Tag Archive | "macphail"

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Help Is On the Way

Posted on 19 August 2010 by dmradov99

Pitching has often been the culprit in Baltimore during the dark ages of Orioles’ baseball. Career journeymen, such as Sidney Ponson and Jeremy Guthrie, have often been tabbed with the responsibility of staff ace. This year has been no different, at least at the top of the rotation. Kevin Millwood came to Baltimore via an off-season trade from Texas, looking to bring a reliable, veteran presence to a young group of pitchers. Well, the one-time All-Star has certainly done his fair share of mentoring, but his results on the mound have been disappointing. Millwood has a record of just 2-13, and while wins and losses don’t completely dictate the success of a pitcher, an opposing batting average of .306 certainly points to major struggles.  If there is any consolation to Orioles’ fans, Millwood is now in the final year of a five-year, 60 million dollar contract, and he should not return to Baltimore in 2011.  That being said, Andy MacPhail desperately needs a front-line starter. Brian Matusz appears to be the heir apparent, but don’t expect the 23 year old to dominate major league hitters so soon. Perhaps, the best option for the Orioles looms in free agency to sign a former Cy Young Award Winner.

No, unfortunately, I am not suggesting Baltimore signs Cliff Lee, now of the Texas Rangers. The 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner, he could very well be the best pitcher in baseball today. Thus, he will likely receive upwards of the 161 million dollars that the New York Yankees gave Lee’s former teammate CC Sabathia.  The Orioles lack the recent success to be a serious contender in such negotiations, but, expect the organization to seriously consider the services of 2006 National League Cy Young Award Winner, Brandon Webb.

Known in the world of baseball for an elite sinker, Webb had been excellent from the very start of his career. From 2003-2008, he had thrown at least 180 innings, while compiling an ERA under 3.60. Furthermore, the one-time ace of the Arizona Diamondbacks had been selected to three consecutive All-Star teams from 2006-2008.  In other words, Webb has proven to be a really, really excellent pitcher. The only problem, however, is health.  He had been durable for the bulk of his time in the major leagues, until right shoulder problems ended his 2009 campaign in April, and similar issues have kept Webb out of action in 2010. So, why take a chance on a Disabled List regular in the off-season? To me, the injury could work in the Orioles favor. Webb’s market will be severely limited by unsure front offices. An almost guarantee to command at least 100 million dollars just a few years ago, he would be very fortunate to receive more than 5 million dollars annually in free agency, especially at age 32.

Outside of ability on the mound, Webb is mentioned as one of baseball’s most likable players. He could surely help to continue the maturity of highly touted prospects Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Tillman. Moreover, I don’t expect Webb to turn down a mid-level offer, even from the lowly Orioles. Remember, his current team isn’t much better in Arizona, plus having not pitched in nearly two full seasons, he must be itching to pitch at all in 2011. Clearly, Webb doesn’t want to become the next Ben Sheets, who missed all of 2009 following major surgery, and another opportunity, potentially in the spotlight of the American League East, could finally earn the sinkerballer national attention.

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Here’s Buck…so where’s Peter?

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

As we watch the next press conference welcoming yet another Orioles manager to Baltimore amidst more rhetoric about the farm system, young players and how “tough” things are in the AL East, I’ll be wondering where the owner of the team is to take accountability for this 2010 meltdown.

Now in their 13th year of nonstop losing one thing has remained constant — the man who is responsible for all of this civic tragedy, Peter Angelos, will be absent once again.

And once again, Angelos’ many employees in the media will be front and center to ask their newest co-worker, Buck Showalter, softball questions and lay-ups while the team flounders, the downtown business community decays and the team is 32-73.

Today will once again illuminate the difference between the baseball team and the football team.

When the Ravens hire, fire or take on water, owner Steve Bisciotti shows up for the press conference and sometimes painfully has to accept responsibility for failures at season’s end.

Today, with the Orioles 13 years into a black hole, their owner Peter Angelos and his family will act the roles of cowards and  scarecrows — fingers pointed in every direction except the mirror — and be absent from the front of the company and brand that they’ve systematically wrecked and then profiteered from via the cable TV gods and the ineptitude of Bud Selig and the MLB ownership group.

Baltimore continues to suffer the loss of its baseball heritage and joy.

Today is another stark, clear reminder of why the Orioles are a mess and the city is empty.

And Peter Angelos won’t be on the podium today to answer questions when he most certainly should be.

