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A weekend of MASN and Baltimore and Washington and “Battle of Basement”

Posted on 24 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, if they weren’t going to get the sweep at least they lost in dramatic fashion. Jamie Walker gave up a prodigious grand slam to Adam Dunn in the 7th inning and the Nats beat the O’s 8-5 to avert a sweep in D.C.

Brad Bergesen pitched well enough. The Orioles battled and the game was pretty nip and tuck through the middle innings with lead changes, big hits and competitiveness. But it all unraveled in the 7th for the O’s bullpen after Bergesen hit the shower.

I’ve spent all three days pretty much glued to the TV watching this series. I was just as amazed by all of the empty seats as I was the full ones. It looks like they sold a lot of tickets and many didn’t come. It was just weird looking at it for 30 innings over the last 45 hours.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog all weekend but I thought I’d just do a “summary” here today about what I’m thinking as I watch all of this pretty-much lousy baseball.

I’m also a little overwhelmed with MASN’s hodgepodge display of Nats and O’s as “friendly rivals” and how chummy the “Battle of the Beltway” feels as they both meet again and are both again headed for the basement of their respective East divisions. I call it the “Battle of the Basement” and it feels like it’ll probably be that way again next year.

With Jim Palmer back in the booth today, it was a refreshing change from the Nats-dominated coverage from Friday and Saturday. And when Cakes talks, I listen. He’s one of the few (Dave Johnson would be another) who actually teaches me stuff as I watch the game. I like that.

So, before I criticize MASN, let me say that Palmer eradicates many of their deficiencies with his brilliance, information, stories and general arrogance and candor. At this point, he’s Howard Cosell compared to what I hear anywhere else on MASN, CBS Radio, 105.7, Pressbox or anyone else who is “on the payroll” with the Orioles, Angelos or the axis of the “powers that be.”

But I’m just overwhelmed with how “templated” the Orioles and Nationals “fan experience” is when they tune their favorite club in on television. Both of their TV ratings are in the dumper and heading south with my last place summer nights. So, I suppose, other than telling us when Matt Wieters comes and pitching more events and MASN house ads and promotions, what else can they do with these teams that will be well into September before they win a combined 100 games?

But I love baseball. And I’m watching. And I’ve been taking some notes this weekend on Baltimore vs. Washington and how “flat” this thing feels.

Some random observations:

* A lot of orange in the seats all weekend in D.C. The O’s fans represented in almost Boston-like color in the seats. I’m not sure if that’s the D.C. side of the fanbase that thought that having a team they knew would suck as opposed to Montreal’s problems and MLB’s ownership would be a better play five years ago?

I’m not really sure how I would feel if I lived in Rockville and loved baseball. Why would I become a Nats fans? (Granted, it’s pretty easy to jump off the orange ship with the way Angelos has behaved with D.C. in general over the past 15 years. He’s more disliked in D.C. than he is here for trying to block the team’s entrance and now summarily screwing up the TV rights and presentation of the games.)

I suppose it’s the same situation for someone in Baltimore who truly fell in love with the Redskins in 1984 and just became a fan of the “nearest” team. I’ve rooted for the Capitals most of my life and considered the Bullets my “home” team until they moved into D.C. and changed their name to the Wizards.

It sucks bad enough being an Orioles fan. Imagine adopting the Nationals and watching them BOTH and trying to hang in there watching two doses of MASN every night to get your baseball fix…

* Debbi Taylor, former NESN girl who got her start as Peter Gammons’ girl wonder about 15 years ago at ESPN, makes Amber Theoharis look like Bonnie Bernstein or Suzy Kolber. The Nats broadcast team in general sounds like vanilla, blah, so what, etc. But again, they do have a 13-30 team that they have to make sense of every day. It ain’t easy talking day after day about losing. Trust me, we at WNST.net feel the same way. How many ways can you “sell” something that’s lousy?

* Palmer is hysterically funny. I’m not sure the guys at Famous Dave’s are happy with his assessment of their food, but it is funny.

* Hall of Famer Bob Feller stopped by in the middle of the game today and was just fabulous with one liners and old stories. Jim Palmer and Bob Feller talking old-school baseball might bore the hell out of some of the 21-year olds in the audience, but I love that stuff. I wish Feller, who is now 90 years young, would’ve stayed for two more innings. My Pop told me all about Bob Feller and the old stories are what sustain my interest in baseball these days.

•    I really wish this rivalry were good. The Redskins-Ravens thing is hot. Even when both teams suck, the game will always be a four-year war and the fans draw up the battle lines. I’m good with that. I hate the Redskins. I want to hate the Nationals. But neither one of these teams gives me any reason to feel any emotion. We had a bus trip planned for today and couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go. That’s pretty sad, I think. The Nationals are – alas — just “another team.” I wonder if sometime in the next 10 years whether it will ever develop into a “Hatfield-McCoy” thing. Right now, that feels a long, long way away…

* The one thing that I have found thoroughly offensive since Friday night has been MASN’s “mixed marriage” coverage. Look, I CLEARLY KNOW AND APPRECIATE that they’re “saving a buck” by combining the coverage. But if I hear Dibble call the Nationals “us” or “we” again or watch one more dorky Nats fan talk about “defining moments” in the same exact canned ads as they play on the Orioles broadcasts as they start the day 12-30, I’m gonna puke.

Angelos really HAS screwed up both cities for baseball. At least it’s comforting to know MASN’s just as lousy as a “templated” D.C. product.

And while I’m on it, the marketing phrase “Birdland” sucks. It’s just awful.

