Tag Archive | "Jim Palmer"

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Chapter 10: Imagine a Baltimore without the Orioles

Posted on 17 August 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 10 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. This is an unedited version of the original post without updates regarding Mike Flanagan’s suicide.)

Mike Flanagan is as close to an Orioles’ kindred spirit as I have in the world. Maybe Jim Palmer and Elrod Hendricks and Jimmy Tyler could be thrown in there as well, because they’ve seemed as omnipresent as my fandom of the Orioles.

But, Flanagan is really ” The One,” because in real terms, he’s been with the Orioles as long as I’ve been with the Orioles. And no one else I know, other than my Mom, has stayed in my life all of these years and still keeps popping up.

He came up in 1975, and I really started regularly going to games around that time, when I was 6.

I remember when he first came up, the expectations, the rotation — with Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor and Dennis Martinez, every night was trouble for some AL team — and I probably spent 80 nights of my life inside Memorial Stadium watching Mike Flanagan pitch.

From 1977 to 1984 he never had a sub-par season, only many very good ones and a couple of great ones. He left the Orioles just once — for two-plus years, pitching for the Blue Jays after a trade deadline deal in 1987.

In 1979, he won 23 games and led that magical team every time Earl Weaver threw him out there. It was his best year in baseball. It was mine too!

In 1992, he began his broadcasting career. That’s the same year I left The Evening Sun and went on the radio.

In 2003, he became part of “management”. In early 2005, I did the same thing.

But, even though we’ve gotten to know each other over the years — with him at one point walking up to me (when I didn’t even know he knew I existed) in the late 1990’s and admitting that he was a fan of MINE and addicted to “Nasty Nationwide” and listened every day with his daughter — on that last game at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 6, 1991, Mike Flanagan was just a childhood hero to me. He was, in some ways, larger than life because when I was 10 years old, he took the hill every couple of nights for the centerpiece of my life, the Baltimore Orioles.

Mike Flanagan was one of MY guys! My mood hung on every pitch he threw!
So on that sad-yet-uplifting and chilly October afternoon in 1991 — surrounded by a disgusting Redskins fan actually watching a football game on her laptop TV in Sect. 34 — it was me, Mike Flanagan, my memories of my youth and my best friend Kevin Eck (he keeps popping up doesn’t he!), along with 54,000 others just like us gathering for one of the biggest public tearjerkers in the history of this city.

If you didn’t spend your childhood at Memorial Stadium, you can probably stop reading or listening right around now.

Because you just won’t understand it. You couldn’t possibly think it is anything beyond silly.

It is truly a “Ball’mer thing.”

But EVERYONE who has ever loved the Orioles remembers

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Twelve thoughts on Dylan Bundy’s one-hit shutout

Posted on 30 August 2017 by Luke Jones

With Orioles starter Dylan Bundy pitching a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over Seattle, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. That was the kind of performance fans daydream about when their team selects a pitcher in the top five spots of the amateur draft. Whether we’re witnessing the start of something special or this was merely the pinnacle of a solid career, Tuesday’s outing was fun to watch.

2. All of his pitchers were working, but the slider was especially potent, fetching swings and misses on 10 of the 27 he threw. It’s been said before, but he’s tough to beat when he has that breaking pitch going.

3. It’s a bummer to think a chance at a no-hitter was lost on a bunt single by Kyle Seager, but he dropped that down facing a one-run deficit in the fourth inning and before anyone was thinking about any flirtation with history.

4. I was waiting for Buck Showalter to pop out of the dugout after Bundy hit Robinson Cano to lead off the ninth inning, but you had to be impressed with the way the young pitcher immediately went back to work.

5. His 95 game score is tied for the sixth best in club history, according to the Baseball Reference play index. That’s some impressive company over 64 seasons of Orioles baseball.

6. This was easily the best pitching performance by an Oriole since Erik Bedard’s two-hit shutout that included 15 strikeouts against Texas on July 7, 2007. I’ll give Bedard a slight edge since he didn’t walk a batter while Bundy walked two and hit one.

