Tag Archive | "leukemia"


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A #JennStrong2 update: Cancer complicates things…

Posted on 08 November 2015 by Nestor Aparicio


“All of my life I’ve been a type 1 diabetic. I’ve always taken life day by day.”

– Bret Michaels


ON THE 34TH DAY OF HER SECOND battle with cancer, Jenn slept and vomited and slept some more and vomited some more. Needless to say, it’s been a rough fifth week here at The Hotel for my beautiful wife in this #Jennstrong2 journey to a new, cancer-free life.

When she was first diagnosed with leukemia in March 2014, our initial fear was that somehow her Type 1 Diabetes would factor into her prognosis and her ability to survive all that was about to happen to her 112-pound body during the first intense cancer treatment and chemotherapy. Until this week, it was always an issue ­– and a well-maintained one – but never a major factor outside of basic monitoring.

I have written extensively about her journey over the past five weeks. Because of the complex nature of her leukemia treatment and the daily roller coaster of things that could – and have – gone awry, I’ve been updating her situation weekly via my blog here. Trust me, you wouldn’t want a daily or hourly report from here. It’s simply too volatile at times. It’s cancer. Stuff happens, the doctors manage it and you hold on tight and wait for improvement.

You can read backwards here to be fully in the loop about her path to recovery.

I also wrote extensively about the first 18 months of her miracle first cure during my 30-30 #GiveASpit tour this summer when we traveled to create awareness for leukemia and the bone marrow registry that saved her life. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

Today, however, she is slowly coming out of four days of hell because of some scary things that happened to her blood chemistry during the middle of the week. On Thursday evening, Jenn had a brief and early-detected episode with a complication of her diabetes. It was the first time anything significantly bad has occurred because of a medical condition she has managed since 1991.

I needed to Google it on Friday afternoon to understand it because I’d never heard about it before, despite almost 13 years of living with a diabetic.

It’s called Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) and, according to Diabetes.org, “this is a serious condition that can lead to diabetic coma (passing out for a long time) or even death.”

When your cells don’t get the glucose they need for energy, your body begins to burn fat for energy, which produces ketones. Ketones are chemicals that the body creates when it breaks down fat to use for energy. The body does this when it doesn’t have enough insulin to use glucose, the body’s normal source of energy. When ketones build up in the blood, they make it more acidic. This is a warning sign that your diabetes is out of control or that you are getting sick.

Because they’re literally checking her blood composition and counts several times a day, this was caught very early and was nipped in the bud. But it was still a massive blow to her progress this week.

On Thursday, it began with diarrhea and then full nausea and vomiting in the overnight and much of the day Friday, which led her to sleeping and waking only to vomit more, literally around the clock, for 72 hours. Of course, she was wired to heart monitors and the largest number of bags of fluids, medicines, insulin, antibiotics and drips that I’ve ever seen attached to her tree to neutralize the effects of DKA.

They’re also keeping an eye on her appendicitis, which has appeared to calm for now after a week of antibiotics.

She is now pretty washed out, frail and fatigued. And it was the second time during this second journey that she experienced several days of “delirious” …

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#JennStrong 2 update: Every day is a bloody Halloween at The Leukemia Hotel

Posted on 30 October 2015 by Nestor Aparicio


“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory.”

-Vince Lombardi



On the fourth day of her stay at The Hotel, on this second leukemia journey of pain and reward, my wife Jenn was seated as her nurse unhooked her first bag of B Positive blood. Somehow, a pair of lonely droplets sat under her tree on the floor – beaded up, shining ruby red, like eyes staring at me.

Jenn said to me, “Hey, can you grab a napkin and clean that up?”

And as I looked down and saw it, I just couldn’t do it.

My stomach turned, my eyes glazed over and I needed a moment to close my eyes and collect myself. Nurses and doctors and medics and diabetics – a club my wife has been a member of since 1991 – all see and deal with the scarlet fluid of life all day, every day.

I must admit it was the first time that I saw Jenn administer a shot into her abdomen in February 2003 that I really fell in love with her because of the empathy I felt and the toughness she exuded in dealing with pain and self-inflicted needles and blood and courage. Honestly, I’d never met a girl with that kind of innate grit.

This weekend she’s dealing with the effects of an appendicitis that was diagnosed late Wednesday night after an evening of stomach pain. We learned earlier in the week that her donor’s schedule was delayed with the blood she’ll need to survive this leukemia diagnosis and her bone marrow transplant from June 2014.

So instead of Thursday Night Football with the Patriots and a potentially life-saving lymphocyte infusion from her 22-year old German donor, she instead waits for a variety of antibiotics to settle down her appendix, which they do not want to remove because she currently has no immune system to fight bacteria or to heal wounds.

Surgery is the last thing in the world she needs right now. The doctors believe that it will be avoided and she’s trending in a positive direction.

Cancer isn’t fair and it does kinda what it wants. Or, more fairly, it’s the chemotherapy and poisons, which are designed to kill the cancer, that create other sticky situations throughout various organs in the body.