In D.C., they’re clearly “cultivating” Natstown”

As my wife pointed out, what would be wrong with “O-Town”?

Or “O’s Town”?

Anything but “Birdland,” which sounds like a place a last-place team would play to me.

•    I’ve gotta go now. Ray Knight and Johnny Holliday are on talking about the Nats in HD. I have to tune into MASN2 now to see Rick Dempsey and Tom Davis try to make sense of a loss to the Nats.

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So you want to be a Baltimore sports media personality in 2009?

Posted on 11 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The resumes and cover letters from people who love Baltimore sports and think they can be a 2009 local media sensation are flooding into my email inbox. Some of them are pretty cool and impressive. Lots of folks – all male at this point but I’d love to find some females who really knows sports as well to enter – are thinking this “competition” will be fun. So instead of bringing in people and sitting them in a room, I figure if these folks REALLY think they can do this for a living, I’ll just give them the chance to prove it in “real time.”

On the radio and on the web, you’ll have a chance to knock it out of the park if you enter our competition and are selected by our staff.

At WNST.net and AM 1570, we have the medium, the outlet, the resources and a bunch of sponsors to provide a grand prize to make it all worthwhile. We’re are still putting together the finer points and details of how this will go between now and Memorial Day but I want to have an open, on-the-air and on-the-web competition (a talent show meets American Idol-kinda thing) to see who can be great. We hope to begin the actual auditions on my show on Tuesday, April 7.

Over the next two months I also hope to meet some fun, cool new people, and share my love of Baltimore sports and media with people who think they might want to do this for a living. Just like I did 25 years ago, back in 1984 when I walked into The News American as a slappy 15-year old Dundalk High Schol intern who wanted to do Baltimore sports journalism better than anyone ever did it.

But it’s a lot harder than I ever thought it’d be and it’s been very hard to watch an industry I love so much shrinking and the talent pool becoming more dense on the internet but more shallow in the old media world. And people in Baltimore want great sports writing and great sports radio. They want and deserve the truth and accuracy. At WNST.net, it’s my vision to marry those over the coming months and years while embracing everything folks in Baltimore do to connect via sports.

WNST.net will be the place everyone goes “first thing in the morning” just like my Pop went out the front door to get The Sun on our front doorstep with the plastic bag around it. We’ll also be the place you go during the games for chat and information and analysis.

WNST.net will be the place everyone in Baltimore comes via their mobile device or PDA to get the best sports news, information and analysis – day and night. If you’re on our WNST Text Service, you know what I’m talking about. No more FCC restrictions on our signal. No more “small radio station” lies to our sponsors who know better. Just an old-fashioned level playing field with WBAL, The Sun and anyone else who was ever “bigger” than little WNST.

I grew up wanting to be a sports writer. That’s all I ever wanted to do: chase down athletes, sporting events and stories and news and write about it. I idolized John Steadman, Oscar Madison, Mitch Albom and Howard Cosell (although I didn’t know it at the time).

For all of the grief and horrible lies I have to deal with by being an unwitting “public figure,” every single day of my life someone also writes me a nice, heartfelt note or comments about WNST and how much they love my little growing company. The loyalty shown from the public for my employees is really nice, but it’s sad when it manifests itself in backlash and public and private personal attacks and lies about me and my family. (This, too, you should know, sadly comes with the job in 2009.)

People have been telling me that I suck for 17 years. I’m used to it. My skin is thick because it must be to survive.

But who in the Baltimore sports media is truly great and consistent with breaking news, entertainment, information, true analysis, insight, honesty and integrity? I’d like to think that WNST is known throughout Baltimore for these qualities. (And if we’re not we’ll keep trying via means like this competition to get better. We’re always trying to get better!)

Call it bragging if you must, but I think Drew Forrester and Bob Haynie are the two best sports talk show hosts in Baltimore – by a mile, really. And I think they also write the best and most informed blogs as well. And I think Glenn Clark, Alex Thomas, Thyrl Nelson, Chris Bonetti, Rex Snider, Cliff Saunders, Chris Pika and all of our bloggers are awesome and I enjoy reading their insights here at WNST.net. Ray Bachman is the sports radio producer in the business. But we can always use more talent, more specialty and depth, more informative, good stuff to read for the people who love Baltimore sports. I’d also love to find a person to take the 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. radio shift here at WNST somewhere down the road but I want to find the perfect person. (My bar is pretty high, as you probably know.)

And I want to evolve and make WNST the best it can be by making 100% sure I’ve looked at every person who would ever want to do this and be great and loyal to doing it the right way. (There’s also a very real “business” side to making a living doing this in a rough economy in 2009 and that’s always the hardest and most significant element that’s been missing in some cases throughout the marketplace. Basic sales, marketing and sponsorship knowledge is essential if you want to make this a viable career choice in 2009!)

I want to find someone who loves ALL of it as much as I do and is as committed to it as I am.

And I’m sincerely looking for someone who is better at doing sports radio and blogging and video than me. (Insert joke here…)

As you probably know, along with Brian Billick and some other amazing partners, I really do own and operate WNST AM-1570 and WNST.net every minute of my life. For any of you who’ve ever owned a business or managed people, you know it’s a challenging and all-encompassing existence. And, it’s not always easy making employment calls on personnel — hiring or firing and the hurt feelings, public nature of it and the lives that are unavoidably affected — especially in this rough economy.

And make no mistake: this competition is not a “hiring” contest. WNST is not necessarily “hiring” people. We can only hire as many people as the market and our community sponsorship supports. We have empty hours on weekends on the radio. We have an unlimited amount of space for audio, video and blogs on our website, which is the No. 1 most-visited Baltimore sports media website on a daily basis.