7. Bundy provided the club’s first complete-game shutout since Miguel Gonzalez pitched one in 2014 and its complete game since Ubaldo Jimenez’s last September. How much has the game changed over the years? Jim Palmer pitched 20 or more complete games in a season four times.

8. This was the third time in his last four starts he’s struck out 10 or more. According to ESPN, that’s more than the total for any Orioles pitcher over the last 10 years. Yes, that reflects the Orioles’ lack of high-quality pitching, but it’s still an impressive feat for Bundy.

9. After averaging an ordinary 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings over the first four months of the season, Bundy is striking out 11.3 per nine in August. Even with extra rest being an obvious factor, it’s encouraging for the future to see him missing more bats.

10. He became the second pitcher in Orioles history to record a one-hit shutout with 12 or more strikeouts. Mike Mussina was the first on Aug. 1, 2000 when Bundy was not quite 8 years old.

11. I understand concerns over a career-high 155 1/3 innings this season, but squabbling over the right-hander exceeding his career high in pitches by four to get the shutout just reeks of joylessness. That said, the Orioles need to continue massaging his workload the rest of the way.

12. Bundy was pitching with a heavy heart after his grandmother’s death last week. That outing sure was a special tribute to her.

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No time for panic, but Orioles have opponents’ attention

Posted on 27 May 2016 by Luke Jones

Jim Palmer said at one point Thursday night what we all were thinking watching the Orioles swing and miss their way to a three-game sweep in Houston in which they struck out a major-league record 52 times.

“It’s almost like they’ve never seen a breaking ball.”

The Orioles struck out more in a three-game series than the late Tony Gwynn ever did in an entire season during his Hall of Fame career.

Chris Davis struck out eight times. Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo both went down on strikes seven times. Pedro Alvarez collected six strikeouts and didn’t even start in the series finale. Jonathan Schoop and Matt Wieters struck out five times each.

What a nightmare.

To be clear, the Astros didn’t do anything that wasn’t already known about the Baltimore lineup. Throwing fewer fastballs and more breaking balls has always been the blueprint against these power hitters, but Houston pitchers executed well and the Orioles appeared more eager than usual to cooperate.

But let’s take a deep breath about a club entering the weekend still seven games above .500 and just two games behind Boston in the AL East despite a four-game losing streak and losing seven of 10. Don’t forget that the Orioles entered the Houston series below the league average in strikeouts and still ranked just sixth in the AL in that category entering Friday.

Whether you like it or not, strikeouts are a bigger part of baseball than ever.

It isn’t just the Orioles.

A few horrendous games — and, boy, were they horrendous — cannot trump a quarter of a season in which the Orioles struck out at an acceptable level relative to other teams. As I wrote earlier in the week, you have to take the bad with the good for a team that depends so heavily on the home run. That certainly isn’t an excuse to whiff at a historic rate in a three-game series, but every team is going to go through some rough patches over 162 games.

The key now will be to make the adjustments as Cleveland and other upcoming opponents will take notice of what the Astros were able to do with a steadier-than-normal diet of curves and sliders. It’s up to the Orioles to get back to where they were over the first six weeks of the season when strikeouts were rarely part of the conversation in their wins or losses.

They’ll remain under the strikeout microscope until then and rightly so after setting such a dubious record.

Buck Showalter likes to say you’re never as bad as it looks at your worst or as good as it appears at your best. That’s an appropriate message for both his players and Orioles fans prematurely pressing the panic button. Even after completing the three-game sweep, the 20-28 Astros would still trade places in a heartbeat.

After a miserable series in which he went 1-for-14, Adam Jones probably said it best after Thursday’s finale.

“Let’s get the hell out of Houston.”

But hopefully the Orioles leave the absurd strikeout totals behind.

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Ortiz’s response to Palmer reeks of his entitlement

Posted on 21 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Who would have guessed it would be a 69-year-old Hall of Fame pitcher to provide the biggest spark to the Orioles-Red Sox rivalry in a few years?

If you’re a social media participant, you’re likely already aware of Orioles broadcaster Jim Palmer using Twitter to criticize David Ortiz after the Boston designated hitter’s antics led to his ejection from Sunday’s game. Major League Baseball announced Tuesday afternoon that Ortiz had been suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for making contact with home plate umpire John Tumpane in the moments after he was thrown out, but the veteran hitter will appeal the decision.

