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Dear John Vidalin: Welcome to Birdland where baseball ain’t great and beer ain’t so cold anymore

Posted on 08 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear John:

First, welcome to Baltimore. As I can see from all three of your LinkedIn profiles, you have spent a lot of time running the revenue parts of professional sports organizations all over the continent.

As we both know, it’s the dough that pays for the doughnuts – or the crab cakes in this case. So as the incoming Chief Operating Officer for Business Operations for the Baltimore Orioles, I’m gonna treat you the same way I treat Dick Cass up in Owings Mills. (And if I find out you gave a kidney to save someone’s life, you’ll get even better treatment, too!)

I’m the last of the local sports historians and media moguls around here – and the last one who doesn’t work for Peter or have to answer to the powers that be at MASN or around The Warehouse to dispense facts and information. So, with me you’ll get what my WNST business partner Brian Billick always called the “unfiltered information”– as opposed to the C.Y.A. nonsense and smoke being blown rectally from various parts of what’s left of the Baltimore Orioles brand upon your arrival.

By the way, I’m also the only media guy in Baltimore who loves hockey. And I even loved it before last month! I’m guessing 99 is a magic number in your life and part of the reason why you do this for a living. I hear you’re a nice guy. Calgary Flames. Time in the NFL, Houston and San Francisco, then Miami and the Heat after the chill of a post-Lebron world in the NBA.

All those situations, leagues, people, egos, money, sponsors, expectations – and then the hardest part – winning. And you’ll have nothing to do with that but as you learned along the way, it’ll have everything to do with what you do and your success here in Baltimore.

You were involved in the really awesome Colin Kaepernick and Jim Harbaugh parts of the San Francisco 49ers lore before the move from Candlestick to Santa Clara that literally wrecked the franchise. The losing certainly didn’t help what was a shaky proposition all the way around in moving to Levi’s Stadium – but you knew that. You also worked within a “unique” family dynamic there so I know you must be keenly aware of what you signed up for here. Plus, you spent some time with the Washington Caps before they found Alex Ovechkin, so you saw the Orioles demise up close before the Nationals ever existed in the DMV.

You were also part of the remnants of the post-Lebron craze in Miami so you know what it looks like after the party is over. Sports is tough sell down there where the girls are pretty and the beach eternally beckons. So is hockey, as you know, but I must say I was blown away by the brand of the Tampa Bay Lightning and #GoBoltsGo across the Everglades this spring in my travels.

And the Houston Texans have always had everything – a well-funded owner, fresh start, a built-in fan base, lots of money, people and mixed nationalities to market and sell stuff to and a great defense and stadium – but without a quarterback it’s been just another starving place waiting for the Astros or Rockets to come along and win. They might even finally have one in DeShaun Watson!

You run a sports franchise. You need stars. You need wins. You need someone and something to market beyond a cartoon bird, a beautiful stadium and a pricey afternoon or evening of lousy, fifth-place baseball.

I’ve watched it here with Cal Ripken and Ray Lewis. And Johnny Unitas and Bert Jones and Joe Flacco, and Eddie Murray and Ed Reed and Frank Robinson. Stars are stars for a reason. Stars create winning. Stars helps sell stuff. And then the spigot flows from there.

And when you lose, well…

You know.

Just look out that window in your new, spiffy office with that incredible sunset view on any night this summer when the gates are open for business and you’ll see what happens when a team has abandoned its fan base for a generation, is getting its ass kicked 38 miles to the south in an unwinnable war by a far more powerful and better-run baseball brand, and is in the middle of losing 100 games and giving away all of its players.

Welcome to Camden Yards, circa 2019!

You’re in charge of the biggest shitshow in town, John – the Baltimore Orioles!

A chance for a new start?

Or a career risk with plenty of warning signs and dark clouds?

Hey bro, you came from Miami! They’ve won two World Series in a climate conducive to baseball 365 days a year and still couldn’t figure out how to sell beisbol to my kinda people from Venezuela, Cuba and Latin America and a coast full of hibernating New Yorkers and New Englanders.