The medical team expects signs of neutrophils sometime over the next two weeks. This would indicate her white blood cells are coming and her body is bouncing back. The appendix situation remains “moment to moment” and she’s constantly being monitored to make sure this doesn’t get more complicated. Heart monitors, blood pressure checks, lots of labs and scans are all involved at all hours of the day.

Sleep doesn’t come easy at The Hotel.

Meanwhile, during the Halloween weekend of revelry and costumes and candy, we’ve only got blood – and not the fake kind – here at The Hotel. And like vampires they’re taking plenty of blood out of her.

Earlier in the week, she started feeling better from a burned-out gastrointestinal tract from the chemo. After eight days with mucositis and incredible pain, she was finally getting back to eating oatmeal and soft foods like mashed potatoes and soups. Now, she’s being fed once again by a nutrition solution every night because they can’t afford to find out what real food might do to her stomach if her appendix gets uppity. She’s slowly getting back to clear fluids and being able to drink water again.

We’ve had throat sores and nose bleeds, fevers and incredible bruising (she has very few platelets) – plus tears and fears and plenty of pain and discomfort this week.

And plenty of B Positive blood being drawn, given and used.

A bloody Halloween, indeed…

I see lots of macho muscles from idiot sports fans on the internet and every day out in the real world someone is playing the role of “tough guy” – but ask yourself how you’d feel about pricking your fingers a dozen times a day and giving yourself shots twice day, EVERY day just to survive the day and live through the night?

As a diabetic, Jenn has been doing that every single day of her life since 1991.

We didn’t need Halloween or cancer for every day to be a bloody day at my condo. Alcohol swabs, needles, pins, gauze and droplets of blood on clothes are a …

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A #JennStrong2 update: a second chance at life next Thursday

Posted on 22 October 2015 by Nestor Aparicio


“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”

Mike Ditka



FOR A WHILE, IT SEEMED like the sickness would never end.

The first nausea came in a brief wave last Tuesday right after her second day of the second round of chemotherapy. She was on her way to the bathroom and got one whiff of my dinner and the vomiting began and it didn’t stop for seven days. Last Thursday morning, she sent me a text that read: “I’m struggling.”

I arrived 30 minutes later and when I left after midnight on Friday, she was still living with a bucket at her feet and more waves of stomach-churning illness channeling through her into the fourth straight night.

On Saturday, with her sister by her side, she didn’t know what day it was and was quite combative and insistent about many rambling thoughts. Jenn was convinced that I wasn’t even with her on Thursday or Friday. After the Ravens loss on Sunday night, I slept on the cot in her room because she was so disoriented that I didn’t want her waking up alone in a panic without being able to calm her.

She wasn’t on her mobile phone or iPad for eight days because she really couldn’t type. She was far too loopy and weak to even paw at the keys as her frustration mounted. All throughout the weekend nights, she said dozens of nonsensical phrases, rambling words and was wildly talking in her sleep and twitching a bit with her hands – almost trying to motion by pointing like she does when she talks.

At one point on Sunday morning, she sat up in bed and looked at me, insisting with full clarity that I send her sister a text reply to tell her that she “got the message.”

Meanwhile, her sister was sitting two feet away from us, and staring at her. She was asleep again moments later. It was like something out of “The Shining” – a giant fever dream.

Her sister Jessica was planning to come to Baltimore to spell me, so I could go to San Francisco for the Ravens game. I never really came close to leaving her. She was just so, so sick.

(And that was before she watched the Ravens play in Santa Clara.)

By Sunday afternoon, the lesions caused by the chemo had settled into her esophagus and throughout her GI tract, and the pain was so severe that on Monday night the bags of morphine started coming. On Tuesday morning, they began feeding her through a tube because she needs the liquid nutrition to keep her strength for the rest of this literally bloody battle. Plus, with the sores on her tongue, in her mouth and down her throat, there is no way she can swallow anything beyond a little water. They have a dentist-style suction tube next to her bed to extract the mucus from her throat.

On Tuesday night, she started to rebound with some energy. I’m pretty sure the pain meds act as a stimulant. Her hair stylist came to shave her head bald once again because her beautiful, curly hair was ripping out of her scalp in clumps over the weekend.

On Wednesday morning, she announced that she wanted a Boston cream donut. Of course, there’s no way she could eat it. But, she did make me bring her some shepherd’s pie later that night and she made it through a few mouthfuls of mashed potatoes and gravy.

She said the mashed potatoes were “like glue in her throat.” Today she is moving on to Ensure milkshakes. This is why…


There is no romance in leukemia treatment.

Week 2 at “The Hotel” has been a living hell for my wife.

It has been a display of courage and bravery that leaves me speechless. It takes my breath away.

Welcome to #JennStrong2.

Yes, cancer still sucks. Anyone who’s been subjected to it as a patient or a care provider understands where Jenn is in the process of her long journey to recovery and health. It’s been incredibly hard to watch and …

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Surreal journey of cancer has returned with new prognosis for #JennStrong2

Posted on 13 October 2015 by Nestor Aparicio


“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think — spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”

– Jim Valvano



WE CALL IT THE HOTEL, but make no mistake it’s very much a hospital.