Over the next two months, we’re really looking to do a talent search. We’re going to give away a series of major prizes worth thousands of dollars that we’re still working on (if anyone who has a business wants to get involved via prizes and sponsorship just contact me directly).

And just like Jay-Z, we’ll be essentially saying: “Show me what you got!?”

You’ll have a chance to have the world know how good you are. Trust me, if you’re good at this and you can make money doing this and you’re a quality person of integrity (our first requirement), WNST.net or someplace else will want to hire you.

I could do this or I could post a listing on Craigslist or Jobs.com or college message boards saying:

Help Wanted: “21st Century Baltimore Sports Media Rock Star”

“WNST.net is looking for a local sports nut with a Facebook and new & social media zeal who can write professionally and proficiently, analyze many sports verbally, talk sports day and night, go to sporting events, talk to athletes, shoot and edit videos, learn and study sports and sports business and marketing and legal and political issues, evolve as a person, do marketing and promotions at bars and sporting events and have some fun with a bunch of people who love Baltimore sports as much as you no doubt do if you apply for this surprisingly demanding position. A deep concentration and understanding of local sports history regarding the Orioles, Ravens & Terps is essential for long-term success. Long hours, a major commitment with high upside possibilities for the right, driven candidate who is looking to make a career in new media sports journalism with a growing internet-based company with two decades of market excellence and leadership. You must have a basic grasp of how business works and how money is made in new media in the 21st century. Apply within…”

Or we could do this competition and give away a big prize, which will be the next best thing. And perhaps the winner will find an opportunity? Or maybe a bunch of folks will find an opportunity? And perhaps we’ll find someone to replace my “lousy” show and host 2 p.m. til 6 p.m. on WNST?

Over the next few weeks I’ll be publicly giving my philosophy on what makes a sports talk show host and blogger successful in 2009 and beyond and how we’ve been growing for 10 years doing local sports radio. There’s no “magic.” It’s hard work and dedication and passion and knowledge and communication that fuels WNST.net throughout my company.

In the meantime, spread the word. If you know someone who is qualified and can truly communicate the English language in words both spoken and written, have them drop me a note or friend me on Facebook.

Yeah, if you don’t have a Facebook page or Twitter or MySpace or Linked In (etc.) you’re probably not a viable candidate or one who will fare well in this competition, which will have some voting and social media elements.

Are you better than we are?

“Show me what ya got…”

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R.I.P. to The Baltimore Examiner and “So you wanna be a sports media star?”

Posted on 16 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Where have the old-time “voices in sports media” gone in our community? Who are the commentators who “matter?” Does ANYONE’s opinion on radio or TV or in the newspaper or on the web matter?  Did it ever? And where is the internet heading and what lies ahead for the next generation of sports media in Baltimore? These are all topics and questions on my mind as The Baltimore Examiner closed its doors on Valentine’s weekend. So stands the old white “masthead” lights over the harbor tonight — the light in the ‘r’ is ironically burned out on Pratt Street — and another dream has been vanquished for another “out of town” media entity whose management thought they would whisk into Baltimore, urinate on highly unpopular (yet unchallenged) bully of The Sun, which is such a corporate “lamb” these days that it’s in bankruptcy, and dominate the market with a concept and a primary medium whose time has clearly passed.

Today’s blog will not be about sports as much as it will be about local sports media and how it works in 2009. And how much of a “mess” it is these days to be involved in old world media. For those of you who have been wondering where I’ve been for the past four years as the C.E.O. of WNST, I’ve been busy trying to build a dream called WNST.net. I’ve loved sports and newspapers here in Baltimore for 40 years and I’ve examined the marketplace and the changes from the front lines over the past 17 years as an independent and authentic voice in a sea of corporate mediocrity in local sports journalism. Quite frankly, it’s the reason WNST and I can exist in a world full of formerly fully-funded media giants like CBS, Hearst, MASN, Tribune, Clear Channel, etc.

I might be stupid, but I’m not a dummy. In the old days, little WNST-AM and it’s 5,000 watts during daylight and 237 watts at night couldn’t keep up with the 50,000 watts WBAL was throwing out from Nova Scotia to Florida. Or the clarity and reach of the FM signal. And we certainly didn’t have a TV antenna to broadcast video anywhere outside of cable access. The best we could’ve done was a late-night show or a Sunday morning “roundtable” discussion ala Tom Davis. Or something along the lines of Wayne’s World over at Essex Community College. (I really wish we would’ve done that, by the way!) And we didn’t have a printing press – well, aside from the “Nasty Newsletter” every few months anyway – to distribute news and information and opinions to our AM listeners.

But, voila, via the internet we can distribute our honest and authentic brand of media — video, audio, news, text, blogs, pictures, contests and promotions — via this little website you’re reading right now. And, according to all of our indicators, you’ve been coming to WNST.net in a big way as our website has gotten more mature. (Wait’ll you see what’s coming in the next few months here!)

The loss of The Baltimore Examiner has given me reason to believe that we’ve now seen the last “newspaper” that will ever try to come to Baltimore and “beat The Sun.” And of course, what The Sun will become over the next decade remains to be seen. I have no axe to grind with the world of newspapers – I spent my entire childhood wanting to be involved with one and all of my adolescence living and working inside of The New American and The Sun, thriving on Calvert Street, living out my childhood dream running around with athletes and rock stars and cool writers like Rafael Alvarez, David Simon, Jacques Kelly and other throwbacks who were true “reporters” of the story of life in Baltimore. I dreamed of being Oscar Madison and Charley Eckman and John Steadman and Howard Cosell all rolled up into one. My Pop loved the newspaper and I loved the newspaper and I chased that dream the first 30 years of my life.