And you know why, right?

Oh, sure the stadium has been in the wrong place twice but the real reason no one on earth is a Marlins fan is because the owner was the biggest asshole in South Florida and every human being, every politician, every business owner, every fan – black, white and brown – knew it.

Even the manatees and alligators knew it.

He was a ruthless shark with zero regard for the fans or any emotional intelligence beyond the lies and trail of profit in bilking the community politicians, while raiding the tax kitty and sucking on the civic titty. It was a badge of honour for any South Florida sports fan to stay away from that shitty monstrosity out in the middle of nowhere anyone would ever want to be on a summer night in Miami.

I experienced it personally when I tried to swab a few people to save lives down there in 2015 on my MLB 30-30 #GiveASpit tour. The Marlins reputation as a terrible franchise preceded them and they managed to even be worse. Derek Jeter will be spending the next decade trying to find people who can love baseball in a blimp in South Florida. (But he’s got at least one guy in Baltimore who loved the painted girls in the pool at the Clevelander!)

Sure, laugh at them. You sold against them so you know they were a punchline on South Beach! And yet you probably have no idea how close Orioles fans came to having Jeffria Loria be our douchebag owner here in Baltimore. He finished a very close second place.

You can read the history of how your new boss beat out that guy for the kingdom of Baltimore Orioles baseball on a hot summer day in 1993 in The Peter Principles. 

All of your experiences in these mixed markets and various sports will serve you well now that you’ve made it to the dying, fourth American sports brand of baseball in a market that lacrosse has infiltrated as a primary sport like a bacteria on termites in the spring and summer calendar of affluent (and not so affluent) white people in the suburbs of your primary (and now pretty-much only) market.

This would be one of the great turnaround stories in modern times, as I pointed out to Louis and John in their #DearOrioles letter, if this franchise is playing meaningful baseball games in August and September anytime soon.

I would petition the mayor of Baltimore in 2028 to change the name of the Inner Harbor to “Loujon” if they pull off a Rocky Wirtz-style turnaround with the Orioles and we start having parades around here.

I’m pulling for you – even if I never get my legitimate press credential back, which I’ll get to – because what is good for the city is good for me. I’ve been waiting all of my adult life for the Baltimore Orioles to capture the imagination of the community. I’m no longer holding my breath – or words and truths – for a lot of reasons.

I like that you are a hill charger. I’ve liked every Canadian I’ve ever met. (Well, except for Denis Potvin. He still sucks!)

I, too, am a hill charger, a tower jumper and a wall climber. I am a dreamer. I have delusions of grandeur. You can ask, Peter Angelos!

I’ve been charging The Warehouse wall with facts and legitimate questions since it was erected. At some point it’ll fall like Berlin. But it can’t keep going the direction it’s going – older, emptier, poorer, worse, less attractive, more expensive, harder to access, easier to ignore – and survive long term in Baltimore.

You can’t reach for the ceiling if you don’t know where the floor is located. I can assure you that you are closer to the basement than the attic and gravity is winning. Losing on the field is going to be the least of your problems if you’re truly going to be “in charge” of the Baltimore Orioles.

Most people in every lonely cubicle in your new digs at The Warehouse will tell you I’m the village asshole ­and have been for 27 years – “the worst former media guy in Baltimore who still owns his own radio station, broadcasts all day and reaches 100,000 a week but nobody listens to him” – because I ask legitimate and fair questions and don’t like it when I’m lied to or ignored on behalf of the fans after three decades.

Mr. Angelos says I’m fake news.

He’s taken away my access to do what feeds my family over the last dozen years. His actions regarding the press and media – as well as his stance on foreign players and in the international market – have a lot in common with the guy who runs our country.

I can’t be controlled. So, therefore, I must be destroyed.

I’m not worthy of a media credential because I won’t lie for his franchise or associate my name with his deeds without

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Houston Chronicle staff football writer John McClain.

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John McClain talks the Houston Texans disappointing season at 3-5

Posted on 05 November 2015 by WNST Staff

Houston Chronicle staff football writer John McClain.

