Tag Archive | "greg"

Please welcome Damon Yaffe (a.k.a. The Bulldog) to the WNST airwaves

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Please welcome Damon Yaffe (a.k.a. The Bulldog) to the WNST airwaves

Posted on 02 April 2012 by WNST Staff

WNST is proud to announce that beginning Monday, April 9th at 10 a.m. we’ll have a new mid-morning show to add to our AM 1570 radio airwaves. Longtime Baltimore sports talk lightning rod and football expert Damon “The Bulldog” Yaffe will begin hosting a two-hour daily program with help from longtime friends Paul Mittermeier and Greg Marsh.

Heard from 10 a.m til noon each weekday, Yaffe’s crew will focus on all Baltimore sports with fun conversation, guests and lots of banter about the state of the local sporting universe including the Orioles, Ravens, Terps and local lacrosse.

Thryl Nelson will continue to host a two-hour version of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” from noon til 2 p.m. while he’ll also focus on some special projects and sales at WNST.net and AM 1570.

Please welcome our new WNST family members and make them feel at home back on the radio in Baltimore.

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The Orioles will be better next year — and more new lies after The MacFailure

Posted on 28 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Our cool, growing (and still free!) sports media company had another great B2B-Business To Business event last week in Towson with @CoachBillick and an old friend and reader of WNST.net approached me and asked the eternal Orioles question:

“So, Nasty, I’ve read all of the issues regarding the Orioles and Mike Flanagan and Andy MacPhail and Free The Birds, but what are we as fans going to do? You need to offer solutions…”

Well, virtually every human being I’ve spoken to over the last three years – and I still have a ton of friends in upper management at Major League Baseball and all over the league — has concurred: this just isn’t going to change on the field as long as Peter Angelos is involved in Baltimore baseball ownership.

But, of course, I came to that conclusion five years ago when I did the original Free The Birds rally and campaign because in my mind – and time has proven me correct – this was long past the point of no return with the local community and most people of integrity within the baseball community in 2006.

And what I’ve come to realize is that this REALLY bugs the hell out of my internet critics – the fact that I’ve been right and honest and accurate all along.

I don’t think it took any “orange Nostradamus” or 19 chapters and 75,000 words worth of my book to predict that this civic nightmare would continue given Angelos’ tactics, mindset, age and propensity through his 82 years on the planet to want to fight with people. He sues people for a living.

I knew a long time ago that it was getting worse and not better. I knew it was going to become an easy $50 million annual profit center given the deal that Angelos negotiated with Major League Baseball once the Washington Nationals were hatched. I wanted to believe he was telling the truth in 2006 but he clearly wasn’t honest and indeed got the “last laugh.”

But I must say my worst fears of where this sick tale was going in 2006 never really factored in the possibility that Mike Flanagan would be committing suicide five years later in the middle of a fifth consecutive last-place season.

But I’m not at all surprised that the team has finished in last place every year since Free The Birds.

And I’ve now spent four full years without a press pass for this last-place debacle and sick civic disgrace while the team’s head of baseball operations runs away from me at public functions when I ask a few questions.

I’ve been asking myself for a month how the Orioles are going to handle this offseason of obvious unparalleled despair. Despite the kid gloves Captain Profit Andy MacPhail has been treated with here by his local media co-workers who are disguised as journalists — his tenure here is now complete and was a large, profitable “MacFailure” .

He’s slithering out of town in the dead of the night after changing exactly NOTHING about the Baltimore Orioles in real terms, other than the profit line. Oh, and there’s the spring training home in Sarasota that was 15 years overdue – and now another publicly-aided profit center — I don’t see anything about the farm system, the future or the current state of the roster that’s appreciably better than before.

I know this much: four years, four last-place finishes. That’s the record. It is what it is.

The whole franchise stinks.

What happens to Buck Showalter is anyone’s guess but word is he’ll be the new poobah in charge of “baseball operations” at 10:07 p.m. after Red Sox playoff magic leaves the Charm City – and all that really means is that he’s the next victim who will make a few million and go back to where he came from (in this case Dallas) a few years later with a tainted resume and some more losses and evenings of angst.

Of course, if he really thinks Angelos is committed to winning a World Series, angst is only the beginning.

Just 13 months ago Showalter said he knew what he was getting into with Angelos

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I’m free at last to “take the stand” in Jennifer Royle (ex-MASN employee & current CBS Radio employee) v. WNST.net

Posted on 29 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Tick tock, tick tock…as time slips through the hourglass so goes Jennifer Royle’s 15 minutes of fame in Baltimore.

She’s now been here about 18 months and today figures to be the last time she gets a headline in the Charm City. Her lawsuit against me, WNST and my employees Drew Forrester and Glenn Clark, was completely without merit.

This costly and damaging witch hunt and blatant attempt to injure my company and a reputation that I’ve spent 27 years of my life erecting here in my hometown of Baltimore as a “tell it like it is” journalist in the style of my heroes John Steadman and Howard Cosell – is now complete.

Time and facts have proven that WNST never did anything inappropriate.

Ms. Royle dropped the case after our lawyers filed a motion asking a judge to order her to answer a series of questions that she didn’t want to answer.

Instead of responding to our motions, she took her marbles and went home.

As we stated all along, we did nothing wrong at WNST.net. Her allegations were a public affront to me, and an attack on my personal integrity and the value of everything we’ve built this 21st century local media company to stand for publicly over the past two decades.

My company and my personal reputation have been greatly damaged over the last six months with this black cloud of nonsense, gossip and bogus lawsuit, and I’m glad to publicly tell you today that we prevailed, but what we’ve received lacks justice for me, my employees, and our families.

Despite all of the havoc she’s wreaked inside of my company and the damage to my reputation in the community with her allegations, in the end Jennifer Royle got nothing, zero, zilch – not one penny of WNST money, which was her motivation from the outset. So, I suppose she “lost” this battle although I’m not sure it cost her any money at all to create this media firestorm so perhaps she’s a winner.  Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

Many of you had never heard of her before her face graced the front pages of local periodicals as a “rising star,” while suing the one local media company that has the audacity to tell it like it is regarding bad journalism, media competition and the “hush hush” politics surrounding the Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos.

And as much as my company can claim some sort of public “victory” today, I know I’m not a “winner,” that’s for sure. This was a game of legal chess and a complete waste of time and energy that no one in my company ever signed on to play.

Outside the hundreds of wasted hours of nonsense, grief, rumors and lies, it’s certainly been a life-altering, educational experience.

And, really, quite personally disheartening for a kid from Dundalk who grew up with next-to-nothing and has worked diligently, legally, ethically and with great passion and energy to make a great, authentic local company like WNST.net that lives and breathes to serve this community and make the internet, mobile devices and radio work against all odds and against the biggest giants of the media industry in the marketplace.

The garbage we’ve endured in this case was unimaginable until I realized how the incredible red tape of these lawsuits work.

But even after voluntarily offering to drop all of her charges last week via her attorney, she gave me her “concession speech” while wearing a press pass in the Ravens media lounge.

