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My Final Conversation with Earl Weaver

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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

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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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Buck Buck

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Oriole Surprise

Posted on 03 September 2012 by Tom Federline

The Orioles just keep winning. How? Come on all you true Oriole fans, how many times have you asked yourself that question this year? And your answers? Does this sound familiar – “let’s see, last night  – it was the starting pitching, it was the relief pitching, just who was pitching………the offense must have stepped up, the defense finally came around, so-and-so was hot, etc. etc.” Then you say – who cares, put another one in the WIN column!  As of September 2nd, they are not going away. Yes, O’s fans it is September and the Baltimore Orioles are in a pennant/wild card race.

Back on July 18th, I wrote – The Orioles are Back to Normal……… and at that time they were. This isn’t normal. This is FUN! Buck-Buck is tough, he goes with his gut, he sticks with his players, he is running the team – Showalter style. Dan Duquette is making some fortuitous acquisitions. The organization is feeding off the Andy McPhail farm teams. And the Angelos family appears to have bought into the current approach. Players are going down, players are picking it up, guys you have never heard of before are contributing. They went 18 – 9 in August. The most wins in a single month since September 2004.

This was the best August in 15 years,  that didn’t involve the acquisition of a new manager, i.e. Buck-Buck 2 years ago. There was even a time during the middle of the month, where it looked like the umpires were attempting a little “fix” of their own. The O’s held it together and I believe it was at that point, they became a “team”. It was the Boston series and umpire Laz Diaz. Then the series immediately following in Detroit with umpire Tim Timmons. Both of those umpires should be suspended and/or fined – “Hold them accountable.” Buck-Buck usually remains pretty even keel. Actually, to even keel for my taste (I’m old school – Earl Weaver). But finally, enough was enough and Buck lost it in Detroit.

In Boston – Laz Diaz. A blown “out” call at first involving Adam Jones. It was potentially a turning point in the game and cost the O’s a run.. He clearly missed the call. The next night Jones gets intentionally hit in the back by Clay “Classless” Bucholz in retaliation for Jones plowing the catcher the night before. No warning from Diaz (he’s behind the plate now). Jim Palmer comments  - “Come on Laz………..you blew calls last night……….now this.” In Detroit – Tim Timmons (home plate). Another blown “out” call on Markakis in the first inning when he was safe at home. Then Timmons again, over turned a call later in the game at first base, with Reynolds making another nice saving grab. The first base ump called Detroit player out, Detroit complained, numbnut Timmons comes out and reversed it, ultimately making the wrong call. Buck Showalter wins Orioles Emmy for “Best Earl Weaver Impression – 2012.” Tough week. Orioles prevailed.

The nucleus of the team has remained intact: Markakis (did lose him in June), Jones, Weiters, Hardy, Chen, Johnson and believe it or not Reynolds. Thank you Mark Reynolds for beating the Spankmees this wet Labor Day weekend. The pitching, left field, 3B, 2B has been a revolving door and you have to credit Buck-Buck, Duquette and the numerous replacements that have stepped up. How about that Machado call up? With that surprising addition, they may have secured the corners for the run. It’s hard to keep up with the turnover rate. It’s kind of like Buck is saying – “With or Without You” – (U2), we are on a mission. Buck quote – “This is as good a club I’ve ever had about staying in the moment.” Well O’s – how about, Seize the Moment?

The Orioles are winning. They are a team. I like the “Outfielder Bump” after a win. I like Palmers nickname for the bullpen – “The Orange Curtain”. I like the self-imposed starting rotation competition. I like, that they do not give up. How about that bullpen? The Strop/Johnson combo is holding up. How about the best defense in the majors since the All-star break?  ”Playoffs? Don’t talk about playoffs. You kidding me? Playoffs?” Yeah, the Birds are perched ready for a run. Fifteen years………..it’s about time. It’s also going to be a long September. And I’m glad! Where did the summer go? Go O’s! O-R-I-O-L-E-S magic.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Chapter 10: Imagine a Baltimore without the Orioles

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Chapter 10: Imagine a Baltimore without the Orioles

Posted on 14 March 2012 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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Lots of errors to go around with regard to Brooks statue

Posted on 24 October 2011 by Drew Forrester

We at WNST should just walk around with red flags in our back pockets.

They’d be used for “community challenges”.

It seems we’re the only ones who use them, but I guess that’s what we’re here for…Lord knows very few others in town are willing to challenge anyone.

