleavy says Gary knows Terps will have to ‘attack’ California

San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons says fans aren’t particularly interested in watching Cal at Tournament

ESPN.com’s Pat Forde wonders if Sweet 16 run could bring Gary, Yow ‘together’

SI’s Andy Staples picks Cal 88-80

Sporting News’ Dan Shanoff thinks Maryland ‘best shot’ at upset this afternoon

Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy thinks Gary probably doing ‘best’ coaching job

Terrapin Times’ Mike Ashley says Terps enjoying NCAA Tournament experience in Kansas City (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

Washington Post’s Camille Powell scouts Dartmouth

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem previews Spring QB’s (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Dan Painter checks in with Good Counsel prospect Louis Young (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Danielle Bernstein says Heels looking to snap 19 game losing streak in ACC vs. Terps Saturday

MT. ST. MARY’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says season ends for Eers with loss to James Madison in CollegeInsider.com Tournament

The Sun says Goode lead Eers with 11 in loss

Carroll County Times says Sam Atupem, Will Holland each add 10 in loss

Frederick News-Post says Dukes answered all of Mount’s runs

MORGAN BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Childs Walker says Morgan hoping for ‘higher national profile’ with Tournament appearance

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Bozeman has pulled Bears from terrible 30 year span

The Sun’s Jeff Barker says Bears will have to come up with inside answer for Griffin

Examiner Tony Wisniewski says Morgan win over Oklahoma would be ‘improbable’, not ‘unheard of’

San Francisco Chronicle’s Ray Ratto says Bozeman seeing past, present in Kansas City

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Official Site
previews Saturday’s contest with UMass

HOPKINS LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Dave Ryan says Jays weren’t happy with ‘moral victory’ at Syracuse

SALISBURY LACROSSE:

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Berkman thinks Salisbury got ‘lucky’ with Cannone

HORSE RACING:

Thoroughbred Times’ John Scheinman says state regulators looking to stop wagering companies

The Sun’s Bill Ordine says state could use ‘supertrack’

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-Congratulations to SunTrust Athlete of the Morning Jimmy Woods; who scored 6 goals and added 2 assists for Baltimore Lutheran as they cruised to a 17-1 victory over Beth Tfiloh.

Talk to you this afternoon with a Maryland/Cal live blog.

-G

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More Bad News For Gary Detractors….

Posted on 18 March 2009 by Glenn Clark

With Gary Williams’ Terps headed back to the NCAA Tournament Thursday in Kansas City against Cal; it hasn’t been a great week for his detractors. Making matters worse; Gary will almost certainly get another year tacked on to his current contract by reaching the on court and classroom standards attached to his deal. This will be Gary’s 13th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 16 years.

And for the “Fire Gary” group (or for the Rex Snider’s of the world who claim Gary is “failing”); the bad news keeps piling up.

Earlier this season; I wrote very strongly that the Maryland Terrapins basketball program was not in “turmoil”; or in any sort of peril. I made it very clear that the only thing that was going wrong in College Park was that the Terps had been falling just a bit short in the win column at the end of the season (even though the “bad years” for the program have been 19 win seasons). I seriously downplayed the perceived troubles of the program; reminding readers and listeners that the program was at a level of unprecedented success financially and in terms of overall program power.

This week comes evidence of the program’s unparalleled success from Forbes Magazine; where they inform us that Maryland is the 9th most valuable team in all of College Basketball. According to the magazine; the program is worth $16.7 million dollars; with a $10.8 million operating income. Of course that means that the program continues to make money to support the rest of the athletics department. I cannot report whether Debbie Yow has written Gary a thank you letter yet or not. But it has to be coming, right?

The article points out that the Terps generated an extra $1.1 million in revenue last year thanks to a campaign to re-assign seats based on donor level. Coming off another NCAA Tournament; and with the Steve Bisciotti “turbo donors” of the world reinvigorated by this year’s negative press towards their beloved head coach; it would be safe to assume that donations will continue to soar in 2009.

Maryland is 9th on this year’s list after being 17th on the list a year ago. The teams ahead of them in the ranking are (in order):

1. North Carolina
2. Kentucky
3. Louisville
4. Indiana
5. Kansas
6. Arizona
7. Illinois
8. Duke

and the teams behind them…..

10. Ohio State
11. Wisconsin
12. Syracuse
13. UCLA
14. Michigan State
15. Arkansas
16. UNLV
17. Xavier
18(tie). North Carolina State and Wake Forest
20. Pitt

Also this week; Jay Bilas took the time to go out of his way to defend Gary Williams; including his recruiting. In an interview with “Big O and Dukes” on WJFK in DC; Bilas was very impassioned about the recruiting issue, reminding the show hosts that Maryland wasn’t the only team to miss on a player like Greg Monroe; as even the great Coach K and Roy Williams couldn’t bring in the current Georgetown star. He also reminded his audience that Georgetown couldn’t make the Tournament even with the highly touted Monroe. (Transcript of interview provided by Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog).

After the conclusion of the interview; show host Chad Dukes questions whether or not he believes Gary Williams is really “working hard” at recruiting like Bilas claims.

