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A holiday message to Peter Angelos and the Orioles

Posted on 24 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

The Baltimore Orioles can try to silence their critics today and attempt to ban the free speech of all of their many disgruntled customers and fans from posting angry diatribes on message boards like WNST on the internet, but there’s no getting around it if you’re Peter Angelos today. If you are from Baltimore and love Baltimore sports and you are celebrating any religious holiday from Christmas to Hanukkah to Kwanza to Festivus over the next 48 hours and anywhere from Highlandtown to Hong Kong, inevitably amongst so many family and friends with food and drink and cheer, you’ll be talking about two things:

1.    How much the Orioles suck and once again what a disgrace it is to be an Orioles fan (and/or a MLB fan in general) after this whole Mark Teixeira fiasco

And …

2.    How much fun the Ravens have given us this year and whether they can win this Sunday against Jacksonville and whether they’ll go far into the playoffs and give us the thrill of a Super Bowl again

Clear advantage: Ravens

“WNST” has no control over any of your holiday conversations. There is no “WNST stance” at your dinner table. There are just facts and opinions. Yours and mine. My opinions are listed right here, under the heading “Nestor Aparicio’s blog.” Yours are listed below in the comments and as long as you don’t write like a complete jackass and you’re staying on the topic – which is Mark Teixeira and the Orioles and the Yankees and free agency and baseball or the Ravens and the Jaguars and the NFL playoffs – your unabridged words get YOUR name on it just like mine do. And agreeing with me – or disagreeing with me — is not even remotely part of the equation. Just say what’s on your mind. Write what’s on your mind. And have some sensible, logical argument loaded with facts and documentation to back it up. And as the Ravens would say: “Don’t be a jerk!”

And there’s nothing Peter Angelos can do to ban you from speaking your mind on the internet. (Although I’m not really sure he knows the internet exists based on the Stalinist manners in which the team is positioned publicly by not answering legitimate questions from legitimate journalists about the issues of the team and the economic strife it causes the downtown business community.)

That’s what WNST.net is all about: free speech. And people have really been speaking up on this Teixeira situation. Not just here, but all across the internet and on our Facebook page as well.

The informed and “smart” people are pissed that the Orioles continue to print money with a Wayne’s World television network that we are all funding publicly via our cable bill and then refuse to reinvest our money back into the community via putting a quality product on the field that resembles Major League Baseball. The uninformed (or those who continue to get their “state-run news” from places like MASN, The Examiner, The Sun, Pressbox and CBS Radio, who all are directly funded and thereby controlled by Peter Angelos) will say that Mark Teixeira is a “traitor” and his filthy agent Scott Boras is a rat and did the Orioles dirty all because they refused to take a measly $40 million dollars less to come and try to salvage this disgraceful franchise from itself.

People ask me all the time about the Orioles and Angelos and MASN and being “banned” from asking any legitimate questions about the franchise to anyone inside the franchise. You know, the way I did for 20 years to make a living and feed my family. You know, like a real journalist, which I’ve been since 1984 through both big city newspapers and a variety of radio stations here and across America.

And my answer is always the same: it’s not what I think that’s important. I’m just one voice and in the old world before the breakdown of a “closed” media in America and before the internet, mine was one of a dozen significant voices in Baltimore that could be heard by the masses – four guys via television, four or five sports talk radio hosts and the handful of sports columnists from The Sun.

But over the last few years – let’s say since Miguel Tejada signed here – it’s changed greatly because of the internet and the ability for the “common fan” to speak out on more than just sports radio. And it’s their ability to put their real name and their real pictures with their thoughts. Are you on Facebook? If you are, you know what I mean. (As an aside, if you’d like to blog here at WNST.net, just drop me a note and I’ll do my best to get you started. We’re looking for people who love local sports as much as we do!)

And over the next two days anyone who is from Baltimore and is having a ham or a turkey or an egg nog or some cookies with their holiday cheer will be talking about the Orioles and Ravens. That’s always been a fact, sports and conversations with family during the holidays. But those conversations are now open for the public to view via the internet. Social media is a bitch, like that. There’s nowhere to hide anymore…

It’s not just “that loudmouth from Dundalk” screaming on the radio.

It’s the thousands of people from Owings Mills to Oakland, from Aberdeen to Arbutus, from Hunt Valley to the ‘hood, who feel the same way I do saying the same things I’ve been saying since the firing of Jon Miller and Davey Johnson. Try as they might to make Andy McPhail the “fall” guy on this one, the truth is pretty clear to anyone with a brain: nothing has truly changed in this franchise except for the Baltimore script on the road, gray sweaters.