The latest case for red-flag use came this weekend when the Brooks Robinson statue was unveiled across the street from the baseball stadium, in front of Pickles, a popular pre-game destination for Yankees and Red Sox fans when their teams are in town.

By now I’m sure you know the basic details.  Baltimore businessman Henry Rosenberg was the mastermind of the idea and he oversaw the financing and the hiring of the sculptor and all that jazz.  Rosenberg told members of the media over the weekend that the Orioles “weren’t overly enthusiastic” about the idea.

Right.

Because it wasn’t THEIR idea.

We all know how that goes.

But then, something interesting happened.

Some people around town started reporting that it actually WAS the Orioles who put together the great ceremony on Saturday. That’s an easy mistake to make, frankly, since you would have to assume – if you were the person putting together the story for a local TV station or writing the headine at the newspaper – the Orioles WERE involved.  After all, it’s Brooks Robinson.  The Orioles wouldn’t miss out on a chance to honor him, right?  Especially after someone like Rosenberg – who was a longtime financial contributor to Orioles baseball in the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s as part of his duties with Crown Petroleum – went to such great lengths to get this project started and completed.

But the Orioles weren’t involved.

No one from the team was there.  No Buck Showalter.  No member of the Angelos family.  Not even Jim Palmer or longtime broadcaster and close friend Tom Davis.  That would have been a great time to hand out some old bobbleheads or t-shirts or any other kind of team related merchandise.  Just a “thanks for coming” from the club, basically.

But the whole “Orioles didn’t help out” story isn’t really what aggravated me.

What bothered me more than anything is that no one else in town seems to care they weren’t involved.  Stan Charles actually took a shot at them…I will recognize him for that.  But other than WNST and Stan Charles, no one seemed overly concerned with this colossal snub of the greatest 3rd baseman to ever play the game.

No one at The Sun blasted the Orioles for the lack of participation.

None of the TV folks jabbed them.

The folks over at 105.7 wouldn’t DARE crack the whip, for fear they might lose their “FM partner” status and not be allowed to have players on the air during the season.

There’s absolutely no chance WBAL will question them on it.  There’s a better chance of the Orioles making the playoffs next year then to have one of the folks at the flagship station go off on them for their lack of participation in the ceremony.

Jerry Coleman probably would have beat them up had he not been summarily dismissed at The Fan two weeks ago.

There’s no one around to call the Orioles out.  Just us, at WNST.

And that’s why they do what they do.

And — that’s why I’ll throw yet another challenge flag at these imposters in town who are afraid to challenge the Orioles and their management.

Until The Sun says, “Please tell us why you weren’t there today so we can write an article grilling you for it”, they’ll just continue to ignore their obligations.  Until the folks at WBAL and The Fan decide to man-up and challenge them, they’ll just do whatever they want.

The Sun did have a quote from an Orioles representative who chimed in about how much the club loves Brooks and they’ll never be able to repay him for all that he did and a bunch of other word-smithy stuff that made it appear as if the Orioles DID care about Saturday’s event.  I guess that’s why no one from team management was there.  And maybe that’s why Jim Palmer was on the golf course in Florida somewhere instead of speaking to the folks who gathered for the unveiling.  And Buck Showalter wasn’t there, either.  He manages the team, in case you no longer follow the club.

This lack of challenge is precisely what’s wrong with our entire country these days, let alone this situation in town involving the Orioles.  Our country is dilapidated right now because no one can challenge the system.  We’re just now – 15 years after big business started to ruin the nation – starting to challenge the status quo with grass roots efforts like Occupy Wall Street and other forms of protest and even those efforts are met with cries of “sit down and shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about!”  If you’re a Democrat, you hate anything the Republicans stand for, even if it’s right.  And if you’re a Republican, you hate anything the Democrats stand for, even if it’s right.  I love when someone poses a legitimate question to our state government and you hear this:  ”Maryland is a democratic state — you’re never going to change that.”  Right, because the Democrats are doing a real bang-up job in the “Free State”.

So everywhere we turn, people are afraid to challenge anyone.  If you challenge our government, you’re told, “Be thankful for what you have” even though, in nearly every single case, none of us “have anything” remotely close to what the politicians have.  They have better-everything than we do.  If you challenge our politicans, they respond with “you voted me in” (which is why I haven’t voted in 20 years…because I find them all to be charlatans).

And no one can challenge the Orioles.

Or, at the very least, they’re just afraid to challenge them.