Cold. Sterile. Corporate. Every day it’s where Obamacare and big business and big pharma and the best and worst of our society meet under the banner of “healthcare.” It is its own education in the ways of the world and life in America in 2015.

Full of sick people. Full of people fighting for their lives and the good people inside the walls in various shades of blue and green scrubs and white jackets who are trying to keep them alive.

Bad food. Bad cable TV. Awful towels. Great nurses. Amazing doctors. A friendly support staff. Parking with little cards that spit out of a machine and act as an ATM. It costs $6 a throw (even after you purchase the little green books…it was $5 last year, so it’s only a 20% bump) and I park twice a day. You do the math.

Even down to the gaudy, shimmery marble lobby, it’s a lot like five-star hotel – Jenn maintains that you do get 24-hour room service, a butler and several maids to wipe down your room twice a day. Anything you want and a button to push to get it. The bed even adjusts.

I call it the factory of extreme hope and sadness.

I see the best and worst things in the world here every day.

My wife will be living here again for the next month and beyond. We’ll be here virtually every day for the next six months even after she comes home.

Rest assured, she’ll be fighting for her life every day.

This leukemia thing is hard. It’s heavy lifting. The cancer diagnosis the first time was brutal. The long journey back to safety and health came to a tab of well over a million dollars the first time and lord only knows where the end of this nightmare lies.

But you can’t even begin to think about the drugs, the hospital stays, the bills, the expense, the insurance issues (and we luckily have excellent insurance because her job at Verizon and the people there have been amazing) or the risk. The sheer volume of people, hours and science involved in saving her life a second time boggles my mind as it did the first.

There are 137 different types of blood cancer in the world. And, as smart of a guy as I think I am sometimes, I’ll never understand much about this because it honestly makes me queasy as hell.

There’s lots of sitting around and waiting and time for thinking. Lots of tubes and bags connected to Jenn. Lots of very sick people with masks everywhere you go. Lots of really freaked out family members in the lobby, often sobbing and in a state of shock the way I was the first few days last year.

And then there are those victims’ extended friends and families on the outside wondering about prognosis and medicines and cancers and answers. All of them Googling buzzwords, worrying, talking on social media and inquiring as respectfully as possible.

The question you want to ask and the only real question is: “Will she be OK?”

We will always believe that she will survive. As Tug McGraw said, “Ya gotta believe…”

And every day – all day, really – caring folks are asking me the same question:

“How is she feeling?”

That answer is pretty simple: “Probably not well as you want her to be feeling.”

She has cancer. They’re dumping various poisons and toxins (aka chemotherapy) into her bloodstream. The nurses wear rubber suits as they administer it into her bloodstream. She’s always an hour away from feeling like garbage even when she’s feeling semi-OK.

Mouth sores, bleeding, breathing issues, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and extreme fever – there’s seemingly a pill or a bag full of medicine with fancy names for all of ‘em – and we’ll see it all just like the last time.

And those are just the physical pains. The emotional toll and time and the possibilities can all sap you of your desire to live and fight.

We won’t let that happen.


Call us eternal optimists but we kinda refused to believe that this could happen the second time. But, our doctors did tell us last year that because she didn’t experience any graft vs. host disease (GVHD), she was statistically far more susceptible to a relapse.

So, do you want the awful rash and all of the risk and pain that comes with it or not?

Because she didn’t experience GVHD last summer, this relapse occurred and she’s got cancer in her body again. It was simply dormant over the last 15 months.

Last night, I met the couple in the next room. They look to be 40. They have three kids: 10, 8 and 6. They live in Virginia. She relapsed three days ago after five years of being clean. The husband is ashen. He’s an hour from his family, sleeping in a cot next to his wife after battling this thing when all three of their kids were toddlers. Now, they’re here again in an in a similar state of utter disbelief.

Behind every door, there’s a story here at “The Hotel.”

So many folks don’t understand what’s happening with Jenn and given the complexity, we certainly can relate. We’ve been battling this thing since March 20, 2014 and I’m still learning nuances every day.

It took her doctor 45 minutes to explain our current situation earlier this week and I’m going to try to explain as well as I can here:

Her leukemia, an extremely rare form known as acute bilineal leukemia (ABL), is back. It is the same cancer she had 18 months ago. Because the chemotherapy got her to remission (which means “no current signs of cancer”) last April, they’re using the same protocol and believe that it will work to get her clean again.

Our first goal is to get her to remission.

Instead of being prepped for a second bone marrow transplant, her doctors are using a different method to cure her this time. We are going back to her original donor in Germany – the same guy who wrote THIS LETTER in the hours after her saved her life last June. We will not ask him for bone marrow this time but instead for blood, a much simpler request and procedure.

The real need is for lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that she needs to enact this graft vs. host disease (GVHD) that would cure her.

Essentially, they need to get her very sick in order to get her better.

We are playing with fire here. You need GVHD in order to fully overcome the leukemia and have your body adjust to a new immune system. But GVHD can also be life threatening.

