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Posted on 27 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio
It’s been six years and six days since we launched the “Free The Birds” campaign to speak out about the awfulness that the Baltimore Orioles had become under the stewardship of Peter G. Angelos. Coincidentally, today the Orioles “magic number” to clinch a playoff berth in the American League is 6.
It’s absolutely astonishing that we’re going to the Ravens’ fourth game of the season tonight and the Baltimore Orioles are playing meaningful baseball games every night. It’s almost awkward and overwhelming, the energy we’re all feeling for sports in our community.
So as 70,000 gather downtown and bring the purple love for the 2-1 Baltimore Ravens on national television, has all been forgiven and “fixed” according to the customers of the Baltimore Orioles?
If you’re counting the tens of thousands of empty seats this “Orioles Magic” show has played for over the last month you’ll see that the franchise and the 2012 Orioles still have a long way to go to undo the untold damage to the psyche of its own fan base. Even worse, there are many potential baseball fans who are unaware – or uninterested – in coming back to the ballpark and soaking in the love of Birdland, which right now is just about the happiest place on earth.
Fill in any reason you’d like: price, distance, inconvenience, HDTV, love of Jim Hunter, blah, blah, blah.
Bottom line: it ain’t a tough ticket.
I’ve never stopped going to Orioles games. I’ve been to eight games a year every year since 2003 when they proved to be awful business partners and 2006 when they took away my press pass (I’m the only person in history of Baltimore media to be “banned” from Orioles games). People give me free tickets and I use them.
I’ve flown to Sarasota twice to see them play in spring training. I’ve seen the Orioles play in New York three times a year every year for 8 years. I’ve seen them play in Boston, New York, Cleveland, Tampa, Philadelphia.
I’ve been going back to the ballpark this month and I’ve reached into my wallet to do it.
I purchased two tickets for the Cal Ripken Statue Thursday night extravaganza. I bought four tickets for this Monday’s DH for $4 each. I checked the credit card receipts. I spent $18.80. Because of the scarcity of the Ripken tickets, it cost us $47.80 for a pair of standing rooms that we turned into sitting rooms in the back row of Sec. 380.
My total investment in the Orioles so far in 2012? That’s right: $66.60.
I turned down offers for free tickets the past two nights because I had other obligations for work.
I woke up early on Saturday morning and chased down a pair of tickets to every postseason game the Orioles could play this October. And then I realized that I’ll be in Kansas City for the Ravens’ game next weekend.
And I have to ask myself the same question many Baltimore sports fans are asking themselves – am I a bigger fan of the Orioles or the Ravens? And if I had to pick just one…???? Hmmm…
I’m asking Baltimore sports fans these questions all month here in our GREAT BALTIMORE MEDIA SURVEY. Take it for a chance to win a trip to Cleveland in November!
For me choosing between the Orioles and the Ravens is like picking between whether you love your
Posted on 21 September 2012 by WNST Staff
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Posted on 16 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio
Today I did something I’ve never done as a journalist in 28 years of covering sports. Today, I walked into the Baltimore Ravens locker room and the story really wasn’t as much the razor-thin outcome as the ways and means that the purple guys suffered a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
At every end of the Ravens locker room – from veterans who I’ve never heard utter a bad word about the officials to the coaches who will be mortified when they go back and watch this film – the officiating was the central story of the bitter loss.
A late, reversed call on a phantom pass from Michael Vick that was receovered by the Ravens in the red zone?
A “no yellow flag” pass interference call on Jacoby Jones that took six points off the board for the Ravens? Joe Flacco said the official “threw a beanie.”
Multiple instances where the officials didn’t know what down it was or where to spot the ball?
And, most egregiously, the obvious punching match between DeSean Jackson and Cary Williams that any neophyte NFL fan knows calls for an immediate ejection must make anyone in the league office cringe because that’s a no-brainer and set the tone to allow four more melees to break out at different points in the game.
Several veteran Ravens players chatted with me off the record – as you know the NFL fines anyone who states the obvious about this sham going on with the zebras – and said the biggest issues are the calls being made down the field when the ball goes in the air.
No one knows where the line is for a pass interference call. No one can assess what will be called holding and what won’t. Then there’s the inherent chippiness and ability to bully and further confuse and befuddle these already confused men in black and white.