Because I have created a public forum here on WNST.net I don’t have to speak for the many, many people who are disgruntled. Most of them are like me — disguised summer night after night as empty forest green seats that used to be filled with people from our community who felt aligned with the team and felt a part of a civic bond that brought our parents and grandparents joy in being Baltimoreans and being Orioles fans. It meant something. It meant a LOT. It made grown men by the thousands openly sob when Memorial Stadium was abandoned for Camden Yards over 17 years ago (God, has it really been that long?).

(If you doubt that the “feeling” exists, think about how the Ravens made you feel around 11 p.m. on Saturday night on TV from Dallas or how you’ll feel at 4:15 this Sunday, with your heart pounding and your pride on red alert…that’s what I’m talking about it. When you can feel that way about the Orioles again, you’ll know and recognize it as one and the same.)

Through the comments section of this website and many others (including Facebook, which is amazing), the “little people” get to say what’s on their minds now and it ain’t pretty for Angelos, McPhail and the Orioles. It’s impossible to be an Orioles fan or a fan of MLB without the obvious “truths” slapping you on the skull like a Daniel Cabrera or Armando Benitez floater: THE GAME OF BASEBALL IS BROKEN and has been broken for YEARS! And the Orioles are just terrible at “playing the game” of modern baseball. Whether it’s drafting or signing players or marketing or being good community partners and treating fans, customers, employees and the media with any dignity or respect with truth and honesty, this franchise finds ways of alienating just about everyone consistently.

The community is comfortably numb and has been for years. People are “ho hum” about the Orioles’ inability to get out of the cellar.

This inability to come even remotely close to getting a local boy the stature of Mark Teixeira into a Baltimore jersey – and then blaming it on the agent or the player’s heart or saying “too much money” when the truth is that their efforts to land him were predictably insulting and lame – is Standard Operating Procedure. From Syd Thrift to Mike Flanagan, from Jim Beattie to Andy McFail — you could see this coming a mile away if you are a student of the “Oriole Way” under Angelos’ tenure.

Did you really believe that Angelos and McPhail would find a way to land Teixeira? C’mon…really? I’ll put this in a language Angelos would understand: What precedent would have predicted a victory on this one?

It’s really rather uncanny that they seem to screw up everything all the time, even when they have the money to make a “tipping point” change in the direction of the franchise. Being known as the “anti-Pete” here in Baltimore (again I’m just an educated guy with a voice…most people I meet feel the way I feel), I almost never have to worry about “eating crow” or them ever getting any good anytime soon because when they hit the “Y” in the road of decision – during those pivotal times in the growth of the franchise — they allow occasions like this Teixeira situation to happen over and over again.

(And for the record: I’d LOVE to “eat crow” and watch the Orioles win 92 games next year like the Rays did. Nothing would be better for our city than to have the Orioles win…)

This Teixeira fiasco is what makes them perennially losers, on and off the field, inside and outside the stadium and The Warehouse.

For them to blame it on “money” is just ludicrous. It’s a sick joke, really, that they put $22 million more back into their pockets yesterday all while pointing to the Yankees and MLB and Boras as the “evil villain.” This franchise and the Angelos family and investment group is simply awash in millions of dollars from MASN and the entire premise of the public financing the betterment of the franchise via our cable bills was their civic promise to get better and to compete. On — and off — the field!

And if they can’t compete with the Yankees on the only player of this generation who would actually consider coming to play for the Orioles in the prime of his career and change things for the better and change the public sentiment about whether Angelos really cares about seeing a World Championship in Baltimore before he dies – then why are they even in business? Are they playing for third place in AL East?

Why doesn’t this miserable group just sell the team already and let the healing begin for the city and the franchise? Ya know, FREE THE BIRDS already…

Here’s the real question for Teixeira: if the money had been equal, would he have really signed in Baltimore knowing what he knows about Angelos, this franchise and how unhappy all of its players have been for a decade? Only he will know the answer to that question but – sure — I have my doubts…

(I bet if Cal Ripken owned the team, Teixeira would be an Oriole. But, who wants to take that bet or play that game?)

No doubt about it: the way the Yankees sign players is an outright embarrassment to the game and the fact that their payroll is over $200 million and the Orioles will be $65 million creates a competitive imbalance that is almost impossible to overcome. And that’s with or without a luxury tax. And that’s with or without Teixeira in orange and black. (And you can fill in your Tampa Bay or Marlins feel-good story here, but that’s an anomaly over the course of the past 12 years.)