When it comes, she will experience a total body rash that will apparently burn like the gates of hell.

“It will be a complete rash from head to toe,” her doctor told us. “It’s not subtle.”

We felt blessed that she didn’t experience this awfulness the first time but it inevitably means that she’s back here with leukemia again and the goal of the doctors is to get her

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My wife’s leukemia has returned, our #JennStrong2 cancer battle has begun

Posted on 02 October 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Apparently, one miracle wasn’t enough for the most beautiful girl in the world. Now, my amazing wife Jennifer will try to repeat with back-to-back miracle seasons and beating cancer again with a second bone marrow transplant.

“I don’t know how to tell you this but your leukemia has returned,” is what her doctor told her while she was standing at a lunch buffet in a supermarket in Hunt Valley at 1:30 on Tuesday afternoon.

I was in the middle of a WNST radio conversation with baseball writer Bob Nightengale when she sent me a frantic text.

Clearly, we were both floored – completely shocked and devastated by the news.


That is not what we were expecting to hear on Tuesday when Jenn went to Johns Hopkins for what we thought was some routine blood work in the morning.

Yes, she had been battling some low energy over the past few weeks. She didn’t feel quite herself in Denver two weeks ago when we traveled to Mile High to see the Ravens and Broncos. She came home with a cold, some sniffles and a sore throat. She got an antibiotic and was feeling better every day – almost normal and 100% earlier this week.

Life had been so normal for us for so long ­– her initial bone marrow transplant was June 26, 2014 – that we never feared or envisioned this relapse and second battle, which we expect to be just as demanding and gruesome as the first battle.

Now that we have discovered that her leukemia has returned, we realize there have been some clues.

She had a massive cramp in her foot last Friday night at the Maritime Magic event at Living Classrooms Foundation. She started noticing a few small bruises on her body over the weekend. She’s been a Type 1 diabetic since 1991 and noticed some weird ranges in her blood sugar over the past week.

And on the final day of Blood Cancer Awareness Month, we became again aware of the silent ticking time bomb of leukemia. The cancerous cells exploded in her body again on Tuesday and, once again, will put our lives on hold for the next year.

Jenn had given blood 13 days earlier, when she first started feeling sick, and her blood was cancer free. Now, she has blasts in her blood and her platelets and key numbers are beginning to dive as the cancer begins to ravage her immune system.

She will move back into the hospital on Sunday night and her chemotherapy regiment will begin on Monday morning. We expect a lengthy hospital stay and a long battle. She spent 56 days in the hospital on the first journey – including 42 days on the first stay in March and April of last year. We were in the hospital literally every day for 180 days.

Honestly, this time, we’re just hoping to have her home by the end of the World Series or sometime around Halloween. And we’ve put our full faith in the doctors at Johns Hopkins who miraculously saved her life the first time.

My son has been on his honeymoon this week at Disney World, the Ravens played in Pittsburgh on Thursday night and we were headed for a five-day beach getaway and now, nothing else seems to matter anymore.

I wrote a massive blog about my search for happiness last month.

But, as Don Henley, sang: “In a New York minute, everything can change.”

Indeed, the wolf is always at the door.

Life is very fragile and our time on earth is very limited.

We’ve had 72 hours to digest this diagnosis and the second battle begins now.

It’s #JennStrong2.

And once again, my wife told me on Tuesday night: “I’m not going to f**king die. I will fight!”

So, off to the 5th floor we go for an extended stay and a full focus on her getting to remission and whatever it takes after that.

Her doctors are working on various protocols and developing an evolving strategy to save her life.

We know this journey well. We’ve become close friends with survivors. We’ve also lost some friends along the way. We’ve already run into folks at the hospital who were battling with her in 2014 and are still fighting for their lives every day.

And we’ve also seen many miracles.

Last Saturday night, we went to have our annual pre-game beverage with Marvin Lewis here in Baltimore before the Ravens game. We ran into this young lady with some Cincinnati roots, who is a five-year bone marrow transplant survivor.


Inspiration is all around.

Survivors abound. That’s what There Goes My Hero is all about!

But this #JennStrong2 fight will not be any

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Part 1: Life On The Road, 30 Days of #GiveASpit and baseball

Posted on 07 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Part 1: Prelude and Back Story

“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.”

James A. Michener


SO, I NEVER DESIGNED THE 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit Tour to be written about. It just kind of happened that way because, at heart, I’m a writer. And suddenly, I feel like I have a lot I want to say and as much as I talk on the radio at WNST.net & AM 1570 around the clock about all sorts of things, this story of my baseball bucket list trip was meant to be told in writing.

Ever since my wife Jennifer was diagnosed with leukemia in March 2014, I really haven’t written much publicly for lots of reasons. I wrote a massive blog about my ongoing pursuit of happiness back on August 24th, but over the past year I’ve been observing, measuring and planning this summer baseball adventure. There’ve been no blogs, no books but plenty of “statuses” in social media on my Facebook and Twitter. Mainly, it’s been a lack of time but certainly not a lack of inspiration. Some of my deepest thoughts through her miraculous journey have been written down but much of it has been best kept to myself for the time being.

