Tag Archive | "kevin"

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Red Sox complete 4-game sweep, batter Orioles 12-1

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

1:50 p.m. — The Red Sox are getting well this inning off of the O’s bullpen. Mike Lowell just added another single. Update on Radhames Liz: 1/3 IP, 3H, 6ER, 1BB, 2HBP. His ERA is now: 67.50.

1:45 p.m. — The Bad News Bears weren’t this bad. Youkilis just sent a “seeing eye” pop that bounced an inch from the RF line to score another run. This one looked like it had a message of some kind. Just a crazy swing of the bat. Add another ER to Liz’s line…

1:39 p.m. — Liz just bounced one in front of David Ortiz that hit his leg. Here comes Matt Albers. He inherits the bases loaded and one out in the 7th inning.

Liz: 1/3 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 W, 2HBP … His ERA is now 47.25.

Oh, and there’s three more ducks on the pond and Kevin Youkilis is awaiting like Alberts is raw meat. Jim Hunter just said: “Not a good outing for Radhames Liz.”

Yeah, ya think? That’s a helluva observation, Jimmy!

1:36 p.m. — Another single, 9-1. Radhames Liz is NOT a Major League pitcher. Now Matt Albers is warming in the bullpen. At this point, I have no idea why they’re not just saving the bullpen for tomorrow. Brad Bergesen is making his major-league debut. It would be a good idea to save the bullpen.

1:34 p.m. — It hasn’t taken long for Radhames Liz to go into “arsonist” mode. He’s given up a double, he’s hit one batter and walked one. Oh, and he did get one out. It’s 7-1. UPDATE: Another single, 8-1.

1:10 p.m. — This just in: Felix Pie SUCKS! He can’t hit. He can’t run the bases. And he certainly looks lost in the outfield shagging flyballs. The defense has been “spotty” at best over the first two weeks of the season. But, Pie just played a relatively easy play for a major league centerfielder into a two-run triple for David Ortiz. YES…a TRIPLE by Ortiz at Fenway Park! They’re down 6-1. Sarfate’s ERA is going to suffer, but that was just brutal defense. Embarrassing…they’re nine outs away from being swept by the Red Sox in Boston.

I have great admiration for Jim Palmer for not simply jumping out of his seat and saying: “I wouldn’t have pitched for a franchise this bad!”

12:58 p.m. — Looks like five innings is the max, except for Koji Uehara these days. Hendrickson is out. Dennis Sarfate is next. The Birds are still down 3-1.

12:22 p.m. — Well, hopes are that Mark Hendrickson is settling down. He just struck out the bottom of the Red Sox order in 4th inning. He might even make it to the 6th or 7th inning if he keeps throwing at this pace. Jim Palmer is talking incessantly about his 1970 appearance on Patriots Day in Boston. (I love old ‘Cakes’ stories…)

12:06: Finally, we get our first real “call up” treat here in 2009. Brad Bergesen (1-1, 2.45 ERA at Norfolk) will take the ball tomorrow night at Camden Yards vs. the White Sox. Not sure if that sells them any more tickets (some will be going for the free Koji T-shirt) but I’m excited to watch this kid pitch.

12:04 p.m. — The Orioles are on the board, getting a rare RBI single from Cesar Izturis in the 3rd inning. Nick Markakis just played a flyball out into a triple. Jim Palmer: “That should be an error but that’s not the way they do things anymore.”

‘Cakes’ cracks me up!

11:49 p.m. — Mark Hendrickson has been lucky to escape the first two innings with only three runs allowed, as he loaded the bases in the first with no outs and escaped with only two runs plated. In the second, he gave up a monumental home run to Jason Varitek in the 2nd inning.

Now, Ryan Freel made it to first on an infield single and was hit in the head with a throw trying to steal second base and left the game groggy with Robert Andino taking his spot at third base.

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A night of old-school bloody ‘rasslin’ in Philly

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A night of old-school bloody ‘rasslin’ in Philly

Posted on 20 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As many of you know, we did our first-ever “Wrestling Bus” last night to the TNA Lockdown PPV in Philadelphia last night. My dear friend Kevin Eck is far-better versed in educating you about the card, but it was a fun night with a sold-out busload of wrestling fans who were as smitten with our Superstar Billy Graham and Bruno Sammartino videos as they were Mick Foley’s barbed-wired baseball bat.

There was lots of blood — a staple of the TNA promotion — and lots of cries for more blood from the notriously ruthless Philadelphia crowd, who cut their teeth on ECW’s violence nearly 15 years ago.

Every match last night was held in a six-sided steel cage. I’ll work on getting some videos up, but meantime here’s a shot of our crew meeting and greeting some of the TNA talent prior to showtime.

TNA Philly WNST Bus

Oh, and a special thanks to Rick from Reisterstown for the “cinema.”

And if you haven’t seen the movie, “The Wrestler,” you really should. A shame Mickey Rourke didn’t win the Oscar. The movie was moving and poignant and thoroughly believable.