It’s the worst kept secret in town.  The Orioles just do whatever they want and nearly everyone turns a blind eye.

FACT:  The Orioles were NOT involved in the Brooks Robinson statue ceremony on Saturday.

FACT:  That’s a damn shame.

FACT:  The statue was NOT erected at Camden Yards.  No, no, no.  There are four lanes of roads that separate the statue from the stadium property.  To say it was erected AT Camden Yards would be indicating that it sits on the property of the baseball stadium.  That’s a factual inaccuracy.  It’s NOT erected at Camden Yards because the Orioles didn’t approve of it being situated there.

FACT:  Very few people in town cared to question the Orioles on the whole thing.

OPINION:  That’s one of the reasons why the team and the organization is in the shape it’s in.

FACT AND OPINION:  We have some lame people in this town.

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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

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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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Flanagans Passing

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Flanagans Passing

Posted on 25 August 2011 by Tom Federline

I am on vacation. There has been an earthquake, there is a hurricane on the way, Ocean City is being evacuated, the Orioles just swept 4 games in Minnesota and Mike Flanagan has apparently committed suicide. What in the heck is going on?  Can’t wait to get back to work – yeah right. I am not sure if it is “official” yet, but sources and police are calling it – “a self inflicted gunshot wound.” That’s heavy. My definition of suicide – a permanent solution to a potentially temporary problem. Something was troubling Michael, down there deep.

My two fondest memories of Mike Flanagan are - a) the entire 1979 Orioles season and b) the ninth inning on October 6, 1991. After Palmer, Flanny was the ace of the Orioles staff. Most of the time you felt like the O’s always had a shot when he was in there pitching. He was confident, stoic on the mound. One of the best left handers ever- in my book. He was….. a Baltimore Oriole. 1979 – Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Dennis Martinez, Jim Palmer, Sammy Stewart, Don “Full Pack” Stanhouse and Tippy Martinez. That’s not all of them but wow, what a staff. 1991 – the Orioles bring in Flanagan to pitch the final two outs - class act. The last Oriole to pitch in Memorial Stadium and he threw 2 strikeouts. Yes, I was there.

MASN is pulling out all the stops. “Remembering Flanny” tributes have been flying. I believe MASN is even going to broadcast that final game at Memorial Stadium the next 2 nights. I also hope they show more Oriole Classics – i.e. 1979 and 1983 World Series. Check your cable listings and Do Not Miss. MASN may go into “Overload” with this one, but it is warranted. I have to give credit – where credit is due. MASN handled the news last night with class. I had heard the announcement around the 5th inning last night on a break through on the radio. So I go turn on the tube - nothing. Palmer and Jim Hunter are calling the game as if nothing had happened. Quick break to radio broadcast – heard nothing more of death notice. Game ends. O’s win. The flood gates open.

Class move. Awful circumstance – but a pleasure to watch MASN handle the situation. Demper and Palmer expressing heart felt sympathy, trying to gather themselves and report on the passing of a lost friend. Amber Theo-Harris, Jim Hunter, Buck-Buck, Tom Marr, etc. all of them - passionate expression during a live broadcast. I was riveted. All the while asking ….well how did he die? Then came the 11 o’clock news and the walls came “Crumblin’ Down” – (John Cougar Mellancamp). 

Classless act – WBAL news staff and Gerry Sandusky. This is what was being reported……not verbatim – Mike Flanagan is dead of an apparent suicide in his Monkton home………(brace yourself for this)….Despondent over the inability to make the corrective changes to the Orioles organization to better the team. My first words – are you (blankety-blankety) kidding me. The news media -  are they to report news or make news? A tragedy being made worse by the media. I may never watch Channel 11 again. WJZ and Viviano handled it better, short to the point, reporting only information that needed to be expressed at that time. Comcast Sportsnet, ESPN, etc. all reporting with dignity.

Mike Flanagans death has been reported as a suicide, potentially due to “financial issues.” Something wasn’t right in Bedrock. In my book the public does not really need to know – unless it is the family wishes and knowledge of said suicide could help another human being who is troubled. Bottom line – a respected man by his peers took his life. A fan favorite of Baltimore and a definite member of the Orioles family has passed. For those of us approaching the ripe age of 50 – he was a staple of Orioles conversation during our high school /college and those entering the work world years. He did “try and make a difference” in the organization. He stayed with the Orioles organization. He wore orange and black inside and out.