I made a lot of changes at WNST in August 2014 and I’ve been doing lots of radio over the past year.

I think I’m doing the best work of my career but that’s for you to judge if you listen to WNST.net or AM 1570 at any point around the clock. I talk to the smartest people on the planet about sports. We have conversations. There’s no hysteria. There’s no ridiculous accusations or a focus on rumormongering, outrageous statements or drumming up phone calls. We don’t do outrage for outrage’s sake. Never have.

And over the past year, I’ve been mapping the rest of my personal journey, my personal brand and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

Let me start with this: I’m very lucky and very grateful for all of the awesomeness, opportunity and love I’ve received over the years from listeners, the community, athletes and coaches, and friends and sponsors who have kept WNST going since 1998.

On the eve of my 25th year – 2016 will be our silver anniversary on the radio – this life spent in the bizarre circus of Baltimore sports media has come full circle. I’ve salvaged and improved my business and personal brand after years of neglect from within. I’m treasuring my life and that of my wife and family. I’m really enjoying doing radio every day and I have no plans to leave the airwaves, hire more hosts or sell or leave WNST.

Although I haven’t written a lot over the past year – and that’s about to change – it’s been a great time and this blog will catch you up on that.

And sometimes, it’s really much more convenient to write about life in 140 characters or less on Twitter. Or, perhaps, at least 140 characters at a time. But my story has evolved and I have a lot on my mind and the 30-30 #GiveASpit baseball tour this summer has made me want to share more about my journey.

Many people asked me about my epic baseball tour and encouraged me to write about it.

I’m glad you’re here and hope you enjoy my storytelling and observations.

And even if no one reads this, it’s a bit cathartic to share my thoughts especially when I go around Baltimore and hear so much gossip, rumorama and thoughts attributed to me that really have nothing to do with me.

Such is life as a public figure. Sad, but true…

It was also quite the reality check for me when I saw such a diminished audience for “Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story” back in 2012. It was disheartening to hear people everywhere tell me that they really don’t read books

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A year after major changes at WNST, I’m very happy and here’s why…

Posted on 24 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio


“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”

– O.A. “Bum” Phillips.


A year ago this week, I famously made some massive changes in my life and here at WNST.net & AM 1570. At the time, as you might remember, my wife Jennifer was bald, frail and fighting for her life after battling a rare form of leukemia, the effects of chemotherapy and radiation and in the early recovery phase in the aftermath of a June 26, 2014 bone marrow transplant.

At the time, the moves to reduce my staff and increase my radio responsibilities were considered by many to be “controversial” or “desperate” or somehow inexplicable even though I wrote ­– from my heart – more than 8,000 words in two blogs about the changes. I wrote a lot about happiness and my journey in life and a unique calling to do sports media in Baltimore as my life’s work from the time I was 15 years old.

With the aid of my former employees ­– who fanned a social media assault on me and WNST and my sponsors even as my wife quietly spent the following six days in the hospital in a dark room fighting for her life after the firings – my reputation was being smeared and relationships were being poisoned by the very people I spent years of my life trying to nurture and feed. A year later – and after unearthing many truths that weren’t as clear last August, as well as seeing the world with far more clarity and unfiltered information – I can assure you that I made the right decision.

As a matter of fact, I would say it was the best decision I’ve ever made – downsizing, rightsizing, reorganizing and getting back to doing what I do best and what makes me happy and why I berthed WNST to begin with in August 1998: opining, reporting and talking about Baltimore sports.

I abandoned doing something that wasn’t profitable, didn’t make me happy and didn’t appear to hold out any hope of growing.

I did something that I’ve been doing since January 1984 when I got my first sports newspaper internship: I adjusted and changed and learned and grew.

It’s been 12 months since I’ve blogged about my business, my station or my work/life situation because I’ve been too focused on re-building a fantastic company and my personal brand via a daily regiment and lifestyle that works for me and my family. I also did a little 30-city MLB tour and swabbed thousands of people for the bone marrow registry along the way this summer and threw a May 14th gala with Chuck Pagano for There Goes My Hero that many are still talking about around Baltimore. We’re also working with the premier golf tournament in town with Ruth’s Chris at their Sizzling Classic on Sept. 21st to benefit a charity that was personally involved in helping my wife survive leukemia in 2014.

I’m also doing the finest and most comprehensive radio interviews and conversations of my career with distribution greater than my mind could’ve imagined when I started in the newspaper and radio world. It’s by far my best work and I hope you’re enjoying it at WNST.