Two weeks ago before the Chiefs game, just hours after it became official that Royle was giving up her case, she approached me at a table with other reporters standing nearby and gave me her “post-litigation” quote while wearing a Ravens credential:

“What the f**k are you looking at? I did you a f**king favor. ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT! ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT!”

By the way, these were the first uninitiated words she’s ever spoken to me, and the first time she’s ever engaged me in any conversation.

You want the truth about Royle v. WNST?

You might not be able to handle the truth…but it’s a click away right HERE.

I’m told that I’m finally free at last to speak my mind and tell my side of the story. So, while I was anxiously awaiting the trial next June and taking my seat in the courtroom and having the facts told in great detail because we have nothing to hide, instead I’ll take the stand here at WNST.net and tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As usual…

That, by the way, is all that I’ve done for the past 27 years.  I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of writing, editing, reporting, critiquing, praising and evaluating the Baltimore sports scene in the media. I wrote 1,500 stories for The News American and The Baltimore Sun before I was 23 and began my radio career on Dec. 13, 1991. I’m three months short of 20 years as a radio host and local entrepreneur whose been traveling the world and living in and loving this city and its sports scene.

I report facts. I opine and analyze on Baltimore sports and just about anything else that I feel compelled and authentically interested in espousing my feelings about regarding topics I feel I’m qualified to opine. We live in America. I have First Amendment rights and free speech.

But today I’m here to tell you that “free” speech isn’t free.

Jennifer Royle is a competitor in sports media who we think is inferior as a journalist, and we really don’t care who knows it. She’s a public figure. She goes on the radio and the internet and her Twitter page and opines on all sorts of things that we believe she’s unqualified to evaluate as a professional Baltimore sports expert. Here’s my opinion: her opinion on Baltimore sports is so insignificant as to not be ever mentioned again by me or anyone at WNST.net.

And other than a few occasions in the past when we pointed out how off base she was in some commentary or a blog, we really gave Miss Royle very little attention in her first year in Baltimore. Honestly, other than as an occasional punch line -– which is all she is as a “source” or “insider” in our sports universe of legitimate experts — it wasn’t worth the effort.

And after this blog her name will never roll off my lips again. I have no interest in Jennifer Royle, nor have I ever had any interest in any aspect of her life before getting sued by her and being subjected to reading the daily drama of her existence on Twitter and all over social media. The biggest “favor” she did me was dropping the lawsuit so I no longer had to monitor her mindless web ramblings, which most certainly robbed me of my time as much as the lawsuit robbed me of sponsors and some dignity that I’ll never recover in some segments of the community who convict those in the court of public opinion and on the 5 o’clock news.

Now, let’s address this crazy lawsuit, which countless numbers of you have asked me about since it led the evening news back in March, and then we’re done with it.

And here’s another link. It’s almost 300 pages long. As you can imagine, it’s an arduous read but it contains everything you need to know about what Jennifer Royle alleged in Royle v. WNST (Aparicio, Forrester & Clark).

All I need to say will be said here: WNST will not be taking phone calls or posting any “he said/she said” commentary after we speak our peace (or is it piece?) this week. We are through with this chapter of sick, pointless litigation. And we are most certainly through with Miss Royle and her drama.

Enough, already.

We have families to feed, sports news and commentary to get to in football season and a community to serve in Baltimore.

For those of you coming here to read because you:

A) Love me
B) Hate me
C) Know me
D) Care about me
E) or you’re just a curiosity news-seeker

I will say this: I appreciate that you care enough to read on and care to know my side of the story. And I have a feeling the company she works for won’t be featuring this on the evening news the way they did when their employee was the plaintiff — but only time will tell. And I have a feeling that The Baltimore Sun won’t make the dismissal of this case a front page story the way they did when I was the defendant. And even though the story leaked last week during the awful tragedy regarding Mike Flanagan’s suicide, no one has reached to me to get my side of the story the way they all called me unprovoked before I had even been served papers back in March.

So, here’s how I really feel: This was the most despicable act purported on me in my lifetime by anyone I’ve never even met.

The amount of hours, explanations and mind space I’ve had to spend on a woman who I’ve never even had a conversation with or have given a nanosecond of my time or energy to since her self-aggrandized arrival 18 months ago and someone I’m not remotely interested in knowing anything personal about is mind-boggling.

What a country we live in! That’s all I can say.

This country and our legal system and tort law is very, very, very f**ked up – that much I’ve learned in the last six months since her threats began with a letter from her lawyer Brian Goodman of the law firm of Hodes, Pessin & Katz advising that they intended to sue my company, which would clearly harm my company and help Royle’s company, CBS Radio, have a competitive advantage over WNST.

But there was no way WNST was ever going to admit guilt where none existed. Sure, it would’ve been easier, but anyone in my life who even thought of recommending that cowardly behavior was dismissed and you can only imagine my anger at the notion of doing anything that impugns my integrity as an honest journalist.

I’d rather die.

And anyone who knows me will tell you that.

And Miss Royle wound up getting exactly what she deserved in the end: nothing.

As I wrote four months ago when this fiasco began, I have nothing to hide. There is no smoking gun. We’re by far the most read, commented, followed, text-based, Tweeting, blogging, content machines at WNST.net and all of it is purposely designed to be public.

My company immediately and eagerly produced droves -– if not tomes — of unedited, unaltered information and contents of all kinds for Goodman, Hodes and Royle. We have tweeted over 50,000 times. We have Facebooked vigorously for three years – tens of thousands of threads, comments, entries and pictures. We do 12 hours of very visible, downloaded audio and radio every day. I have personally sent and received more than 100,000 emails in the last year.

Not a speck of actionable material about Jennifer Royle was anywhere in our evidence.

Same with Drew Forrester.

Same with Glenn Clark.

We have hundreds of Tweets, posts, replies and evidence that would say that Jennifer Royle has had a rocky road with Baltimore sports fans and their public (and warranted in our opinion) criticism of her work and credentials as a local sports expert. She burst into Baltimore on the tail end of the Anita Marks era at 105.7 and CBS Radio and was quickly put into the Orioles clubhouse with a MASN/CBS credential.

And aside from any tangible evidence regarding this case, to publicly allege as she did in her lawsuit that we gossiped about her personal life or her sex life, based on blogs and tweets in which we said absolutely no such thing, is just preposterous and an affront to everything we stand for at WNST.net in reporting the facts about sports in Baltimore.

The shocker to me was that a respected firm like Hodes, Pessin & Katz — a group of people I considered long-time friends and who were involved in ownership and housing WLG-AM 1360 when I wrote more than $250,000 in checks to their company back in the 1990’s brokering airtime for my afternoon “Sports Forum” radio show — would take a case like this against me and think they’d win.

The original charging documents tried to plead that Royle is NOT a public figure, which I don’t think I needed to enter the Peter G. Angelos Law Center at my old University of Baltimore alma mater to research.

And I can’t imagine that anyone on her side of the fence ever realized that large portions of her personal life and relationships are an absolute open book on her Twitter page where she loudly and proudly interacts with the many famous friends she has in sports and openly denigrates fans and co-workers every day quite publicly. She openly Tweets with athletes, celebrities and media people on a daily basis about her physical attributes, her dog, her nephew, etc.