And WNST.net will be the ONLY media entity that publicly challenges this as unacceptable.

And until the ownership accepts accountability, things will never change for Baltimore baseball.

Let’s hear what Buck has to say about “saving” the Orioles today at noon.

But, really, what difference does it make? Anyone with any sense — and that often doesn’t include the people who are still watching this disgrace nine innings a night, seven nights a week — knows that no matter what “power” was promised to Showalter will soon be proven to be a lie, like all of the rest.

Only one man is in charge of the Orioles and he won’t be present today to answer questions from the real media or his employees and henchmen.

Welcome to Baltimore, Buck. You took the job.

And we all know what happens when you lay down with dogs…

Just because we’re betting against you doesn’t mean that we’re not pulling for you.

The smart money says you can’t fix this, Buck. But you probably already know that.

Of course, it’ll feel a lot better every two weeks when you get your direct deposit check.

But it won’t make you sleep better next May when this broken record gets replayed again and you’re the one in the dugout losing instead of poor Dave Trembley or Juan Samuel.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

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Dear Peter Angelos: When will you fix this disgrace?

Posted on 18 June 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you watching?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s gonna be a long July.

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

And who will be the one to change it?

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Aubrey or Turner should get the Call

Posted on 18 May 2010 by dansoderberg

We’ve seen enough of Garrett Atkins.  It’s mid-May and the Oriole 1st Baseman has yet to homer as has driven in a whopping 6 runs.  Atkins’ lack of production is so shockingly putrid that you almost have to assume there is something physically wrong with him.  Every time he bats he squints like he’s staring into the Sun.  Maybe he needs glasses, or a B-12 shot.

It’s time for MacPhail and the Birds to punt Atkins and find a solution at first base.  There are 2 options at AAA Norfolk; 1) Michael Aubrey or 2) Justin Turner.  In my opinion the Orioles should recall Turner and put him at 2nd base full time until Roberts returns.  Ty Wigginton should shift to 1st, immediately improving the team’s up the middle defense, adding speed to the lineup and providing the team with a more appropriate #2 hitter in Turner.  I’m not saying Justin Turner is leading the O’s to the Wild Card, but he can’t be any worse than Atkins; and anything that gets Wigginton off of 2nd base is an improvement.  The other option would be to recall Michael Aubrey (.802 OPS and 3 hrs for Norfolk) and make him the every day first sacker for the foreseeable future.  When, and if, Brian Roberts returns Wigginton should shift to 1st.  Then in the off season MacPhail should open up his prospect vault and MASN coffers to find a legit, long-term option at first.

I doubt we’ll see Nolan Reimold at 1B for the O’s any time soon.  The club’s handling of the young OFer this season has been curious at best.  Reimold was coming off an achilles injury in the Spring and probably should have been DLed to start the season.  His struggles at the plate may or may not be related to the injury, but he certainly carried those struggles to the field.  They finally sent him to Norfolk to get his swing, and confidence, back to 2009 levels.  The decision to then move him to 1B before he’s corrected his issues at the plate are baffling and hopefully don’t further derail Nolan’s 2010 season.

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Andy MacPhail sums up the failure for the people

Posted on 12 May 2010 by WNST Staff

Here’s the hot off the presses video of Andy MacPhail speaking to you from his lair inside The Warehouse…

Click here for the video link…

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Bud Selig

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Let’s check back in on the “State of Baltimore Sports Media” with Orioles sitting at 2-14 on NFL Draft Day

Posted on 22 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

So this media situation is exactly what I tried to warn everyone about back in February. I spent a week with my “State of Baltimore Sports Media” blogs attempting to take 27 years of my knowledge as a kid from Dundalk who loved sports and journalism and has spent a lifetime trying to build a better platform for integrity and honesty in an effort to enlighten folks about why we think WNST.net is a great way to communicate in 2010.

The Orioles are 2-14.

It’s almost unthinkable — unimaginable given the “enthusiasm” that was sold by the corporate suits over at CBS Radio and the MASN “partners” of a 13-year running sham known as Peter G. Angelos’ Orioles. Don’t worry, the rest of the local media that takes checks from King Peter and the crew aren’t off the hook here, either, for hiding the truth and burying the story about last week’s Ripken blowup.