And when newspapers fail, a little piece of my life and my soul dies with them. All I ever wanted to be as a child was a newspaper reporter. (It was that or a baseball player and I wasn’t built for it and I would’ve had to have shot up with steroids and watch my gonads shrink, anyway, if I would’ve been good enough t be a big leaguer. I would have “arrived” in the prime of the “culture” of the juice and the needle and clear and the cream. I would’ve looked like Bret Boone for crying out loud!)

Inevitably, when a newspaper dies locally I have dear friends who lose their jobs like several did this weekend. My old boss and mentor Mike Marlow worked there. So did Anne Boone and Sean Welsh. And Michael Olesker and Gary Gately and Matt Palmer at one point. So, for all of them, I’m not the least bit cheerful. But I have a horror story to tell about my experience with The Examiner and how the world works in this environment of corporate media and “localization” of their homogenized “product” and their “branding initiatives.”

When the announcement came in early 2006 that The Examiner was coming to town I heard the buzz like everyone else. Someone was coming to Baltimore to try to compete with The Sun. Another big market daily newspaper was to emerge amidst a total recession and regression in the newspaper industry. Many advertisers and local ad agencies lined up to buy ANYTHING that “wasn’t The Sun.” Some feelings were hurt for sure. That was almost three years ago. Today, you can go to The Examiner’s website and see “final columns” from Frank Keegan, Bob Leffler and many others who worked hard to make The Examiner successful but failed in their mission to sustain a profitable local business. You can also see other ex-Sun’ers blogs like David Ettlin’s here, lamenting the loss of another major market voice in print. There are opinions ablaze all over the web. There’s a whole network of former newspaper workers who are all linked up on Facebook.

Because I believe in freedom of speech and disclosure, I want to tell the only story I honestly have about my dealings with The Baltimore Examiner. And I’ll give my honest assessment of its impact on my life as a reader, albeit I’m much more of an online consumer of media these days like anyone else under the age of 50 who has been exposed to Facebook and mobile devices.

Back to Spring 2006: The nice folks at The Examiner contacted me repeatedly all spring and summer about writing a sports column for them. I told them I had a “gig” being the C.E.O. of a growing media company that I own but I’d be interested in writing for the newspaper. I was taken to a series of happy hours and dinner, being wined and dined and being wooed by their top brass. I sat with the publisher. I sat with the editor. They talked about “loving” my “loose cannon” approach. I told them I would speak the truth, nothing more inflammatory or controversial than “the truth.” They told me all of that old rhetoric about “free speech” and “shoot from the hip” and “stir things up,” like some sort of halftime pep talk. It was like a “win one for The Gipper” speech. Again, I told them I’d write the truth — nothing more, nothing less.

They were offering me a deal I could’ve easily refused. They wanted me to write for their tabloid newspaper for free – as a “promotional” piece for my then-radio station, WNST-AM 1570. I’d write three columns a week. They’d get a free, professional and authentic Baltimore voice. Oh, and did I mention I OFFERED to do it FOR FREE! (Not that it was probably worth much more than that…but it also spoke volumes about their business plan and the payroll.)

They still wanted to negotiate ad rates on and around my columns and we finally agreed to a deal. We shook hands. I got some free print ads to promote WNST in exchange for my work. It was a fair deal for both of us. I have all of the emails with the contractual details. We agreed I’d write for the inaugural edition, which coincided with the first day of Ravens training camp. I vigorously promoted the fact that The Examiner would be featuring my daily column on WNST-AM 1570. We even did ads on the radio for it. I wrote about it on our crappy old website. As a kid growing up wanting to have a column in The Sun or The News American, it was still a thrill to be getting published in a major metropolitan newspaper as a sports columnist.

So, the day before the first publication I wrote a “drinking the purple Kool Aid” piece about the hope we all get on the first day of NFL camp. It was a very innocuous piece about the Ravens. Nothing particularly controversial at all, just the fan in me talking about how great the first weekend of August is for anyone who loves football.

A few weeks earlier, during the 4th of July weekend, I had started to write a column (then called “The Moon”) on WNST.net about Peter Angelos and the Orioles and why no one cares and why no one would do anything to protest the team’s shody treatment of the community. Alas, after a few thousand emails from angry ex-Orioles fans and ticket buyers, I was plotting a “Free The Birds” protest on Sept. 21, 2006. Word got to The Baltimore Examiner about my blog and instead of calling me and telling me the deal to be a columnist was “off,” they nixed my column at the 11th hour and my work never appeared in the paper. I got a phone call at 7 p.m. the night before the first edition. I was fired before I was hired and they made it clear that “free speech” and a true voice wasn’t welcomed at The Examiner.

They basically told me that I was “too controversial.” They said something about “free speech not being free.” So, after all of the promotion I did for their publication and my association with them (they paraded me around their “corporate kickoff” event at the Maryland Science Center and introduced me to all of their sponsors as their “lead sports writer”), I got kicked to the curb the night before their first editions hit the street. What could I possibly say at that point, after promoting The Examiner on the radio for three weeks and doing guest segments on WNST all day about my “columnist” status?

I just told the truth: The Examiner thought my stance against the Orioles and Peter Angelos would cost them money and they threw me out before I ever got in. They didn’t want to challenge Angelos. They wanted to take his money instead and “dummy up.” They thought I would use my column in their paper to rally troops and support for Free The Birds. I suppose they thought I was one of those dreaded “community organizers?”