Yes, you could argue Palmer shouldn’t have fanned the flames of the story by responding to and posting a number of replies from angry Red Sox fans who view “Big Papi” as an infallible figure, but the beauty of social media can be the interaction with a famous figure, right? In reading Palmer’s Twitter timeline, it was amusing to see some show off their baseball ignorance in saying they’d never heard of one of the greatest pitchers of the last 50 years.

To no one’s surprise, Palmer’s criticism didn’t sit well with Ortiz, who again showed off the same entitlement that led to him being tossed from Sunday’s game in the first place.

“That’s how he wants to get respect from us? Is that how he wants me to respect him?” Ortiz said to reporters in Boston on Monday. “It’s not going to happen.”

Of Ortiz’s 11 career ejections, the last three have come against the Orioles, which provides extra ammunition for Palmer’s hard truths. Perhaps the Red Sox slugger had forgotten about a certain dugout phone he destroyed a couple years ago?

What takes the cake, however, is Ortiz suggesting Palmer made the comments to garner more attention for himself. Never mind the fact that we’re talking about a Hall of Fame pitcher who’s never been afraid to share his opinion in his three decades as a broadcaster.

“Actually, I thought that he was one of my guys,” Ortiz said. “All of a sudden, now he’s killing me, huh? I guess anybody who wants to get famous or make some noise comes to Papi, right?”

Or, Palmer just sees a tired act, whether we’re talking about Ortiz’s intimidation of umpires or the general way in which he makes everyone wait on him in the midst of a game. There’s no disputing how great his career has been or how beloved Ortiz is in the city of Boston, but to suggest a Hall of Famer — a title Ortiz hopes to enjoy one day — is trying to become famous at his expense is as arrogant as it gets.

It’s just Ortiz’s world and we’re all living in it, I suppose.

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Five questions pondering Joseph, Garcia, others

Posted on 17 April 2015 by Luke Jones

Every Friday, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Orioles or Ravens (or a mix of both).

Five questions

1. Does Caleb Joseph make it easy to wait for Matt Wieters to take his time to return?
No, I don’t expect the former to continue hitting .375, but it’s difficult to argue how good his defense has been as Orioles pitching posted a 3.00 ERA with him behind the plate in 2014, he threw out 40 percent of runners trying to steal, and his pitch framing rates better than Wieters’ did in either of his his last two full seasons. The question isn’t whether Joseph is better than or as good as the pre-injury Wieters — he’s clearly not — but it remains to be seen if the post-surgery Wieters will be the same defensively and whether he’ll provide enough offense to justify being the undisputed starter if he’s a shell of his old self behind the plate.

2. Does Buck Showalter need to figure out exactly what he has with Jason Garcia sooner rather than later?
I know the Orioles love the Rule 5 pick’s arm and he has nice potential at age 22, but they can’t afford to carry him if it means they essentially have a 24-man roster. If his arm is special enough to warrant keeping him, he should be able to get some meaningful outs along the way. The early-season struggles of Tommy Hunter and and the rest of the bullpen have magnified the situation, of course, but Showalter needs to be able to use Garcia in some legitimate situations, especially if he’s not going to give the Orioles length in the same way that T.J. McFarland did as a Rule 5 pick in 2013.

3. Should third base coaches take more chances around baseball?
I thought about this at different times this winter after Kansas City elected not to send Alex Gordon home as the potential tying run in Game 7 of the World Series, and the question returns with Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson drawing the ire of fans with some questionable sends at the start of the season. Historically, a runner standing on third base with two outs will score only 27 percent of the time, but data shows only five percent of runners being sent home from second base on a single with two outs are thrown out at the plate. Yes, that success rate looks great, but how many potential runs are ultimately being stranded at third base to avoid the chance of a runner being thrown out in favor of the potentially lower-percentage chance of the next batter driving him in. Of course, there are many variables involved such as the speed of the runner, the location of the ball, and the arm strength of the fielder, but it’s still interesting to ponder how many potential runs are lost due to the fear of failure and the criticism that a third base coach can face.