But the amount of absolute gibberish in their charging documents would’ve been laughable had it not been a blatant attempt to wreak havoc on my life and company and shake me down for money.

They actually spelled my name wrong when they sent the court papers and did so many times throughout the documentation.

They were demanding $800,000 and they didn’t know how to spell my name?

They served me papers three different times, so much so that I felt like I knew the poor retired police officer (and WNST fan) that chased me around town for two weeks in March. They even sued the wrong company at the wrong address in the beginning.

Quite frankly, I don’t need to opine too much about the specifics in the case.

They’re all RIGHT HERE for you to peruse.

But, in general, it seems Miss Royle can take anything we say on the radio or the web and somehow believe it has some link to her.

She somehow managed to complain in the lawsuit about a Tweet I sent regarding a half-price discount for one of our sponsors and think it was about her.

Go through pages 156 through 181 of her allegations in the lawsuit and see for yourself some of her charges.

She also complained that we nominated her for “Orioles Apologist Of The Month.” She and her legal team thought they could sue us for this? And win?

Her legal papers also allege that a caller made a reference to “Jen Midol” on WNST. It might not be too polite but it’s certainly not grounds for a lawsuit against me.

She even reached to Orioles poohbah Greg Bader, hardly a fan of mine or WNST, and attempted to involve him on Page 178.

But, thankfully, this circus is over.

And let’s make no mistake about it — WNST is NOT a winner. We lost. We lost big time. But Jennifer Royle didn’t get a penny from WNST.net.

I suppose that’s my “victory.”

But I’ve been victimized. When someone calls me or my team rumormongers and even whispers that anyone at WNST made comments that they never actually made is personally bothersome to me.

All told, I think this whole experience was despicable.

Not that this does me any good or helps me recoup damages to my name that might last the rest of my life in the public forum.

I have sponsors who dropped us. I have others who declined to do business with us or take an appointment with us. I heard whispers around every corner about WNST and me and perceived guilt. I had jealous rivals and unappreciative ex-employees cackle and desperately hope that WNST.net was guilty and going belly up.

Can you imagine my lack of humor when someone who identifies themselves as a WNST fan comes up at an Orioles game and asks if my station is going to be renamed W-Jen-ST once she wins the lawsuit.

This was no joke to anyone at WNST and isn’t a good conversation starter for me or Forrester or Clark.

The worst part has been being around the Ravens organization and having media members and members of the organization look at Drew, Glenn and me as pariahs or seeing us “guilty before judgment.” And the gender-based claims in this suit clearly imply that we’re somehow misogynists, when our wives, girlfriends and mothers are aghast that their loved ones could be accused of this kind of “social crime.”

But, in the end, this was exactly what my local attorney Steve Miles called it four months ago: a shakedown.

And my legal team was world class. If you have people making outrageous claims on you in the media space, you want Chuck Tobin and Drew Shenkman of Holland & Knight on your team. Those guys are the REAL heroes in this case. They’re two of the smartest, best dudes I’ve met anywhere in my travels. Rock stars and First Amendment Americans!

I owe a debt of gratitude to every one of you who said a kind word or dropped me a line with support and love. Thank you, Baltimore!

I run a company full of good people who are all honorable, work hard and want to be great. We love Baltimore sports as much as you love Baltimore sports and that’s why we’re here. And at this point, if you doubt those words you’re just a hater.

But, if you are a WNST hater who has read this missive this far, I’ll just assume you’re a hater who cares.

And I wouldn’t wish this sort of character assassination on even my most hated competitor.

This affected my 55-year old general manager Paul Kopelke and his family. This affected parents and wives and small children in the case of Drew Forrester. My wife, my mother and son all went through this with me and Drew and Glenn and our families and loved ones as well as all of my employees and supporters.

For me, it’s about integrity.  It’s about right and wrong.

I can say beyond the shadow of a doubt that this was the most evil, heinous act ever performed upon me so Miss Royle should at the very least take a bow for scraping the bottom of the barrel in my 43 years on the planet.

When my 92-year old mother in Dundalk saw my face on the evening news looking like a criminal getting sued by a female journalist with hurt feelings and I look guilty on TV and in the newspapers when we’re perfectly innocent — well, that’s a little hard for me to take without both anger and sadness.

We were the No. 1 most viewed news story at The Baltimore Sun for almost two days when the lawsuit was filed, so I know the local media paparazzi and my competitors were waiting outside of the courthouse door for a “guilty” verdict on WNST that was never coming.

We’re moving on, but I’ll never forget this or forgive the people at corporate monoliths and competitors CBS Radio and MASN for bringing this out-of-town troublemaker into Baltimore to wage war on loyal local sports fans and on my company in the press, on the internet, and with contacts in local organizations via a baseless lawsuit that lacked any merit at all but landed her above the fold in newspapers all over town.

Where is she today to answer questions? She was the one throwing around dozens of crazy accusations?

Where’s her credibility now?

And what did she ever do or say to earn anyone’s trust in this community as a legitimate voice of Baltimore sports expertise?

I’ll leave that up to you to decide now and in the future.

Who do you trust for your news? And what is their agenda?

Our agenda at WNST.net has always been crystal clear:

To fully realize the potential of the vast audience our brand has acquired in Maryland over the past 17 years, WNST.net will be the dominant, honest voice in Maryland media by providing the “real” content of what’s happening in sports in our area.

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

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

And I want to stress again: we never did anything wrong, unethical or nefarious. Through all of these dramatic accusations, Miss Royle forgot to bring the one thing into the legal arena with her – a real case with any evidence to back up her heinous allegations.

And just as I wrote four months ago when this fiasco began, none of this will change how little she knows about Baltimore sports or how much Baltimore will “embrace” her greatness now that this sham and attack on my life and the lives of everyone connected to me and WNST is apparently complete.

Justice will never be served on my side of the ledger but WNST will forge ahead and not look back.

We will always be the real place you turn for Baltimore sports news and information that you can trust.

And Jennifer Royle will always be remembered as the female sports reporter who sued WNST on the front page of the newspaper and didn’t win. Period.

It’s football season. The Ravens are on the field and we’ll now go back to doing what we do best – bringing you the best sourced information, the most reliable news and analysis in Baltimore sports media.

We hope you enjoy what we do at WNST.net. And if there’s something we can do to get better, please drop me a note: nasty@wnst.net.

And it goes without saying, we’re always looking for local businesses to partner with and market to Baltimore sports fans just like you and me.

Thanks for supporting WNST.net and all of our families and friends. We appreciate you and look forward to continuing our growth and greatness with our new lineup in the fall.

FOR OBVIOUS LEGAL REASONS WE ARE NOT POSTING COMMENTS TO THIS BLOG OR REGARDING THIS SUBJECT MATTER. WE CONSIDER THE CASE OF ROYLE v. WNST CLOSED. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING…

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I always had great Eck-spectations for my best pal and Dundalk wrestling hero Kevin Eck

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I always had great Eck-spectations for my best pal and Dundalk wrestling hero Kevin Eck

Posted on 24 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been an emotional week for me on many levels with more big news forthcoming about WNST.net and its future, so please allow me a little space today to write a very personal blog that comes from the heart.