Fair enough? No column for me in The Baltimore Examiner. Shoot, I wasn’t getting paid anyway and I still have my voice at WNST.net, I thought…

Then I saw the product. Honestly, the first few days that I picked it up it didn’t have Oriole game stories, box scores and didn’t have an iota of information that I didn’t already know (again, I stopped reading The Sun in “newspaper format” about six years ago…I only read sports information online). It became pretty clear to me that they weren’t committed to properly covering Baltimore sports anyway, and it’s one of the first wake-up calls I had that I needed to create a bigger and better WNST out on the web. After seeing it the first week, I was actually happy I wasn’t involved because it was clearly not a good situation. As you know, I later did a twice-weekly column for ‘b’ The Magazine (a Tribune/Sun offshoot) that no one ever read. I wrote 34 columns for ‘b’ between April and August of last year. Not ONCE did anyone ever walk up to me and mention anything they’d ever read. Not in four months!

Back to The Examiner: I can honestly tell you that I haven’t read The Examiner in at least two years and it rarely made it to the doorstep of WNST. Sometimes it was there, sometimes it wasn’t. No one ever called WNST to talk about an Examiner story, other than when their cool sports blogger Tony Giro (a legit Baltimore dude) had his Camden Yards upper deck ejection at a Red Sox game go public two summers ago and was told by The Examiner’s poobahs to cool it. Yo Tony! WNST needs you, man! (I’m a big Giro fan, by the way!)

Back to The Examiner and why it sucked for me: plain and simple, the news was old. At least a day old in the world of web, which to me is an eternity.

Like I said, I feel horribly for my friends who were employed there but that thing was doomed from the beginning. It was a newspaper in 2009 for crying out loud! It might as well be an “oldspaper” at this point in the game when a website like WNST.net is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week right in the palm of your hand for free. And our coverage is droves better and more accurate and legitimate, with live radio, the text service for instant news, the best audio vault, cool videos of what’s happening around town and new features coming every month (wait’ll you see the additions for wnsTV this spring!!!). Oh, and we’re essentially a NONSTOP daily newspaper online. You might even call it a “sports section on steroids.” But that might be politically incorrect, right?

Which brings me to my own story and how the death of one medium begets the strength of another.

I’m back on the air. I love blogging. I love making videos on wnsTV. I’m having fun but I’d much rather give another person a shot at doing it who is better than me here at WNST.net. For 17 years, many folks have called me, written me letters and even told me personally, “Hey Nasty…YOU SUCK!” And sometimes, I’ve even agreed with them. But, alas, here is YOUR chance to think about doing this “sports media” thing for a living.

Or as my wife said to me on Friday night when I started talking to her about this “work” stuff, she said: “So, you call doing THAT work? Talking about sports for four hours a day and writing about it on the web?”

Yeah, it’s kinda like work. But you be the judge? Put your words and your thoughts and your mouth where the microphone is and tell me why you’re the next big Baltimore sports media sensation. I’m openly encouraging anyone who thinks they can REALLY do this for a living to Twitter me. Get involved.

My Facebook page is there for the friending. If you think you can do four hours of radio a day, write a legit blog 7-10 times per week, find sponsors to help support your work and shoot some video and go to events and report on events and do community events, drop me a professional resume and a cover sheet to nasty@wnst.net. We’re already No. 1 so you’d be joining the winning team. And we’re looking for winners.

Honestly, I’m really and truly looking for someone who is better at this than me. Is that you?

More to come…

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Ravens vs. Eagles – Your Predictions

Posted on 20 November 2008 by Alex Thomas

Finally, the Ravens return to Baltimore and get to play in front of the home crowd. Coming off an embarrassing performance in the Meadowlands, the Ravens defense is poised to play their best game of the season.

Brian Westbrook is battling an ankle injury and has not yet participated in practice this week. Westbrook is the support beam for the Eagles offense. If he doesn’t play, the Eagles offense takes a totally different shape. Donovan McNabb did not play well last week against a rather pathetic Bengals defense.

Unfortunately, on the other side of the football, things aren’t looking so good. It looks like Jared Gaither won’t play, and Willie Anderson has been limited in practice all week. With the Eagles defense leading the NFL in sacks with 36, Joe Flacco could be running for his life on Sunday. When I last saw Derrick Mason he was in a sling, and he told reporters earlier this week that he is uncertain about whether or not he’ll play.

I think that if the Ravens were completely healthy, this would be an easy Baltimore victory. But the banged up offensive line creates some severe personnel match-up problems. Oneal Cousins trying to block Trent Cole and Darren Howard? Yeah…right…

The Ravens need this win with Miami and New England breathing down their neck in the AFC wild card race. Baltimore, Miami, and New England all have 6-4 records, but at this point the Ravens hold the tie-breaker. And either the Dolphins or the Patriots will pick up a win this week as both teams will square off in Miami.

My prediction: The Ravens know what’s at stake and will find a way to win this week, but Joe Flacco must be protected in order for that to happen. Look for more Troy Smith this week.

Ravens – 23

Eagles -16

Pivotal match-up: Ravens Offensive Line vs. Eagles Defensive Line.

Where it could all go wrong: The old adage: protect the football and protect the quarterback. If both of those things happen, the Ravens will win this game. I don’t see the Eagles doing much on offense with an unhealthy Brian Westbrook.

Surprising statistic: The Eagles are 37-1 when McNabb has a passer rating over 100.