4. Is the exuberant friendship between Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop a joy to watch?
I first watched these two play together when they were at Single-A Frederick in 2011, and it’s scary to think how young both still are with so much untapped potential. Of course, scenes like this don’t hurt, either:

5. Do we still not appreciate Jim Palmer enough? The Hall of Fame pitcher celebrated the 50th anniversary of his major league debut Friday and he continues to remain a fixture on Orioles telecasts five decades later. As someone who only remembers Palmer the broadcaster, I marvel at his numbers, which included a period of nine times in 10 years from 1969-1978 in which he posted an ERA below 3.00 and at least 4.1 wins above replacement. His 211 complete games, 53 shutouts, and four seasons of 300 or more innings are numbers we don’t even see in video games today.

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My Final Conversation with Earl Weaver

Posted on 19 January 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

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Reaction to the passing of Orioles manager Earl Weaver

Posted on 19 January 2013 by WNST Staff

“Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball. This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans.

Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family.”-Orioles owner Peter Angelos, via a team release.

“Every time I look at an Oriole, it’s going to be missing a feather now without Earl.“-Orioles manager Buck Showalter 

“Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career…and a great friend to our family. His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can’t and won’t be forgotten.”-Cal Ripken Jr. 

“I would say that Earl Weaver had the greatest impact on me as a baseball player-more than anyone else. He was tough to get along with and only cared about winning, but he is the reason why Oriole baseball is what is today. Earl was a genius and a Hall of Fame manager, and the closest that’s ever got to that is the man we have right now in Buck Showalter.”-Former Orioles catcher and MASN broadcaster Rick Dempsey.

“It’s a sad day for Orioles fans and all of baseball. Earl certainly was one of the greatest managers. To me, his greatest strength was his ability to get his players to focus on playing the game on a daily basis. The results were many wins, and a Hall of Fame career.”-Former Orioles OF Ken Singleton, who played for Earl Weaver from 1975-1982.

“O’s and MLB family lost a great leader yesterday. Earl Weaver wasn’t blessed with height but if u measured his HEART he was a 7 footer.

The man lived a great life. I think it should be a celebration. 82 years is a remarkable feat.”-Orioles OF Adam Jones

“[Earl] was a strange, intense but unforgettable man…a big part of my youth.”-Broadcaster and longtime Oriole fan Roy Firestone.

“It’s a sad day, obviously. Earl was a terrific manager and I have to be grateful that Earl was with us for the Legends Series and we got a chance to spend time with him for every single statue ceremony unveiling. He is terrific. His simplicity and clarity of his leadership and his passion for baseball are unmatched. He’s a treasure for the Orioles and we are so grateful we had the opportunity to work with him this year.”Orioles Executive VP of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette

“Really sad to hear about that today.  He meant a lot to this city and to this organization.  You wouldn’t want to be anywhere else for today to spend all day with Oriole players and thousands of Orioles fans just to remember everything about him.”Steve Johnson, Orioles Pitcher

“It was the perfect relationship. We won, he was tough, we got our World Series checks. It worked…you don’t ever forget an Earl Weaver. And not just if you were an umpire. Fans, players, everyone…Earl was about winning and that was what he did.

It’s a sad day for any of us that knew Earl but it’s also a sad day, I think, for anybody that has been involved with Orioles baseball. We were lucky to have him here because he did end up in the Hall of Fame. He managed some marvelous teams. But I think now we all share the pain of him being gone.

Earl never wanted to be your friend because I think he thought it would detract from his ability to be a manager.  But the one thing he did want to do — he let you know that he was loyal to you by putting your name in the lineup. You can’t really ask for much more than that.

One of the great stories is Mike Flanagan came up to me and said ‘One year you had pitched 5 innings. It was your second or third time out at spring training and you were running foul line to foul line. He (Earl Weaver) called me over to the bench and said you see that guy out there? And Mike said you mean Jim Palmer? He said yes, just do what he does and you will be fine here in the big leagues’. Mike would always tell me that and I almost wanted to call Flanny to tell him that Earl had passed away. But he (Earl Weaver) said if you do what he does things are going to take care of themselves. Couple of years ago up at the Hall of Fame, the night before the induction I told him that story and said one of the biggest compliments you ever paid me, not directly to me, was what you told Mike Flanagan.  He looked at me and said I just didn’t tell Flanagan, I told everybody…” -Former Orioles Pitcher Jim Palmer

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Time to “Buckle up” — there’s Orioles Magic in air for Baltimore tonight

Posted on 06 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

All of these wins and hours of scoreboard watching for fans of the Baltimore Orioles – and finally – tonight the city will fill Camden Yards with the “magic” that only a Cal Ripken event can exert for the Charm City.

