Tag Archive | "kevin"

Chapter 5: The Orioles and Colts weren’t the only teams that mattered

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Chapter 5: The Orioles and Colts weren’t the only teams that mattered

Posted on 09 March 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 5 of a 19 Chapter Series on How baseball, my father and the Orioles created WNST.net. We are planning some civic action on Thursday, April 5. Please plan to join us…)

This is probably the story that I hate to admit the most on the radio. It involves youthful ignorance, disgusting twists and turns and, ultimately, I think more than just a tad bit of old-fashioned adolescent rebellion.

I don’t think anyone could ever picture me as a rebel, right?

If what I really say about comparing the Baltimore sports scene is true  — “the Ravens are my girlfriend, but the Orioles are my wife” and I DID warn you that I can find a baseball analogy for virtually ANY situation in life, or vice versa — then at one point I had a few “flings.”

A couple of those steamy, whirlwind romances that feel so good you don’t even feel GUILTY about it in the morning. It’s a “new” love, a satisfaction that only something “fresh” will give you.

My first one occurred back in the 1970′s, really the first day that the “fan” came out in the fanatic.

My Pop took me to my first Colts game on Sept. 23, 1973 to see “Broadway” Joe Namath and the New York Jets. No need to run you through the whys and wherefores of Super Bowl III (if I gotta do THAT, you probably shouldn’t be reading or hearing this!), but suffice to say this city had what my Pop would describe as a “hard on” for the Jets — to say the least!

I was three weeks shy of my 5th birthday, so I was technically 4 years old and off to a Colts’ football game we go. Unlike my memories of my first Oriole game being a little more cloudy and distant, my recollections of my first Colts game is so vivid it’s really kinda spooky.

The Colts lost that game 34-10, and even though I don’t need to look that up, I AM staring at the program from that game just six inches to my left. The fact that I can move my left hand and touch this program and, somehow, touch my father through it and touch the smell of the air that day is incredible — a powerful, powerful thing.

But that’s just how good sports can be and why The Rally on Sept. 21st downtown is important.

On that day in September 1973, Johnny Unitas had just left, the franchise was in a shambles and the embryo that would birth an exit from Baltimore, “Tiger” Bob Irsay and his drunken ownership hijinks, was gestating. Marty Domres was the starting quarterback and Bert Jones was a puppy, but the team had the key compenents to what would go on to be a fabulous team to watch from 1975 through 1977 — a team that gave Pittsburgh and Oakland a run for their money each year as a solid AFC East team. Lydell Mitchell, Ken Mendenhall, Joe Ehrmann, David Taylor, Mike Barnes — they were all there that day.

Stan White knocked Joe Namath out of the game that day and, 33 years later, I get to compete with him every day on Baltimore radio. I just think that’s kinda cool, even if he never has! Stan White was a hero of mine as a kid because he smacked Joe Namath in the mouth (or in the case, the shoulder).

My Pop didn’t think that sucked, either!

We sat in the middle of centerfield — or at least that’s what it was to me, the bleacher seats. I thought it was kinda nifty that we got to actually WALK on the baseball field. I remember how BIG everyone was and how gigantic the stadium looked from centerfield. I remember the band and I’m sure it was the first time I ever heard the “Colts Fight Song.”

At some point during the blowout, my Pop and I left, resigned to grabbing the No. 22 bus back to Highlandtown. En route, I wanted to stop and get a souvenir. I wanted to get something that had something to do with Johnny Unitas. I didn’t really know who Johnny Unitas was but I knew he was

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I always had great Eck-spectations for my best pal and Dundalk wrestling hero Kevin Eck

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I always had great Eck-spectations for my best pal and Dundalk wrestling hero Kevin Eck

Posted on 24 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been an emotional week for me on many levels with more big news forthcoming about WNST.net and its future, so please allow me a little space today to write a very personal blog that comes from the heart.

Kevin Eck – you probably know him as the “Ring Post” guy at The Baltimore Sun — has been in my life since 1979 and for large swaths of time we were as close as any brothers could be. We met at the Games store at Eastpoint Mall (remember that place?) at an autograph signing for Billy Smith. We also both met Al Bumbry, Scott McGregor, Mike Flanagan and Rich Dauer (his favorite) there on the north end of the mall during that “Magical” summer. I was a legitimate “mall rat” at Eastpoint Mall in the early 1980’s – PacMan, soaping the fountains, that sorta thing.

As Bruce Springsteen once wrote so eloquently in the E Street Band classic, Bobby Jean: “We liked the same music, we liked the same bands, we like the same clothes.” That could’ve been the story of Nestor and Kevin. Except we liked the same girls, baseball, football, basketball, rock bands and, of course, professional wrestling of the WWWF and the land of Bob Backlund and George “The Animal” Steele.

This isn’t just a story about my lifelong best pal from Holabird Junior High and Dundalk Senior High. It’s not just a media or journalist story.

It’s really about a kid from Dundalk who dreamed of working in professional wrestling and next week is embarking on a journey of a lifetime.

I can say with all of the conviction in my being that Kevin Eck ate, slept, talked, walked, learned, researched, watched, critiqued, worked in and worked out of nothing but the world of professional wrestling.

The genesis of our friendship wasn’t born of the Orioles or Colts or any rock music band like Rush — and they’re all closer to the heart of our friendship. The truth: Kevin was the only other WWWF wrestling aficionado and wrestling magazine nut when I was in the 7th grade. It was our special bond – a love of the squared circle and the work of Bruno Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham, Greg Valentine and Andre The Giant.

So, this isn’t just about another “Dundalk boy did well” story, it’s more like a Willy Wonka kind of story with imagination .

Look, I could tell Kevin Eck stories all night. Chasing girls in the 8th grade. Attending every middle school and high school dance. Girlfriends, births, deaths, jobs, journalism, careers, wives…we’ve done it all.  Crazy weeks in Jamaica. Long weekends in Ocean City. All-night benders in Las Vegas and San Diego. You name it. World Series games, crazy cab rides that I chronicled in “Purple Reign” when Eck was the first person in Baltimore to hear the news that the Browns/Modells were moving their NFL franchise to Baltimore.

Eck and I have been around the world together and have shared our lives together. If you want to see a bunch of crazy old, embarrassing pictures I posted them all on my Facebook page here. Please feel free to fan me and I’ll try to make you laugh more often.

And there’s nothing better in life than when your friends do well. Nothing!

Especially when your oldest friends succeed and thrive and live their dreams.

Kevin Eck’s life and dream came full-circle and into the squared circle a few weeks ago when he accepted a job to work on the WWE creative team with Stephanie McMahon, Triple H and Dusty Rhodes in Greenwich, Ct. He’s packing up his family and moving to take a job a lifetime at Titan Tower.

In baseball, we’d say he got the call to “go to the show.”

And this must be what it feels like when your brother or best friend or son makes his first big-league start.

You almost want to pinch yourself for them, you know?