The real story is this: the Orioles have PLENTY of money. They have been stealing money from the cable companies for almost three years now. MILLIONS of dollars have been lining their pockets simply because the Washington Nationals exist. As much as Angelos fought to keep the Nationals out of the nation’s capital, it’s by far been the biggest financial windfall of his awful stewardship of our civic treasure that’s been so sordidly tainted that it’s almost unrecognizable as Orioles baseball. The franchise has gone from being worth $172 million in 1993 to more than $750 million because of the cashflow of MASN and the undercurrent of cash that the Nationals pay King Peter.

So just what do the Baltimore Orioles stand for in 2009? What is their mission statement?

Are they in business to bilk the public out of tens of millions of dollars via their Mickey Mouse TV network or are they trying to fix the team on the field, bring back enthusiasm for their core product – Major League Baseball – and help the city get stronger on summer nights with a full ballpark and a bustling downtown business community? Are they committed to making their fans proud to put those “Baltimore” sweaters back on or are they presenting lip service by signing Cesar Izturis and saying Teixeira “cost too much”?

I’m honestly not sure what they’re trying to do, other than “save face” when another big ticket ballplayer spurns their “Confederate” money to go to New York and play for the Yankees. And they’re even doing a lousy job of covering up what happened over the past few weeks.

The truth is this: they didn’t really want Mark Teixeira.

Sure, you can harbor all of the anger and resentment you like in the direction of Mark Teixeira. It’s not his mercy mission in life to come and play for the dreadful Orioles who refuse to offer him a market rate salary and then expect him to come here and play for 20% less money and also expect him to be a miracle cure for all that ails this woeful, woebegone franchise. He’s a baseball player, not a martyr. And quite frankly, why should he take LESS money to play for the Orioles, especially when Angelos and the franchise actually had the money to pay him?

Ask yourself – and ask honestly – if you were Mark Teixeira, why would you take $40 million LESS to come play for Peter Angelos when you could go to New York and play in front of the biggest crowds in the best environment and with the best chance to be successful and have fun?

If you were Mark Teixeira, you would’ve done the same thing he did yesterday. You’d be wearing pinstripes just like him.

You really would…

And the Orioles have no one to blame but themselves for allowing this to happen. Peter Angelos had a chance in the last negotiation to attempt to get a salary cap for baseball. Instead, Don Fehr bent him and his buddy Bud Selig and the MLB owners over for another decade of days like yesterday when the best players in the game (ARod, Jeter, Sabathia and Teixeira are the four highest-paid players in the business) opt not only to wear pinstripes, but also to get the most amount of money while they’re doing it.

Instead, six years ago, Angelos fought for social welfare with his own customer base by taking Comcast to court and winning nearly $3 per month from every household in the state. He’s getting paid well over $100 million a year just for having that lightweight television network. He’s been getting drilled in the public forum for years for doing the “wrong thing” with the baseball team and the community. He had a chance to step up and change that yesterday. He could’ve “bought” himself a few years of peace by stroking a check and stepping up and saying, “I’m trying hard and it’s as important to me as it is to you!”

But once again, he’s the fool with the deep pockets. Instead, King Peter “passed” on Mark Teixeira. And he put the money back into his own pocket. That’s just a fact.

And I’m just one voice in a cacophony of people screaming “FREE THE BIRDS” over their holiday meals this week.

And of course, “GO RAVENS” as well.

Merry Christmas. Happy Hannukah. Cheerful Kwanza.

Festivus, of course, doesn’t begin until Sunday at 7…

At least we hope…
P.S. Tell your family you love them this week!

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So…just how many people come to WNST.net every day for Baltimore sports?

Posted on 24 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Every day someone comes up to me on the streets of Baltimore and tells me that I should “turn up the signal” on AM 1570. That’s been going on since May 1998 when I first got involved in purchasing WNST, which was then WKDB, a failed kid’s radio station. As you know, this is the worst time of the year for us, when daylight ends around 5 p.m. and we are mandated by the FCC to “downpower” our transmitter, which restricts our AM radio access to an 8-mile circle around Towson, where our towers reside on the hill overlooking Loch Raven High School.

Maybe you’ve heard our “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” promo on WNST? We did that for a reason. We’re NOT just an AM radio station anymore, as your eyes on this website should surely tell you. We have a lot more to offer than 12 hours of radio these days at AM 1570 on your radio.

(But you’re already here on the website reading this, so that should be pretty self-explanatory.)

Believe me, if we could petition the FCC to get more “hamsters running the power,” we would do it. But we don’t really need to at this point with the website being so robust and so active on a daily basis.