Alas, no scriptwriter in Hollywood or even a “Major League” movie redux could’ve dreamed up the juiciness that this unexpected Baltimore Orioles pennant run has facilitated this weekend.

Last week, the stands were empty as the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox came to town.

This weekend, with the New York Yankees on the ropes and the Orioles surging and trailing the Evil Empire by just one game in the AL East, Camden Yards will be buzzing with orange energy for the first time in eight years despite the “premium pricing” methods of Peter Angelos’ staff.

In the land of pleasant living, we call it “Orioles Magic.” Berthed in 1979 under Wild Bill Hagy with Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Rick Dempsey and Earl Weaver, brought to life by a World Series win in 1983 and resurrected duing the “Why Not?” campaign of 1989, the city’s enthusiasm and genuine love for the Baltimore Orioles has been dormant for the better part of 15 years at Camden Yards under the weight of last place and its own evil ownership regime.

But tonight none of that will matter because the Orioles can beat the Yankees and go back into first place in September.

Hard to believe it was 17 years ago tonight that Cal Ripken ran his victory lap amidst the confetti and “One Moment In Time.”

And make no mistake about it, a statue ceremony and a fancy giveaway item would’ve brought plenty of people to Camden Yards tonight no matter the record of the 2012 Orioles.

But what we’re going to witness – or in my case, be a part of – tonight should truly be “magical” for any longtime fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

Despite falling out of first place with last night’s loss in Toronto combined with a Yankees win in Tampa, tonight’s game once again has first place on the line and the 46,000 who are holders of these lucky tickets should be expected to bring full O-R-I-O-L-E-S voices tonight as Camden Yards should erupt with sound where previously it’s been a bunch of excuses and reasons for why the seats are empty.

I’m going to the game tonight. And, yes, I bought a ticket.

Other than “Free The Birds” events, it’s the first ticket I’ve purchased since 2004.

It’s worth going tonight to feel the civic energy and I’ll be bellied up to the centerfield bar soaking in the energy and enthusiasm that I wrote about in 2006 when WNST led the “Free The Birds” movement.

And in as much as some have twisted my words, I’ve never wanted anything more than what we currently have in Baltimore – a relevant baseball team that brings together the community for a common cause.

I’m not sure some fans are really prepared emotionally for what tonight will look and feel like inside Camden Yards.

Internally, many of the longtime employees certainly couldn’t have had any fire drills for this. And the players on the field – Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, the core guys who have only seen the stands full of Yankees or Red Sox fans over the years – should especially soak in the noise tonight because they’ve earned the right to Baltimore’s cheers with their solid play and the excitement they’ve filled our living rooms with this summer.

I think even Derek Jeter will be taken aback because he hasn’t seen anything like this since 1997. Usually, it’s 40,000 Yankees fans beating on the home team.

It won’t be that way tonight.

This is the Baltimore Orioles chance  – players, coaches, employees and ownership alike – to drastically move the needle on the fan

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Happy 5th Anniversary to my Free The Birds friends who want change for Baltimore baseball

Posted on 21 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been watching the Baltimore Orioles since 1973 and I’m not sure any of us could’ve predicted what this franchise was to become back in the late 1980’s when Camden Yards was built, our city was starved without football and the Colts had split town.

It’s amazing now because most of the people in my company and many of you reading this under the age of 35 do not remember the Colts at all. Or a time when there was no purple. Or when there was no shiny stadia downtown that we all take for granted.