Our lives and our career paths have followed a similar, strange path – we’ve worked directly in the same industry as competitors for the better part of two decades and somehow have managed to keep our friendship (and that’s not always easy with two fiery personalities).

I got a job at The News American in September 1984. He soon followed.

I got a job at The Evening Sun in January 1986. He soon followed at The Sun.

I left The Sun in January 1992. He left a few years later to go to work for Ted Turner and WCW as a magazine editor in the last 1990’s and was there during a turbulent corporate time when Vince McMahon’s then-WWF empire usurped the entire industry and my pal came back from Atlanta having to start his local journalism life all over again.

Because of his immense talent and deep depth of knowledge of local sports, Kevin got his job back on the editing desk at The Sun, right back in the sports department. He began writing his passion – a little blog called “Ring Posts” a few years ago and it quickly became a viral hit. (As I told him it would be…)

So many times I talk about expertise in journalism, integrity in reporting and fairness in news judgment and I’m proud to say Kevin Eck has all of that and has for the most part been a “behind the scenes” guy at The Sun, who never had a high profile beat but has been a rock star in his department on the high schools and the dirty work that so many don’t want to do in the journalism business — editing, planning, managing people.

He’s kind of like that lunch pail rock star football player – a Jarret Johnson, Kelly Gregg kinda underrated guy. But a guy you’d never want to lose. And he’ll be the first guy in the clubhouse and the last to leave.

The Sun is taking a major hit losing a guy like Kevin Eck, especially given his deep knowledge of Baltimore sports, which I sadly never put to better use. I always thought Kevin would’ve been a star doing local sports talk radio and I told him that. But he already had a gig and one that both of us dreamed of having as kids, which is what took us into the newspaper business back in 1984.

We both watched “The Odd Couple” as kids and wanted to be Oscar Madison, truth be told.

Meanwhile, the WWE is getting a rock star – someone who is so dedicated to wrestling that it honestly baffled all of our friends, especially when it became apparent through his mom taping every single episode of every single match on VHS tapes for the better part of 25 years.

Kevin Eck has watched as much wrestling as Mel Kiper Jr. has watched college football tape.

Seriously…

This summer, as a hobby, I took it upon myself to work on one project outside of direct WNST sales and development business and that’s been collecting all of my pictures, memorabilia and boxes o’memories to use on my Facebook page and in an upcoming reality TV show I’m participating in with a friend. (I can’t tell you more about it until they let me.)

Two weeks ago, at the bottom of a box, I found this gem of a memory.

And even though it happened on July 25, 1981, I remember it pretty well. Kevin and I were crashing at his Mom’s house and we began working on a project to quietly unseat Vince McMahon from his kingdom by publishing our own Pro Wrestling magazine. We were gonna make millions with this partnership venture.

His mom Shirley, who has struggled with her health lately and was like a second mother to me, was the only person we knew who could type so she was our typesetter and we had to go to the library to make copies and we planned to sell them for 25 cents.

Kevin and I worked all night to make the inaugural (and only) edition of Wrestling, Inc. with Dusty Rhodes on the cover.

That was 30 years ago last month. I don’t think Kevin has missed a WWE wrestling match since 1981.

Other than Dave Meltzer and perhaps Alex Marvez, my pal Kevin Eck is as expert about all things professional wrestling as anyone on the planet outside of Vince McMahon himself.

There’s not much Kevin Eck doesn’t know about pro wrestling, except now he’ll be on the inside of the WWE kingdom helping put on the show and make it better.

He’s off to the WWE to make a difference to follow his dream.

He loved The Baltimore Sun. He loves Baltimore sports and has quietly dedicated his life to it the way I did.

I was the loud boisterous pal. He was always the quiet one in the shadows.

I traveled the world, got syndicated, did my thing and he was always so supportive – like a brother – through all of my victories and challenges.

Kevin did the family thing, came back home to Baltimore to be a factor at his dream job in The Sun sports department and now he’s gotten the job of a lifetime at WWE and one that he’s richly deserving of and one where he’ll thrive and be the best in the world.

You should follow him. You should root for him.

I’m so proud of him and so happy for him that I could explode.

I just wanted to brag on my pal, spread his great news and tell him “good luck” in the most public way that I can because I’m proud of how his hard work has paid off for him.

And I have a feeling I’ll be watching a lot more WWE and SmackDown in 2012 and pining away for the days of Lord Alfred Hayes and Captain Lou Albano.

And if somehow they could only bring Bruno Sammartino back into the ring for one night at the old Civic Center!

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Rush vs. hockey: Hard to say which is Canada’s greatest import?

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Rush vs. hockey: Hard to say which is Canada’s greatest import?

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published in April 2011, this is my story about Rush. They’re back in the area this weekend and I’m geeked up about seeing them so I’m re-posting this blog…)

With Friday’s reappearance in Baltimore of the greatest musical trio of all time, I thought it was time to put words on a page to describe why seeing Rush at age 42 still inspires me and makes me feel like an eighth grade-school dork with a Super Bowl ticket. I might even buy a tour shirt this time so I’ll look cool at work on Monday morning!

Yes, I’ll be at First Mariner Arena with 12,000 others who “get it” when it comes to Rush, Canada’s greatest export this side of Don Cherry and Lord Stanley’s Goblet. But I’m about as old-school as you can be with Rush these days, one of the few who were there back on Sept. 26, 1980 in Largo when I spent my first of 38 evenings with Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart. I’m sure there are some in our WNST audience who saw them at the Civic Center with Kiss or at some point in the 1970’s when they toured tirelessly as a opening act for virtually everyone of that era.

There’s so much I could write about – and the fact that Rush was the first byline interview I ever really had in The News American (I’ll tell that story later) adds to their mystique – and so much about them that still inspires me but the fact that all four of us are still alive and will be able to gather in the same room with my best pal, Kevin Eck (yes, you know him as the wrestling god/diva from RingPosts and fame at The Baltimore Sun) and jam – well, it’s just a nice Friday night in Charm City.

Eck and I attended that first show with Rush and Saxon 31 years ago at the Capital Centre. I got a tour shirt and my Mom was particularly dismayed that I wore my tour shirt from that night when I posed for my 8th grade class pictures at Holabird Middle School but all these years later I can now post it on Facebook and be completely delighted enough with my decision to say: “See, Mom! I was right!” Turns out, it was the right shirt for a “period piece” kind of portrait because Rush and baseball were my two favorite things in 1981 and 1982.

79

Through all of the albums, all of the tours and all of the places I’ve seen them in concerts over the years and all the fun I’ve had just cranking up a cassette tape of “Permanent Waves” or a piece of vinyl with “Exit Stage Left” or a CD of “Moving Pictures,” trust me, I’ve worn out thousands of hours of Rush over the years.