The good news? Since 1998 this thing called the internet has been invented allowing us to stream out live audio anywhere in the world where there’s access to www.wnst.net. And we’ve now taken this website to the point where it’s FAR more than just radio. It’s blogs, news, the text service, WNST on demand via our audio vault where right now you can listen to anything we’ve had on the radio station at your fingertips, WNStv allows us to show you what our eyes see. And much like “calling in” to WNST in the old days, you can post a comment 24/7 to any blog or soon you’ll be able to write your own blogs and share your thoughts, ideas and stories.

And for many people with iphones or high-quality PDAs or phones, WNST.net and all of our programming is available in the palm of your hand. Some of you just don’t know it’s there!

Beginning today, I have made a fundamental change in my philosophy regarding this blog on WNST.net. In the future, I’ll be writing not only about the Ravens, Orioles, Terps and other local sports issues, but I’ll also be blogging here about WNST and the local media market and why our website has become the best place in the community for local sports.

I honestly think we need to re-educate our own WNST people (listeners, users and sponsors alike) about this website and the transcendence of new media in the marketplace. So I appreciate you reading this and sharing this with other people who enjoy WNST’s radio side at AM 1570 on the dial. (Please forward this to anyone you know who also loves what we do at WNST!)

We are in the process of selling local advertising during what is essentially a depression in the marketplace for both advertisers and media. We are trying to grow our AM radio station into a powerful web tool for all of you who love Baltimore and love Baltimore sports.

But we can’t do it without your help and without educating our own users about the new WNST.net.

First, if you own a local business or are involved with a local business that would like to see a spike in their customer base or traffic, we’d love to hear from you. It’s pretty apparent to some but some are oblivious to the fact that we feed our families by selling advertising to local business and having our listeners and readers go to these establishments and patronize their businesses.

Without selling advertising here at WNST, we are out of business. It’s just that simple.

Unlike MASN and some other local entities, we are not given subsidization or “welfare” from the people. Our only stream of revenue comes from the local marketplace and the sponsors you hear on WNST and see on this website.

So, that being said, I’m sure you’re wondering how many people come to our website vs. the rest of the marketplace?

The answer: a LOT more than you think and many more than our competitors would like for you to believe.

Unlike Arbitron’s “fantasy numbers” and lies about how many people WNST has in its sphere, the web is a lot more clear cut, trackable and accurate.

The first thing you should do is go to www.alexa.com. Alexa is “The Web Information Company” and is owned by Amazon. There is no “industry bible” for tracking web traffic but this is about the best and most trusted resource we can find that compares actual websites fairly and accurately around the world. Here is the link to the FAQ’s about Alexa.

You can start with yahoo, google and youtube (they are the Top 3) and go from there. You can put any website in the world into the little box at the top and you’ll get a “ranking” number, kinda like Top 25 polls. Except that these aren’t POLLS or guesses…this is actual daily, calculated traffic to the website over the past 90 days.

In Baltimore, here is the order of traffic and the numbers as of 8 a.m. today (Alexa recalculates every 3 days):

Baltimore Sun is 3,680th in the world (and No. 1 in Baltimore by a lot, as you’d suspect)
BaltimoreRavens.com is 29,089
WBALTV is 34,651
WJZ is 37,337
WMAR is 97,747
WBAL Radio is 99,991
WNST.net is 126,621

It always makes us laugh (or sometimes cry) when we go into a sales meeting and hear anyone in local radio or media talk about their audience as being larger than ours.

It’s just a lie and we need to re-educate people about where the eyes are in 2008 on the internet in Baltimore.

First, here’s a link to the most recent Arbitron fiction, which actually has us beating our sports radio “competitors” at their own game: radio. These are only the “12 and older” numbers, nothing to do with men or sports, where we dominate the marketplace.

WNST is a 0.7
WJFK is a 0.5.

Just facts…

And below is a list of the current state of Baltimore sports on the web. These are all sites that get significantly less daily users according to Alexa, “The Web Information Company.”

Let’s start with other sports-only sites:

MASNsports.com is 210,486
Pressbox is 851,682
WJFK is 765,917
105.7 new sports site is 1,007,508
WVIE is 7,348,136

Again, WNST’s Alexa ranking is 126,621…

Want to compare us to local television?

Fox 45’s – FoxBaltimore.com — website is 300,445

Or how about local radio?

98 Rock is 263,064
WPOC is 327,759
92Q Jams is 389,281
WCBM is 615,560

Magic 95.9 is 1,830,527

WYPR is 1,135,011

WLIF is 1,246,343

100.7 The Bay is 2,836,104

Or local print?

Baltimore Magazine is 337,663

Towson Times is 404,947
These are all older, more “established” media entities that would love to tell advertisers that they have a “bigger audience” than little WNST.