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O’s blow early 7-0 lead, lose 10-8 to Red Sox in Boston

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

These are the losses that bust you up, the ones you never understand. Except that over the years, evenings like tonight have become so commonplace that they’re shrugged off en route to 90 losses. The Orioles blew a 7-0 lead tonight, allowing the Red Sox 10 runs on 12 hits and even sprinkling in a devastating error by Aubrey Huff to lose 10-8 at Fenway Park tonight.

The “BALTIMORE” jerseys were somehow absent tonight (good luck on the explanation for that one). The Red Sox were wearing bright red “warm up”jerseys and blue caps with the cartoon pair of Red Sox with white trim. They were sharp, but looked like a world championship softball team. But I’m sure they’ll sell some hats.

The Red Sox have suffered the first two weeks with an anemic offensive attack and yet while David Ortiz continues to struggle — he struck out three times tonight — Jason Bay and Dustin Pedroia led the way for the Sox tonight battering Jeremy Guthrie out of the game in the 5th inning and hammering the bullpen led by Danys Baez. Matt Albers got into hot water in the 8th but escaped like Houdini.

The Orioles are now 6-4 — not too shabby, all things considered but they are taking on all of the characteristics of a bad team. Orioles pitching has allowed 29 runs in the last 16 innings of baseball.

Not good!

My running blog below…

10:26 p.m. — Markakis flies out. Huff strikes out. Threat ends ugly and empty. Did I mention that they blew a 7-0 lead tonight with their ace on the hill?

10:19 p.m. –The Orioles are threatening in the eighth. Two on, Markakis up. It’s a “defining” moment. Iwajima is in the game. Lefty on lefty…

10:07 p.m. — They’re booing Big Papi…LOUDLY! Fenway Park sounds like a festival of the “Boo-g Powells.” Big Papi has now fanned three times. He looks like Little Papi in 2009 thus far. Alberts got Youkilis to ground into a double play. There’s still hope! They survived a bases-loaded, no out jam! This could be a “defining” moment, a turning point in the season. Or, maybe not…

10:05 p.m. — Matt Albers is in the game. The bases are loaded. Nobody out. And Big Papi is coming to the dish. Trouble?

9:58 p.m. — Someone just left me a comment about how Gawd-awful MASN’s in-house commercials are and how often we are subjected to them. Agreed. Just painful, and we’re only two weeks into the season! And now, after blowing a 7-0 lead, I’m subjected to Amber Theoharis smiling and giving us “minor league” pitching updates from Bowie, which will be a “good news” staple all season.

The biggest story in the Orioles’ universe tonight is their catcher of the future who should already be here tweaking a hammy in suburban Atlanta. I suppose it’s great that so many folks are interested in their farm system and they’re actually “marketing” these kids. I just hope to God a few of them can actually play come 2011. This is the biggest “sell job” the franchise has ever put on us while we watch pitching that has allowed 29 runs in the last 15 innings.

9:48 p.m. –I hear Danys Baez is a great guy. (I’ve never met him.) But he sucks as a pitcher. The Orioles have now officially blown a 7-0 lead with their ace on the hill against a division opponent that was reeling offensively before tonight.

9:35 p.m. — That Kevin Youkilis header was quite scary. Baez looked a little unglued. He clearly felt horrible about it. Always the scariest thing in baseball, next to the pitcher comebackers.

9:14 p.m. — The game is tied after Nick Green launched one over Adam Jones’ head. Guthrie is headed the shower. Even after being staked to eight runs of offensive support, he can only be the loser. He leaves the game with eight runs scored — no thanks to the Huff botching of a Bill Buckner-esque grounder — and two aboard. Enter Danys Baez. They call this “relief” pitching?

9:12 p.m. — Jeremy Guthrie was sailing through the fifth but all hell has broken loose with two outs. A triple, a couple of walks and then the Aubrey Huff snafu has staked the Red Sox to the brink of getting into the Orioles line of arsonists waiting out in the bullpen.

9:02 p.m. — The Matt Wieters “situation” is apparently nothing too serious, but the Orioles have been known to “fib” with their media relations. So, who knows? We’ll know more tomorrow.

8:48 p.m. — Lots of offense. Lots of bad pitching. Looks like another fun evening at Fenway Park is shaping up. At least Guthrie has survived the initial storm. More than we can say for Josh Beckett. Nick Markakis hits a salami. And Brian Roberts and Adam Jones continue to be the best 1-2 punch in MLB over the first two weeks.

Oh…and Big Papi looks sick. They’re on the way to a series lead. But then again, the bullpen will be called upon at some point.

7:12 p.m. — What the heck happened to “BALTIMORE” on the black road jerseys? Explanation anyone?

7:11 p.m. — Wow, those Red jerseys pop off the screen in HD. Just seeing Brian Roberts stroll up to the plate hitting .444 is pretty cool, especially when you consider how many times this organization dangled him out on the trade market. He’s rich. He’s cool. He’s community-oriented and an all-around good guy. And, he’s hitting .444. What’s not to like about BRob? One of the real reasons to go the ballpark if you do go…

I’m not going to blog inning by inning, but if you want to comment on the game at any point, feel free. I’ll approve them over the next hour during dinner. Looks like a beautiful night to be at Fenway for a game.