If you haven’t seen their documentary from last year, “Beyond The Lighted Stage,” it’s a phenomenal story – a really vivid tale of a few dorky, rebellious

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Confessions of a lifetime of hatred for Pittsburgh from a real Baltimore sports fan

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s a big, emotional week of football in Baltimore and the reason it’s so significant is because of our civic desire to have another purple parade at the Inner Harbor and the sheer nausea we all feel in the pits of our bellies about the fact that at 8 p.m. on Saturday night this could be the worse loss of our lives all over again.

Just like all of our January losses to the likes of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh and Cleveland and New York.

Or, it can potentially extinguish the 40 years of domination from the city of Pittsburgh, but specifically the Steelers and their arrogant, obnoxious fan base here in the region.

This is an epic throwdown between two cities that don’t like each other but a rivalry that is so embarrassingly lopsided that it makes the Roadrunner look like a winner.

I’m up to my eyeballs in rattlesnakes throwing parties, organizing bus trips and running WNST.net – 12 hours of radio, the daily newspaper, text service plus all of our social media endeavors on Facebook and Twitter that truly is Baltimore’s best and most comprehensive sports coverage in the world. And for those of you who know me, you know what a massive time commitment it is being a washed up sports talk show host and new media entrepreneur of the station that no one listens to but the website and social media that everyone in Baltimore seems to visit and read.

This whole “Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore” thing takes on such a personal, vitriolic part of my inner soul that it’s almost best that I not focus on it too much and keep my head down and wait for the game at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday to release that part of my energy.

But some jackasses from the “out of town media club” (which encompasses the greater part of the whole local scene outside of WNST.net) have written, said and defended their typically insensitive and uneducated remarks just to remind us how out of touch and clueless they really are about what this community is about and WHY the Ravens are important in the first place.

Nothing in the local sports community divides like Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh. The Colts thing, while far from dormant, is now a distant second place. And the “I Hate Washington Club” is shrinking because the Redskins and Nationals are weak and irrelevant and the Capitals are the fastest growing brand in Baltimore and I have statistics to prove it.

And the out-of-town media geniuses all talk about expertise, ethics and journalism while all taking a chunk of your Orioles/MASN money to hush up criticism of an oozing, open sports cancer in Baltimore while waving purple pompoms in January like they really care about the Ravens and like they invented Festivus.

To anyone with half a brain from Baltimore, it’s insulting.

I attended a Smart CEO event last Thursday night where I was summarily subjected to a pair of morning show faux sports imposters from Boston and New York standing in front of a room full of mostly Baltimore upper-crust businessmen and patronizing them

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Maryland’s new football coach shouldn’t be hired by an apparel company

Posted on 20 December 2010 by Drew Forrester

It became official today, three days later than necessary, but official nonetheless.

The Ralph Friedgen era is over at the University of Maryland.

Strip away the wordsmithing attempts by Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and it came down to this: The school didn’t want Friedgen to coach the team anymore. Since they were locked into a deal through 2011, they sorta-kinda had to keep him around unless something or someone made it financially viable for them to part company with the 10-year coach.

Enter Vanderbilt — and James Franklin.

When Franklin took the job at Vanderbilt late last week, that absolved the Terps of a possible one million dollar payout to Franklin through the terms of his coach-in-waiting contract originally produced by former A.D. Debbie Yow.

And when Franklin started plucking coaches away from the Terps over the weekend, it made Anderson’s decision all that much easier. With little confidence that the school wanted Friedgen to run their football program after his contract expired in 2011, the decision to oust him was expedited by the mass exodus that included Franklin.

Understand?

It’s big business, I suppose, and it’s not really that “dirty” to fire a head coach, even when he just guided his team to a rather surprising 8-4 campaign and was named the ACC Coach of the Year in doing so. There’s certainly an argument that Maryland – as a football program – has fallen off the fall/winter sports radar in the DC/Baltimore corridor over the last few years. Some of that is due to the fact that the team hasn’t been very successful on the field, not forgetting this season’s success, of course. Some of that is due to the fact that Maryland’s non-conference schedule hasn’t been highly attractive. And some of that is due to the fact that Maryland’s football PROGRAM, in general, is just not that marketable — and that includes, frankly, the guy who is now formerly the head coach.

Firing Ralph Friedgen wasn’t that big of a deal. The team would have been good-to-very-good next season with him — or without him. It’s that Anderson tried to force Friedgen’s hand and make him do something — retire, gracefully or not — that he had no intention of doing just to ease the pain of having to dismiss the coach that just produced an 8-4 season.

This isn’t a great way for Kevin Anderson to start his tenure at Maryland. It might, for a while anyway, make it hard to root for the football team at College Park until the stink of Friedgen’s firing goes away in a year or two.

But there’s a more important decision looming at Maryland now.

Who gets the head coaching job?

Most people in the know are saying it’s already a done deal and that Mike Leach is a step away from getting his parking pass and painting his new office a different color just because he can.

Kevin Anderson is saying all the right things because there’s a process that needs to play out and committees have to be formed and “independent advisors” have to be retained to ensure that Maryland follows the hiring letter-of-the-law.

If Mike Leach isn’t the next coach, I’d be shocked.

But SHOULD he be the next coach?

That’s a fair question.

And despite the fact that most people close to the situation are hinting that a certain sports apparel entrepreneur is the guy calling (continued)

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Dear Peter Angelos: When will you fix this disgrace?

Posted on 18 June 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

At the risk of “piling on,” I’ve decided to throw my two cents into the blogosphere today to briefly (insert joke here) discuss the situation regarding the Orioles as they continue their West Coast horror tour where no doubt Adam Jones will be tweeting about how great it is to be in San Diego and how pretty the girls are.

Yeah, well I was almost in San Diego, too this week.

When I saw the schedule come out last year I looked to do a baseball trip to my favorite city in the U.S. and watch the Orioles play and needless to say I made a great decision avoiding the So Cal and the Bay Areas this June of 2010, especially considering the U2 show on Wednesday night in Oakland was cancelled. I also thought for a while I was headed to the World Cup in South Africa, but alas, duty calls here in Baltimore in the way of running WNST.net.

I’m much happier to be headed to Harford County for the day to support soccer and my country, than to be watching this dreadful 18-48 baseball team in sunny San Diego over 7 a.m. eggs and bacon.

I built WNST.net so I could write and talk about Orioles baseball on a daily basis but quite frankly – and for the first time in a long time – I’m almost speechless.

There’s a part of me that wants to say “I told you so” – and I DID tell you so and I HAVE been telling you so – but the sick part is how low the franchise has sunk in so many measurable ways.

The 13 years of ineptitude has now reached a low so profound, so sad, so utterly disgusting that even words we could use on the internet wouldn’t be profane enough to properly express our inner rage as Orioles fans, baseball fans and as a sports community.

Everything about the Peter Angelos ownership regime has been appalling. And year after year it’s gotten progressively worse amidst the lies, propaganda, steroids, banning and intimidation of the media and railroading of the fans and sponsors all while profiteering at record levels via a deal with other Major League Baseball owners that has rewarded this behavior with tons of cash for the Angelos family.