Kevin Eck – you probably know him as the “Ring Post” guy at The Baltimore Sun — has been in my life since 1979 and for large swaths of time we were as close as any brothers could be. We met at the Games store at Eastpoint Mall (remember that place?) at an autograph signing for Billy Smith. We also both met Al Bumbry, Scott McGregor, Mike Flanagan and Rich Dauer (his favorite) there on the north end of the mall during that “Magical” summer. I was a legitimate “mall rat” at Eastpoint Mall in the early 1980’s – PacMan, soaping the fountains, that sorta thing.

As Bruce Springsteen once wrote so eloquently in the E Street Band classic, Bobby Jean: “We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we like the same clothes.” That could’ve been the story of Nestor and Kevin. Except we liked the same girls, baseball, football, basketball, rock bands and, of course, professional wrestling of the WWWF and the land of Bob Backlund and George “The Animal” Steele.

This isn’t just a story about my lifelong best pal from Holabird Junior High and Dundalk Senior High. It’s not just a media or journalist story.

It’s really about a kid from Dundalk who dreamed of working in professional wrestling and next week is embarking on a journey of a lifetime.

I can say with all of the conviction in my being that Kevin Eck ate, slept, talked, walked, learned, researched, watched, critiqued, worked in and worked out of nothing but the world of professional wrestling.

The genesis of our friendship wasn’t born of the Orioles or Colts or any rock music band like Rush — and they’re all closer to the heart of our friendship. The truth: Kevin was the only other WWWF wrestling aficionado and wrestling magazine nut when I was in the 7th grade. It was our special bond – a love of the squared circle and the work of Bruno Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham, Greg Valentine and Andre The Giant.

So, this isn’t just about another “Dundalk boy did well” story, it’s more like a Willy Wonka kind of story with imagination .

Look, I could tell Kevin Eck stories all night. Chasing girls in the 8th grade. Attending every middle school and high school dance. Girlfriends, births, deaths, jobs, journalism, careers, wives…we’ve done it all.  Crazy weeks in Jamaica. Long weekends in Ocean City. All-night benders in Las Vegas and San Diego. You name it. World Series games, crazy cab rides that I chronicled in “Purple Reign” when Eck was the first person in Baltimore to hear the news that the Browns/Modells were moving their NFL franchise to Baltimore.

Eck and I have been around the world together and have shared our lives together. If you want to see a bunch of crazy old, embarrassing pictures I posted them all on my Facebook page here. Please feel free to fan me and I’ll try to make you laugh more often.

And there’s nothing better in life than when your friends do well. Nothing!

Especially when your oldest friends succeed and thrive and live their dreams.

Kevin Eck’s life and dream came full-circle and into the squared circle a few weeks ago when he accepted a job to work on the WWE creative team with Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Dusty Rhodes in Greenwich, Ct. He’s packing up his family and moving to take a job a lifetime at Titan Tower.

In baseball, we’d say he got the call to “go to the show.”

And this must be what it feels like when your brother or best friend or son makes his first big-league start.

You almost want to pinch yourself for them, you know?

Our lives and our career paths have followed a similar, strange path – we’ve worked directly in the same industry as competitors for the better part of two decades and somehow have managed to keep our friendship (and that’s not always easy with two fiery personalities).

I got a job at The News American in September 1984. He soon followed.

I got a job at The Evening Sun in January 1986. He soon followed at The Sun.

I left The Sun in January 1992. He left a few years later to go to work for Ted Turner and WCW as a magazine editor in the last 1990’s and was there during a turbulent corporate time when Vince McMahon’s then-WWF empire usurped the entire industry and my pal came back from Atlanta having to start his local journalism life all over again.

Because of his immense talent and deep depth of knowledge of local sports, Kevin got his job back on the editing desk at The Sun, right back in the sports department. He began writing his passion – a little blog called “Ring Posts” a few years ago and it quickly became a viral hit. (As I told him it would be…)

So many times I talk about expertise in journalism, integrity in reporting and fairness in news judgment and I’m proud to say Kevin Eck has all of that and has for the most part been a “behind the scenes” guy at The Sun, who never had a high profile beat but has been a rock star in his department on the high schools and the dirty work that so many don’t want to do in the journalism business — editing, planning, managing people.

He’s kind of like that lunch pail rock star football player – a Jarret Johnson, Kelly Gregg kinda underrated guy. But a guy you’d never want to lose. And he’ll be the first guy in the clubhouse and the last to leave.

The Sun is taking a major hit losing a guy like Kevin Eck, especially given his deep knowledge of Baltimore sports, which I sadly never put to better use. I always thought Kevin would’ve been a star doing local sports talk radio and I told him that. But he already had a gig and one that both of us dreamed of having as kids, which is what took us into the newspaper business back in 1984.

We both watched “The Odd Couple” as kids and wanted to be Oscar Madison, truth be told.

Meanwhile, the WWE is getting a rock star – someone who is so dedicated to wrestling that it honestly baffled all of our friends, especially when it became apparent through his mom taping every single episode of every single match on VHS tapes for the better part of 25 years.

Kevin Eck has watched as much wrestling as Mel Kiper Jr. has watched college football tape.

Seriously…

This summer, as a hobby, I took it upon myself to work on one project outside of direct WNST sales and development business and that’s been collecting all of my pictures, memorabilia and boxes o’memories to use on my Facebook page and in an upcoming reality TV show I’m participating in with a friend. (I can’t tell you more about it until they let me.)

Two weeks ago, at the bottom of a box, I found this gem of a memory.

And even though it happened on July 25, 1981, I remember it pretty well. Kevin and I were crashing at his Mom’s house and we began working on a project to quietly unseat Vince McMahon from his kingdom by publishing our own Pro Wrestling magazine. We were gonna make millions with this partnership venture.

His mom Shirley, who has struggled with her health lately and was like a second mother to me, was the only person we knew who could type so she was our typesetter and we had to go to the library to make copies and we planned to sell them for 25 cents.

Kevin and I worked all night to make the inaugural (and only) edition of Wrestling, Inc. with Dusty Rhodes on the cover.

That was 30 years ago last month. I don’t think Kevin has missed a WWE wrestling match since 1981.

Other than Dave Meltzer and perhaps Alex Marvez, my pal Kevin Eck is as expert about all things professional wrestling as anyone on the planet outside of Vince McMahon himself.

There’s not much Kevin Eck doesn’t know about pro wrestling, except now he’ll be on the inside of the WWE kingdom helping put on the show and make it better.

He’s off to the WWE to make a difference to follow his dream.

He loved The Baltimore Sun. He loves Baltimore sports and has quietly dedicated his life to it the way I did.

I was the loud boisterous pal. He was always the quiet one in the shadows.

I traveled the world, got syndicated, did my thing and he was always so supportive – like a brother – through all of my victories and challenges.

Kevin did the family thing, came back home to Baltimore to be a factor at his dream job in The Sun sports department and now he’s gotten the job of a lifetime at WWE and one that he’s richly deserving of and one where he’ll thrive and be the best in the world.