(Ya know, “that little AM radio station no one can hear.”)

Once again, WNST.net’s Alexa ranking number is 126,621. That means we are the SEVENTH largest local entity on the web in the marketplace and No. 1 BY A LOT for local sports-only sites. We were actually AHEAD of WBAL.com overall back in April 2008 before the Orioles killed our spring traffic and the Obama-McCain election summer helped spike theirs.

Our Google analytics show that 62,773 of you came to our website during the first month of its relaunch (Oct. 19th at noon we changed platforms). Our numbers tell us that almost 10,000 of you come to the site every day for your sports news, information and blogs.

And there are now nearly 4,000 of you who receive our text messages every time there is breaking news and information to report. (Like today when the Ravens-Redskins game moved to a 8:15 start on Dec. 7.)

I just wanted you to have the facts.

This is only the beginning of many blogs and the dispersal of information that quite frankly, if we don’t tell you you’ll probably never know.

WNST.net is a lot bigger than you think!

Please share this with anyone you might think would care to know about WNST or some folks in the marketplace who might want to advertise and hear their name on WNST Radio or see their coupon and logo and offers on WNST.net.

We can’t keep producing the best content and highest-quality programming and information without the community.


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Harbaugh’s handling of C-Mac situation is suspect

Posted on 23 October 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

So this is where new head coach John Harbaugh is learning the pain, instead of the joy, of being an NFL head coach.

There are only 32 of these jobs in world – captains of America’s favorite sports teams – and each of them brings a unique management structure and issues way beyond football. It’s about a LOT more than just drawing up the X’s and O’s and having a whistle on a string and being a gameday strategist.

It’s truly a VERY-high profile corporate C.E.O. (and babysitting) position and when this week’s “off the field” activity of Chris McAlister and Terrell Suggs has led to the “on the field” benching of the team’s highest-paid player and resident passive-aggressive cornerback, unlike at Legg Mason or Aerotek, the media asks the questions the fans (customers) want answers to and they expect a straight answer.

Or, like the other night on WBAL, some big-monied sponsor can call in directly to the coach to try to get an honest answer.

And, honestly, as much as we realize the Ravens do have some rights to the privacy of their employees and how it’s handled, we don’t want to be lied to either. I get that discipline should be a private matter, but don’t pass off the disciplining of a player as an injury, a lack of talent or a dress code issue.

Sure, if you’re Harbaugh or Joe Six Pack Ravens Fan, you’d like to think that guys who are making millions of dollars as players and have all of the talent in the world would just show up and graciously do their jobs. Especially for the amount of dough and the lifestyle they get to live. Forgive us for thinking that they’d actually consider 100% effort and winning football games the REAL priority in their lives. But, as my 24 years of doing this professionally as a media member has taught me, that’s not always the case.

Unfortunately, Harbaugh didn’t inherit a room full of professionals and choir boys when Brian Billick was fired. He inherited every problem Billick had and is doing the job for a third of the price and without nine years of experience dealing with it and trying to overcome it.

And Harbaugh is doing it pretty well if the only thing matters is the record: they’re 3-3, which is plenty good enough for me.

But the same problems that Billick dealt with differently or privately are now – as predicted here months ago –squarely onto the new rookie coach’s shoulders to address. The radio shows, the mudslinging, the “X” factor of off-the-field shenanigans along with Ray Lewis in his walk year thinking money, a rookie quarterback who’s learning as he goes, the various injuries, personnel issues, egos, etc. All the same crap that goes on in YOUR office, except that these guys aren’t as smart as they think they are, all are making a lot of money and are famous and every week a three-hour soap opera plays out on Sundays and you either win or lose.

And the city all talks about it (which is why they make the big bucks) and asks lots of questions, some of them a little “uncomfortable” for private matters such as human resources and employee behavioral issues.

And, as the coach, you have to answer for EVERYTHING. That’s the deal.

The NFL’s pretty straightforward like that. Win, and all is well. Lose, and well you’re where Mike Nolan or Brian Billick or Scott Linehan or Lane Kiffin are and where Marvin Lewis and some others might soon be.

Oh, and the owner is ALWAYS right. Just ask Al Davis or Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones.

The Ravens are 3-3 and playing decently for the most part, especially considering the injuries, rookie quarterback and lack of depth combined with aging players in key spots. I’m a HUGE Ravens fan. I’m perfectly pleased with where the team sits at this point. As a matter of fact, I’m more than mildly shocked that it’s gone this well.

Harbaugh has done a nice job by any measurement. The team is fun to watch, like a box of chocolates, Flacco is likeable, Ray Lewis is playing his ass off…it’s been a fun year so far!