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Steve Bisciotti’s Thursday dilemma: Ray or Gary?

Posted on 16 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I sorta knew that Bob Haynie’s “schlep rock” (or whatever the hell he calls it) would be at work on the Maryland Terps this weekend when the Baltimore Ravens called a 4 p.m. Thursday press conference in Owings Mills to march Ray Lewis out to the local firing squad for questions about loyalty, community, commitment, Hall of Fame inevitability and his future plans as a “Baltimorean” among other inquires. But now word broke around 11 p.m. last night that the Maryland Terps will be in the second half of their game against the California Golden Bears in Kansas City at that hour on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

So, that begs the question, where will Steve Bisciotti be at 4 p.m. on Thursday? Hmmmm…

Bisciotti broke his long silence on the Gary Williams/friendship/support/vote of confidence front last week, getting front page love in The Sun with “I love Gary” quotes and basically stating that the reason he’s a Maryland financial backer during these tough economic times is because Gary Williams is the coach.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I gotta think Bisciotti’s never, ever missed a March Madness postseason game? He’s the biggest Terp fan of them all. He IS Hell in a Shell!!!

So, what’s gonna happen here? Something’s gotta give, right?

Prediction: Someone over in Owings Mills (Kevin Byrne?) is gonna have to pick up the phone and get with Ray Lewis and “re-sort out” this press conference on Thursday to accommodate scheduling for local hoops mania. There’s no way the Ravens can do this thing in the middle of the Terps game.

And besides, the press conference won’t have the same impact without Bisciotti. And Bisciotti must be in Kansas City (at least that’s what I think…)

What do you think?

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Morgan State wins MEAC title to earn NCAA tourney berth

Posted on 14 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

No matter what the tournament selection committee decides to do with Gary Williams and Company tomorrow, Maryland – and Baltimore – will be represented in the NCAA tournament.

Morgan State is going to the big dance.

The Bears got double-digit scoring efforts from four different players tonight and Todd Bozeman’s team earned their NCAA berth with a 83-69 win over Norfolk State in the MEAC championship game in Winston-Salem, NC.  A year ago, Morgan State lost in the MEAC Final to Coppin State.  

Jermaine “Itchy” Bolden poured in 18 points tonight as Morgan State finished the year with a 14-3 mark in the MEAC and a 23-11 record overall.  One of those wins, of course, came at the Comcast Center in January when the Bears knocked off Maryland.

In Saturday’s MEAC final, Morgan State fell behind, 10-2, nearly 7 minutes into the game before rallying to lead at the half, 32-27.  The Bears quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead at the start of the second half and were never threatened from there.

Reggie Holmes (20), Marquise Kately (16) and Kevin Thompson (15) joined Itchy Bolden in double-figures for Morgan State.

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Maryland and Under Armour…Joined at the hip isn’t a violation

Posted on 02 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

Let me get this straight.

The Gary-haters all say, “Gary’s program stinks because Gary can’t recruit anymore.”

The Gary haters aren’t heard from when the Terps beat North Carolina. Recruiting, I guess, wasn’t much of an issue a couple of Saturdays ago when Maryland shocked the Tar Heels.

Now, Gary and the Terps are “in the hunt” for a rock-star recruit named Lance Stephenson and, suddenly, Williams is under the gun – again – because of recruiting.  Only, this time, Gary’s gettin’ torched for actually trying to land a quality player.

Here’s the full story from the Washington Post.  It’s a “lover’s triangle” of sorts, with Maryland Athletics, Under Armour and Stephenson at the points.

Want the Cliff Notes version?  OK.  Under Armour is a $17.4 million “best friend” of Maryland Athletics and the school’s exlusive apparel partner.  The guy who started Under Armour, and still their man out-front, is former UM football player, Kevin Plank.  Plank is also on UM’s “Board of Trustees”, a role given to those who donate $1 million or more to the school.  Lance Stephenson came to College Park for an official “visit” on January 31.  The morning of the first day of his visit at UM, Stephenson also received – and accepted, evidently – an invitation to make a trip to Baltimore to tour the Under Armour headquarters.

That was a mistake.  It connects, innocently perhaps, a recruiting trip for Maryland basketball with a recruiting trip for Under Armour.  The apparel company would have been far better off bringing Stephenson and his family to their headquarters a week or two later.  That would have gone a long way in eliminating any notion that the trip to the Washington DC/Baltimore area was a two-stop visit…College Park for hoops – and Baltimore for talks with Under Armour.

The long history of apparel companies chasing high school athletes is well documented.  Rest assured, it’s been reviewed time and time again by the NCAA, but the catch-22 is they need the marketing dollars the Nike’s, Reebok’s and, now, Under Armour’s, provide to both the schools and the conferences that make up the NCAA.  They don’t like the shady side that brings…”free money” being thrown around just to have a guy wear a certain shoe or sport a particular logo when he becomes a professional.  That relationship begins at the college level though, as apparel giants try to recruit the blue-chippers with the hope of building brand loyalty with them.  It’s highly-competitive and there’s also a “what people don’t know won’t hurt them” element attached to it that most of us aren’t familiar with, including the NCAA.  But, the good (money) probably outweighs the bad (dirty competition) and the NCAA simply says, “we just want you all to try and play by the rules and we’re OK with whatever you do.”