The Orioles are 2-14 and there’s not a negative word – not anywhere. There’s no call for the manager’s head. The owner – completely unaccountable and in hiding longer than the guy in the cave in the Middle East – never answers questions. The Ripken story has gone away until his camp leaks the next story to Rosenthal, who quite honestly, probably doesn’t need to be called a liar again with his next “scoop” given his 25-year track record of integrity in reporting about Baltimore baseball’s real inner workings.

And the general manager, Andy MacPhail, known throughout Major League Baseball as the heir to the throne of Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig, he of blue-blood baseball royalty, is scratching his head and working day and night with his “media partners” to make sure this Ripken P.R. move doesn’t come back into play again this week while he figures out how to fire Dave Trembley and not have his neck enter the guillotine next here in Baltimore.

Oh, and the team is 2-14 and headed for 12 in a row against the Red Sox and Yankees.

But, really, MacPhail’s true play here is to practice to become the next commissioner of Major League Baseball. His job here ISN’T to win. It’s to MAKE MONEY. And doing that, amidst ridiculous circumstances and an absolutely insufferable owner in a situation where virtually every thinking person in the community has turned its collective back on the franchise that Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson and Cal Ripken built here for our fathers and grandfathers, will show him to be “Commish worthy” when Selig steps aside from his Baseball Digest, typewriter and carrier pigeon and leaves the throne of his $18 million per anum “leadership role” with Major League Baseball.

Bud Selig

Rest assured, Andy MacPhail is doing a great job as far as Peter Angelos is concerned.

MacPhail is printing money, keeping the “media” off Peter’s back and he doesn’t even have to leave the Baltimore home office when the team goes to the West Coast and the manager is under fire and the team is 1-11 and losing in front of no one in the middle of the night.

Get this: while Trembley was out West trying to hold the sinking ship together, MacPhail was back here trying to figure out how to sell Brad Komminsk to the Baltimore fans as the next savior/manager/scapegoat put in an impossible situation where you “can’t compete.”

Hey those aren’t my words, they’re MacPhail’s words as you can read here in Glenn Clark’s blog from Opening Day via USA Today (another Selig mouthpiece, whose “journalists” should be here in Baltimore writing about how Angelos has killed baseball in Baltimore).

And while the team continues to flounder in every measurable fashion except their corporate bank account, which is filled with riches every month when the Comcast check hits their desks over at MASN, the community suffers and wonders if it’ll ever change.

Again, they’re 2-14 and have 12 in a row coming up against Boston and New York. They haven’t played a meaningful game since 1997. There were less than 5,000 people in the ballpark two weeks ago. Last week, there was tumbleweed blowing down Pratt Street. Next week, the city will be overrun with 35,000 Red Sox and Yankees fans for the 10th summer in a row.

This is an Agent Orange, Code Red earthquake, tsunami and volcano simultaneously and NO ONE in the media says ANYTHING.

NEVER!

Companies that are in last place perennially – and again this has been THIRTEEN YEARS of lousiness, never even hovering near mediocrity in any measurable category – should not be siphoning money from people’s pockets via cable television so they can make record profits in the middle of an economic depression while leaving the citizens with a product that shames them when they put on the same cap that Brooks and Frank wore.

With their unfriendly fan habits of jacking up ticket prices on game nights and their consistent lying, hiding and losing, downtown Baltimore will be a ghost town this summer on game nights as this team will clearly never get out of last place.

And yet no one says a word.

Businesses and the downtown business community sit dormant on spring and summer nights as this awfulness continues.

And there’s no columnist at The Sun who will even touch the Ripken-Angelos story with any credible information or investigation. There are no radio pundits or six o’clock news sports anchors who will step up and say the obvious: 2-14 is a disgrace and people should be as pissed as Nestor and the folks at WNST are!

Of course, if they did “speak up” they’d either be fired by their bosses (see: CBS Radio, TV & MASN sleep in) or they’d have their press pass revoked, like yours truly.

Where are the economic impact studies from those geniuses over at The Daily Record and The Baltimore Business Journal? And what about Baltimore Magazine (oh, that’s right, poor Steve Geppi is tied into this mess and it must break his heart as well because no one loves the team more than him)?

Four years after nearly a decade of losing created the Free The Birds movement the first time around — and nothing has changed except the names and the lower payroll and higher profits for the Angelos group.

The Ripken story is actually kind of incredible. In my nearly 27 years of local journalism this is the most baffling situation I’ve encountered and one that really bears watching closely because it will affect a generation of baseball and where the sport is headed in Baltimore.