Sure, the team is likely lose its 50th game before it earns its 20th victory and there are STILL people in this city who will defend the indefensible, like a troop of Baghdad Bobs.

But let’s get back to the core issue: What the hell is going on here and who is going to be the one to fix it for the fans and the community?

Let’s start with MASN, which is printing money off of the nipple of the people here and now stands to profit even more with no outlay of cash on the biggest superstar in the sport. Think about it: Stephen Strasburg is a cash machine for Angelos via the television rights and he made ZERO investment in the big right-handed phenom.

The Orioles current product on the field is atrocious – on pace to be among the worst teams in the history of modern sport. You can pick on any variety of players or talk about injuries to Brian Roberts, etc. The truth: they’re all just excuses for why the team sucks.

The reason the team sucks is because the owner has made it suck and the deal he has rewards him financially even when the team wins forty-something games in a season.

I’m sick of excuses. I’m sick of the lying. I’m sick of the manipulation and the treatment of the community as a piñata with cheap tricks like “walk up” surcharges on sunny nights.

I’ve written tomes on Peter Angelos and this awfulness many times in the past. Just google it…

But the mere notion that Andy MacPhail is “in charge” is laughable to anyone who has ever stood in a room with Peter Angelos.

MacPhail came here for the money, which was a sure thing, but not the glory, which was always a long shot. Oh, sure, maybe he thought he could fix this rotten franchise from the top down and at least get the team into third place behind New York and Boston.

But, Andy – you’re a smart guy — you had to know you were not really the guy at the top, right?

Pity poor Andy who came here to get a step up into the Commissioner’s lukewarm seat at MLB soon enough and to profiteer off of the riches of the largest television gift/heist in the history of regional cable pirating.

Andy thought: “They’re loaded with money, the old man is looking for ANYONE to stand at the front door and protect him and I’ll cut the payroll, show him I can make him a fortune and tell the fans we’re going young…

“What’s the worst thing that can happen when the team is already awful? It’s gotta get better, right?”

Wrong.

Welcome to 18-48 and a chase at the worst record in the history of modern baseball Baltimore, Andy MacFail…

And when the boyish general manager isn’t making UStream videos in a somber, Barack-like posture from the oval office of The Warehouse in May, he’s running from the real media and looking for an escape hatch from this living breathing, two-month old turd in June in the hopes of getting a one-way ticket back to the MLB offices on Park Ave. in New York.

Last week it must’ve really hit home when – for the second time in three years — he couldn’t find anyone reputable to even consider taking the job and manage this team. I personally think Bobby Valentine flew in for the crab cakes and to sit across the table from Angelos and MacPhail and laugh in their faces on behalf of my father, who is no doubt flipping over in his grave over at Gardens of Faith at the mere notion of the last 13 years of losing.

On the field, where it certainly matters the most, they can’t get any players outside the organization to come here and play. (They’ll probably coin a contract phrase for Kevin Millwood after what he’s been subjected to here over the past four months. It’ll be the “Millwood Clause” that says trade me ANYWHERE but Baltimore).

And even more disheartening, thus far they’re on the road to wrecking the career of Matt Wieters and this crop of young talent.

Think about being 24 and being 18-48 and feeling like there’s no hope and there’s no one around you who is providing any hope. You come to the ballpark and it’s either empty or filled with fans from Boston and New York.

The players on this 2010 Orioles team at times simply look outclassed but at other points disinterested and/or disheartened. There are no excuses for not running out ground balls or fly balls. There are no excuses – period — when you’re in the big leagues and are expected to perform and at the very least put out a requisite big-league effort.

Angelos and MacFail fired the surly manager Dave Trembley and to my eyes it looks like it’s gotten even worse the past two weeks under Juan Samuel, whose Spanglish prose in the pre- and post-game at least injects some gallows humor into my living room each night around a solid dose of constipation from poor Jim Hunter and Rick Dempsey.

Sometimes it feels like Gary Thorne is laughing at the team under his breath and Jim Palmer and Mike Flanagan probably see this as standard operating procedure because they know what a freaking mess the whole place is from the top down in more ways than anyone could ever know.

The MASN house ads would be pulled if anyone there had any sense and they’d be out trying to sell a sponsorship to Maalox or Tylenol, which are requisite medication to be a nightly watcher at this point.

I think the message the fans should be sending is one of demanding accountability. Honestly, that’s what Free The Birds was all about. Someone there who is responsible should have to answer for this and apologize for this and be held accountable for this.

But instead, Angelos remains invisible, the millions of former Orioles fans mow their lawns and wait for Ravens training camp to open and the dozen bloggers and the few thousand sheep who continue to drink the 18-48 Kool Aid continue to defend the indefensible.

Like my Pop said there really is a sucker born every minute.

But I haven’t given up, especially not after seeing the Chicago Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup last weekend. They are the twin cousins of the Orioles here in Baltimore. Bill Wirtz might’ve actually been worse than Peter Angelos and that’s a bold pronouncement coming from me.

But yes, I’m still prone to watching them play most nights as my Facebook statuses will attest although I’m guilty of missing Jake Arrieta’s masterpiece on Tuesday night due to a severe case of the sandman.

But, alas, perhaps a true gem appears in the body of Arrieta who has looked the part of Jake Cool in his first duo of outings against top-notch competition.

We’re trying to somehow, someway digest what’s left of 2010 as a local baseball fan and Arrieta has given us a glimmer of a reason to “look up” every five days as the Orioles lose their way into baseball history yet again.

Look, it’s not shocking that the team sucks and they’ll finish in last place. What IS a shock is that the team is 18-48 and we have almost 100 more games left in this steamer of a season.

Are you watching?

Will you be watching in two weeks, four weeks – FOURTEEN weeks from now?

Are you rooting for them or against them at this point?

Well, for the next 3 ½ months Ty Wiggington will be playing and probably not as well as he did in April. And Jake Arrieta will be pitching until they shut him down for throwing too many innings in September. And Nick Markakis can keep demanding accountability within an organization that lacks accountability from its head down. And they can keep feigning this ridiculous notion that Brian Roberts is miraculously going to appear after the All-Star break.

All of this masks the ugly truth: the worst might be yet to come once MacFail starts dealing off Millwood, Tejada, Scott and any other remnant item any other franchise might want to take off his hands and unburden his budget of another $5 to $10 million before year’s end.

But there’s a lot of bad baseball ahead, I’m afraid.

But I have plenty of Free The Birds shirts left over from last month if you want to state your case.

And we are doing a bus trip up to Yankee Stadium to see them play on Labor Day Monday.

I’d try to get a group to go down to Camden Yards to have some fun but every time I try that it fails.

Our sponsors want no part of baseball. Our listeners and readers don’t want to go to the games with us.

I brought up an idea in our staff meeting this week to throw a big All-Star Game Charity party but I was almost laughed out of the room.