And that’s why the current MD/UA/LS situation needs to go under the microscope.

If Under Armour brought Lance Stephenson to their Baltimore headquarters in an attempt to privately (and, maybe, strongly) influence Stephenson’s decision to attend the University of Maryland, that’s wrong.  It’s that simple, really.  But, unless someone can present some hard, concrete evidence to support such a claim, it looks to me that the “Triangle” is violation free, despite what the Gary-bashers will claim.

There are some questions, of course.  They deserve answers.  Did Gary and/or anyone at Maryland approve of Stephenson’s little side trip to the UA headquarters when he was in College Park for a visit?  If so, that wasn’t very smart on the school’s part, since anyone with even a minor in common sense would put one and one together and say, “gee, that doesn’t look right.”  Did Under Armour contact the school prior to purusing Stephenson to make sure they were, in fact, not putting Maryland in a possible non-compliance position?  It appears they did.  That’s a plus for Under Armour.  It shows they were – or are – aware of the connection between Maryland, a potential recruit, and Under Armour’s perceived role both with the school and the young man in question.  If Under Armour was trying to be devious and assist Gary in some clandestine fashion, they would have done so on “off-hours” and shuttled the kid in with a blanket draped over his head so not even the clean-up crew would know he was in the building.

Given the relationship between Maryland Athletics and Under Armour, wouldn’t it make sense that everyone in position of authority with both organizations would go out of their way to make sure nothing improper could be documented and pursued by the NCAA?

Isn’t there a 300-page book somewhere that spells out what’s right and what’s wrong as far as compliance goes between Maryland and ANY sponsor or booster?

I say “yes” – on both counts.

Kevin Plank didn’t build a billion-dollar-baby by making bad decisions.

Debbie Yow has taken UM from a school with an athletic deficit of $51 million to one that’s now only $17 million in the red.

She knows what she’s doing.

And Gary, no matter what the haters say, is also smart enough to know that he’s dealing with 18 year old kids with big mouths.  What good would it do Gary to help facilitate some sort of improper relationship between Stephenson and Under Armour when he’s not 100% sure the kid is ever going to play in College Park?

As for Plank’s role on the “Board of Trustees”, it might make sense for him to remove himself from that position until, perhaps, his day-to-day-duties change or diminish at Under Armour.  Having the guy who signs the checks at Under Armour sitting on a Maryland board that could – or couldn’t – influence decisions at the the school his company spends $17.4 million with is reasonably assumed to be a “conflict of interest”.  I think that’s an easy way to clean up the situation and I can’t imagine either Plank or UM would be any worse off for it.

The sub-story to this entire issue is easy to dissect.  What knowledge did the University of Maryland have about the “same day trip to Baltimore” that Under Armour scheduled with Lance Stephenson?  If they didn’t know about it, it’s difficult to hold them accountable, isn’t it?  After all, Maryland doesn’t run Under Armour. Under Armour runs Under Armour.  Maryland doesn’t run Lance Stephenson.  Lance Stephenson and his family run Lance Stephenson.

I’m not naive.  I’m sure Under Armour’s position in the sports world and their efforts to become “a player” in the NBA can’t hurt Maryland’s chances of landing top recruits in the future.  Schools all across the country have been parlaying those kinds of “special relationships” with apparel companies for a long time.

It’s only when the school works IN CONCERT with the apparel company to help bring a student-athlete into their athletic program where the line is crossed.

Could the whole thing have been done a little differently to completely remove any doubt at all that Lance Stephenson wasn’t being connected to Maryland through Under Armour?  Sure.

On the whole, though, it looks as if everyone knew the rules (as liberal as they might be…), observed and complied with them, and did what every other school does with much-sought-after high school athletes.

The Gary-haters – facing a bunch of egg in their face when the Terps qualify for the NCAA tournament later this month – are hoping beyond hope Maryland’s going to get called on the carpet for this episode.

It’s not going to happen, though.

Maryland and Under Armour did what any other school and shoe company would have done – within the regulations, of course.

They made Stephenson feel like King for a Day.

It’s how you win the recruiting war.

“We’re going to treat you better, make you better, and prepare you better than anyone else.”

I’m sure that’s how Lance Stephenson remembers his trip to DC/Baltimore.

“They treated me great down there…I might really like that place.”

Of course, that could all change if Stephenson takes a trip to Florida to visit with Billy Donovan.  That recruiting visit wouldn’t include a side-journey to Under Armour, but it might include an accidental visit to the Delta Zeta sorority house.

But wait…sending a recruit out with another basketball player to see the best looking girls on campus wouldn’t be the biggest reason why a kid would choose the Gators over the Terps.

Right, Matt Walsh?