And as Joe Flacco pointed out, “I think you’re not too smart if you’re not trying to get away with that. See if you can get a call?”
Harbaugh and the Ravens have a chance each week to send notes to New York to the league offices to review plays. Clearly, with this sham today in Philadelphia, he might not even bother filing out a report.
“The challenge for us right now is figuring out what constitutes what. What constitutes illegal contact? What constitutes P.I.?” Harbaugh said in the post game.
No one in the purple locker room came out and said: “We lost the game because of the officials.” Let’s make that clear. Many just said, “It’s a shame.” Flacco says the integrity of the game is being compromised. Ray Lewis had to be pulled away by the Ravens’ PR staff before he said something that would get him fined.
But he did have a litany of interesting things to say and didn’t mince words:
Strange days for the league. Strange days for the officials. And “chaotic,” as it was called by John Harbaugh, seems to reign right now not just for the Ravens but for all teams trying to get a grip on the officiating.
Where is Roger Goodell to answer these questions?
Posted on 31 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio
It was only a matter of time before Adam Jones started popping off on Twitter regarding his feelings about the lack of people standing behind him in centerfield at Camden Yards. It wasn’t as juicy as last year’s advice to “knock the s**t outta the Yankees fans” but he made his feelings well known yesterday about the worst crowd of the season to see the season’s most significant game to date.
It’s very apparent that Adam Jones cares more about whether the good people of Baltimore come to Orioles games than his bosses and owner do but still not enough to vest himself in our community enough to recruit people to come and pay to see the team play.
It must be a bummer for any Orioles player to endure the emptiness of the home ballpark while finally playing meaningful games and quality baseball.
In 2012, the price to pay for 15 years of losing and the worst owner in the history of professional sports is what Adam Jones now sees with a fantastic view from centerfield every night: an empty stadium in downtown Baltimore and plenty of green seats to backdrop every fly ball.
It’s been very clear that the prescient message I sent with “Free The Birds” in 2006 – “if you’re not careful, Mr. Angelos, we might leave and never come back” – has now become a prophecy. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are everything you’d want in a local sports team to follow – interesting, fun, lively and relevant – and a grand total of 48K came to Camden Yards over four days to watch the best baseball this city has seen in 15 years.
The empty seats are a glaring reminder of what’s gone wrong with the franchise and the city’s passion for the Baltimore Orioles since Peter Angelos bought — and then wrecked — the franchise.
Once Adam Jones stops talking out of the side of his mouth and at the end of this run of success in 2012 – and I’m not betting it won’t end in a parade just yet because I’ve seen stranger things happen — it’ll then be time to invest himself in our community the way he likes to on his Twitter account.
He got the $85.5 million deal back in May and it’ll be his turn to become a Baltimore resident or not. If he’s really interested in people coming to the ballpark then I hope he’ll spend the offseason with the fans here and be Mr. Oriole all winter.
Where will he be in November…and December…or January?
Will he be shaking hands, kissing babies and attempting to become a guy who eventually gets one of those shiny statues out on the patio that no one is visiting these days?
Will Adam Jones be in the community trying to win back the fans of Baltimore?
I’m not talking sitting at a table in a card shop or swag store charging $50 for an autograph. I’m talking about being a true ambassador for the community.
This isn’t about the marketing department. This isn’t about buying more billboards or state-run MASN ads. This isn’t about popping off on Twitter or mandating “sitdowns” with people like me who are still pissed about the entire tenor and arrogance of the Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos over two decades.
If the players on the field are embarrassed by an empty stadium, it’s my belief is that THEY – directly – are the only ones who can do something about it. We have to care about them and want to invest our money
Posted on 16 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio
It goes without saying that Baltimore isn’t quite yet embracing this 2012 version of Baltimore Orioles pennant fever. No matter how dramatic the victories or how unlikely this late August run for postseason glory seems, nothing about The Birds has moved the sports fans of Maryland.
Even into the great beyond via the long reach of MASN – not to mention the reach into your pockets every month like a public utility – for whatever reason people aren’t coming back in droves to give King Peter Angelos their money to watch the likes of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and even boy wonder Manny Machado, who has been worth the price of admission alone this week.