I watched William Donald Schaefer fight for all of this. I watched John Steadman politic and report through all of this as a colleague and a kid at The News American. I watched the first shovel go in the ground downtown. I was at that magical game in 1988 when all of this civic planning was announced on the backend of an 0-21 start that invigorated the renaissance of not only the Orioles but this community as a whole. I wrote more than 75,000 words on this topic five years ago. You can read all of it here…

I was there for all of it. I’ve got some perspective on just how incredibly foolish this all looks – the Orioles who drew 3.6 million people now barely getting a legitimate 1 million people through the turnstiles from the interior Baltimore community. Let’s face it: if it weren’t for a few tourists and 18 games a year against the Red Sox and Yankees, the place would be empty every night. Even on nights when they give away bobbleheads and orange T-shirts, they don’t have enough productive players to even get the promotions right. How many years in a row will they hand out an item for a player who isn’t even on the team?

Sheesh. Starting with all of the craziness of Peter G. Angelos in 1993, I could write a f**king book.

Well, actually, I did…and it’s all right here.

The civic devastation and their annual derelict status in the AL East (and in all of sports, really) makes them so insignificant as to not even be criticized by most national media and the locals are never going to say a word while their companies collect advertising checks from Angelos, via MASN or the Orioles.

The black cat is out of the bag – there’s intense financial greed behind that legal façade of Peter G. Angelos and that’s just fine, I suppose, if your audience participates in the Fantasyland charade of the Orioles attempting to compete to win a championship in Major League Baseball.

The Orioles are funded by you — the cable television buyer. You give your money to them – specifically MASN — through a third party. I bet if you got a bill every month for a couple of bucks from MASN – and it were optional – you and 99% of the state of Maryland would opt to NOT have MASN.

The same way I opt to not have Sirius radio, an IPad or a newer car.

I don’t like anything about the fact that $3 a month of my money goes directly to Peter Angelos under some mystical civic umbrella and trust that he’s investing it back into making the Orioles a better baseball team for the citizens of Baltimore.

That’s clearly not happening these days.

And that’s not my lie. That’s from Angelos himself. Here’s the direct link to our friends over at Pressbox, who take a check from Angelos and get “inside access” and get to ask questions once every decade. This is from 2006 when the Greek God of Losses told Stan Charles that MASN would change the team’s fortunes via increasing the payroll.

Instead, Andy MacPhail came out from underneath a rock in New York and came to Baltimore to quell the insurrection and help Mr. Angelos better understand the way to the profitland of Major League Baseball. Just like he did for many years for the Tribune Company and the Cubs, who now are entangled in the ownership of The Baltimore Sun.

It’s amazing how most Baltimore sports fans in town have no idea how the business of baseball and MASN and free agency and the MLB draft all work. Angelos clearly preys on the naïve nature of the local sports fans who are being fed the new “company line” that MacPhail has parroted through all of his worthless years here in Baltimore: “We just don’t have enough money to compete with those evil teams in Boston and New York.”

My other McFail favorite is this one: “We’ll grow the arms and buy the bats.”

Yeah, what bats? Mark Reynolds? Garrett Atkins? Cesar Izturis?

I can’t imagine that we’ve seen the end of the Orioles demise or the bottom of the proverbial barrel in this macabre tale of “How to Wreck a Baseball Franchise for a Local Community.” Given the state of the franchise and the fact that they’ll be looking for another “leader” who’s given “full control of the baseball operations” in two weeks, it’s pretty apparent that Angelos and the Orioles will still be big spenders of Syd Thrift’s “Confederate money” this offseason.

Angelos clearly bunkered down five years after Free The Birds. He was angry. He was humiliated. He took my press pass. He issued an edict to every member of the franchise to treat me like a pariah, even though it’s pretty clear that I love the team more than any of those people because I’m willing to face the hard reality and 14 years worth of facts.

Sure, Baltimore came back on the home jerseys a few years (I told Drew Forrester then that it was an empty gesture that wouldn’t improve the team) and Andy MacPhail was brought in to stabilize the organization (at least in the minds of the fans) and put a set of spectacles on it so it could look semi-legitimate.

Everything has been fine since Sept. 21, 2006 except for the fact that the team never won, stars haven’t emerged and accountability continues to be non-existent. Oh, and the fact that the man running the team at the time killed himself a few weeks ago.