It’s gonna be a long July.

But what I’m really wondering is when it’s ever going to change?

And who will be the one to change it?

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Orioles circa 2010: We know they’ll lie, but will they lie down again?

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I know, I’m like a freaking broken record. Every year I write about how I’ve wrongfully had my media pass revoked and every year the Orioles make up some more lies to justify all of their mean-spiritedness and lack of professionalism. It’s Opening Day, I’ve again been deemed “not a media member” but that’s just the “off the field” stuff.

On the field, the word “improvement” has been thrown around all offseason in regard to the Orioles. As I’ve said many times, when you lose 98 games it’s hard NOT to improve the following season. It can’t get much worse, really.

As sickening as it is that I’ve taken a myriad of phone calls, emails and correspondence wondering “if the Orioles can win 78 games” – as though this disgracefully low bar somehow passes for “improvement” – I am officially one of the optimistic orange Kool Aid drinkers circa April 5th regarding the 2010 season.

It is my belief that this is the best team the Orioles have fielded this century. In 2004, the Orioles “best” performance was indeed 78 wins. Las Vegas has the 2010 Orioles over/under at 74 ½. If I were a betting man, I’d honestly take the “over” for the 2010 Orioles.

But this might be the year they finally prove they were right all along over these past 13 years of “rebuilding” and buying the bats and growing the arms.

Apparently, 78 wins will get a number of people here in Baltimore excited. At least that’s what people think until they realize that even that lofty “goal” would still be 25 games out of first place in AL East and the season would once again be effectively over right around June 20.

People have asked me every day for a month: “What do you think of the Orioles?”

My answer: “It begins with Kevin Millwood.”

Millwood is an unwitting victim of the wrong end of a big contract and the overlooking of putting Baltimore on his “not to visit” list when he inked his last contract in Texas. But, alas, he’s here now and needs to selfishly pitch well, even in MLB’s version of Siberia. He can set the tone with a big effort tonight in Tampa Bay.

It was different when guys like Scott Erickson and Sidney Ponson were poisoning the next generation of Erik Bedard’s with their antics of bush-league, lack of professionalism. Millwood needs to be the “anti-aging” Orioles starting pitcher. He needs to be more like Rick Sutcliffe and less like the aforementioned bunch of vermin who spread their foul temperament and antics through the franchise like baseball’s version of a clubhouse cancer.

I’m not sure what kind of guy Millwood is – and again, therein lies the Orioles ability to unlawfully deny me a chance to do my job after all of these years – but I hope he acclimates, pitches well and leads by example for kids like Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman, who seem like the real thing.

Matusz might win 15 games this year if he stays healthy. And while that certainly IS progress, it’s not really much different than what Rodrigo Lopez and Eric Bedard both did twice in orange en route to meaningless, forgettable seasons for the Orioles.

But, as stated before, I’m bullish on the Orioles in 2010 in regard to “progress.” I think they might be OK and quite competitive against teams not named New York and Boston — if pieces fall into place and if good health can be found.

If the starting pitching can get them to the 6th or 7th inning five nights a week, that will allow for a more rested bullpen and a real chance for .500.

I’m sold on Miguel Tejada as a relevant third baseman in the AL East. I think he’ll hit .300 and be an RBI machine like he’s always been. He might be 50 years old for all we know, but I think he’ll be the least of the Orioles concerns at this point in his career. He’s coming as a complimentary player not the leader and “franchise” guy he was counted on to be six years ago. His lies, transgressions and B-12 shots will not even be a factor this summer in Baltimore.

Of course, this would be a good year for SOMEONE to step up and be the REAL franchise player.

Is it Nick Markakis, who is quietly putting together a nice Orioles career?

Or could it be Adam Jones, whose Tweets are fun to follow when he’s not up all night in San Diego?

Or will it be Matt Wieters, whose hype seemed justified over the final two months of 2009 when it appeared he was ready to become a star?

At least there are several All Star Game candidates in orange this summer. It’s not another summer of David Segui, B.J. Surhoff and Gregg Zaun playing out their late 30′s at Camden Yards.

I’m not a Dave Trembley fan – the team tanked and quit down the stretch last year and each of those 98 losses were well-earned late last summer. Again, when the owner is the cheapest in the game and when Trembley will manage for 1/10th of what the best managers in MLB yield for a salary, I get what the team is doing.

They’re making money. They’re hoping these kids pan out and selling it to what’s left of a tortured fan base and using their media moles to “plant the seed” of hope. At least they can say they “were patient” while Andy MacPhail built what this cake turns out to be circa 2013, when it allegedly will mature. (They’re always two years away from competing with the Yankees and Red Sox, aren’t they?)

So, are the baby Birds ready to fly? Can the team be relevant enough to compete through the All Star break without falling 15 games behind Boston and/or New York?

We’ll see. But for the first time in a long time, they can legitimately threaten to be a .500 team if they stay healthy and have some key young prospects step up the way the insider pundits around the sport believe they will.

If Matusz is real?

If Wieters is real?

If Adam Jones can improve?

If Nick Markakis can remain consistent?

If Brian Roberts’ back can stay healthy?

If all of the young starters can get to the 7th inning with consistency?

If Tejada still has it?

And this is before we start projecting the likes of Jeremy Guthrie, Garrett Atkins, Luke Scott, Felix Pie and Nolan Reimond, who are all a literal box of chocolates. Does anyone really know what any of these guys will wind up doing come mid-summer? And what does anyone know about the bullpen, led by Mike Gonzalez?

Again – it’s the worst run franchise in professional sports. It’s not even close. That much has been borne out in living color over the past 13 summers. That will never change, even if Brooks Robinson is throwing out the first pitch on Friday. They are the worst group of people I’ve met in my 42 years on the planet — pure evil in their deeds, intents and actions.

But, perhaps this is the summer that all of their bloody deeds since 1997 are justified and they get people in Baltimore truly excited and energized about baseball.

If Tampa Bay could do it two years ago there’s no reason to believe the likes of Matusz, Wieters, Reimold, Bergesen, Tillman and company can’t step up to become very productive, young major leaguers and all hit their stride this summer.

It’s certainly a lot more possible than during the era of Omar Daal, Marty Cordova and Kevin Millar or any of the past sins of Peter Angelos’ ugly stewardship as the suddenly disappearing owner.

My real prediction: 78 wins.

I don’t think they can be above .500 with 54 games coming in the division against New York, Boston and Tampa Bay. But I think they will certainly be far better and more interesting on the field than we’ve seen here in Baltimore over the last 13 years.

But given the history, let’s all sip the orange Kool Aid one ounce at a time…

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Finale: Part 5 – What is the future of sports media in Baltimore?

Posted on 10 February 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

“I will never, EVER “text” with you!” I screamed into my cell phone to my beloved son, Barry, during the summer of 2006 when he filled up my text inbox with messages that I had no idea how to access. “If you don’t call me on the phone, you won’t find me!”