Inspiration, passion, energy, commitment and a sincere follow through have never been an issue for me. This is the sole reason WNST came into existence in 1998. This is how I birthed a sports radio station from a small AM brokered radio show on a big band radio station in afternoon drive time in the early 1990s. There’s always been a

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What's the worst MLB stadium? Nestor says No. 30 was easy: just go to Orange County and see what the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have under a broken halo...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 30 Anaheim

Posted on 10 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, someone has to be “last.” Simply put: this place is a dump. I visited “The Big A” in 1991 when it was still a two-sport relic and they’ve had me believing from afar for nearly two decades that they actually fixed the place up. I dunno. Maybe I just harbored higher expectations. I watched it again last weekend when the Orioles visited on television and nothing cosmetically on the broadcast prepares you for how ordinary the whole experience is once you arrive in Orange County. The concessions are so far inferior to every other ballpark as to be laughable. The alcoves in the stadium are dark, dreary and awful. It’s not really structurally much different than I remember it from 24 years ago – and even then it was an awkwardly shaped, multi-use facility at a freeway exit near what used to be orange groves that are now strip malls or outposts of Disneyland. Now, to point out some positives: even the worst place (and last place) in MLB to see a baseball game had some bright spots. I did see a visor for $6.88 and I have great remorse that I didn’t purchase it to match my Dodgers “LA” visors. I also bought a draft beer in the 3rd inning at a discount stand for $4.50. And it was a real beer ­– like 16 ounces and tasty! But, overall, the place is an eyesore, really, if you judge it against the other 29 parks. I’ve been to many minor league parks with more to recommend them, including Aberdeen. The Angels should be embarrassed, especially considering how great the fanbase has been and how cute those monkeys are all over the place. I walked around all 30 MLB ballparks in 30 days. This place is the worst. And, for me, it’s not really close. Well, except for perhaps No. 29…


On Sept. 8-9-10, I will be releasing an extensive essay documenting my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit journey of 2015. You can read it and all of my work here: http://wnst.net/author/nestoraparicio/



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Nestor traveled to 30 MLB ballparks in 30 days this summer and is putting them in order. We'll be counting them down from worst to first through Sept. 8 when he'll release a three-part essay on his MLB #GiveASpit leukemia and bone marrow awareness journey.

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Ranking 30 MLB stadiums from worst to first isn’t easy

Posted on 10 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Today, with my 30th ranked stadium in Major League Baseball, I’ll be unveiling – and highlighting – a different ballpark and experience from my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit tour. We’ll be ranking them from worst to first every day over the month.

Much like criteria for various sports Halls of Fame, postseason awards and/or any other smarmy institutional rankings or polls or opinions, this one rests solely on me. I figured if I could rank my Top 50 Bruce Springsteen songs, or U2 numbers or Rush classics, then I could work out the most requested piece of advice or expertise from spending a month of my life on the road chasing baseball.

Along my journey this summer, everyone seemed to ask the same question:

“Which stadium did you like the best?”

And, honestly, when you’re in a different ballpark every night for 30 days, it’s pretty natural to start comparing and contrasting every facet of every place you visit.

My ranking are based on an all-encompassing vibe and mojo. These are my personal rankings. They’re not “traditional” in any way. I put a lot of thought into them and invested the time and money to visit them all and experience baseball in totality in 2015.

I didn’t take as gospel what some broadcaster or “journalist,” who enters through the press gate and rolls up to the feeding room, said about these venues. Instead, I walked through every park – some of them twice – just to see every nook and cranny.

It’s also obvious that every stadium is better with more people in it and fans filling it. Some parks are struggling to get folks to come to the games and many with good reasons across MLB.

Baseball ain’t really so cheap and “family friendly” anymore. Sure, you can score a $5 get-in these days in Denver or Phoenix but there’s a reason these owners are making hundreds of millions of dollars while putting a sometimes “cheap as possible” brand of baseball on the field.

Your TV money (and every neighbor you have) is what’s driving the business of baseball. The stadiums are simply a stage that allows the money to flow.

Some teams – like the Yankees, Tigers and Orioles – have built stadia over the past two decades that are chic, sexy and printing money but they haven’t really captured the spirit and charm of their previous homes. It’s almost been a backward ride for the mojo of the franchise in some ways. For other dumps and cookie cutters like The Vet and Busch Stadium and Three Rivers (which was one of the worst places to watch a game from any sight line), well it was hard to not improve with a new facility.

And the venerable places – and the top two on my list – are old-school stadiums that have renovations that have made them shine even more.

Look, many of these ballparks are lovely. Every community – save for Oakland, Tampa and maybe Toronto, can look their fans in the eyes and say “we have a world class facility that warrants you dropping a bunch of money to see a game in our stadium.”

One criteria I’d use is this: if I were a fan of this team, how compelled would I be to buy a 13-game plan, venture to the stadium and want to spend money at baseball games. I’ve been going to baseball games since 1972. Before Peter Angelos took my press pass in 2006, I did 40 to 60 games a year. Now, it’s more of a “special occasion” for me to go to a baseball game. Especially given the amount of money it costs to spend a summer night at a game if you pay retail and eat inside the park.

The bottom line is this: where is my money good?

In the end, which of these places would make me want to fly back – right now – and do it all over again and watch a ballgame.

There’s a lot of ethereal, intangible qualities in a stadium experience.