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Canty misses second straight practice, Ravens make change at long snapper

Posted on 18 December 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Defensive end Chris Canty missed his second straight day of practice as the Ravens move closer to a Week 16 meeting with the Houston Texans.

The veteran is nursing an ankle injury, but he downplayed its significance when talking with reporters on Wednesday. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones (illness), safety Will Hill (non-injury), and left guard Kelechi Osemele (non-injury) all returned to practice Thursday after not participating the day before.

The Ravens also experienced their latest season-ending loss as long snapper Kevin McDermott was placed on injured reserve with an elbow injury and Patrick Scales was signed to take his place on Thursday morning. Previously signed to take the roster spot of the injured Morgan Cox (knee), McDermott beat out Scales in a tryout back in late October.

Scales spent the 2011 and 2012 offseasons with the Ravens and is held in high regard by special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.

“It’s certainly not ideal. It’s not something you plan on doing or you want to have happen,” Rosburg said. “But the good news is we have a guy coming here [who] has been here before. Our guys know him. He knows our system. He understands our calls. He has been through it for two training camps, so we’re not starting from scratch. We’re making the best out of an unfortunate situation.”

The transaction means the Ravens now have 17 players on IR, their highest total since 19 were sent to IR in John Harbaugh’s first season as head coach in 2008.

Tight end Owen Daniels and linebacker Daryl Smith both received Thursday as a veteran day off.

Cornerback Anthony Levine (ankle) and running back Bernard Pierce (back) were both practicing after being listed as limited participants on Wednesday.

While the Texans remained mum on their starting quarterback situation Thursday, head coach Bill O’Brien said tight end Garrett Graham is unlikely to play Sunday as he continues to recover from a high ankle sprain.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) is considered a game-time decision against the Ravens.

Below is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Chris Canty (ankle), TE Owen Daniels (non-injury), LB Daryl Smith (non-injury)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: CB Anthony Levine (ankle)
FULL PARTICIPATION: S Will Hill (non-injury), WR Jacoby Jones (illness), G Kelechi Osemele (non-injury), RB Bernard Pierce (back)

HOUSTON
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: TE Garrett Graham (ankle), WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle), CB Johnathan Joseph (ankle), LB Mike Mohamed (concussion), QB Tom Savage (knee), G Xavier Su’a-Filo (back)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: LB Brian Cushing (ankle), RB Arian Foster (hip)
FULL PARTICIPATION: T Tyson Clabo (foot), LB Akeem Dent (neck), CB Kareem Jackson (knee), WR Andre Johnson (concussion), LB Whitney Mercilus (back), LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee), DE J.J. Watt (non-injury)

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Bring your coats to Adams Jeep and meet Justin Forsett!

Posted on 12 December 2014 by WNST Staff

We’re right in the midst of our annual coat drive, this year benefitting the unbelievable mission of Goodwill Industries. Our next event in which YOU can bring your coats or other winter apparel to benefit our drive is this coming Tuesday, December 16th, at 7:30PM at Adams Jeep of Aberdeen. We’ll be hanging out with Ravens RB Justin Forsett. As you know, this is Justin’s first year in Baltimore and we can’t wait for him to experience the purple love that we know you’ll show him as the Ravens head down the most important stretch of the season.

Instead of charging to come to the show or for an autograph, all we’re asking you is to bring a coat in order to meet Justin and get his autograph. The folks at Adams Jeep have listed the event on eventbrite.com, and the “tickets” are limited as there is a very high demand. If you have been able to secure a ticket, simply bring your ticket along with at least one piece of winter clothing for Goodwill. (Note: We would love for you to bring more than one piece of winter clothing, but we can only guarantee one autograph per person, regardless of how many items you bring given the time restraint and the fact that we need to have Justin out of Adams Jeep in time for their game in Houston on Sunday, December 21st).