You should follow him. You should root for him.

I’m so proud of him and so happy for him that I could explode.

I just wanted to brag on my pal, spread his great news and tell him “good luck” in the most public way that I can because I’m proud of how his hard work has paid off for him.

And I have a feeling I’ll be watching a lot more WWE and SmackDown in 2012 and pining away for the days of Lord Alfred Hayes and Captain Lou Albano.

And if somehow they could only bring Bruno Sammartino back into the ring for one night at the old Civic Center!

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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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Cameron and Mattison orchestrate Ravens win over Saints

Posted on 19 December 2010 by Drew Forrester

A weird thing happened in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 30-24 Ravens win over New Orleans Saints.

There was no defensive meltdown. Not from the Ravens, anyway.

Baltimore got a pair of Billy Cundiff field goals in the 4th quarter and held off a spirited Saints comeback to win a huge showdown on Sunday and improve to 10-4, inching closer to a 3rd consecutive AFC playoff spot in the process.

This game – offensively – was about two people: Ray Rice. And Joe Flacco.

Rice ran through, over and around the defending Super Bowl champs, scampering for 153 yards on 31 carries. And when he wasn’t using his legs to dampen the Saints’ hopes, he used his hands, catching 5 balls for 80 yards including a superb 17 yard over the shoulder TD grab in the second quarter.

And Joe Flacco, asked to appropriately manage the game today as Baltimore’s running attack exposed a weak Saints defensive front, did just that in completing 10 of 20 passes for 172 yards. Flacco accounted for two TD’s in the air and was mistake free in compiling a QB rating of 112.9.

That Baltimore’s offense failed to score an offensive touchdown in the second half for the fifth straight game was of little issue afterwards.

This was a huge win for John Harbaugh and Company.

And it was also a day of recovery for the team’s offensive and defensive coordinators, as Cam Cameron and Greg Mattison were both spot on in their game plan and the execution thereof. Cameron looked at the stats, saw a New Orleans defense that was vulnerable against the run, and decided not to play games by out-fooling Sean Payton and his coaching staff. Cameron used the run to his team’s benefit and it worked magically all afternoon, as poor tackling highlighted the New Orleans defensive lapse.

Mattison, meanwhile, sent pressure early and often to start the game and gave Drew Brees fits throughout the first half. Brees, generously listed at 6’0″ by the Saints, struggled at times during the first 25 minutes based mainly on the fact that Baltimore’s outside pressure kept him in the pocket and limited his vision over the Ravens defensive line. Even in the second half, with Baltimore’s defense on its heels, the Ravens were able to make life difficult for Brees. And on the Saints final drive with three minutes to go, the Baltimore defense held firm and forced a 4th down attempt that was picked off by Cory Redding to seal the game.

This time around, unlike other Sunday’s (and a Monday) when the Ravens defense crumbled as the game moved into the final quarter, Baltimore got the win BECAUSE of their defense, not in spite of it. It was a good thing to see.

Chalk this victory up to a perfect storm of sorts. The players played well and the coaching staff coached well. This game was won on the field by Ray Rice and Joe Flacco, but it was sealed by Cameron and Mattison, who developed a strategy, stuck to it, and had their players execute it to near-perfection.

For as much grief as they’ve taken this year, a private “atta boy” hug was probably shared by the two coordinators after the game.

So the Ravens move on to Cleveland now, where the Browns await next Sunday, licking their chops and trying to win for the “hometown fans” who despise a visit from the purple about as much as we in Baltimore hate a visit from the horseshoe in the midwest.

For now, though, all is well in Baltimore, where the Ravens held off the defending Super Bowl champs today and looked awfully good in doing so.

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Our pledge: we’ll continue to try to “help” the Orioles

Posted on 10 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

So since Greg Bader and the Orioles’ last remaining flunkies and apologists have again begun to spread “anti-WNST” venom in the web community with lies and false allegations about my integrity or intentions, I suppose it’s my turn to “react” and spew venom. Sorry, I’m not going to get caught up in it and, honestly, I have no time for negativity and nastiness.

The Steelers are playing tonight and we’ve got two events – Donna’s in Dundalk and the Twestival at Ramshead. The Ravens are playing on Sunday. I’m honestly feeling really good about WNST and Baltimore and the changing weather. I’m in a good mood. I’m not going to allow the Orioles and their shallow souls and mean-spiritedness to wreck Opening Week of the NFL season.

The blog that Drew put a lot of effort and words into properly tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As has been our stated mission from inception: we wanted to help the Orioles. We wanted to extend an olive branch. We wanted to take them up on THEIR offer to come to the ballpark for $1. We wanted to show our sincerity by donating to Nick Markakis’ Foundation. (Drew DID leave out one big issue in his blog. I wanted to give half of the charity money to Living Classrooms Foundation but Drew talked me out of that, saying the “critics” would say there was something beneficial or self-serving on our part by giving money to our own charity.)

Once again, the Orioles have spurned and aggressively rejected (if you doubt that, I’ll post the official “cease and desist” letter we got from MLB’s legal eagles) our heartfelt, sincere and completely transparent attempt to help them fill a few seats in their empty ballpark while they’re 34 games back in the AL East.

All we wanted to do was once again publicly state our support for the city, for the future hope of the Orioles and try to be, as Charley Eckman would say, “right guys.”

So much for kindness but what do you expect in a country where elected officials stand up and scream “LIAR” at the President of The United States and get away with it?

Civility and forgiveness are not always concepts I’ve embraced or possessed but they’re certainly character traits that I’ve improved upon every day over my nearly 41 years on the planet.

My track record for building bridges and sincerity speaks for itself.

I CLEARLY had major problems with the Washington Capitals for a decade. Now, Ted Leonsis and I are email and Facebook friends and he understands my sincerity and love of hockey because he finally took an hour to hear what I had to say. And, I’m overjoyed to participate and help the Caps and NHL become a part of the Baltimore sports landscape. I love hockey. I’ve always loved hockey.

We are currently partners with Towson, UMBC, Loyola, Stevenson and virtually anyone else who would reach out to us and ask for help.

I’ve had a 17-year partnership and goodwill with the Blast — and before them the Spirit.

I have tried time and time again to reach out to the Maryland Jockey Club with very spotty results. Like the Orioles, they have a brand that is a husk of what it used to be but I’ve always maintained that the Preakness is the most significant sporting event we have in Baltimore. The MJC has routinely spent gobs of money supporting virtually every media entity in town except for WNST. But, if they call today and ask for help with the Maryland Million later in the month, we’ll do all we can to help them because we think it’s important for the community.

My relationship with the Ravens has always been more-than-strong over the years, and quite frankly we’ve ALWAYS pissed off their media partners because I expose their general laziness and malaise which has oft-times created friction. (Truth be told we’re the REAL “R****s Radio” and have been since Nov. 1995). Oh, well. We do tell the truth.

Oh, and the former Super Bowl-winning head coach is my business partner and great friend.

I don’t feel the need to list my resume or charitable contributions item-by-item or how many things we’ve done to support the community and be a great partner to hundreds of businesses and people over my 25 years in the media — going back to The News American and The Sun in the mid-1980′s.