The death of Mike Flanagan would be a tragedy anytime, anywhere. It’s a story that’s among the saddest I’ve ever heard as a Baltimore journalist. But amidst his suicide, there’s a story that must be told of his relationship with Angelos, the Orioles and the Baltimore fanbase.

Someday I might be the one who tells that story. But for now, I continue to grieve his loss with his family and attempt to help them heal.

Flanagan’s death has made my phone ring off the hook with former teammates, loved ones and people in the baseball community who are reaching to me to find out what happened.

I know a lot more about what happened than what I’m telling out of respect to Flanny’s family and loved ones. But I know the truth. And the truth should and will be told at an appropriate time.

And, rest assured, the truth isn’t going to make the Orioles look very good or make you feel any better about Peter Angelos’ ownership here in Baltimore.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be Tippy Martinez or Jim Palmer or Rick Dempsey or Boog Powell — when you walk around your hometown every minute of every day getting recognized by people over 45 who don’t know whether to console you, hug you or engage you in any sort of baseball chatter because let’s be honest – the only reason we’d know who any of the former Orioles are is because of baseball. It’s the one thing that bonds us.

And, really, none one of us wants to discuss the Orioles or Angelos or the situation with Mike Flanagan when they’re in last place the entire topic of baseball, suicides and World Series take a backseat to the purple football machine in the fall.

But, therein lies the problem.

No one EVER says ANYTHING.

I hate to say it, but YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

So, embrace that statement, stew about it, send me “F**K YOU!” letters, sharpen your pens and your wit.

And then send them to Peter Angelos and see if the 82-year old can find your thoughts on his Facebook page.

The local media here is such a civic disgrace that they should be ashamed of themselves for burying the topic of the Orioles’ ineptitude and profit line and intentions. And you should be ashamed of yourselves if you tune into any of the Orioles “media partners” (it should say “protectors”) and believe a word any of these hosts and personalities say. They’re all told what they can and can’t say and when they can say it.

CBS & WJZ = guilty

WBAL = guilty

The Sun = perhaps the most guilty because their unique selling point and marketing tool is “credibility” and “knowledge of the community” and “journalism”

Pull Scott Garceau or Peter Schmuck or Gerry Sandusky or Mark Viviano up on the side and ask them what THEY REALLY THINK. Ask any of these “local leaders” and “trusted experts” off the record how they’ve been treated. Ask them how they’ve seen people treated around the organization. Ask them what Mike Flanagan told them about the team when he was running it and beyond.

I saw 15 Baltimore reporters crowded around a young Ravens cornerback named Cary Williams in a locker in Nashville three days and yet no one can make their way to downtown Baltimore to interview a guy who has chased 2.5 million people out of downtown on summer nights and destroyed local business in such a profound way as to be the most powerful man in the state?

Disgraceful…

Ask ANY bar and restaurant owner or anyone involved in the beer industry about whether their businesses would be stronger if the Orioles actually existed in their establishments on summer nights.

I’ve asked them ALL. And there’s not one who doesn’t want to see a stronger baseball franchise in Baltimore.

I go into bars all summer long and see that many don’t even put the Orioles games on their televisions these days. And that’s just in the suburbs.

I live in downtown Baltimore. The city comes to life when events prosper and the community swells with pride. The U2 concert was amazing. The IRL brought tons of new faces into the city that hadn’t been this happy near the Convention Center since the All Star Fanfest in July 1993. The Caps-Predators game last night was an incredible event – bringing 11,000 into the First Mariner Arena and stimulating commerce throughout downtown for a night.

The Orioles success and their verve and mojo doesn’t seem so far away to me. I remember it all. I wrote 19 chapters about it and you can click here and begin that journey if you’re really interested in my thoughts and my rationale and my legitimacy.

I’m not some hack journalist from out of town coming into Baltimore to tell you what to think. I’m not an out-of-town media leader.

I’m a citizen. I’m a taxpayer. I paid to get Camden Yards built back in the 1980’s. My city tax dollars fronted that IRL mish-mash three weeks ago. I own a business in Baltimore County. I employ people and put them to work and I trade off of ONE THING: your trust!