In some places – like Seattle, San Francisco, Minnesota – I was held at the top of sections and could only take my seat at the of an at bat. It was forced courtesy. I thought it was superbadass and long overdue at baseball games. I like the hockey rules. You are allowed to move around when the ball isn’t in play. Seems so sensible as to be standard operating procedure. But we’ve all had some idiot walk in front of us just as a 3-1 pitch is being delivered with two on in the mid innings.

In others, you could just feel the charm of the staff. Seattle, Minnesota and Philadelphia most notably – every vendor, ticket taker, staffer – was completely helpful and cool.

“They’re all meant to be different” as stadium architect and expect Janet Marie Smith said to me. “It’s why we love pilgrimages. Every one of the Major League Baseball ballparks is unique.”

In many cases, when I wasn’t swabbing or hanging with a celebrity pal or tweeting up pictures from the ballparks, I was interacting with folks on the concourse. Some nights I was treated like a media member. Some nights the team gave us nice tickets. Some nights we arrived super early to swab people. Some nights – like Washington, Miami, The Bronx in New York, Colorado and both sides of Chicago, which, clearly is not my kinda town – I scalped tickets on the street or Stubhub because the team treated me like a disease or a nuisance. The Cubs-White Sox game at Wrigley was a really pricey ticket and I bought standing room seats for $51 each and we squatted for five innings behind a pole at first base and had a fine time because we weren’t getting pelted by rain like everyone who paid $200 did all afternoon.

This isn’t about taking categories and ranking these 30 nights of my life. I didn’t consider the weird rules for each park or even a ton of the history or periphery outside of the main thesis: “If I were sending you someplace to watch a baseball game next summer, where would I send you first…then second…then third.”

So, here’s my list, starting with No. 30 and counting backward. We’ll release one stadium a day for the next month and there’ll be some notes I’ve assembled about why they’re ranked thusly.

I will be writing at length about all aspects of my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit tour the week of Sept. 8 when we release our No. 1 stadium in Major League Baseball.

My Kerouac tour is complete. I have plenty of stories to tell.

I hope you enjoy the journey…




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Can I see 30 MLB stadiums in 30 days next summer? Only if you #GiveASpit…

Posted on 19 December 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Many have said it can’t be done but my plan is to do it.

In the spirit of the holidays – when dreams are made and shared – I’m announcing my intentions to spend next summer spreading the word about saving lives via the international bone marrow registry. Our WNST.net 30-30 Baseball #GiveASpit National Awareness Campaign in conjunction with the local charity There Goes My Hero, will attempt to travel to 30 Major League Baseball stadiums and see 30 games in 30 days in the hopes of swabbing as many people as divinely possible during the tour, which will conclude at the MLB All Star Game festivities in Cincinnati on July 13-14, 2015.

As you know, earlier this year on March 20, my wife Jennifer was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia at Johns Hopkins. After a gruesome chemo battle including 56 nights in the hospital and a miraculous remission status in May, she received the greatest gift a human being can receive – a new life with a bone marrow transplant on June 26th from an anonymous 21-year old donor from Germany, who saved her life and then wrote her a three-page letter telling her why he did it. “I did this for you because I believe it is our assignment to help people when they need help the most,” he wrote in a letter Jenn received in early August.

You should stop reading this blog now and click here to read his letter.

Now that you’ve read his letter, you can better appreciate our “calling” to do this summer tour and pay his kindness forward to others.

Because I’ve lived my life in the public world of the sports media and have promoted countless charitable efforts and great causes on my local and national radio shows over the years, I want to get on the road and spread the word about the miracle of life my wife received because she had a “perfect match.” When Jenn was extremely ill in the spring, we put together our personal bucket lists of things we wanted to do when she got healthy – reasons for her to live when her diagnosis and her cancer felt the most frightening.

Jenn is now a survivor and we want to pay it forward by bringing national awareness to the power of saliva on a swab by using sports, athletes, celebrities and an old-fashioned barnstorming tour of the first love of my life – baseball and stadiums and ballgames. Seeing all 30 stadiums in 30 days is on my personal bucket list and I want to do it with a cause and put a real face on the miraculous work being done with medicine in beating cancer, leukemia and utilizing the generosity of people on the bone marrow transplant registry.

Simply put, this is what saved Jenn’s life and it’s my mission to save more lives in the coming years.

At this critical planning point of putting together the tour (which begins on June 13 in Baltimore and is highlighted below), we need all of our relationships to come together to make each city tour stop a success and the ability to swab 18-to-55 year-old, healthy folks is critical to saving lives in the future. We will work with local swabbing organizations in each city to “swab” folks for the bone marrow registry and use the hashtag and catch phrase #GiveASpit or #IGaveASpit to create conversation.

Our current plan is to get as much pre-publicity for the tour as possible and build the registry one day and one event at a time. I hope to sit with a local celebrity or athlete and “watch the game” with them in each town while we talk about sports, life, baseball and whatever folks talk about when they go to games.

I already have a few cool commitments from some old friends around the country and I’ll be announcing them as they come in for each town and game. You might want to circle Thursday, June 18 as a special date on the tour. My Philadelphia stop will include the Baltimore Orioles and WNST.net will be doing a bus trip for that game in Philly.