What’s that axiom? “It’s what you learn after you know everything that really counts!”

Yet again, more words wasted and crow swallowed. It was just another humbling, woefully wrong prediction for my own actions and a future gone awry as I continue to grow in years and wisdom in my 40’s.

If there’s one pearl of wisdom I’ve learned the hard way it’s this: the learning NEVER stops and the world never stops changing. I’ve committed myself to be a student of life and it’s what gets me out of bed and keeps me alive and vibrant during these tough times.

The entrepreneur in me just got back from eight days in Fort Lauderdale at the Super Bowl watching all of the “big boys” do what they do – television, radio, newspapers, web entities, etc. It’s gone from old days of “Radio Row” to a hodgepodge of different media resources at the Media Center in 2010. And the national media outlets are all scrambling, trying to figure out how to serve a sports fan base that is now fractured via age and technological savvy and dinosaur systems and old-world employees and employers who have no idea how to make this emerging world of new media work to their advantage.

In one corner the NFL owns all of the Sirius/XM programming and the centerpiece of the NFL Network set and in the other corner Motorola is dropping big bucks to buy sponsorship of a “beer-less” media hospitality area and underwriting the “OCNN” – the Ocho Cinco News Network, featuring Chad himself and friends like Ray Rice and Chris Cooley.

The world of sports media has changed forever and the Super Bowl continued to prove what I already know: the web will rule the new world.

If you want to read a sensational book on this brave new world, pick up Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Crush It” and thank me later. Most of what I would predict for the future would be contained in his 132-page “must read.”

I delayed this blog for a few days – mainly because of the weather, flight issues and my illness but also because I wanted to take in the full Fort Lauderdale week and observe what I was seeing at the Super Bowl before I wrote the “finale” to my five-part missive here on the “state” of the media – and not just local sports media, but media in general.

There’s no bigger event than that monstrous marvel they put on in Miami on Sunday night, and virtually everything there from a media standpoint is “cutting edge” when it comes to the marketing and delivery of news, information and hype for the biggest game of them all. And while MLB and the NBA continue to shrink in our culture and the NHL still can’t grow its sport, the NFL continues to soar to heights so high that the only thing that’ll hold it back is how greedy all of the parties will get in how to divide up so much money, interest, love and passion. To the world of SaatchiKevin (another of my web resource/genius links), it’s a “Lovemark” – the most rare of brand breeds.

If you believe the TV ratings, Sunday’s game was watched by more people than any event in the history of the American universe. (By the way, I don’t necessarily believe the previous statement – as I’ve written this week — but who am I to argue and what difference does it make? A LOT of people watched the game on Sunday! Certainly more than anything else our culture offers, the Super Bowl is “THE” American event! A lot of marketing was done. And those commercials are a couple of million bucks a piece for a reason…)

I’ve made a lot of strong statements over the last week. Many have been backed up with new sciences of measurement, technology, your mobile device and 26 years of studying how all of this sports media stuff works. It’s been my passion for as long as I can remember.

But like every other “expert” in the marketplace, we’re all guessing what this thing is going to look like in three-to-five years.

I know where it’s NOT going. And that’s back to three TV stations, a few powerful, dominant radio stations (FM or AM) and it certainly will have nothing to do with printing the news today and delivering it tomorrow on a paper product.

The future is in your pocket. It’s in your phone and it will evolve – much more quickly than any of us can imagine – from there.

Virtual keyboards. Virtual porn. Virtual sports. Live HD broadcasts of sporting events where you pick your seat. Since the purchase of my Droid back in November, I’ve had less use for my laptop every single day. The “third screen” as they call it in the industry is exploding and it’ll never regress. It makes life too easy, too accessible. Just having something as trivial as Google maps on my phone has given me hours of my life back to use building WNST.net.

Honestly, just think about how far it has evolved in the last 12 months with the advances of social media like Facebook and Twitter? Or the last three years, with the ability to now stream most anything to a mobile device? Or the last five years, when you had never seen HD TV before? Or the last 10 years, where websites now break news all day and everything happens in “real” time?

I’ve now been a consumer of the media for about 38 years and a producer of sports media-related content in Baltimore for 26 years.

I’m closer to your uncle’s age than your son or daughter. Now, think about how much that “old guy” uncle of yours who has eschewed modern media is missing by not texting, not using a computer, getting online or using email. Everybody has someone “older” in their life whom hasn’t caught on to this “media” and “mobile” thing yet, right?

I had employees at my company as recently as six months ago still using fax machines to relay information. Some people in my world still don’t text. Some people don’t do social media. Some people still wait for the 11 o’clock news. Or ‘til the next morning to pick up a newspaper at the Royal Farms on the corner. And some people, like me, are on Facebook and Twitter via the palm of their hands 24 hours a day.

It’s a very tangled web with so many ways to reach people and ways of giving them the information where they want it but the great equalizer will be the web. Because — eventually – the dinosaurs like newspapers, TV and radio will not roam the earth and the simplicity, connectedness and exchange of information via mobile devices will flatten the earth for companies like WNST.net.

A Haiti-sized earthquake, a Hurricane Katrina-style whirlwind has moved into the sphere of media and has forever altered the way we get information about virtually anything in the world. The web has replaced all of the libraries of the world and amassed their information, all of the record stores and malls in the world and put their goods on sale at a stroke and allowed everyone to communicate freely in real time. If you’re not using Skype, I pray for you…

This five-part series of many words, concepts, facts, accusations and observations was written to make you – the eventual user of all of this stuff and consumer of this information – think about the future and how you consume your local sports media.

We’ve also provided a detailed WNST “State of Baltimore Sports Media” survey to accompany the blogs so that you could give us honest feedback so that we can make WNST.net better. I sincerely hope you fill it out and be as honest as you feel you should be.

We want to be the best. I won’t apologize for that. I won’t accept anything less than that from myself, or any of our employees or partners at WNST.net.

I asked a lot of specific questions in the survey. But when it comes to the future, the best questions are the ones that can’t be answered. Most of this stuff has no “set” answer only a rearview mirror of the way things “used to be.” Kind of like life itself. We’re never going backwards on the technology and the past does not equal the future.

The NFL doesn’t know where this new world of media is going. Drew and I chatted with Sean McManus – a Baltimorean, son of Jim McKay and the current President of CBS News and Sports — and he has no real idea where this world of new media is going.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMAT0VY1Jq0[/youtube]

I go to seminars in New York all of the time with the biggest and brightest in world of media and they’re as befuddled as the rest of us. And the rank and rile sportswriters and broadcasters that I’ve spoken with over the past three years are a mess. I reaffirmed that last week when I quizzed dozens of people about our industry only to get a myriad of bizarre observations and old-way-of-thinking sadness. Most are just beginning the first steps to understanding how the new world of measurement will affect them and their personal brands.