We don’t just TALK about making the city a better place — we live it every day in every aspect of our company. We promote Baltimore sports and have great and sincere enthusiasm for it.

And, honestly, my biggest problem over the years has been being TOO honest when there’s always corporate pressure to lie and ignore the orange elephant in the middle of the city full of empty green seats.

But, I leave the bulls***ing to the rest of the charlatans who sell media around the city like WBAL, CBS Radio, Pressbox, The Sun and anyone else who takes a check as “hush” money for the miserable state of the city due to the devastation of a baseball team that drew 3.7 million into the city in 1996 and now draws a little more than 1 million over 80 dates.

So, now after 25 years I’m going to jeopardize my credibility by scamming, scheming and a lying over $1 tickets to a miserable last place team’s baseball games? When there wasn’t a penny to be earned and when I probably “deep down” knew that the Orioles would act like the vindictive, petty people that they are?

And during the biggest football week of the year when it would have been perfectly acceptable to ignore them? (Their own flagship radio station has been ignoring them for six weeks now!)

Like somehow, WNST was “secretly” plotting some ugly event on Tuesday night at the ballpark? Trust me if we wanted to do a “protest,” we’d just do one like we did in 2006.

We’ve tried to use the carrot. We’ve tried the stick. We’ve tried the olive branch. We’ve tried emails. We’ve tried phone calls. We’ve used every means of communication possible to reach these people but they continue to ignore us because they think we’re “unimportant” just like their leader said three years ago.

But no one can EVER say that we haven’t tried. Time and time again, we’ve tried to be civil to these corporate thugs and try to find a way to make them understand that we love the baseball team more than they do.

Well, we’re NEVER going to give up. That much is assured.

But we’re never going to lie for them or accept their false allegations about my character or my intentions or WNST’s purpose or mission to “fix” the team.

We’ll try to bring them another olive branch in April and see if they piss on us again.

Like they always do.

My phone line is open. All they have to do is call. I do email, text, Twitter, Facebook, radio, etc. As most of you know, I’m probably the most accessible human being in the city.

But it’s not their style or their intention to “make up.”

They only know about war and lawsuits and battle. Check THEIR track record on that!

They don’t believe in peace and goodwill and partnerships and trust — and in my mind, that’s the REAL reason the stadium is sitting empty with another last place team in 2009.

They can’t even get along with Cal Ripken and Brooks Robinson.

What prayer do I have?

On to the purple weekend…

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Where are the Fundamentals

Posted on 13 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

Where are the Fundamentals

 

All preseason long all we have heard from Trembley was how this year’s Orioles team was going back to the basics.  They are going to be playing fundamental ball and that is how the team will become a contender once again in the American League.

 

While the Orioles have started an impressive 4-2, especially when you consider those first six games came against the Yankees then the Rays, the fundaments for this team have been missing.  To many times I have seen this team make boneheaded decisions on the bases which leads me to question the fundamentals that this team is suppose to be predicated on.

The season is still young but in every game this year there has been some sort of poor base running decision that has cost the Orioles base runners or advancement on the bases.  Greg Zaun has been the culprit for many of those type of mistakes.  In only four games he has been able to get on base 5 times, 3 hits and 2 walks.  One of the times he some how managed to get doubled off of second on a line out to right field.  As Zobrist made a diving catch in right center Zaun was caught hanging off the base and was consequently doubled off.  One might say he was trying to get a jump thinking the ball would fall in but look at the situation.  There was nobody out and if that ball got by Zobrist it goes to the wall and Zaun scores.  If Zobrist does not come up with the ball but knocks it down then the Orioles have first and third with no outs.  That is fundamental baseball.  Know when to take chances and when not to.  On the opposite side of the spectrum two games earlier Zaun hit a ground rule double which sent Pie to third with no outs.  Izturis hit a grounder up the middle and the second baseman makes the playing throwing him out at first.  Pie scores but for some reason Zaun is still sitting on second.  Why?  Some will say he got a bad read on the ball.  But if he were following the fundamentals of base running that would not have mattered.  The ball was hit up the middle and Pie broke for the plate.  That should have been the only thing that Zaun was paying attention too.  If the pitcher catches the ball he throws Pie out at the plate and Zaun would have advanced to third.  If the pitcher misses the ball, as was the case, then Zaun is on third with one out.  The point being here is that all Zaun needed to do fundamentally was keep an eye on the runner in front.  If he runs Zaun runs.  It is that simple.

 

I am not just picking on Zaun here.  It seems like every game we have had some one thrown out on the bases and we have also witnessed several other players fail to make the fundamental decisions on the bases.  Just yesterday Adam Jones failed to tag up on a ball hit to deep left center with nobody out.  He stayed at second and as a result never scored in the inning.  Roberts, who usually is a very effective base runner, has also victimized this team with poor decisions on the base paths.  In the opener he took off for second while the pitcher still had the ball and thus he got picked off.  The next day after drawing a four pitch walk and watching a wild Wang fall behind 2-1 on Jones he attempted to steal second.  The throw from the catcher was short of second and he would have made it easily.  But he did not.  For some reason he stopped half way and got thrown out when the ball was relayed to first before he could get back.  I guess it was a botched hit and run but with a player with the speed, and base running skills of Roberts, this should not happen.  If he is going to run he needs to commit to stealing the base and the Orioles will be forced to live with the results should he get doubled off.

 

The Orioles have come out of the gate quickly this year but if they hope to keep their success going it will be because they play the game fundamentally well.  So far they have been able to overcome some fundamental mistakes but over the course of the year this team is not talented enough to be able to consistently do this.  The Orioles need to start concentrating, especially on the bases, to make sure they are not costing themselves opportunities to add runs to the scoreboard.

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Orange fireworks: Players and Trembley flip Peter Angelos “The Bird” today in The Sun

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been saying for years that Fort Lauderdale Stadium and the Orioles’ sub-par Florida spring training situation is by far the biggest sin of all of their many sins and finally the folks over on Calvert Street are doing some “investigative journalism” with the orange birds. The club’s No. 1 promise to the public is that it’s doing everything possible to commit all of its resources to fielding a winning team.

That’s the goal in baseball: winning a championship. You always want to give your team the best chance to compete.

The Angelos family hasn’t done that for the entire tenure of their ownership in regard to the significance of spring training as anything more than a line item expense. The mere fact that they’re the only organization in the sport to have “two camps” in Florida that sit three hours apart is telling enough. It’s bad business. It’s bad baseball. It’s just inexcusable, unacceptable and dumb.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium is a dump. It’s a disgrace. It’s been a disgrace for the entire balance of the 15 years they’ve played there. I’ve worked many, many a morning and pulled many 12-hour days at Fort Lauderdale Stadium doing radio and covering baseball back when I was a “real” media member. I’ve spent 100 days of my life at that facility over the years before the team banned me from having a press credential.

Most of the fans here in Baltimore never make it there and it’s not like the team does anything to market having fans come south with their off season efforts. So it kinda goes unnoticed and when I bitch about it – and again, I think it’s probably the most obvious and lousy “white elephant” of all of their many sins – the fans don’t really care or “get it” but it’s so bizarre and so blatantly “bush league” in the eyes of anyone who knows anything about baseball from management to players to coaches to the locker room attendants that it defies description.