So far, they’ve played five very good games and laid one turd. The turd just happened to be a road game in Indianapolis (and if you’re from Baltimore just the word “Indianapolis” has its own connotation) against the best player in the league in Peyton Manning. It happens. Many of the “good” teams in the league have gotten walloped already.

The team could easily be 5-1. But they’re not. They’re 3-3 and in decent shape to make a surprising playoff run over the next few weeks if they can beat some turd teams (Oakland, Cleveland and Houston). These are winnable games against current 2-4 teams. If they are going to go 10-6 and be a wild card, they’ll need to win at least two of these three. With the pending matchups against stronger NFC East teams at the end (not to mention Steelers and Jaguars), the wins must come now for any hope. The colder it gets the harder the schedule gets.

So it’s here where Harbaugh’s leadership is going to make or break the season. It’s not even Halloween but the cat’s out of the bag and the malcontents and loose-lipped rabble rousers are coming back to the forefront by saying and doing stupid things. Billick, essentially, was fired for this stuff happening (and the offensive woes, of course).

Chris McAlister not wanting to work out and/or practice and have the ability to run loose in Baltimore or miss meetings on road trips.

Terrell Suggs going on radio shows and throwing the starting quarterback under the bus.

Ray Lewis screaming for money. (We’re about 10 weeks away from that…trust me!)

It’s Harbaugh’s baby to deal with now, and despite the relative prosperity of 3-3, the baby is crying so to speak.

I think we’re all hard-pressed to believe that with Frank Walker and Fabian Washington as starters in the secondary for the remainder of the season, the Ravens will finish 10-6 and be a playoff team.  And we’re not at all hard-pressed to think that they’re not “outworking” or “outhustling” or “outstructuring” McAlister from Monday through Saturday.

McAlister is a pain in the ass to manage for them, no doubt, but he’s one of the most significant players in the organization. How do I know? Well, they’re paying him $8 million so I’m assuming they think he’s significant, too.

In my opinion, thus far Harbaugh has really botched this McAlister situation and continues to show his “green” side with every answer to the media. He seems as though answering these questions is a field of mines. And perhaps, if you keep changing your story every other day, it is.

Either Harbaugh’s getting bad advice or isn’t taking the good advice he’s been given. On Sunday after the game, it seemed like he didn’t even consider that the question was coming about McAlister when by the organization’s own admittance, he knew this was coming last Wednesday.

So, now four days later, we in the media have heard more conflicting stories, excuses, doubletalk and curious explanations to fill any reporter’s notebook (or fans’ water cooler) with head-scratchers.

If the Orioles gave answers like these – and they have before and apparently will continue to do so as well – I’d be laughing. Or writing these blogs of criticism/straightforwardness.

I don’t understand why there wasn’t just one story: the truth. And that is that McAlister is acting like a turd and isn’t doing what he’s supposed to be doing so he isn’t playing. Oh, and it’s a PRIVATE matter. He’s been bending team rules and we’re spanking him until he gets his act together.

There? Is that so hard? Some old-fashioned, “Hard Ass” love for the baller from Pasadena!

They didn’t fine him. Or suspend him. And they certainly didn’t want the NFLPA breathing down their necks like what’s happening in Cleveland with their resident talented malcontent, Kellen Winslow. (The league seems full of them, with PacMan Jones, Chad Johnson, Terrell Owens, etc…I guess if they “shut up and played” perhaps we’d have less interest?)

But I certainly can’t ignore what I’m hearing and seeing this week.

So far, we know:

* McAlister didn’t like Harbaugh’s practices in Westminster and there were reports of some words
* McAlister had a knee injury – or not – during training camp
* McAlister played pretty decently the first four weeks of the season (certainly nothing to think he was benched solely on “merit” for the first five games)
* McAlister allegedly missed a meeting in Indianapolis on Saturday, Oct. 11
* McAlister played “below par” in Indianapolis on Sunday, Oct. 12 (but so did the whole team)
* McAlister was told on he wouldn’t start in Miami on Wednesday, Oct. 15
* McAlister was inappropriately dressed (among other things) before the game in Miami on Sunday, Oct. 19
* McAlister played sparingly against the Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 19

There are various other factors, rumors and pretty-well substantiated issues regarding McAlister’s off the field activities and work ethic. And the show he put on in the lobby of the team hotel with those three girls in front of $18 million dollars worth of corporate sponsors was biblical. Only a fool could be around the team a significant amount of time and not notice people’s whispers and gossip. It’s just a fact of life. His teammates have gone to media members (and each other) at various points for years with negative comments about him, his work ethic and chicanery.