It seems almost laughable to think that Gary Williams might not be “working hard” when it comes to recruiting. As if talk show hosts and message board posters are the only people that know that recruiting is the way to get talented players to play for you. Even Gary himself took a shot at the “recruiting geeks” this morning with The Junkies (again on WJFK in DC); reminding the show hosts that his recruits were good enough to get the Terps to the NCAA Tournament. (Thanks again to Dan Steinberg for the transcript).

If the Terps beat Cal Thursday; the detractors will continue to have little to complain about. If the Terps beat Memphis Saturday; it will be tough for them to complain about much of anything. If the Terps lose their opener; there will undoubtedly a smattering of “what does it matter that he made the Tournament if he can’t win” sentiment.

But either way; it has been a tough week for those who hope to see the end of the Gary Williams era.

-G

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Bozeman, not Gary, is 09′s best story in Maryland hoops

Posted on 16 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

Thursday night in Kansas City, a great story will play itself out in the first round of the NCAA tournament — it’s an amazing account of a man who was down and out but has bounced back better than ever.

It’s the best basketball story in the state of Maryland in 2009.

And, with all due respect to Gary Williams, this isn’t about the coach of the Terrapins.

When Todd Bozeman was suspended by the NCAA in 1996, it was a decent bet that his college coaching career was over.  The 8-year ban was intended to shove Bozeman so far out-of-sight-out-of-mind that no school would ever look him up again.

Booted from the college game for giving a recruit $30,000 so his parents could travel to see their son play, Bozeman spent the next ten years scouting for NBA teams and coaching amateur basketball.  The NCAA placed him in “show-cause” status, meaning no other school could hire him without providing the NCAA with reasonable cause for employing him — and then, still, the NCAA would have to approve the hiring before it could become official.

It was the NCAA’s way of giving Bozeman a lifetime ban…without actually doing it.

Bozeman’s story wasn’t just about the $30,000 cash payment he made to a University of California basketball player.  In the aftermath, he lied to the NCAA about it and became a symbol of the NCAA’s new crackdown on cheating coaches.  He was banished — for good, perhaps.

In 2006, Bozeman got his second chance.  Morgan State, fresh off of a 4-26 season and going nowhere fast in the world of college basketball, decided to ruffle a few NCAA feathers.  They explained it like this:  ”We want to improve our school and the athletic program by committing new energy and money to the basketball team.  To do that, we need a new coach.  We want to hire Todd Bozeman to get our program back on its feet.”

The NCAA complied, despite rumors that it wasn’t exactly a unanimous vote to reinstate Bozeman.

And then, Todd Bozeman did the right thing.

He came clean.

He showed up at Morgan State and faced the media.  He answered all the questions. 

“Yes, I cheated.”

“No, it wasn’t anyone else’s fault.”

“I’m here to turn my life around and show everyone that I can rebound from all of this.”

“I was punished accordingly and I’m moving on.”

There was no bitterness in Bozeman’s voice when he was announced as Morgan State’s new head coach on April 26, 2006.

A few years after his suspension, the NCAA asked Bozeman to testify at a hearing involving Jerry Tarkanian’s cheating scandal.   Bozeman, they assumed, could listen to the evidence and connect the dots.  After all, if you’re going to try and nab a cheater, why not bring one in and let him be the judge, right?

Bozeman refused.  “I’m not violating that code,” Bozeman said at the time.  “If they have evidence against Jerry, they need to bring that out themselves.  I don’t know anything about his situation.  I’m trying to get mine straightened out.”

Some basketball folks in the country pressured Bozeman to testify, reminding him this would be a great opportunity for the former Cal coach to do the NCAA a favor…and, perhaps, they’d do one for him in return.

Bozeman didn’t testify.

Morgan State then came along, took the gamble of all gambles – hiring a confessed cheater – and Todd Bozeman was back. 

He had done wrong, paid the price and was wanted again.

And, he did it all his way…which, turned out to be the right way.

It hasn’t been the smoothest of rides for Bozeman at Morgan State.  While the Bears and their fans have been enamored with his work on Hillen Rd., opposing schools have chided him over the last three seasons with chants of “Thirt-ee Thous-and” – clap, clap, clap-clap-clap – “Thirt-ee Thous-and”.  He’ll live with that forever, no matter what accomplishments he garners from here on in.

Still, he remains unfazed by it all and refuses to take shots at his detractors.  “I’ve moved on from that,” Bozeman stated.  “I’m trying to win basketball games and reward Morgan State for giving me a second chance.  I don’t have time to worry about what people are saying.”

In 1993, Bozeman’s Cal Bears beat 2nd seed Duke.  The 29-year old fresh-faced coach of Cal was the talk of the college hoops industry.  Six years later, he was the talk of the industry again — only this time, for the wrong reasons.

This Thursday in Kansas City, Bozeman will again be the talk of the industry when the Bears face Oklahoma in the opening round of the tournament.  He has done the unthinkable – Morgan State is going to the NCAA’s big dance.

Regardless of what happens in Kansas City, the Todd Bozeman comeback story is now complete.

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