Last Week’s winner would have been Ravenator if he would have picked the Giants to win, but the check mark goes to Johnny Rocket, who predicted a 31-11 Ravens loss. My pick: 23-20 Giants. Actual score: 30-10 Giants.

Week 10 Winner: My man Franchise gets the check mark, predicting a 31-10 Ravens victory. Remember when Ozzie Newsome was getting verbally crucified on the airwaves? I guess all of us should trust the Franchise. My pick: 29-12 Ravens. Actual Score: 41-13 Ravens.

Week 9 Winner: Johnny Rocket picked the closest score, predicting a 22-16 Ravens win. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the Ravens to put up 37 points on the road. My pick: 23-17 Browns. Actual score: 37-27 Ravens.

Week 8 winner: Nestminder is our first back-to-back winner, picking the Ravens to win 24-6. We had a record-low in the number of predictions received, but we can rebound this week. We’ll chalk that one up to the new website. My pick: 27-6 Ravens. Actual score: 29-10 Ravens

Week 7 winner: Nestminder picked a 20-13 Ravens victory and Polostat was a close second. My pick: 24-16 Ravens. Actual score: 27-13 Ravens.

Week 6 winner: Johnny Rocket correctly picked against the Ravens, per usual, predicting a 32-8 Colts victory. My pick: 28-23 Colts. Actual score: 31-3 Colts.

Week 5 winner: Columbia Ken picked the closest score, predicting a 17-13 Titans victory. My pick: 17-9 Ravens. Actual score: 13-10 Titans

Week 4 winner: Jon R. reluctantly picked a 24-20 win for the Steelers. My pick: 13-10 Ravens. Actual score: 23-20 Steelers (OT)

Week 3 winner: EazyE picked a 23-13 win for the Ravens vs. Cleveland. My pick: 23-13 Ravens. Actual score: 24-10 Ravens.

What are your predictions this week?

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Ravens-Raiders blog

Posted on 26 October 2008 by caseywillett

This will be interesting to see how much the Raiders go after Frank Walker with Chris McAlister out today.

1:05 – Hard to throw the ball when you are being chased. Suggs with the pressure Pryce with the sack.

Jarret Johnson is having a monster of a year. He is making plays all over the field.

Jim Leonhard was  shoe string tackle away from taking the punt the distance.

1:15 – So three and outs for both teams. I think we could be seeing a lot of this today. I still stick with the Ravens winning 20-17. Sam Koch does not get the credit he deserves, he is very good about pinning teams deep.

1:25 – We have a Troy Smith sighting…and that did much for nothing.Did you think you would see the Ravens steal something from the Dolphins playbook ? Also saw the Ravens with 4 wideouts in one of their formations. Great day so far for Jameel McClain who got credit for the sack and safety on JaMarcus Russell.

1:34 – So I put in a request for Red Bull energy drinks in the press box cafateria.  This could be a long day watching this game. The Ravens should throw those trick plays away, twice they have tried some razzle dazzle play and had to call a timeout to avoid play clock from running out.

2:00 – The Ravens have pulled out several of the crazy formations such as using Troy Smith again and putting Haloti Ngata on the offensive line and Willis McGahee going in behind him for the touchdown run. I am still not ready to kick the dirt on the Raiders for the day.

2:15 – Sitting behind some of the officials for the Raiders, you can tell it has been a long season and may be even longer. They can not get out of their own way. De Angelo Hall keeps talking trash to the Ravens sideline for some reason. The Ravens have run the “wildcat” offense three times so far, two of them have been Troy Smith runs, while the other was a Ray Rice run.

2:45 – A great ceremony here at half time putting Jonathan Ogden into the Ravens Ring of Honor. JaMarcus Russell threw an absolute laser to Chaz Schilens for 60 yards. That was more yards on one play than the Raiders had the entire 1st half. The Ravens will have to start throwing the ball out of the wildcat formation if they want to continue to use it.

3:00 – Once again the Ravens try to come out with Troy Smith under center and have to call a timeout to avoid the play clock from running out. Ray Rice has made a lot of big plays and has put up over 100 yards of total offense today. Ed Reed must be really cold, because ever time he comes to the sideline he puts on sweatpants. The Troy Smith to Joe Flacco pass might be the greatest play in Ravens history, and to think it might end up with a field goal. Derrick Mason almost got knocked out by Wilbert Montgomery when he was going back out on the field. Mason was behind Coach Montgomery who flailed his arms in disgust and landed an elbow right on Derrick Mason who stumbled for a second then made his way onto the field.

3:15- I have to be honest, I did not see how Justin Griffith broke the plane of the end zone with the ball. It appeared that he went up and cam right back down with out the ball breaking the plane. That might be the only think that the Raiders have gotten right today. Thomas Howard of the Raiders might want to look at the scoreboard before he makes a tackle when his team is trailing 19-3 and celebrates like he just made the game saving tackle.

3:30 – Here is where the Ravens have to be able to put a team away. They dodged a pretty big bullet that the Raiders were not able to pick up that first down on their last drive. Now the Ravens have to put the Raiders away and turn the lights off on any dim hope they have of getting back into this football game…..Scratch that as McGahee fumbles, this could get interesting.

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Schmuckfest & the Fighting Phillies in the World Series

Posted on 17 October 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

So I’m home tonight after the Peter Schmuck roast (I worked “blue”…I was surprised by how many people don’t know what that term means but the FCC never allowed it and the Comedy Club did…it was a goof and Schmuck is a great guy), and I’m watching Pat Gillick, who was run out of Baltimore in disgrace right around the last time the Orioles didn’t suck.

Or least not suck as bad as my attempts at humor tonight. LOL.