He’s a super smart guy but a bit of a Lone Wolf. Personally, I’ve never had a problem with him (I actually kinda like him for the most part although I wouldn’t hire him to work for me) but I’ve known better than to ever count on him. I’ve enjoyed our conversations over the years because I think he’s so intelligent. And I’ve clearly known how other people feel about him. Most would just say he’s “unreliable” or “inconsistent.” But I wouldn’t say he’s a “bad person” at all. But some have questioned his character, for sure.

But the answers and the list of reasons the team has given to the media for him not being on the field on Sunday – not just me or WNST but the entire media position on this – has smelled like four-day old fish.

It’s more weird and kinda paranoid than anything I’ve seen recently and I’m kinda shocked that Harbaugh hasn’t been more transparent.

Geez, if they’re actually disciplining Chris McAlister for his off the field behavior there are many in the organization would say: “It’s about time!”

On Sunday, the question was: “Is Chris being disciplined?”

Harbaugh said:

“No (he was not being disciplined). Not at all. Chris has played well. I’ll tell you what, Chris has really worked hard this year to work through the knee. We’ve talked about the knee a lot. It hasn’t been a situation where it’s an injury but it is a knee that has had some wear and tear on it. And we think if we can manage the packages from here on out…It’s not a matter of starting or not starting it’s what packages we put him in where he can be most effective for us. Which helps his practice reps a little bit which keeps him as effective as he can be on Sunday because you’ve got to practice all week to be effective on Sunday. But we can’t overload that knee. Whatever package we’re in next week, he could be out there starting next week. And that’s what it really comes down to. We’re always going to put our best package on the field.”

Later, when pressed ever-so-gently by Brent Harris:

“Chris is a professional. Chris is always going to want his role to be expanded and there’s no reason to think that next week his role won’t be expanded. It’s going to be whatever Rex determines it’s gonna be as far as what’s best for our football team…Chris is a good example of what happened to our football team (after Indy loss)…Chris came back and had a great week of practice last week and there’s no reason he’s not going to have a good season this year.”

On Monday, he told WBAL this:

“I can’t speak to stuff in the past. I’ve had a chance to get to know Chris over these months that I’ve been here. Chris is a good person. We’ve got a really good relationship and I respect him a lot. As far as the dress for the bus it was wrong. It was a mistake. It’s been addressed.”

Being asked about playing vs. the Dolphins:

“He WAS playing last week. The term ‘benching’ I’m not sure exactly what that means. He was in our packages last week. We talked about it yesterday and it’s obvious and clear cut. You put the best 11 players out there for the package. We put the best players out there in the coverages . That’s what a football decision is.”

So, McAlister isn’t one of the best 11 players on the defense? C’mon, Harbs?

I just wish that Harbaugh would give me and you and everyone one story: the truth.

He’ll learn that the truth ALWAYS comes out and making the media “guess” or thinking we’re not going to ask questions (or that the fans won’t ask questions) about his $8 million a year franchise starting cornerback being on the field for eight plays in a pivotal road game is just foolish.

So, it’s kind of a “pick three” message from Harbs:

1.    (Miami Sunday) McAlister is injured, but he’s not really injured.  But it’s not a discipline issue. And he’s practiced and played really well. But he’s not one of our best 11 players.
2.    (WBAL Tuesday) He should’ve dressed better in Miami but I like him a lot. Rex Ryan made the decision. He wasn’t “benched” after starting for nine years in the league, but he only played eight plays.

Or, perhaps the truth:

3.    He’s not doing the stuff that we need him to do or living his life in a fashion that we agree with and it’s contributing to hurting our team overall even though he’s one of the most important guys on the team. We can’t have him acting like a jack ass any more. It’s hurting the team. And sitting his ass out ought to be a message to him – and the rest of the team — to shape up or ship out. The team comes first and we can (and will) win without him!

Or at least they’ll try to if they can’t get him to fall in line. Which is, I guess, where they are now. They’re going to try to win without him. Or not. But maybe that will change before Sunday, who knows?

This is Coach “Hard Ass” – and I say that as a compliment, in some respect — doing it HIS way. And, apparently, Rex Ryan is also at the heart of this decision.

Let’s see if it works.

Because, in the end, what he tells the media and the fans doesn’t have anything to do with whether they’re going to win football games over the next 10 weeks.

Or does it?