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Oh, the weather outside is frightful…

Posted on 02 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just five weeks from today, the Yankees fans will descend on downtown and the bunting will be out and the Orioles will celebrate Opening Day. Today, however, I’m sitting here having my first cup of coffee of the week, watching an absolutely stunning beautiful snow event, listening to Drew and Glenn talk about the Terps and Ray Lewis and watching all of the local TV talking heads continue a sick, little Baltimore tradition: “It’s snowing! STOP EVERYTHING!” And if Don and Marty are going to freak out over schools being closed and no one is going to work, then the least I can do is blog and tell you that I’M GOING TO WORK! And I hope you tune me in at 2 p.m.!

And today is the first snowstorm day when our website is a destination or a way to reach the radio at home because I have a feeling rush hour traffic will be limited. Especially when for 40 years every time it’s ever snowed in Baltimore, all of the TV stations freeze and they tell everyone to basically “take the day off.” I don’t know how it works in your office, but most people are happy to oblige when a  “freebie” is offered, even in this lousy, horrific economy. So, at least you’re reading our website and know we’re full service today.

I’m watching WJZ now: “When winter weather bears down on Maryland, we’re there with you. When the economy sucks, we’re there for you. When it’s time to take money from Peter Angelos and lie to you about the Orioles, we’re there for you…”

Honestly, I’m looking forward to driving into the office today and doing the show at 2 p.m. It’s been a very interesting weekend on and off the fields and courts in local sports.

On the fields…

Maryland is back somewhere on the right side of the bubble in the hunt to be in the March Madness with a relatively strong win in Raleigh. I think Greivis is still shooting ball!

I went to RAC Arena yesterday to take in the Retrievers’ big win over Albany. It’s always fun to see the band, the girls, the kids and Randy Monroe’s tantrums at UMBC. Our own Drew Forrester was feted by the local frat boys as he handed out a school spirit trophy with beads at halftime. Jay Greene’s family gave me a T-shirt with his name on it. There were tears, cheers, the works for “Senior Day” as Greene and Darryl Proctor were honored. I shot some WNSTV. I’ll try to get it up.

Lacrosse fans descended upon downtown on Saturday on a chilly day to support their sport and Johns Hopkins is wobbling.

The Orioles are doing something. I’m just not sure whether anyone is paying attention. This was the week we were going to do live from down in Fort Lauderdale. But in five weeks we’ll be playing baseball.

Off the field, it’s been a mess.

Let’s start with The Washington Post’s bombshell hurled at Gary Williams, Kevin Plank, Under Armour and the University of Maryland yesterday regarding the recruitment of Lance Stephenson. It’s been the major topic on Drew’s show this morning. I have no idea who in College Park peed in The Post’s Wheaties, but there’s clearly a witch hunt going on there for Garyland.

And if you’re on our WNST Text Service, you know that Samari Rolle told The Baltimore Sun and the Ravens (and the world) last night that he wants to be released, which caps a weekend of major activity in Owings Mills even without a word or a whisper from No. 52.
There’s plenty to rap about on a day when the weather outside is frightful. The TV stations are frightening everyone else. But I’m going to work. As my Pop would say en route to Bethlehem Steel on a day like today, “I’m not gonna scratch.”

BTW: Shameless plug here…

This Thursday would be my Pop’s 90th birthday. We will have an on air party from 2 to 6 for my dad and all dads and continue our annual tradition of honoring Pops everywhere!

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Wigginton’s signing is a good one for the O’s

Posted on 03 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

It might have jammed up the team’s “utility-man-infrastracture” but today’s signing of Ty Wigginton is a good addition by the Orioles. 

He’s better than Kevin Millar.  He’s better than Chris Gomez. And, he’s better than Ryan Freel.

Personally, I think, he’ll be the O’s everyday third baseman in lieu of Melvin Mora by July 4th.

Look, he’s not A-Rod.  Ty Wigginton is a journeyman.  But he’s a good journeyman.  

That’s been my debate about their pitching additions this off-season.  They passed on GOOD pitchers like Jon Garland, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe and, likely, Ben Sheets, who is still out there for the taking but evidently not better than, say, Rich Hill, Mark Hendrickson or a Japanese pitcher who has the same major league ERA as I do.

However, as unnecessary as the Hendrickson signing was, the Wigginton signing is beneficial.

He’s a GOOD journeyman.  You need one or two of those along the way to patch up the holes and give you some consistency in the dog days of August when, in the O’s case, you’re 25 games out of first place and the games don’t matter anymore.  ”Someone” has to play in those games.  

The Wigginton addition also potentially paves the way for a spring training trade of either Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, or both.  They’ve tried to sign Roberts over the winter but he’s heard “the story” one too many times from the O’s – “we’re gettin’ better, hang in there with us” – and is begging for a transfer, as Private Santiago did in “A Few Good Men”.  Scott is a decent-enough-hitter but not a gold glove candidate…and with Pie’s arrival from Chicago – and Freel and Wigginton both able to play left field – the O’s could also part company with Luuuukkkke if they could pull off a reasonable deal.