So, while the Schmuckfest was a wonderful affair to benefit a nice cause, Cool Kids, it’s strange that roasting a guy who I know through baseball led me to stay up late to watch the Philadelphia Phillies go back to the World Series for the first time since 1993.

The Philadelphia Phillies are in the World Series.

Wow…

It’s been a strange week for me. We’re at the finish line to launching the new website and the images of everyone from John Steadman to Mike Fiorelli to a major tragedy we endured in our inner circle of friends last week, it’s been a wild week to turn 40.

Because everything significant in my life is marked by baseball, it’s just strange. I realized while talking to Mickey Cucchiella and Pete Eibner tonight that it was 25 years ago today that I drove to The Vet to see Game 4 of the World Series, Phillies vs. Orioles. I also told a guy today, whose birthday is today, that it’s Jim Palmer’s birthday today as well. By the way, Happy 63rd birthday to Cakes!

I went to that 1983 World Series Game 5 with my best pal, Kevin Eck (better know for “Ring Posts” at The Sun), a schoolmate named Kenny Andrews and my 10th grade English teacher, Miss Monday. Her adult name was Susan Monday and the last I heard she was doing morning AM news radio at The Big Talker WPHT 1210 in Filthy. She was a Phillies fan, even then. She was also one of my first interns in 1993 when I was doing sports radio on WWLG-AM 1360.

So, tonight I’ve been thinking about the old days of my love for the Phillies. And once Curt Schilling wound up there in 1992 (and there’s a long history there…just go read the book!), it was even more fun being a Phillies fan when Schilling left tickets for me and my son whenever we wanted to go to games.

Hell, I hope the Phillies win the World Series just for Miss Monday and anyone who stuck it out through Bill Giles bad days as an owner 10 years ago. It’s been a long time since Tug McGraw and the 1980 Phils “believed” and beat George Brett and hemorrhoids. The fans there and that ballpark deserve a chance at a championship. They’ve done a very, very nice job in Philadelphia lately with that baseball team. Utley, Howard, Hamels, Rollins – how do you root against these guys?

The Phillies were my favorite team as a kid – even moreso than the Orioles for a little while there when I had a twisted fascination with Veterans Stadium and artificial turf. They must be going crazy in Philadelphia tonight. I really wish I still loved baseball the way a few of my old baseball friends do.

Sadly, I kinda feel like the Orioles treatment of me, my business, my co-workers and the city in general (not to mention countless former employees I know) has made me not even care so much even about the Phillies any more.

I’ve moved on. I’m watching college football, hockey, the NFL, U.S. Soccer – all sorts of things. But, man, do I miss baseball. It’s just tragic, this loss of connection between the Orioles and Baltimore and here tonight is one more giant “F-U” from a guy who got back to the World Series with no help from Peter Angelos.

Pat Gillick, who not coincidentally was the general manager of the Orioles in 1996 and 1997 (if you can remember that far back) and the Blue Jays the entire time they were kicking our asses in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But no one here even writes about that stuff anymore.

Gillick is back in the World Series.

Even Davey Lopes, who I knew very well back during the summer when O.J. Simpson was on trial, is back in the World Series with the Phillies. He watched the trial in the clubhouse every day and was a fun guy to talk to and I rooted for him when he was the Milwaukee Brewers coach because he was a good, smart, decent guy.

I’m watching Joe Torre give his concession speech. He’s such a class act.

I’m not going to Philadelphia this week. Or at least I don’t think I am. I wish had “the fever” but I don’t. Who knows? Maybe I’ll wind up on the field there next week?

But the postseason has been a little boring this week. The Red Sox are getting killed (which isn’t hurting my feelings) but there’s been very little drama outside of the shot heard ‘round the Ravine – that blast by Matt Stairs (who was also always a phenomenal guy back in the days when the Orioles let me have a press pass – I had Stairs on the show many times. Good dude! Easy to root for…)

I’ll probably root for the Rays if they beat the Phillies, simply because my friend Rick Vaughn is the P.R. direction.

But I grew up such a looney, zany, wacky Phillies fan that it’s just sort of weird. And made weirder by the fact that we barely feel like we have a team here anymore. Like the Baltimore Orioles don’t even count. It’s just surreal and I hope one day movements like Free The Birds will change that.

But the last I checked, Angelos just got a check for $124 million from Comcast for MASN this year. And the team (or teams if you count the Washington Nationals) sucks.

This is just my two cents at midnight while I remember the celebration at The Vet in 1993 with Mitch Williams, Danny Jackson ripping his shirt off and a young Curt Schilling and an old Dutch Daulton. I went to every game of the 1993 World Series. It was magical. John Kruk, Rickey Henderson, long drives, that Joe Carter home run landed almost at my feet in the Skydome – I remember EVERYTHING, even the girl I went to Toronto with that weekend for Game 6 and my buddies who rolled overnight and almost hit deer on the road in upstate New York for Games 1 and 2. I remember the 35 run game. I remember the Madonna concert across the street. I remember doing my little radio show from the field.

I was so in love with baseball that I drove back and forth to Toronto both weekends to go to the game.

Now, the Series is 90 miles away. I don’t have tickets. I haven’t applied for a press pass. And I might not even go.

It sucks what the Orioles have done here. It really does.

And it feels like it never ends.

I’m 40 now (thanks to all for the well wishes).

I hope that I’m not 50 and 20 years of baseball, friendship, civic fun and the bonding is still not a stranger to me and to Baltimore. It’s just a crime, having to watch all of the joy of baseball from outside the fences.