I just know it’s changing more rapidly than anyone imagined and I see it and experience it every day. I use it all – web apps, email, text, Facebook, Twitter, social media, Droid, Four Square, etc. – I and think it’s cool and so does everyone else I interact with online.

For the younger generation, it’s their way of life!

To anyone over 30, we’ll will never be able to relate in the same way because the ingrained simplicity for the next generation will cause a synapse in all sorts of ways – kinda like when my son was texting me five years ago and I had no idea how to retrieve the messages on my phone let alone respond on my 12-digit keypad. Every day more of that goes on in the world of emerging technology. And every day it’s a full time job to keep up with it all. Personally, I rely on Mashable, but you can pick a myriad of different ways to get this social media world brought to you.

And anyone who calls themselves an expert in this new world of new media is a liar or a speculative snake oil salesperson or latter-day clairvoyant.

I think I know a lot about it. And I certainly know enough to know that we’re only at the very beginning of a modern-day miracle of transformation in how we take in media – and I don’t just mean sports media in Baltimore. EVERYTHING that we knew about the world of media from the 1950s until two years ago is now a dinosaur when a guy from Dundalk like me can build a company like WNST.net. – one that essentially transmits news, information, audio, video and community in real time from anywhere in the world. We’re unlimited in our scope or the ability to transform sports media in Baltimore. We’re only limited in the resources that the marketplace provides via sponsorship.

After doing the last 16 “Radio Row” stints, it’s really remarkable when I see how polarizing and different the strategies of various companies – from the largest networks to the smallest radio stations – are handling the emerging changes in media and how the content is distributed.

But I’ll give you one key indicator. It always starts with what the sponsors and advertisers want. They pay for all of it and nearly all of the Super Bowl advertisers of substance and vision were chasing people to their computers to get folks on their Facebook, Twitter or dedicated online places with their uber-expensive, :30 second ads the other night. It’s not just Highlandtown’s C.E.O. Bob Parsons and Go Daddy who are trying to get you to watch the rest of the Danica Patrick commercial online and then chat about it on Twitter or Facebook anymore.

Virtually EVERY advertiser was chasing Super Bowl watchers to their laptops or PDA’s during the Saints 31-17 win on Sunday night. And aside from natural disasters and blizzards, the last bastion of “live” event programming is sports. Every other thing on your television is “DVR-able.” People still watch sports live – and probably always will – meaning the sponsor messages actually get seen and not fast-forwarded through. Radio is also considered more effective by marketers because folks have yet to figure a way to skip messages other than changing the channel, which is more of an FM habit.

So, if the Super Bowl is the “cutting edge” and the advertising was primarily sending traffic to the web, then I’m certainly doing the right thing here at WNST.net by attempting to build the greatest Baltimore sports media experience possible on the web. We want to be the place Baltimore communes during games to chat about the games in progress. We want to be the first place you turn for reliable information – when you want it and how you want it.

If you doubt the power of sports to bring people together all you needed to do was watch that parade in New Orleans on Tuesday night and remember what the Ravens’ 2001 championship did for Baltimore. If the Saints’ Super Bowl was vindication for Katrina, then Trent Dilfer and that defense was a massive vindication for all of us here and the Irsay/Mayflower memories and civic sadness. Sports brings people together. The Ravens bring people together like the Orioles used to when they cared about the community. WNST is designed to do that as well.

More than 1,000 of you have helped this week by filling out our survey. Honestly, we want more because we want our research to be as accurate as possible. We’re giving away a Panasonic 50-inch HDTV to one lucky winner.

Fill out our WNST State of Baltimore Sports Media Survey…

Now that I’m off of the radio and this blog will be my primary source to divulge information and my opinions and observations, this year I’ll become much more unabashed in what I’m writing about business, media and how it all works in Baltimore. The truth: I got off the radio to run the business. It’s really where my passion lies in 2010 and where my daily focus needs to be for the future of WNST.net. Anyone who really knows me knows this.

I’ll be doing some videos on the stuff that we’re doing to make WNST.net better as we install new developments and technology. We might even do some video tutorials with some features on the site. And if you give me a good ideas, we’ll try to install them somehow. I love when I see creative stuff on the web.

I’m trying to build a special kind of business with free speech and community and commerce at its core at WNST.net.

We want to cover the local high schools better. We want to do more with lacrosse. We want the Orioles to get “fixed” at some point. We want to be an “all seasons” sports resource for the Baltimore community. We want to find young, rock star writers and contributors and we’ll be doing another “Coors Light King of Baltimore Sports Media” competition this spring. People who love Baltimore sports as much as we do.

We want to take what we’re learning from our current poll and give you more of what you want. The company is nothing without the people who power it. I never forget that fact.

It’s why I started WNST.net in the first place.

Unlike the baseball owner in town, I’m happily held accountable.

We’ve made it this far against all of the odds. We’re No. 1 in the marketplace in daily traffic for Baltimore sports. That’s just a measurable fact.

Our product has NEVER been better. We’ve never had MORE people involved in the WNST message and every day we set out to be “different” than the corporate, out-of-town managed and produced sports radio, television and newspaper types in town.

We can move quicker. We can get you the information in the format you want it. And we’ll get it right every time and hopefully make you think – and feedback – in a variety of ways.

I’ll be unabashed, honest, just like I’ve always been. But it gets harder every day with various political and financial pressure and censorship as we’ve outline this week.

The old media is fading. They’re for sale and it’s obvious. The ratings are for sale, too, really. Press passes and freedom of speech mean nothing. And lies published about you in the new world of the internet take on lives of their own.

But to me, you can’t sell the city off to the gypsies and live to tell. Baltimore is a national punch line in many ways. The Mayor just got indicted and convicted. The Wire is the paranoia of the public relations people in town but it’s how a large segment of the country views us. The Orioles are so “uncool” and irrelevant that Leno and Letterman don’t even make jokes about them. They’re THAT bad…that insignificant. The Baltimore Sun is in bankruptcy.

Where will the voices of Baltimore come from in the coming years? If it’s not WNST.net it’ll be someplace like it — a community “town hall” that will be more representative than a corporate, out-of-town news organization with no vested interest in Baltimore.

We believe in free speech. We don’t ban the media. We are accountable.
And we’re growing. Are you coming with us?

What more can we do at WNST other than state our mission and follow up on it with hard work every day? And hopefully you’ll talk about it and tell your sports friends about WNST and how we’re “different” than the other guys. We’re proud of that!

Fill out our survey! Tell us what we’re missing. Tell us how we suck. Tell us that we’re great. Tell us whatever you want.

Do you want mobile apps? Widgets? Better information? Honest, accurate information? Sent directly to your PDA? Available from anywhere in the world?

So much for that “little radio station,” right?

So what does the future digital world look like?

Are the bloggers going to take over the universe, the greatest fear of the Buzz Bizzinger types?

Will Twitter become the world’s biggest online “newspaper” in real time?