If you have not been able to secure a ticket, we would still love for you to come out and hang out at the show, help our cause, get swabbed courtesy of There Goes My Hero if you haven’t already, and PERHAPS there will be time at the end to say hello to Justin. We just can’t guarantee it as these events have been known to get a bit crazy given the passionate purple fans here in Baltimore, and we don’t want anyone to leave with a bad experience. This is a night of purple fun, holiday spirit and giving, and an overall celebration of what Ravens fans are all about! So we hope to see you out at Adams Jeep on Tuesday with coats in hand!

As always, thanks to our presenting sponsor Carl Delmont & Freedmont Mortgage for their continued support. Don’t make a 30 year mistake by choosing the wrong lender. Call Freedmont Mortgage! Also thanks to our good friends at Royal Farms or being a part of this event, as well as Enoch Office, Rugenix, and UMBC. Thanks to Goodwill for being such an awesome organization and partner of WNST and we can’t wait for another huge Goodwill truck to pull up to the WNST studios to pick up this year’s batch of clothing from our coat drive! And it goes without saying that if you need an awesome jeep and are looking for a car buying experience like none other, with a staff that makes YOU feel like part of THEIR family, you better check in with the people at Adams Jeep of Aberdeen. They can do things to your next jeep that you never even knew were possible. Trust us!

Last but certainly not least, as mentioned above, There Goes My Hero will be in the house once again adding people to the bone marrow registry. We’ve swabbed 100 new people over the past week at Greenmount Station & Buffalo Wild Wings Bel Air. Our goal is to match that number in one night on Tuesday night at Adams Jeep. Click here for more info on the swabbing process and requirements.

Thanks to all of you for continuing support everything we do in the community at WNST. If you all didn’t continue to show up and support our sponsors, events, and charity initiatives, we wouldn’t be here. We appreciate each and every one of you during this holiday season, and we can’t wait for you to join us in 2015. We’re dreaming big and we hope you’ll join us along the way!

 

 

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Eagles’ Barwin knows Kubiak will make emphasis on run game

Posted on 31 January 2014 by WNST Audio

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Daniels would be interested in Kubiak reunion if made a cap casualty by Texans

Posted on 31 January 2014 by WNST Audio

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KILT’s Lord thinks Kubiak hire stablizes Ravens offensive philosophy

Posted on 28 January 2014 by WNST Audio

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Win over Texans wasn’t pretty, but the playoffs aren’t supposed to be

Posted on 15 January 2012 by Peter Dilutis

The Baltimore Ravens are 60 minutes away from going to the Super Bowl.

What more can we, as fans, really ask for?

The Ravens just beat a very good Houston Texans team. Yes, T.J. Yates was their third string quarterback, but that is a very tough, physical, good football team that the Ravens defeated today to advance to an AFC Championship date with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in Foxborough.

Let me repeat that. The Ravens just advanced to the AFC Championship game.

Was it pretty? No. Were there mistakes made? More than we can count.

But this isn’t week three anymore. This isn’t the Browns or Colts or Bengals.

There is no need to develop the offense or defense or special teams to better prepare for the rest of the season. The Ravens do not have to worry about developing an identity or getting any style points.

The Ravens just need to win. And they did just that today.

Just win, baby.

One down, two to go.

Fans that let the boos roll off their tongues today, while a great minority, really displayed a loss of perspective and logic.

This is the playoffs. The team on the other side of the football is a really good team. The Houston Texans were playing on January 15th for a reason.

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Lance Zierlein says expectations are tempered for Texans with Yates at QB

Posted on 14 January 2012 by WNST Audio

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills stands on the sidelines during the game against the New York Jets on October 18, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Bills defeated the Jets 16-13 in overtime. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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The “BREAKOUT Athletes” of 2010 …..

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Rex Snider

While I enjoy compiling these annual lists and rankings of performers, I also sense a bit of relief when making the transition from the BAD lists, to the GOOD lists. Fortunately for me, today marks the beginning of the positively-spirited rankings …..

We will begin with the BREAKOUT ATHLETES of 2010. Admittedly, this was a tough group to determine, as I was forced to eliminate names such as Danny Woodhead, Maurkice Pouncey, Jason Heyward, Jacoby Ford, Brandon Jennings and Rory McIlroy.