I wish everyone in Philadelphia a great ride with a World Series team full of seemingly decent, honorable guys. Ryan Howard seems like a classy dude. Cole Hamels has a funny voice but must be the hottest property with the ladies since Chase Utley. And Jimmy Rollins did my show several times back in the days of Sporting News and was a super good guy.

Good for Charlie Manuel and the Fightin’ Phils.

Let’s see where the ALCS lands tomorrow night.

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Laurel Park: Selections for Friday, Sept. 12th

Posted on 12 September 2008 by Gary Quill

The Laurel Park Marketing Dept. seems to be giving it “the old college try” with their College Pride Day on Saturday. FREE Admission with student ID and there will be numerous chances to win gift certificates. The college having the most students and/or alumni in attendance will have a race named in their honor. This sport needs to recruit some young blood to bring the average age of today’s horse player below 60.
Recapping my selections from Thursday, September 11th at Laurel Park…
Best Bet, Eddie C. (# 2; 6th race; 8-5) with Ramon Dominguez in the saddle for his only mount of the day ran an uninspiring 4th as the 8-5 favorite.
Longshot, Gold House (# 10; 8th race on the turf; 6-1) was scratched even though this race was run on the turf.
SHOW Parlay Play of the Day, Icy One o Four (# 2; 5th race on the turf; 7-2) was part of an entry where I had hoped that her stable mate (Pillow Pal) would be scratched. Unfortunately, Icy was the one who got scratched. For the second straight day no action on the SHOW parlay.
Here’s who I like for Friday, Sept. 12th at Laurel Park…
Best Bet:         Elfriede (# 5; 1st race; 5-2)

Of the eight runners entered in this $8k Maiden Claiming affair, Elfriede is the only one dropping down (from $10k) in class. She’s hit the board in 5 of her 10 lifetime starts with a second and a third at today’s distance (1 mile). This field looks weak enough that today could be her best chance to graduate.

Longshot:        Phloxy (# 10; 3rd race on the turf; 20-1)
She’s making her career debut going long (1 1/16 mile) which is always asking a lot of a filly, but her bloodlines scream “run me on the grass” with Cozzene being her granddaddy. Trainer Kevin Boniface only gets 2% of his first-timers to the Winners Circle, but he does his best work with grass runners. An outside shot, but she’s attractive at these odds.
SHOW Parlay available bankroll: $80     ($80 – $0 no bet, selection scratched)

Let’s go back to a turf race, no rain in the forecast…

SHOW Parlay Play of the Day: $20 on Jet Run (# 6; 7th race on the turf; 3-1)

Trainer Howard Wolfendale not only sports a good win percentage (20%) but also sends all of his horses to the track on race day in shape to compete. Jet Run has only raced once on the turf and it was a forgettable 9th. That was when he was in the hands of a different barn. He’s worth a shot.

These are who I like. How about you? Good luck with your selections!

Help save thoroughbred horse racing in the great state of Maryland.
On November 4th, vote FOR the Maryland Slots Machine referendum.

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The Future of US Soccer is Bright

Posted on 10 June 2008 by mattberger

As I sit here in the midst of Euro 2008, arguably the 2nd biggest soccer tournament in the world, I wonder, can US Soccer ever compete with these 16 elite European clubs?

There was a glimpse of hope in the 2002 World Cup as the American side burst onto the scene with victories over powerhouses Portugal and Mexico before falling to Germany in the quarterfinals, 1-0.

Coming into the 2006 World Cup with great momentum and an extremely high world ranking, the US could not advance out of the “group of death” while scoring only 2 goals in the tournament.

Fast forward to 2008, veterans like Kasey Keller, Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride, Eddie Lewis, and Eddie Pope give way to a team made up of mostly youngsters.

The 2008 player pool includes young talent like Potomac, Maryland native Freddy Adu, Maryland Terrapin alumnus Maurice Edu, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Benny Feilhaber. All 5 are 23-years-old or younger, and all 5 look to play key roles in US qualifying in the CONOCAF region as well as at the 2010 World Cup.

Adu and Altidore, considered to be key offensive parts in the American attack, are both only 18-years-old.

Combine these explosive youngsters with the experience of DeMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard, and the team captain Landon Donovan, and I see a national team with the potential to be very good come 2010.

There are still flaws, no doubt, flaws that were exposed in losses to England and Spain in which the US failed to score a goal and recorded only a few shots on goal.

However, the 0-0 tie recorded by the US against #1 ranked Argentina showed me that this team has the chance to be something special.

It isn’t the score that impressed me, it was the quality of US play that makes me optimistic.

Freddy Adu and Maurice Edu, substitutes who came on in the 2nd half, combined with Donovan to provide a very explosive attack. The US certainly deserved a goal in the 2nd half, and they were close several times to getting it.

Defensively, the Argentineans are tough to stop, and they had several good chances early. However, goalkeeper Tim Howard, the Sierra Mist Man of the Match, made 7 saves, many of them spectacular, to keep the US in it. The US made defensive adjustments in the 2nd half, limiting the amount of Argentinean chances.

For now, I think the Americans should focus on continuing their dominance of the CONOCAF region while steadily trying to improve leading up to 2010. The quest for South Africa begins on June 15, as the US opens up qualifying against Barbados in Carson, California.

Down the road, however, I think our goal (no pun intended) should be more than just dominating North and Central America.

2010 or even 2014 needs to be the World Cup where the US makes a huge splash at the world’s biggest stage. From there, the goal of US Soccer should be progress towards becoming an International powerhouse like the elite European teams that I have watched play this week.

The potential is certainly there.

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