Ripken lives here. He knows how screwed up it is. He’s not stupid and he’s not weak and he’s not one to “back down.” He wants to fix the Orioles. He wants to own the Orioles. He wants to run the Orioles.

Some think he can – successfully – and many of his detractors think he can’t but EVERYONE agrees his image would be a welcomed addition circa 2010 and it can’t make things worse.

And if he DOES get inside The Warehouse (which would only happen over Andy MacPhail’s dead body, mind you) could he actually survive it?

But at what cost? And with whose rules? And how would it go down if the team STILL continued to lose and treat people poorly even after Ripken got inside the building?

By the way: there’s NO WAY Andy MacPhail will EVER allow Cal Ripken to be a part of the Orioles organization while he’s “in charge.” MacPhail wants nothing to do with any former player of the collusion era of baseball being in any position to see the books of this cash cow.

Ripken was a “good boy” as an Angelos employee from most accounts but was a quiet firestorm of stubbornness in the clubhouse and really “ran the place” and managers in orange always gave him a special set of rules.

One thing you can definitely say about Angelos. In King Peter’s world, HE makes the rules.

His little “love in” with a few reporters notwithstanding last weekend, Angelos doesn’t consider Cal Ripken to be anything special. No more special than Brooks Robinson or Frank Robinson or Jon Miller or any other baseball player or personality who is “just another guy.”

Peter Angelos is making upward of $40 million in profit off the team this year and he clearly isn’t all that concerned about his reputation or pride 13 years into this mess. His words fended off Cal Ripken last week and the rest of the media will just let it go away until someone in the national media drops the next bomb.

In my opinion, Ripken isn’t “going away.”

And neither am I.

I’ll be opining frequently about this topic and I have plenty of information coming to me from various sources and I have a very good feel for what’s happening. And anyone who thinks last week’s leak from Rosenthal was an “accident” or a “lie” is just naïve. (And there’s no argument I’ll make here to make the Kool Aid drinkers believe it, but all of the scuttlebutt between Ripken and Angelos is very, very real.)

So tonight as you watch the NFL Draft (and hopefully drop by to have a chat with our hosts here in the LIVE CHAT anytime after 7:30 and throughout the weekend – Friday we have NFL Draft, Caps & Orioles all at the SAME TIME!) think about my ridiculously long missive back in February.

Here are the five links to my piece. If you’re bored during the draft, I’d be honored if you go back and read them:

And if you haven’t taken our survey, please do so here. (It really helps us make WNST.net better when you tell us what you like and what you hate!)

This weekend as you turn your dial and turn the pages of whatever you’re reading in the paper or on the internet, think about who you are listening to and what they’re saying and who they work for and what side of their bread their boss is buttered on when the team is 2-14.

It’s abundantly clear who is saying what because everyone should be saying SOMETHING when the team is 2-14.

And if they REALLY cared about Baltimore — or they were “friends you can turn to” — would they really keep filling your collective ears with the manure that’s been going on here for 13 years?

Once again, we’re standing up for Baltimore when the corporate media whores tell you lies and obstruct the truth about the Orioles and how devastating and unnecessary this whole mess has been since 1998.

We’re not a part of the problem — we’re a part of the solution, which does not include more years of denial and lies by people like Greg Bader and Andy MacPhail.

We give you the truth. We work hard to bring you the breaking news. We work incredibly hard to source information and make sure the information we dispense is credible and fair. And then we interact and talk with you about Baltimore sports and why we spend so much of our lives immersed in it.

That’s what we’ll be doing all weekend around the NFL Draft.

Have a great draft weekend. I’ll see you in the chat room or on Facebook or Twitter this weekend.

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Cal Ripken & Ken Rosenthal vs. Peter Angelos: Who do you believe?

Posted on 17 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It was only a matter of time. This orange collision course of wills regarding the Orioles and Peter Angelos vs. Cal Ripken finally exploded late last night when Ken Rosenthal leaked a story on FoxSports.com that claimed via several MLB sources that Ripken and Andy MacPhail met earlier this week regarding some kind of employment/partnership within the organization.

Rosenthal: “Angelos, however, nixed the idea in a separate conversation with Ripken, telling him, according to three sources, that he did not want Ripken to receive credit once the team returned to prominence.”

So, what exactly transpired here this week between Ripken and the current Orioles regime? And how did Ken Rosenthal wind up back in the middle of a Baltimore baseball triangle with the owner of the team and Cal Ripken?