Just the mere fact that the visiting teams come in and see the situation and don’t lay down negative comments day after day is astonishing. Apparently, according to The Sun, the situation over at the minor-league camp is even worse. I haven’t personally been to Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota since 1995. It was “amateur” then, but not in disrepair. It was “minor league” but it wasn’t “unsafe” as several of the opposing teams indicated in contacting MLB and refusing to schedule games against the Orioles farmhands.

But the quotes in The Sun aren’t from Nestor. Or Drew Forrester. Or the glowing crap you’ll hear on MASN from Jim Hunter, Fred Manfra and the “boys club” who all take their paychecks from Peter Angelos.

They’re from the players themselves, who also take their paychecks from Peter Angelos. And it’s precisely these types of stories that makes Angelos ban a guy like me from having access. Because the players would be talking my ear off to get their message heard in the public eye.

Today’s whoppers and haymakers from their best people and players are “instant classics” and are sure to have the Angelos family in “flip out” mode on this Friday before Opening Day. It’s almost like all of the players just got together and decided to give the team’s ownership a rectal examination of unprecedented proportions.

This morning, it’s like Brian Roberts, Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora, Dave Trembley and Jake Arrieta are on the front page of the local newspaper wearing FREE THE BIRDS shirts!

Here come the quotes:

Dave Trembley: “I think we’ve finally reached the point where it’s fish or cut bait. We’re in the business of developing players. What would enhance that development is a facility that is more conducive to us all being all together and being on an even playing field with the other clubs.”

Brian Roberts: “I think most of us would be lying if we said this is what any of us would expect from a major league organization.”

Aubrey Huff: “When you have a big-league team that has a weight tent with rented weight equipment located in the parking lot, that’s pretty sad.”

Melvin Mora: “That’s the worst field I’ve ever played on in my life and I’m from Venezeula.”

Chris Ray: “I don’t know what to say about the facility other than that it just needs to be leveled and rebuilt. It’s a shame. You draft someone, hype them up and then they go to that facility and they’re like, ‘Wow.’ I think that’s a little bit embarrassing.”

Jake Arrieta: “We’re all very blessed to be in the situations that we’re in, but it also comes with the territory that you expect to have nice facilities to work out in. Not that we’re tired of Twin Lakes, but I all think we deserve something better.”

And here is my favorite, from a minor-league farmhand named Mike Costanzo, who was given the “Nestor treatment” by the franchise: “We were told to not say anything about the field, but if nobody says anything, it’s never going to get fixed. It’s tough to get quality work in here.”

I guess Nick Markakis must’ve been in the shower or “unavailable for comment” on this one.

Costanzo’s quote is almost poignant to me because that’s EXACTLY what FREE THE BIRDS was all about.

“If nobody says anything it’s never going to get fixed.”

It almost brings a tear to my eyes. I’m a BIG Mike Costanzo fan all of a sudden. I’ll be monitoring that young man, who showed some big-league bravery for that quote but will undoubtedly be in the corporate “doghouse” for life after that one.

Aside from being quality journalism by Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly, it’s the kind of story in this economy that will piss off Angelos so much that you might even see the fireworks ads get pulled from the May editions. Mr. Angelos reads The Sun every day and will be ripe and randy today, no doubt about it.

I can hear him now…

“The insubordination. These ungrateful millionaires. How dare they speak this way about our franchise to the media!”

There’s one thing Peter Angelos hates the most and that’s hearing the unfiltered truth about how bad this franchise is in so many ways in print or in the media. Seeing his highest-paid employees flipping him the bird in the morning fishwrap – well, that’s gonna make for an interesting weekend.

Of course, Angelos and his son John declined to speak about the “Fort Lauderdale situation” in the media.

The worst part are the paper-thin and almost silly quotes from Orioles spokeperson and huge WNST fan, Greg Bader, who knows less about P.R. than any P.R. person I’ve seen in 25 years of doing journalism for a living.

Now, apparently, a baseball expert and groundskeeper, Bader officially deemed the field in Sarasota “perfectly safe and adequate” after a handful of visiting MLB teams refused to show up and play games there.

I’ve only met Greg Bader twice, but my guess is that he never played an inning of baseball in his life. Or pitched on unmeasured mounds? Or caught a two-hopper after it hits a rock in the dirt? Or had to work out to get into shape for a 162-game Major League grind that baseball demands.

(As an aside, the first thing I learned when I began doing sports radio in 1992 and hanging around baseball players was how HARD the job was. As a kid it sounds like a fun gig, but being a Major League Baseball player is HARD, HARD work. These guys make millions of dollars and if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Baseball players live pretty difficult, complex lives from April 1st through October 1st. I have great respect for the work they do, which can only come when you see it first hand.)

Bader also said the club has “always had the urgency” to find a new home. That is just a stupid, silly thing to say. Urgency? They’ve had 15 years and roughly 80 percent of the MLB teams in South Florida have relocated or found better situations since the Orioles landed in Fort Lauderdale by sheer accident in 1996, after going several years in weird and bad situations in Miami and St. Petersburg.

They’ve been offered at least five sites that I can think of over the years – from Sarasota to Orlando to Vero Beach to Jupiter to Winter Haven — and have never done anything to rectify the combination of the major and minor league camps, which should have been done in 1997 or 1998 at the latest. No other team would DREAM of having a split camp and say they’re serious about a winning organization. It’s just unconscionable.

The 2009 season has already gotten off to a rocky, rocky start.

They have absolutely zero starting pitching. Jeremy Guthrie has been dreadful. Koji Uehera certainly bears watching but the rest of the retreads from Adam Eaton to Mark Hendrickson to Rich Hill to Danys Baez to the soon-to-be-celebrated Alfredo Simon are just arsonists of varying degrees at this point.

Brian Roberts isn’t healthy.

They’re still banning free speech in the media and being miserable and unprofessional to deal with at every level.

And now, every level of their organization from manager to players to minor leaguers are popping off in the morning newspaper about how “bush league” their ownership is in regard to spring training and a commitment to winning. It’s like a scene out of “Major League” but the Orioles have become the Indians.

Next Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay still doesn’t have a starting time and the Ravens are expecting 20,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium that morning and afternoon for an Inside Lacrosse doubleheader and no one in the city knows what the parking situation might be. The game is eight days away. You’d think they’d announce to the Tampa Rays, their season ticket holders and their employees when the game will be played. (Again, this kind of management is just unheard of in professional sports in 2009.)

Oh, and the Yankees are bringing 30,000 obnoxious fans into town on Opening Day to cheer for Baltimore’s greatest homegrown player in a generation as he takes the field at Camden Yards wearing pinstripes.

Oh, and advance ticket sales have been abysmal and they’re having a “Fan Fest” tomorrow that feels like a rumor around town.

Other than that, things are just fine in Birdland.