Oh, I know I’m being “Negative Nestor” by even writing this blog when the Orioles are winning baseball games and on the verge of a sweep of the hated Boston Red Sox. But every time the TV cameras pan the more than half-empty stadium, I can’t help but thinking the same thing you’re thinking: “I wonder why people aren’t going to Camden Yards to support this winning team?”
Yeah, we all thought Camden Yards would be packed once the Orioles started winning. And as the team closes a 10-game homestand tonight in full control of a wild card berth and still within striking distance of the New York Yankees, a true “pennant fever” atmosphere has yet to emerge in Baltimore.
It seems that a few months of prosperity hasn’t wiped out 14 years of bad vibes, bad baseball, steroid needles, lies from the owner and the emergence of the Washington Nationals as the regional team with marketing legs and, dare we say, “Natitude.”
And here’s where we’ll piss off both side of the Baltimore fence.
I have one question for you: “Are you excited about the Baltimore Ravens’ upcoming season?”
My gut is that you just yelled, “YES!”
My gut also says that your neighbor is excited, your cousins, your co-workers, the folks in your social group – wherever your friends and loved ones reside — they’re ready to don purple and are counting down the minutes until the 7 p.m. kickoff on Monday, Sept. 10 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
I’m not sure when it became sort of fashionable to only support one of the two teams in Baltimore and perhaps for the younger generation there has never been a good time to embrace the Orioles. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ready for Ravens’ season and that my love for the purple guys has superseded my spirit and energy for the Orioles. But I do love them both. And I will support them both equally for what it means for Baltimore to have a winning sports team and a chance to hang red, white and blue bunting here in October.
And, somehow during this emergence of the purple birds of Baltimore since 1996, this weird kind of divide has occurred here in the Charm City where some folks only have enough “love” – if not dollars and time and energy – for one of the two teams.
Do you know people who love the Orioles and have no use for football or the Ravens? Almost to the point where they root against the purple birds in football season?
And, conversely, from what I can tell there are a myriad of people everywhere around town who are fervent Baltimore Ravens fans and have long-since given up following the Orioles on a nightly basis, even now that the team on the field is representative of the community’s desire for hard work, overachieving and beating the Yankees and Red Sox.
I know many, many people who have purple “Man Caves” – an entire kingdom and closets dedicated to all things Baltimore Ravens. There are whole stores like The Raven Zone dedicated to selling merchandise year-round.
I don’t know anyone who has a basement that is an homage to the Orioles these days, despite the fact that you get 162 chances to enjoy games vs. just 16 that count.
I also admit that the amount of hours necessary to follow the Orioles is extraordinary. It’s a lifestyle commitment to watch four hours of baseball six nights a week for six months. It’s almost like a full-time job if you’re going to vest into MLB fandom.
And certainly this isn’t a new phenomenon for sports teams anywhere in America. It seems that there’s plenty of love for all four sports teams in places like Boston, Philadelphia, etc. where the seasons and the reasons all seem to blur together into a full calendar of activity and passion.
But it might be time to ask, “Where’s the emotional investment for Baltimore fans?”
Is it possible that you only have room in your heart — or wallet — for one successful local team?
Posted on 08 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio
I’ve argued with WNST morning show host Drew Forrester for a decade about this. He’s always said – much like everyone in the Angelos family – “When the Orioles win they’ll ALL come back!”
Well, in case you haven’t noticed while you were dusting off your purple gear this week for tomorrow night’s meaningless and mostly unentertaining Ravens game in Atlanta, the 2012 Baltimore Orioles are just about everything you’d want in a MLB team in a “small market” where the owner is pocketing over $100 million in profit every year.
They have young stars. They are exciting every night – including last night’s 14-inning marathon victory over the Seattle Mariners that unfolded like The Ilyiad. They seem to play sudden death baseball a lot. It’s almost like they WANT you to fall asleep on them.
And these days, it appears, that most Baltimore sports fans have in fact “gone to sleep on the Orioles.”
By and large, most of you are not coming to Orioles games right now. The Orioles haven’t inspired you to buy a ticket, despite their good fortunes and entertainment value on the field.
This is a perfect day for me to write about going to Orioles games because I’m going to the game tonight.
Well, I got free tickets.