As is always the case with Angelos, there’s a “morning after” dispute as to what happened and he has since answered with another one of his famous press releases feigning innocence and an open invitation to Ripken.

Having been through the wars of Baltimore sports media since 1984, I’ve lived through the Rosenthal-Angelos wars of the 1990’s. I saw it all first hand and there was a time when I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure Rosenthal – who was the lead sports columnist for The Baltimore Sun — was telling the truth. I remember Kenny being absolutely vilified back in 1996-1997-1998 when all of these bizarre circumstances were happening around the team every day because Angelos essentially had no clue how to run a baseball team.

And Rosenthal would always write stories with some facts so bizarre that it almost lacked believability in whole. And then Angelos would do EXACTLY what he did today – issue a statement exonerating himself and essentially call Rosenthal and The Sun a bunch of liars. (Angelos would then leak every story — his side anyway — via The Washington Post.)

And, in the end and as the cards played out and the stories were corroborated over the last 13 years, every single word Rosenthal ever wrote was true.

The Orioles are 1-11. Once again, for the 13th consecutive year, another baseball season is over in Baltimore.

Again.

This time it’s even more telling, more shocking to the remaining orange supporters because it’s over before it even started. And all of this has come at a time when even some of the most strident pessimists began to once again believe the team was “heading in the right direction.”

Even I had begun to chill some of the orange Kool Aid in my refrigerator.

It’s hard to argue with the promise of Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz, but virtually every other facet of the organization is still inflicted with the cancer of Peter Angelos and his values, strong will and old-world vindictiveness and deceit regarding everything from the banning of free speech in the media to jacking up ticket prices to taking away scalp-free zones to shunning the legends of the team’s heritage and brand.

Clearly, from the looks of Brooks Robinson’s first pitch last Friday to the bobble head offer that no one is buying regarding season tickets, No. 5 has been given a back rub in some way in recent months. It was only four months ago that Angelos once again rebuked any notion that a statue for Brooks would be built near the stadium. The supporters of the statue idea, led by many of Brooks’ longtime community and business friends, had found a place across the street to erect the monument and had quietly set search for funds to build a nearly half-million dollar piece of civic art.

But that was No. 5, who apparently has built some kind of bridge with Angelos in recent months.

What about No. 8 – the immortal Cal?

Angelos lies. He just does. So any legal-like memorandum that came from his desk on a Saturday morning involving an “open invitation to Cal” is clearly just a lame window dressing to cover his backside. And he’s SUCH a bad liar.

For me, having known Ken Rosenthal for 24 years now, I’m going with his story, which he text me today “speaks for itself” and makes perfect sense.

I asked Rosenthal to chat with me regarding the story. His text? “I don’t want to get into it.” Fair enough, but clearly Rosenthal stands behind his story and it’s sensible enough and it’s not like this would be Angelos’ first blatant lie.

So, how did this whole “story” surface under the byline of Ken Rosenthal while the Orioles are losing games at a near-1988 pace? Who in Ripken’s camp leaked this to Fox Sports and Rosenthal to further embarrass Angelos at a time when his current players are doing plenty to further disgrace and distance themselves from anything that used to be known as Orioles baseball?

That remains in question and what also is unclear is what leverage Ripken’s people hoped to attain by having this story leak via Rosenthal? Was it designed to put pressure on Angelos to answer when the team is once again at rock bottom? (Although, after 98 losses last year, the results say the franchise has only ever really LEFT rock bottom in the fantasyland world of some of the more sycophant followers.)

And if Angelos actually spoke with Ripken this week and told him he’s not welcome, how does it play out for a shunned Ripken now that Angelos has essentially thrown it into his court for a public comment?

(I have a feeling there are some very, very pissed off powerful people here on a Saturday. Angelos’ team sucks on field and isn’t home for a week. Ripken clearly wants these shenanigans to stop because it’s killing his personal brand and hurting the city. And if Angelos told Ripken to buzz off earlier in the week — and we have no reason to believe Rosenthal’s story isn’t legit — then we have one helluva knockdown, drag out about to get underway in Baltimore.)

I’ll be writing more about the 1-11 start – and I’ve been a very, very active voice in all of our online LIVE Orange Crush chats during every game so if you want to interact I’m easy to find there or on Facebook or Twitter – later in the weekend.

But this Angelos vs. Rosenthal cage match intertwined with Ripken-camp leaks has me thinking and writing and scratching my head.