The team routinely doesn’t spend money. They’ve made far more money losing than they’d ever make trying to win. That’s just a fact.

And, right now and for the past decade, that’s been exploited and profiteered from by Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group. We’ve got a dead Cy Young Award winner who worked for the company for most of 38 years and his life became so entangled that he put a gun to his head and ended his life less than a month ago.

Who’s going to ask the tough questions?

And when is Angelos or anyone at Major League Baseball going to answer them?

Winning is not as profitable as losing. And when the citizens of the state are paying the freight and there’s only tens of millions of guaranteed profit every year, apparently popularity or civic pride or winning ownership and respect for tradition doesn’t factor into the equation for Peter Angelos.

If the richest guy in the state isn’t interested in winning a World Series then the Baltimore Orioles might as well just leave town and return when they’re ready to win.

It’s such a fragile trust to begin with in Baltimore, where Angelos was a resident and apparently unmoved by the Mayflower vans or any of the chicanery of Bob Irsay back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when he did a beauty tour that was a disgrace to everyone but him.

The story of Angelos and his wrecking machine for the baseball traditions of our community is a legendary, well-told tale that as Ronnie Milsap once sang: “It’s too sad to write.”

Free The Birds is five years old today.

What will the Orioles look like five years from today?

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Flanny’s death bringing out questions about O’s, Angelos

Posted on 29 August 2011 by Peter Dilutis

When Mike Flanagan passed away last Wednesday, I really wanted to write something. In fact, I started writing a piece. I wrote about how we should all embrace Flanny by embracing the O’s. Yes, the Orioles were a losing team, but they were still our family, just as they were Mike Flanagan’s family.

I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about the Orioles. Listening to Rick Dempsey and Jim Palmer reminisce about the good old days was heartwarming. It was apparent to me just how much the Orioles meant to that generation of players, and I yearned for the days when the Orioles players were that tight again, and when the community cared as much about the Birds as they did back then.

I had my angle. My piece was done.

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And then the whispers tying Mike Flanagan’s issues to his perception of the way O’s fans viewed him started circulating around. We all know the story by now. WBAL reported that Flanagan was “despondent over what he considered a false perception from a community he loved of his role in the team’s prolonged failure.”

Of course, there has been backlash from a portion of the media implying that Sandusky was wrong to report such information. I happen to believe that Sandusky did the right thing, but that is a discussion for another day. The bottom line is the information was reported, and the floodgates were opened.

My mood changed.

No longer was I all warm and fuzzy about the Orioles family. I wasn’t thinking that fans should stick with the O’s through thick and thin anymore.

I was angry.

Now, I want to be careful here. I am in no way saying that Mike Flanagan committed suicide because of anything involving the Orioles. I am clearly in no position to make such a judgement, and it would be highly ignorant of me to do so. Truth is, no one will ever know exactly what was going through Flanny’s mind when he decided to end his life.

I wasn’t angry because I felt the failures of the Orioles were the sole cause of his death. I was angry because it became apparent in the immediate aftermath of Flanagan’s death just how poorly the Orioles are viewed, not only throughout the rest of baseball but also by their own family.

In short, it hit me: The Orioles are really, really screwed up.

One by one, skeletons that have been buried deep inside the Orioles family and organization began to show themselves.

Jim Palmer making comments on the telecast about Mike Flanagan feeling like he wasn’t allowed to do what he wanted to do. Lee Mazzilli sharing how Flanny told him that it wasn’t his fault.

Bill Madden writing how Flanagan was “jerked around” by the Angelos family over his broadcasting contract after returning to the booth in 2010.

Among the other distressing stories going around Thursday was that Flanagan never got over being jerked around by Angelos and the owner’s son, John, over his broadcasting contract – one that apparently never was consummated – last year. That, too, conceivably contributed to the financial distress his friends say he was dealing with.

Lee Mazzilli implying that Flanagan wasn’t allowed to do his job…

“There’s no question the Orioles would not be where they are if they’d allowed him to do his job the way he wanted to.

Mike Flanagan’s comment to Ken Singleton in July…

‘This is no way for this team to be.”

I especially liked hearing Drew Forrester talk about his own memorable encounter with Flanny.

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