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Orioles continue to lie about WNST and press credentials

Posted on 01 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

At some point, the Orioles will “get even” with me by winning. Maybe that’s in 2011? Maybe that’ll never happen, but that’s not even the point. The point is that they really believe “Nestor and WNST are out to get us.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

No, I’m simply here to be honest and to continue to tell the truth about the way the ballclub is run, the way it functions and the way it continues to be a poor community partner for the city and the fans who literally BUILT the franchise between 1954 and 1994. The gobs of empty seats and a daily series of empty phone lines anytime we attempt to discuss the Orioles, their strategies or their rationales paints the true picture of how far the franchise has fallen. The opposite of “love” isn’t hate. It’s indifference. This year the Orioles will almost certainly continue a 12-year spiral downward as a franchise. They’ve all but admitted that there will be less people in the ballpark then there have ever been.

I could write for hours or days about all of the lies and cover-ups and shenanigans that the team has pulled over the last decade while going roughly 70-92 every year since 1998 and making a fortune off of the fact that the Washington Nationals exist allowing them to own MASN and its money-printing machine.

You don’t care to read it and I know I don’t care to write about it anymore. At this point, if you’re not smart enough to believe the truths that I put forth and verify with facts and evidence then the joke is really on you.

Honesty is not a pride issue with the Orioles. It’s simply a mere inconvenience. Take the team’s stance on something as fundamentally American as “free speech.”

It’s not news at this point (although it would be if it were Scott Garceau or Peter Schmuck or Roch Kubatko getting banned from doing what they do to feed their families) but the Orioles have once again denied me my absolute right to free speech in America by wrongfully denying me a press credential to cover the team’s home games this year while credentialing even the interns who work for me at WNST.net. It’s their little way of “getting even,” which is apparently an obsession in their small, petty world.

But people who speak out about injustice have been persecuted since the beginning of time all over our planet. Denying me a press credential to Camden Yards when I’m granted one by every sports entity on the face of the planet (including working press visa credentials by the Chinese AND Cuban governments!) is undoubtedly a restraint of trade issue. It’s most certainly a discrimination case. And it’s illegal – every expert I’ve spoken with says I have a slam-dunk legal case, but one that will cost me roughly $100,000 to pursue – but let them have their “fun” in banning me from coming to their press box while I report on their team all summer from behind a microphone and here in my blog at WNST.net.

They can artificially restrict my access at home games – and again, I was in Los Angeles last weekend on the field at Dodger Stadium with a MLB-granted press credential talking to Brian Roberts and Jeremy Guthrie – but the joke isn’t on me. It’s on them!

Every chance they get to show their “class” or their “ass” it’s always a safe bet that we’ll see them take the lowest road possible. Nothing they do surprises me or casts shame upon them any further than their own record on the field and all of the remnant space inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards over the last decade.

I’m a journalist. I’ve been a journalist since I was 15 years, since 1984 when I walked into The News American with John Steadman. I report facts. I research sports and the business of sports and how it works with great gusto and passion. I’m accountable and I’m professional. And I report to you what I know and what I think about what I know. Like the great John Eisenberg, I give facts and opinions and clearly separate between the two.

Fact: The Orioles have been amongst the worst teams in professional sports since 1998. (Fill in record here…)

Opinion: They’re going to stink in 2009 because they have no pitching but the organization finally has some kids who make the team competitive in a few years and this kid Matt Wieters is the No. 1 prospect in MLB this year.

Fact: Nestor Aparicio led the biggest protest and walkout in baseball history when nearly 2,500 people left an O’s game in the third inning of a game on Sept. 21, 2006. (Yes, it’s been 2 ½ years already!)

Opinion: The Orioles will lie or go to any length to try to get even with Aparicio for the rest of his life because of “Free The Birds,” which quite frankly might’ve helped them get better and that was the whole goal of the movement.

(By the way, two weeks from now when the team sports those sexy “BALTIMORE” jerseys, make sure WNST and Drew Forrester get the requisite credit. We fought for that for a decade!)

Two years ago, when I was told by “spokesman” Greg Bader at the front gate of the stadium that I wouldn’t be getting a press credential he then told Rick Maese of The Baltimore Sun that I wasn’t being credentialed because the team only credentials “working media members who are on the air, not radio station owners.”

Well, I’ve been back on the air every day for three months now and this week they called my staff (they never even speak to me or return emails or communicate in any way) to give them the newest excuse, which we all saw coming. They just move onto the next lie.

“Nestor gave up his right to a press pass with the walkout because it showed that he’s not objective,” the Orioles P.R. girl told my Vice President.

I suppose that Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra and Roch Kubatko are “objective” in their analysis of Orioles baseball in 2009 while Peter Angelos writes their paychecks?

Why don’t they stop lying and “reaching” and just tell the truth?

“The Orioles hate Nestor Aparicio and will go to great lengths to ‘get even’ for that stunt he pulled in 2006 even if it means looking like arrogant fools and banning him from our home stadium without any justification or legal reason.”

The only promise I make to the WNST audience and to anyone who loves Baltimore sports is to keep telling the truth and to keep reporting on the progress – good and bad – of the Baltimore Orioles. And we will continue to chronicle their on-the-field activities all summer here at WNST.net.

We’re even running a series of bus trips again in May and June to see the Birds play in New York, Washington and Philadelphia.

Every pitch, every hit, every game WNST.net will cover the team with the only truly “objective” voice in the marketplace. That’s our strategic advantage. You know we speak the truth and act with integrity.

When they play well and do good things, we’ll commend them as we’ve done for 17 years. The truth? They haven’t done much right or well since 1997 — on or off the field. The Angelos family has essentially slaughtered two generations of baseball civic pride in less than a decade and chased away more than 2 million people per year from downtown and from the ballpark.

But the city badly needs the team to win. The city needs Andy McPhail and Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta and all of these young players to be “the real deal.” (My real opinion is that the team needs to be sold to a new owner to ever fully blossom but the last time I said that they took away my press pass.)

But, if they lose and their pitching stinks and they jog out ground balls and do stupid things in the organization (like not showing their Florida spring training games on a TV network they they own and we pay big money for every month via our cable bill) we’ll also chronicle and comment on that.

We hope you participate and hold up your end by actually watching the team play this spring and summer and call into AM 1570 and speak what’s on your mind freely in a free society regarding the baseball club.

I speak for everyone at WNST when I say that we want them to win. We NEED them to win. We need someone, ANYONE to actually care about the team again.

The city needs them to get better. The businesses downtown need them to get better. But in the meantime, it’s 2009 and they look every bit as bad this season as they have for years, especially when no one in the city can name three of their starting pitchers. Oh, they’ll hit the ball for sure. But the games might be a six-month series of four-hour marathons if they’re going to win 75 games.

But that won’t stop me from being at Hooters on Monday at 2 p.m. with Bud Light giveaways and eternal hope that there will once again be quality Major League Baseball in Baltimore.

As Jim Valvano once said: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

I’ve got plenty of “fight” left in me, even if it’s from the stands and my living room and not in their locker room or front office.

I don’t want to fight with them. I’ve never wanted to fight with them.

I just want them to win and bring the “old Magic” back.

Oh, yeah — and be honest, which they never seem to be able to muster.

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