Why did Ripken set out to embarrass Angelos and pressure him publicly by getting a story this white-hot to Rosenthal?

Or did Ripken never want this made public? Or will Cal follow along and dismiss Rosenthal’s story as fiction?

Hmmm….

Let’s be honest. At this rate the baseball season and the Orioles 2010 fortunes look to be a sad, sad tale about to unfold.

And I’m seriously thinking about resurrecting Free The Birds 2010 to continue to put pressure on this lousy owner to change his ways and start to do right by the fans of Baltimore who continue to suffer while he lines his pockets with upwards of $40 million of profit this year from a lopsided partnership with the city and the citizens of Maryland who love baseball and continued to be bamboozled by this awful stewardship of a civic treasure.

The whole disaster of the last 13 years has absolutely sickened me.

Maybe Ripken woke up yesterday feeling the same way.

Otherwise, why would the world know that he and Andy MacPhail had a cup of coffee the other day?

The story that Rosenthal reported was NOT leaked by anyone on Angelos’ side of the fence, rest assured…

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A House of Cards

Posted on 15 April 2010 by garyyclark

There is plenty of blame to go around for the wosrt start the Orioles have had since the 0-21 1988 season that saw manager Cal Ripken Sr. get fired after just 6 games (I think it was 6 if my memory is wrong please forgvie me).  This team is built upon a flawed foundation and like a house built on a bad foundation as you fix one problem other problems crop up.  Until the Orioles re-evaluate the way they conduct business this team isn’t going anywhere.  in the Midst of our 13th losing season this team picked right up where it left off at the end of last season and the season before, and most seasons before that since we started losing. 

We were led to believe and many of us started believing in this team based on the things Andy Macphail has said and done.  Like Rex has said on numerous occasions before this season people were putting too much stock in how good the team was going to be this year.  We needed to be more realistic but that being said I don’t think anyone envisioned 1-8 and it is only going to get worse with the west coast road trip and the yankees and red sox coming.  The Orioles very will could be 4-26 at the end of the first 30 games and if that is the case Dave Trembley will be fired. 

The Orioles foundation is built upon a house of cards.  On the surface at times they appear to be trying.  They have a regional network that is “supposed” to infuse money into the team.  We have a farm system that has gotten significantly better with all of this “young talent.”  We have gotten rid of the “bad apples” that were poisoning the team.  We have a new improved spring training facility that allegedly allowed the Orioles extra time to work on some of those lacking “fundamentals” (ie baserunning, bunting, etc.)  We have a back end of the rotation that is young but was expected to be the strength of the team in a lot of ways.  Matusz looks to be the real deal but Bergesen might never recapture the glimmer of success he had before his injury.  The front of the rotation is another matter all together.  We have a
“can’t miss” player in Wieters comparable to say Evan Longoria.  But the truth of the matter is we are myopic due to the 12 plus years of losing.

We have come to trick ourselves into believing that the Orioles are close to turning the corner in the next few years but we aren’t close we just appear to be close.  And we appear to be close because the Orioles are built upon a house of cards that to the general fan until this disastrous start looked solid.  This start has just exposed many of the problems that still exist.  MASN brings in money but the team still refuses to spend the money necessary to lure the pieces that they need to solidify this team.  Rex discussed in his five part blog yesterday how Macphail started off failing by not getting his man Joe Girardi.  In a lot of ways this illutstrates the Orioles flawed philosophy.  They wanted Girardi, he was available, and the right guy for the job.  Macphail had links to him and he traveled to Chicago to court him.  He did not however offer him a serious contract.  3 Million dollars for 3 years is not a serious offer to a guy that was considered one of the top managers in the game and available.  The Orioles routinely over this period of losing have also bought “affordable” players that were once productive but have seen better days.  We have some serious holes that the Orioles cannot fill with their farm system.  We do not have corner infielders, our second baseman is falling apart and aging, and our shortstop can field but that is about it.  We do have a catcher though.  Evidence of these holes are the Orioles always trying to fit square pegs in round holes.  We are a team of DHs, and guys without natural positions.  I mean we got Atkins for third base and he played that position half a season but he will “work” right?  We continue to put Ty Wigginton in the middle infield even though he cannot field, Mike Gonzales closed for maybe one season and has never really been a solid closer but he should work shouldn’t he? Every one that can hit is a potential first baseman for the Orioles right?  Where is the guy in our lineup who can hit 40 homeruns?  Were is the guy to fear?  Nowhere because we don’t have him. 