On the whole, It’s been an off-season filled with low-budget, “take a chance on me” type of player signings and acquisitions and Wigginton probably fits that criteria…but he’s a career .270 hitter and a capable defensive player and he’s only 31.  He can still play.  His history shows that.  He’s not a gamble, unlike a Rich Hill, Brad Hennessey or David Pauley.  Best of all, he’s actually coming to the O’s on the heels of a decent season in Houston, unlike some of their other off-season reaches like Hill, who, for example, pitched in 5 games a year ago before he was shut-down by the Cubs.  

It does create a possible logjam in the part-time player category, as Freel, Gomez and Wigginton are nearly identical images of each other.  Freel plays more outfield than the other two.  Gomez is the only one who can play shortstop – or has in the past – and Wigginton’s best position is probably third base.  But, in general, all three are fill-in types and that might be one more part-timer than the O’s really need.  Make no mistake about it, though, if you’re ranking the three, Wigginton is the best of the trio.

I like this signing.

It feels good to say (write) that.  

I must be getting soft.

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Ravens winning secret is O’s biggest shortcoming

Posted on 30 December 2008 by Drew Forrester

File this Ravens season under the category: Good things happen to good people.

It’s that simple, almost.

Steve Bisciotti – Good people.

Dick Cass – Good people.

Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, George Kokinis, Pat Moriarty – All good people.

Kevin Byrne – Good people.  His staff – good people.  So many to name, I won’t…’cuz if I leave someone out, it looks bad.  They’re all good eggs.  Hard workers.  Very professional.

John Harbaugh – Good people.  His coaching staff – all good.  Thorough.  Friendly.  Winners.

Toni Lekas (receptionist and front door greeter) – Good people.

In other words, from the top to the bottom, the Ravens are engineered by good people.

Walk through the halls of 1 Winning Drive and meet the staff members.  You’d be hard pressed to meet someone who’s not nice…and human…and willing to help.  They might have a few employees who need to eat their Nice Vitamins more often, but they’re literally few and far between.  

Larry Rosen – Good people.

Melane LeGrande – Good people.

Baker Koppleman and the ticketing people.  All good.  

Should I start rattling off the names of guys in the locker room who I deem “good people”?  It would be MUCH, MUCH easier to just tell you the few who aren’t…and perhaps I just caught them on a bad day once or twice.  In that locker room, they’re just about all good guys.  

Maybe that’s one reason why they won this year.

Good things happen to good people.

Sure, the Lions are 0-16 and “good things” aren’t happening to them — and I’m sure they have plenty of “good people” in their organization.  The Ravens had a lot of good folks in their organization last year, too, but they didn’t win.  Every team can’t win every year.  It doesn’t work that way.

But, I strongly believe that good things DO happen to good people and when I deal with people in that organization, there’s almost never even a sliver of unprofessionalism.

Even last year, when the team lost, everyone did their best to stay even-keeled and carry on as if they were winning.

I don’t agree with everything that goes on in Owings Mills, either.  

There have been some things that happened this season that I didn’t approve of (and still don’t) and I said as much on the air or wrote it at WNST.net.  Some were internal issues dealing with coach/staff access and some were player/personnel matters.

But I did my job, said/wrote what I felt was fair, and I’ve never been mistreated on any occasion.

I can’t speak for every member of the media, naturally, but from my vantage point, dealing with the Ravens and watching their daily routine only further cements in my mind how gloriously unfair the Orioles have become.  

The Orioles DO have some good people in their organization.  I know a few of them quite well.  Some, I’ve known for a long time.  They were good people when I first met them and they’re still good people. They haven’t changed.  But, for comparison sake, I can estimate that I know 20 people that work in the Ravens organization, plus a bunch of the players.  I know less than half of that number at The Warehouse and only one player is even remotely considered “contactable” – and that’s more through golf than it is baseball.  Naturally, it’s kind of hard to get to know any of the players when the team kicks you out of the stadium.  

For the uninitiated, there’s a stark difference in the way I’m treated by both of the organizations.  The Ravens welcome me and everyone else with open arms and go out of their way to be accomodating. The Orioles asked me last May not to come back in the press box and a team official offered, quote, “as far as we’re concerned, everyone at your radio station can stop talking about us and we’d be fine with that…” That’s one way to get the media on your side, I guess.

The Orioles have perfected the art of the “disembrace” (if such a word exists, which, I don’t believe it does). The Ravens have perfected the “embrace” – the Orioles have dibs on the “disembrace”.

I’m not really sure why the O’s are so mean-spirited.  For some reason, they want to fight with everyone when no one is really looking for a fight with them.  We’re all just trying to do our job(s) and figure out when they’re going to get their organization straightened out.  Occasionally, as their struggles continue, we’re forced to write or report on things in a critical manner.  That’s a no-no with the Birds.  Then, the fighting begins.

They’re not just that way to me and/or WNST.  There are countless members of the media who sing the same song I’m writing right now – “Why do they go out of their way to be so difficult?” — if I’ve heard one media member say it, I’ve heard 10 say it.  

I don’t know how it gets fixed. The simple answer might very well be this:  Be nice to people.  If they operated with that mantra in mind, a lot of the fighting might diminish.