And will team websites evolve past the modern day extension of the current Jim Hunter and include analysis and/or criticism of themselves and their employees? (Probably not…)

We’ll keep working hard and communicating and trying to get better. That’s been my solemn vow from the beginning, to be the best.

My staff and I wake up every morning fully committed to fulfilling that goal.

How are we doing?

Go ahead and drop me a personal note…nasty@wnst.net. Get it off your chest!

To all of the folks who’ve given us the support and enthusiasm over the years – do us two favors:

1. Say nice things to your friends and recommend the stuff you really like at WNST.net. It’s the most robust, easily-accessible and FREE website in the marketplace.
2. Join our contests, events, promotions and clubs at WNST.net.

And if you’re STILL not satisfied, just do me a favor: send me a note right now either here or on Facebook. My Facebook name is Nestor J. Aparicio and I approve all people who want to be “friends” with me on my friends and personal page.

I worked at The Sun, wrote The Moon and now I will attempt to shape the next decade of sports media in Baltimore and where it’s going by building a company that serves our community. (Maybe we’ll call that “The Stars.”)

Here’s my personal email again (it’s the only one I have): nasty@wnst.net

As usual, we strive to stay ahead of the curve on technology.

The WNST story continues…

I really hope you choose to be a part of it!

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Ploy or legit? Derrick Mason shocks everyone, “retires” on his agent’s website

Posted on 13 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

UPDATED 9:11 p.m. — In a turn of events that can only be deemed “shocking,” Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason announced his retirement from the NFL via a website called JockLife.net at precisely 5 p.m. tonight.

This much is assured: Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens had NO idea this was happening. And privately, they aren’t as concerned about the announcement as the fan base has been over the last few hours. Honestly, it smells more like a negotiating ploy than a legitimate retirement and Mason’s agent has already responded to the initial purple response of “no response.”

But, one of two things is happening:

1. Mason’s “retirement” is 100% sincere and the death of Steve McNair has affected his desire to play…

or

2. His agent, C. Lamont Smith, who owns the website that “released” the news is angling to get Derrick Mason the final pay day that he cried out for in another story on the same website back in March. See that piece here…

“For any player to retire, he has to send a letter to the NFL stating this. Derrick Mason has not done that,” said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens’ senior vice president of public relations.

Before I left Limited Access on AM 1570 tonight, I had Quentin Jones, the “reporter” for Jocklife on my show and he said that Mason gave him this statement “a few days ago.” Making the story even more fishy is that fact that two sources told me that Derrick Mason was working out at the team’s Owings Mills training complex earlier today.

This is what Mason told the website, www.jocklife.net, which his agent, C. Lamont Smith, apparently owns or has a stake in with various players and business associates. The domain name is owned by Smith.

For what it’s worth, the web traffic to this “sports” website is negligible per www.alexa.com.

“I have had a tremendous career and I played for two great teams, I had fun. In my career, I have been able to do everything but win a Super Bowl. I’ve had the opportunity to play on great teams and with great players. After 12 years, I have seen it all and done it all,” Mason stated. “Right now, I am content with the decision I am making. All good things come to an end and I am ready to see what else life has to offer.”

“I have been thinking about this since season ended. Emotionally I am just not that enthused. I have not been that enthused to get up and work out…it was getting to that point. This decision has nothing to do with the contract situation; I have made enough money, more than enough money. Emotionally there are things that are more important. It’s time right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen from here, but it’s going to be really nice to see what life has in store for me. What I want people to remember about my NFL career is that I played hard…played hard in practice and the game. I tried to make everyone better and would do anything to help.”

More quotes from Mason:

“I have left them in great hands,” said Mason. “Mark Clayton is a younger version of me and Williams can be a true player, he can be in the elite class. Smith, Harper, Washington, they all are a young group that can only be better with Joe in back field.”

The story also states: “Now that Mason has finished his football career, his only plans are to spend time with his family and possibly get into the radio business. As far as what else Mason has in store for the future, he simply proclaims, ‘to be continued’.

Every person I’ve spoken with inside the Ravens organization believes that Derrick Mason will be in uniform for the Ravens on Sept. 13 when the Chiefs come to Baltimore.

But these are STRONG words and emphasize (in writing no less) that it’s “not about the contract.”

So, take this story for what it’s worth and consider the source it’s coming from over the past few hours. And consider that Mason might’ve lost his heart for the game.

Is this Derrick Mason being “not enthused”?

Or is this another July ploy by a slimy agent to grab for money with a holdout before training camp?

Time will tell. But my “sniffer” ain’t happy with this one.

If Mason files his retirement papers with the NFL, we’ll know it’s official.

Until then, it makes for great sports radio during the slowest week of the year.

And it smells more like a holdout than a retirement until further notice.

But there’s no doubt the “next man up” theory will make for some interesting web comments and calls to WNST tomorrow.

During the slowest news week of the year we poor S.O.B.’s in the media were thrown a bone.

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Preakness on my mind…

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m up early this morning and reading online about the Preakness and where it stands in the realm of the sports world circa 2009. I’ve been googling videos, watching drunken fights, potty races, some bare breasts and (oh yeah) horse racing and a history and legacy that defines sports in Baltimore and Maryland over the last century.

This week I could most certainly write my annual “Can The Preakness Be Saved?” blog/column and now that I’m back on the radio maybe it’s time to have a spirited debate about the Preakness and its merits on AM 1570.

Does it matter?

Do you like the changes to infield?

Are you going this week?

When’s the last time you went? (Or, when is the last time you went to any track, period?)

Why don’t you go?

Do you know how to read the Racing Form?

If you do go, why do you go?

I’m actually going to the race on Saturday and have been asked to participate on one of the stages and interview some of the stars of the event. I’m excited and honored. I love the Preakness but I also readily and sadly admit its incredible decline from once reverent status.

It’s been fascinating to see how everyone from Peter Angelos to Kevin Plank to David Cordish — and to my knowledge these are three of the most prominent and wealthy branders, marketers and developers our community has — have all rallied to keep the Preakness in Baltimore.

I just can’t figure out why, other than sentimentality and the dream to try to fix it in someway but my fear isn’t for the race as much as the sport in general. No one under 50 acknowledges that the track exists. And they’ve done a horrible job over the last 25 years of keeping the track up to date, the sport up to date and the marketing of the Preakness has turned up a reputation as a raunchy, outdoor, East Coast Mardi Gras drunken fest.

My questions:

Are they bailing out Chrysler here or can this race not only be “saved” but can it be “revived” over the next decade? And what would it take to revive the Preakness? (Not to mention revive horse racing in general.

No one loves the Kentucky Derby more than I do. But the city of Louisville absolutely “lays out” for that event in every way, for every man, woman and child. It’s a BIG, BIG deal there — a major source of civic pride that only the Ravens have in Baltimore circa 2009.

Then there’s the whole slots, gambling, new track issues…

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover at 2 p.m. today.

(We’ll also talk a little Caps Game 7, King of Baltimore Sportstalk and Orioles-Rays).

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