My complaints and reasons for not giving Peter Angelos my money are legendary and well-documented. The incident when the team stiffed me on a $30,000 sponsorship, then attacked me at a game in 2004 and sent an apology note signed, “The Bird.” Then, after 21 years of covering the Baltimore Orioles through three ownership groups, they took my press pass in 2007 and have summarily lied about why, which is standard operating procedure from the Angelos family.
Hell, four months ago at a charity cocktail function, Brady Anderson told me I “should leave Baltimore if I don’t like the way the team is being run.”
But I still watch them every night – which either makes me a sucker, a fool or an eternal optimist. Or maybe just someone who loves Baltimore and the Orioles and remembers how much fun baseball was for the entire community before Angelos wrecked the franchise for anyone who takes the time to examine all of the facts.
Oh, here’s one more warm and fuzzy — this Friday will mark the one-year anniversary that one of their legendary players, broadcaster and caring front office man Mike Flanagan put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.
The Orioles have played 110 games this year. I’ve watched about 95 of them in their entirety. The other 15 I’ve either fallen asleep (like last night) or kept track via my mobile device on WNST’s live box score feature.
If you follow me on Twitter, you might find five games where I haven’t been live tweeting most of the evening from my couch. So, I’m qualified to bitch in many ways because I’m the biggest Baltimore Orioles fan you’ll ever find.
And, again, I’m not giving Angelos my money – not tonight or any night.
In Dundalk, we would simply call him a scumbag and leave it at that.
But he doesn’t care about whether you or I come to the ballpark. He’s sucking that $3.00 per month from my cable bill and yours,
Posted on 13 July 2012 by Nestor Aparicio
The second half of the Baltimore Orioles’ re-awakening 2012 season is about to begin and the local baseball fans are a bit befuddled by it all.
As a Baltimore sports fan, I’m never allergic to exciting wins and a 12-game over .500 start to any baseball season. We’ve seen a manager who not only channels Earl Weaver in his size, stature and mannerisms but also with shrewd use of role players and borderline big leaguers. It’s been three months of watching guys who are trying hard no matter who is called up from Norfolk or who hits the disabled list. We’ve witnessed the blossoming of a true superstar in Adam Jones, who signed a record contract in mid-May against all previous precedent given by the Angelos family.
And, for the first time since 1997, this version of the Baltimore Orioles has stirred fans’ awareness – if not necessarily their emotions or beliefs – that this could be a dog-days-of-summer presentation that will bare watching as the fellows in the purple sweaters practice in Owings Mills in two weeks.
But here’s the problem: the 2012 Baltimore Orioles roster — as currently assembled on July 13th — is either in parts of tatters, simply unproven or just flat-out stinks.
I’ve been watching baseball for 40 years and I can’t think of any situation that compares to this.
The 2012 Baltimore Orioles are 45-40, now just five games over .500. However, if the season ended today they’d be in the playoffs. It’s officially the second half of the season – I watched the All-Star Game on Tuesday night even if none of the rest of you did – and the Orioles have a legitimate chance to play at least one postseason baseball game in October.
In the new Bud Selig fantasy world of more October baseball and profit, the Orioles are truly contenders in a way we couldn’t have imagined in March and haven’t seen since the Clinton administration. And no one else in the American League East looks to be galvanized to go on a tear, either.
Meanwhile the young guns of Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter are all in Norfolk after repeated self-inflicted shots into the bleachers after a series of “Ball Ones” and long, hot innings of ineffectiveness and blown leads.
The now-rested bullpen will attempt to continue to atone for the sins of the many failed starts over the past eight weeks.
The offense is in tatters. Despite the trade for a post-40 Jim Thome – yet another acquisition a player who is in the December of his career ala Sammy Sosa and Vladimir Guerrero — the Orioles are at least making some attempt to get to October after such an encouraging start.
Will Brian Roberts be a factor in the second half? Is Nick Markakis fully healed from his hamate bone injury? Can J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters provide more offense in the second half? Is Xavier Avery a star or just another so-so-outfielder from the Orioles’ depth chart?
There are far more questions than answers heading into the second season of baseball.
The Orioles have been irrelevant for 15 years. This year it appears we’ll have the first-ever Ravens’ training camp opening where the orange team will be the ones making summer headlines.
Will they trade? Who will they trade? What will they get?
One thing we know: trades for legitimate pitchers and hitters who can help the Orioles will not only cost some prospects but will involve large sums of money to pay these proven