I think if they took 30 minutes to sit down and talk to people (media) about what they like and dislike about the organization, they’d get a repair manual to follow that would bridge the gap with members of the press and, at the same time, help curry favor with people who have the power via the pen, keyboard or microphone, to make a difference in the public perception of the club. 

Believe me, there’s no one in the media who enjoys the frosty, stand-offish, uncomfortable relationship that permeates from The Warehouse when you have to call, e-mail or talk in person with certain key members of the organization.  Generally, they just don’t return your communication or inquiry, so there really isn’t a whole lot of talking that goes on with them.  I guess that’s their way of avoiding confrontation.  Oddly enough, if they tried the OTHER way – actually being human and talking to people – they might find that mechanism to be an easier way to generate positive feedback and beneficial public relations.

The Ravens use that approach and it works wonders.  There have been countless occasions when I’ve called the football team with a question about something in their organization.  Sometimes I get the reply I’m looking for and other times I’ll get the professional, “Drew, we can’t give you that information…”.  But I’ve never once NOT received a return phone call or a reply.  It’s just not the way professionals conduct business with people who are in position to help them.

And, in case you didn’t notice, I haven’t mentioned one O’s staffer by name.  I don’t need to — the group of malcontents at OPACY know who they are.  And it’s up to them to change.  

Maybe these three elements don’t have anything to do with one another but here I go with a wild-hair thought:

The Ravens are nice to people.  They win.  Their games are sold out.  

Good things happen to good people.

And it truly IS good to see the Ravens have this success in 2008.  - it’s a pleasure to witness those folks reaping the benefit of their hard work and their kind ways.  

And we all wish the Orioles would enjoy a similar amount of success in 2009.  Lord knows it would be better for everyone involved if the baseball team finally straightened themselves out and started winning and putting people back in the seats.  There would be a lot less tension in the air.  

But — you have to earn that success.

And you can’t do it being mean to people.

If you want to toss these 1300 words aside and say, “There goes Drew again, b*tching about the Orioles” go right ahead and do that.  But, I know I’m right.  

The Ravens are successful and they treat people with respect.

The Orioles won’t be successful until they start doing the same thing.

I’d wager anything on that.

And I’d win.

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Christmas deadline for Teixeira? Not really…

Posted on 20 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Want the craziest true story I’ve heard in Dallas in my first 24 hours? Apparently, I missed running into Mark Teixeira and Scott Boras in the lobby of the Ravens team hotel here in “Big D” by 15 hours. As much as we’re following this Teixeira situation at WNST as a major Baltimore news story – it has been the most followed, camped-out  Baltimore media popcorn trail since Jayne Miller chased Jobie Palczynski through my old Dundalk stomping grounds of Berkshire (the neighborhood I played little league, in no less) back in 2000 – I never though I’d almost cross paths with the pair of them at their “Texas” hideaway when I boarded the plane.

(I’m even getting people angered by giving them what I feel are “breaking news” stories on the Teixeira trail. Hey folks, news is news and we’re doing our best to be honorable as well. But who knows where the honor is amongst these baseball people who all lie as their lips move in these negotiations that involve crazy millions of dollars.)

Here’s the worst part: I’m a lifelong reporter and journalist and had I bumped into “Tex” I don’t know if I would’ve even recognized him and I have no idea what I’d even say or ask. Or whether I’d believe anything any of these cats would tell me.

Would I say, “Hey dude, how bad do you really want to play for the Orioles?” Or, “Why in the world would you not sign in Anaheim or Boston knowing what you know about this seemingly eternal mess?” And most viscerally, “Why did you hire Scott Boras as your agent?” But after thinking about it, I’d probably simply say this: “Do you care about Baltimore and Baltimore baseball and if you do what will it take to get you to be an Oriole and want to fix this for your hometown?”

(And that’s assuming that I’d actually be given the opportunity to ask questions in order to get lied to by them. The Orioles deny legitimate journalists from asking questions like these. And they resent me pointing out when they lie. But they DO lie. So do the agents. So do the general managers. So do the other owners, like John Henry.)

Maybe Tex would actually look at me with tears in his eyes – the way Mike Flanagan once did – and say, “I’m coming to Baltimore because things need to be changed and I’m the guy to do it!” Now of course, if Teixeira DID say that, I’d be the first guy buying a season ticket and singing the praises of Peter G. Angelos as making a significant change in the direction of the ballclub.

This thing has gone from the ridiculous to sublime for me. All of the effort I put into Free The Birds and my efforts to shed legitimate light on whether this ownership group really cares about Baltimore and baseball in Baltimore comes down to “tipping points” in their stewardship of the franchise like this one right here, right now.

As Third Eye Blind would ask: “How’s it gonna be…?” Are you going to step up and make this franchise real again and make people like ME  — and there are thousands of people like me…more who feel the way I do than don’t that’s for damned sure based on the empty seats alone and the empty city on all of those summer nights – want to come back to the ballpark consistently and live, eat, breath, sleep and DIE Orioles baseball?

Honestly, there were 60,000 of us who sat in 15-degree windchills to watch the purple football team play two weeks ago. The city is on “buzz alert” on a holiday Saturday night with purple fever.