Its funny we are so blind that when a guy is average we get excited.  Markakis is a good player but he is not this all star some in Baltimore believe him to be.  Adam Jones he is an all star but every team has to have one right and he was ours…LOL.  Sure he won a gold glove but at this point he looks far from a gold glove centerfielder.  Wieters may be what experts expected him to be but he has a ways to go and by the time he is good the Orioles probably wont offer him a competitive contract and retain him.  The only player right now that I think the Orioles really have that I believe will be good is Matusz.  He looks to be a real pitcher.

So what can be done about this?  Well first I think the Orioles need to go out and get a manager that these cats will play for.  The aint playing for Dave Trembley and are regressing.  Lets face it how can they respect Trembley when the team doesn’t?  If the team thought Trembley was the guy then he wouldn’t have fallen into the job when Girardi didn’t take it and the certainly would have given him more than the one year contract they gave him at teh end of last season.  They don’t think he is the guy and he knows it.  Dave Trembley is a terrible manager.  He is not strategically a good manager.  I know from coaching baseball when a manager makes decisions that cost games or are perplexing the players begin to lose confidence.  Our players lost confidence the day Mike Gonzales blew his first save and the lost even more on the home opener.  The loss the other night that Matusz went into the 8th with a 4-1 lead was probably just another kick in the balls.  These players are dejected an deflated and Trembley needs to go and go now.  And don’t tell me you can’t fire a manager this early because you can.  Remember when the Rockies and Marlins fired managers in mid season?  Remember the results?  They were good if memory serves correct.  While you are firing Trembley fire the coaching staff as well.  Kranitz and Crowley are terrible.  Let the new guy pick his staff.  After you fire Trembley take some of that MASN money and go buy a good manager.  I don’t care what it takes but hire a guy like Ozzie Guillen that these guys will play for.  We need a no nonsense taskmaster that will buts skulls when he needs to.  After that go pay for some of the infielders we need or make trades.  9000 people at your home game the other night tells you we don’t care and you are running out of our money.  I think each passing loss opens the eyes of another apologist.  You wanna make money Angelos than spend some money you cheap bastard.  This is a foundation that has cracks all in it.  It is time to razz this building and rebuild a new one the right way.  Until then we will continue to suck.  We might even be worse then last year’s nationals the way things are going.

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

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My answer: “It begins with Kevin Millwood.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Matusz is real?

If Wieters is real?

If Adam Jones can improve?

If Nick Markakis can remain consistent?

If Brian Roberts’ back can stay healthy?

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

If Tejada still has it?

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

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

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

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

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

My real prediction: 78 wins.

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

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

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Tillman’s demotion a Sign of Progress

Posted on 30 March 2010 by dansoderberg

Flashback to Memorial Day weekend 2006. The Orioles were scuffling, searching for competent starters, and dipped into the Minors to pluck a prime pitching prospect to plug a hole in the rotation. The prospect’s name was Hayden Penn, he was 20 at the time and had made only a handful of starts above the Carolina League. Predictably, Penn was bombed before mercifully being demoted back to Bowie 8 starts later.

Today’s demotion of Chris Tillman to AAA Norfolk signifies a sea change in the Orioles’ organizational philosophy and pitching depth. If this were 2006 the Orioles would have shoe-horned Tillman into the Opening Day rotation regardless of his struggles with command this Spring. The fact is that unlike seasons past the team actually had options this year. This time last season we were looking at a rotation featuring the dregs of MLB: Adam Eaton, Alfredo Simon and Mark Hendrickson.

Fast forward one year later and a young pitcher as talented as Tillman couldn’t pitch his way onto the team. He was beaten out for the 5th starter job fair and square by David Hernandez. Don’t cry for Tillman. He’s 21 years old with a world of talent and a very bright future. He can go to Norfolk, improve his command, and be in the Big Leagues this Summer. But unlike years past, and prospects past, Chris Tillman will have to earn his promotion to the Bigs.

We watched Daniel Cabrera and Adam Loewen struggle for years failing to show progress despite seemingly unlimited opportunity. The Orioles have stockpiled young pitching under Andy MacPhail’s leadership to the point that names like Arrieta, Tillman, Hernandez, Britton, Patton, etc. won’t be rushed to the Majors out of need and won’t be rewarded for poor performance. Tillman’s demotion is disappointing for Chris but it signifies organizational progress for the O’s.

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