The Yankees and Irene are blowing into town this weekend. The weather and emotions may be fairly turbulent. Pre-game at tonights Ravens/Redskins game and tomorrow nights O’s Yankees game will be rough. Hopefully the Camden Yards crew took some lessons from MASN and the Minnesota Twins organization and will continue to display class tribute to a great Oriole. Thanks for the memories – Mike Flanagan. Go O’s.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Reactions to Passing of Orioles Great Mike Flanagan

Posted on 24 August 2011 by WNST Staff

Orioles Owner Peter Angelos:

“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of my friend Mike Flanagan earlier this evening. In over a quarter century with the organization, Flanny became an integral part of the Orioles family, for his accomplishments both on and off the field. His loss will be felt deeply and profoundly by all of us with the ballclub and by Orioles fans everywhere who admired him. On behalf of the club I extend my condolences to his wife, Alex; and daughters Kerry, Kathryn and Kendall.”

Former teammate/Hall of Fame SS Cal Ripken Jr.:

“I am so sorry to hear about Mike’s passing. He was a good friend and teammate and our thoughts are with Alex and his family. Mike was an Oriole through and through and he’ll be sorely missed by family, friends and fans. This is a sad day.”

Former teammate/Hall of Fame P Jim Palmer (via MASN postgame show):
“I’m not real good at this … because he was one of us. I guess, the first thing I want to say to his three daughters and to Alex, my condolences. We were a family. I think anybody that played for the Orioles in the eras that we played understood how lucky we were. It wasn’t just about what happened on the field. He was one of a kind. I’m sorry for the people that knew him. It’s devastating.”

Longtime Orioles Public Relations Manager Bill Stetka (via Patch.com):

“He bled black and orange. He was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever known. Just a quick, dry sense of humor. He made in all the years I was traveling in PR, whether he was broadcasting or pitching coach or the general manager, he made it bearable with all the losses. He kept his sense of humor. He was very introspective. I’m going to miss him.”

Former teammate Rick Dempsey (via Baltimore Sun):

“It’s just shock right now. I know everybody that played with him loved him to death. He was the backbone of that pitching staff. He never quit — this guy never quit. He was there for the duration. We had so many great games and so many great times. I just can’t believe it.”

Orioles manager Buck Showalter (via MASN postgame show):

“He’s just impacted so many lives, including myself. Sitting in my office, drinking coffee with him, it’s tough. He made great use of his time on this earth. We’ll miss him.”

Former Orioles PR Director John Maroon:

“I had the pleasure of working with Mike Flanagan for several years and was sad to hear of his passing. Mike was always friendly, funny and kind. We are so sorry for his family and they are in our thoughts and prayers tonight.”

Orioles CF Adam Jones (via Twitter):

“O’s family, fans, supporters lost a great man today in Mike Flanagan. Learned alot from Flanny in my 3+ years in Bmore. Ur missed ALOT #46″

Orioles Pitcher Jake Arrieta (via Twitter):

“Deeply saddened by the loss of Mike Flanagan, devastating time for the entire Oriole family…”

Orioles Pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (via Twitter):

“From day I was given #46 as Oriole,the fans always reminded me of the legacy Mike Flanagan left behind.This is a sad day for Orioles family. Mike Flanagan was an important person to me & touched the lives of countless people in the baseball family & especially in Baltimore. RIP”

Former teammate Ken Singleton (via The Morning Reaction on WNST – listen here):

“Flanny was a great guy, a great teammate. Always could crack up a clubhouse.”

“I know he wasn’t happy with the way things were going with the team. I’m sure it bothered him like it bothered everyone else.”

“Flanny had a way of keeping things loose. Fans could see that on TV.”

“This was one of the best teammates I’ve ever had and to have it end this way is not good.”

Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver (via WNST):

“He was a great pitcher. It was a player-manager relationship. I didn’t know Mike that well.”

“But when I retired and got to know Mike as general manager, he was very friendly.”

Orioles Pitcher Chris Jakubauskus (via Twitter):

“The Orioles Family lost a great man today. My thoughts and prayers Go out to the Flanagan family. He will be missed.”

Orioles Pitching Prospect Matt Hobgood (via Twitter):

“So sad to hear about Mike Flanagan. No words can ease the pain of losing a father, son, brother, uncle… It’s the worst feeling ever… RIP”

Orioles 1B Prospect Brandon Snyder (via Twitter):

“Flanny will be dearly missed by everyone in the orioles family. A great man and a great Oriole. #46″

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