We’re also planning an event in the spring with Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano here in Baltimore to honor Jenn’s donor and folks everywhere who save lives for There Goes My Hero via our many business partnerships and local cancer survivors.

We expect this 30-30 #GiveASpit to be an around the clock, live-streamed, evolving conversation to be shared in social media via our growing Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and website at WNST.net.

It will be a nonstop, moving, baseball marathon and road trip across the United States in 30 days.

We will also be creating traditional radio and video content along the way. It will be a moving travelogue with some good food, cold beer, lots of highways and people and interviews with folks and fans we meet on the road along with a litany of celebrities who’ve joined my radio show at some point over the past 23 years since I started my radio career in 1991.

I’m guessing I’ll be doing some of the best radio of my life and having the time of my life. Seeing old friends along the way is going to be the best part.

I love baseball. I love traveling around America. I love the friends I’ve made along the way. In 2006, I wrote a 19-chapter book about my love of baseball. You can find the links here.

So, this is definitely a “bucket list” trip for me.

I’ll have more details as our sponsors, angels and partners evolve. But I’ll be working on this every day for the next six months to ensure that we can swab as many people at divinely possible along the way and make the tour as effective as it can be.

Thanks for all of the support and #JennStrong love we’ve felt on our journey. It hasn’t been easy. But it’s been rewarding, redemptive and inspiring for me.

I’m doing the best radio of my career. I’m having fun. We’re having a wonderful holiday season with family and friends.

And I’m planning to do this 30-30 #GiveASpit tour this summer to honor my Pop, my wife and people everywhere who save lives and inspire me.

I’m also going to have fun doing it. And we’ll save lives. And that’ll be cool.


There are significant links below with videos and more information about Jenn’s battle and our mission. The 30-day MLB stadium tour is also listed.

Thanks for your friendship over the years and for your generosity and time in making this tour even better and more significant.

Here are some key links to see Jenn’s story and learn about her battle:

To see a video from beginning of her diagnosis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9osOYm7TxU

To see a video of Jenn’s first 100 days of battling leukemia, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p0W6Je0L2Y

To see the incredible letter from her German donor, click here: http://wnst.net/wnst/jennstrong-receives-the-greatest-life-and-love-letter-ever-written-from-germany/

To see her recent speech for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qa97BBgkTc

You can also google #JennStrong and read all about her illness and miraculous recovery: http://wnst.net/wnst/so-my-beautiful-wife-jenn-was-diagnosed-with-leukemia-last-week/

2015 WNST.net Baseball #GiveASpit Tour Itinerary:
Sat. June 13 – Baltimore (vs. Yankees) TBA 248 miles
Sun. June 14 – Pittsburgh (vs. Phillies) 1:35 371 miles
Mon. June 15 – N.Y. Mets (vs. Blue Jays) 7:10 214 miles
Tue. June 16 – Boston (vs. Braves) 4:05 214 miles
Wed. June 17 – N.Y. Yankees (vs. Marlins) 7:05 94 miles
Thu. June 18 – Philadelphia (vs. Orioles) 1:05 139 miles
Fri. June 19 – Washington (vs. Pirates) TBA 501 miles
Sat. June 20 – Cincinnati (vs. Marlins) TBA 461 miles
Sun. June 21 – Atlanta (vs. Mets) 5:10 456 miles
Mon. June 22 – Tampa Bay (vs. Blue Jays) 7:10 277 miles
Tue. June 23 – Miami (vs. Cardinals) 7:10 1103 miles
Wed. June 24 – Texas (vs. Athletics) TBA 239 miles
Thu. June 25 – Houston (vs. Yankees) TBA 779 miles
Fri. June 26 – St. Louis (vs. Cubs) 8:15 373 miles
Sat. June 27 – Milwaukee (vs. Twins) TBA 375 miles
Sun. June 28 – Detroit (vs. White Sox) 1:05 231 miles
Mon. June 29 – Toronto (vs. Red Sox) 7:05 2,580 miles
Tue. June 30 – San Diego (vs. Mariners) TBA 96 miles
Wed. July 1 – Anaheim (vs. Yankees) TBA 355 miles
Thu. July 2 – Arizona (vs. Rockies) 7:40 1,063 miles
Fri. July 3 – Kansas City (vs. Twins) TBA 1,625 miles
Sat. July 4 – L.A. Dodgers (vs. Mets) TBA 371 miles
Sun. July 5 – Oakland (vs. Mariners) TBA 802 miles
Mon. July 6 – Seattle (vs. Tigers) 7:10 802 miles
Tue. July 7 – San Francisco (vs. Mets), TBA 1,264 miles
Wed. July 8 – Colorado (vs. Angels), TBA 1,008 miles
Thu. July 9 – Chicago White Sox (vs. Blue Jays) TBA 414 miles
Fri. July 10 – Minnesota (vs. Tigers) 7:10 414 miles
Sat. July 11 – Chicago Cubs (vs. White Sox) TBA 345 miles
Sun. July 12 – Cleveland (Athletics) TBA 249 miles

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