In developing this list, I employed some distinguishable criteria:

A) Athletes must be professional; no college or amateurs

B) BREAKOUT = reaching a lofty status never realized in prior seasons. For example, I would say Joey Votto is not a BREAKOUT athlete, because his 2009 statistics were similar to the 2010 numbers.

So, without further delay, here is my list of the BREAKOUT ATHLETES of 2010 …..
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10) Ryan Fitzpatrick – I will be the first to admit this guy was nowhere near the radar on my prospective quarterbacks for the 2010 Fantasy Football rankings. But, Fitzpatrick emerged as a legitimate NFL arm, this season.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18: Ryan Fitzpatrick #14 of the Buffalo Bills stands on the sidelines during the game against the New York Jets on October 18, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Bills defeated the Jets 16-13 in overtime. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

The “Amish Rifleman” has delivered 23 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions, for nearly 3000 yards, in his first full season in a starting role. Fitzpatrick is one of those players who inspires the journeymen, as he’s finally realizing success and opportunity in his 6th NFL season.

I realize the Bills have a bad record, but they’ve played much better than the overall record reveals, and Fitzpatrick has undoubtedly been the driving force behind a team that hasn’t quit.
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9) Stephen Curry – this former NCAA single season scoring leader emerged onto the NBA scene during the 2009-2010 season and paid immediate dividends on the Golden State Warriors investment of the 7th overall pick, in the ’09 Draft.

Jan. 03, 2010: Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry during an NBA game between the Golden State Warriors and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX Dallas defeated Golden State 110-101.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Curry is quickly becoming one of the NBA’s youngest stars. He finished 2nd in “Rookie Of The Year” voting, while averaging 17.5 points per game in the ’09/10 season. And, he’s capitalizing on his early success by averaging 20.5 points per game, in the early stages of this ’10/11 season.

His younger brother, Seth, plays for the Duke Blue Devils, which means he’s already disliked by Terps fans.
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#8) Jose Bautista – I could’ve nabbed Bautista from the waiver wire many times during the 2010 Fantasy Baseball season. But, as the games slipped by and the homeruns mounted, I simply reasoned this “hot streak” would eventually come to an end.

Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista stretches before play against the Colorado Rockies during an interleague game at Coors Field on June 13, 2010 in Denver.     UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

Well, it didn’t. Jose Bautista finished off his 2010 season with 54 homers, 35 doubles and 124 RBI. These gaudy numbers easily dwarfed any prior season statistics for the Blue Jays slugger. Can he do it, again, in 2011? We shall see …..

I’m betting NO …. but, he’s proven me wrong before !!!!
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7) Neftali Feliz – along with Elvis Andrus, Feliz has helped Rangers fans to forget about a guy named Mark Teixeira. Both players arrived in exchange for the former Texas slugger, in 2007.

July 23, 2010 - Arlington, TEXAS, UNITED STATES - epa02259290 Texas Rangers closing pitcher Neftali Feliz against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the ninth inning at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas, USA, 23 July 2010.

At 22, Feliz used the 2010 campaign to firmly establish himself as a premier closer, in Major League Baseball. The heralded rookie saved 40 games, while striking out 71 and walking 18, in just 69 innings.

I’ve got a distinct feeling we might be witnessing the next version of Mariano Rivera …..
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6) Peyton Hillis – I can imagine Ravens fans will remember Hillis’ breakout game for a long time, huh? In the 2010 home opener, Ray Lewis and company witnessed a bulldozing Hillis as he rushed for 144 yards with a perceived ease.

CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 07: Running back Peyton Hillis  of the Cleveland Browns celebrates their victory over the New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 7, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Was it an aberration? Nah …. Hillis has seized his opportunity as Cleveland’s premier running back, while rushing for 1100 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first full season as a starter.

It’s hard to believe the Broncos traded him for Brady Quinn – which is probably just another factor leading to Josh McDaniels’ firing, in Denver.

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