When’s it gonna be like that for the Orioles again? When can we be proud to be Orioles fans again and have some civic pride instead of the mournful and deep shame and anger and “numbness” so many of us sadly feel and desperately want to change.

Signing Tex would say two things:

1.    It would tell me the Orioles are serious about competing for a championship just for stepping up and winning the first competition — the offseason. There is no “second place” here for the Orioles. If they can’t get a kid who played his high school games in the shadow of the lights of Camden Yards in a glorious era to want to come home and wear a gray sweater at Yankee Stadium that says “BALTIMORE” across the crest, then who the hell will they EVER get to take their “Confederate” money? More than anything, whatever he’s worth to Boston or Anaheim or Washington, he’s worth at LEAST 25% more to this franchise right now. Especially considering all the money they have from their TV deal at MASN. And the way they’ve slashed payroll waiting for a “tipping point” player. Teixeira is a game changer (in perception anyway) for them because it’s their ONE chance to win back the fans. Their money would be well-spent for the buzz factor alone. This hot stove conversation during the holidays and Ravens playoff drive is GREAT for them. People want to “buy in” to Orioles baseball. I want to “buy in” to Andy McPhail and the new regime. But I need to see changes. This is the Orioles franchise saying: “Come back! We’re all in!”
2.    From the player side, it would say that Teixeira really IS in Baltimore to “fix things.” Teixeira — unlike Kevin Millar or Jay Payton or Omar Daal or Aubrey Huff or Adam Jones or Luke Scott or Matt Wieters – has a choice in where he’ll play for the rest of his career. Picking Boston or Anaheim (or even Washington if the dough were right) would be what virtually every free agent in MLB would do. The only one who didn’t choose elsewhere in the past decade was Miguel Tejada, and the Orioles overpaid by at least $12 million to get him and there’s no doubt that Miggy has second-guessed his decision because he told me as much himself. Make no mistake about it: if the Orioles snag Teixeira it’ll say as much about HIM as it will about them. They don’t deserve him, really, no matter what they pay. But maybe he is that special guy who will be teary-eyed about Baltimore and wanting to return the Orioles to glory. That alone will brand him as a “Ripkenesque” figure (and then the heavy lifting will begin civic-ly for him). Honestly, his first phone call should be to Ripken and reach out by aligning himself as closely as possible with Cal. (As an aside, I DID get some inside “community” information on Teixeira. He’s a major donor to his alma mater, Mt. St. Joe, donating a “seven-figure” number to the school over his first six years in the bigs. ANOTHER reason to think Teixeira would be a “right guy” as Eckman would say about his commitment to Baltimore via being an “Oriole for life.”

So here’s the Teixeira and Baltimore “passing in the night” story for you:

Several Ravens staffers and fans, in town early to sharpen their golf skills, checked into Dallas a day early. Word is Teixeira and Boras stood in the lobby of  what has become the Ravens’ team hotel in Las Colinas and looked up at the ESPN scroll on the bar TV and Teixeira said something to the effect of: “Well, they found out about this pretty quickly in Boston!”

No doubt Boras “leaked” the “covert” meeting. But that’s the game. Stir up the masses and use the media as a weapon.

The plotline thickens daily. But I’m not convinced Teixeira needs to sign anything before next week or any self-imposed “Christmas deadline.” Because Boras’ words and deadlines slip. And Red Sox owner John Henry’s media negotiating tactics sharpen. And all the “Peters” twist in the wind, writing blogs and quoting unnamed sources who openly lie to everybody about everything. It’s so bad that John Schuerholz (as fine a guy as I know and an old-schooler who John Steadman so admired) has taken to name calling.

(And by “Peters” I meant: Peter Schmuck, Peter Gammons, Peter King and Peter Pascarelli. Feel free to insert your Dick jokes here.)

I don’t think there’s any deadline. I think Boras has this thing right where he wants it. The media is trailing, fueling the fire. The fans are into it. It’s the ONLY game Baltimore fans have had to play in years. It’s like a pennant race that money CAN buy! The Baltimore fans are killing the Orioles to drive up the price. John Henry is playing poker. Arte Moreno is laying low because he’s got a pretty damned good offer as well. And the Nationals are an outsider with a big need and a big offer.

The only thing better than having four suitors is having five. Who knows if the Yankees will want to play?

Boras has negotiated Mark Teixeira into the stratosphere with this salary drive pitting four cities and four fan bases and four ownership groups into “crisis” mode. It’s a true hot stove bonanza amidst financial crisis in the “real” world. Kudos to Boras! It’s gonna make Teixeira plenty rich but it’s not gonna make him a “right guy.”

Only he can decide what that means and where his “heart” lies. Or his wallet. And why he’ll choose wherever he chooses.

If he doesn’t come to Baltimore and play for Peter Angelos’ Orioles in 2008, I really can’t blame him. But god help him and the Orioles if they can’t work this out because they’ll both get crushed by the fans. And Teixeira will have three cities where he’ll get lustily booed next season.

Pass the popcorn…

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