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Brian Billick joins the WNST family as an owner and partner

Posted on 04 September 2008 by Nestor Aparicio



Baltimore’s WNST Sports Media announces the formation of a new media sports endeavor turning WNST-AM 1570 radio into WNST.net, a place where fans of all Baltimore sports teams will turn online for sports information, news, feedback, expert analysis, participation and social networking. Former World Champion head coach Brian Billick is a key member and contributor to the new partnership, led by company CEO Nestor Aparicio.

Next week’s launch of the all-new WNST.net will transcend all other local media outlets in the marketplace as a one-stop place on the web to talk, chat, hear and see all that Baltimore sports has to offer. WNST.net will essentially be an around-the-clock sports newspaper, and a complete radio and television “on demand” home for the most robust collection of authentic and user-generated local sports content.

Specializing in news and analysis of the Ravens, Orioles, Terps and other participatory local sports from recreation councils to high schools and local colleges, WNST.net seeks to be the preeminent home on the web for anything and everything pertaining to sports in Baltimore and Maryland. It hopes to bring together all local sports enthusiasts into one community with freedom of speech, local authenticity and quality and depth of opinions and analysis.

WNST – the acronym stands for “We Never Stop Talking” Baltimore Sports – is a 10-year brand that began as an AM radio station led by Aparicio’s ownership and fueled by his local passion. WNST-AM 1570 will continue to thrive and serve as the audio focal point for all of WNST.net’s future marketing endeavors with all radio content being made available online via podcasts.

“After nine great years in Baltimore, my wife Kim and I knew that Baltimore is where we were going to stay,” said Billick, who will blog regularly, do three weekly radio segments as well as a live local radio show in the community on the first Wednesday of each month on WNST-AM 1570. “I can’t think of a better way to stay in touch with the passionate football fans here in Charm City than to share my opinions and observations about the game we all love. And, I can’t think of a more authentic forum to do it than with WNST.”

Aparicio, a former sportswriter for The Evening Sun, has been a tireless follower and advocate for Baltimore sports fans for his entire life and has shared his love of local sports with other fans on Baltimore radio since 1991. Billick coached the Ravens for nine seasons, leading the team to a World Championship in 2001 in Super Bowl XXXV and will be working with Fox Sports nationally during the 2008 NFL season as a game analyst.

The two met in Minnesota in early 1999 prior to Billick’s tenure as Ravens coach, and Billick penned the foreword to Aparicio’s 2001 chronicle of the team’s championship season called, “Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac.” Their relationship and mutual love of Baltimore sports, football, business, media and the local community spawned this partnership.

“This isn’t about Brian or Nestor or WNST or the current state of ‘old’ media as much as it’s about Baltimore sports fans having an honest and easily accessible place on the web to share their mutual love of the community, Baltimore sports and outline the fun of being a fan or a participant in local sports,” Aparicio said. “We’re building an online sports media property that in the future will be the way local people communicate and interact, with local sports and the local teams being the focal point. And we’re doing this at a grassroots level that no out-of-town conglomerate could possibly attempt. We are thrilled to have a partner with the substance, intellect and benevolence of Brian Billick.”

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Ed Reed talks about his injury

Posted on 29 August 2008 by caseywillett

Ed Reed is fast, but today he was not fast enough to escape the media in the locker room. Actually Ed was very gracious with his time and shed some light on his injury. You can listen to the whole interview in the audio vault, but here are some of the highlights:
On how he is feeling
Reed “Right now I am still day today, hopefully I can get back, but health is more important right now. It is a long season and I feel like the team is going to need me more down the line than earlier and having to get hurt or something like that and can’t play again. Right now we are just taking it day to day.”
On exact injury:
“It is a nerve impingement and couple other things going on in there, some soreness, tightness, or what not. Just trying to loosen it up and take it one day at a time.”
Is injury in neck or should or both:
“It is both”
On if he would have to have surgery:
“If I had surgery now, you all would not be interviewing me ever again. If I had surgery, I would not be playing anymore.”
On if injury limit’s causes his arm and shoulder problems:
“You see me; I get a little jiggy man (then does a dance). It is a little bit more in depth than that. It is something I just have to deal with. It will not go away, but I can do some things to prevent a lot.”
What he has done to get treatment for injury:
“I have traveled to North Carolina, Detroit, New Jersey, doing treatments. It has been tough I have been to different places, Miami doing treatment. It is just making sure it is getting right, seeing every doctor that you can possibly see to get it checked out to make sure there is nothing catastrophic that can happen, that is what I was really taking care of.”

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My thoughts on Ravens injuries

Posted on 27 August 2008 by caseywillett

Here are a couple of my thoughts as it relates to some of the Ravens key players who have not practiced:
          Ed Reed – I have been saying for several weeks and will continue to say that I do not think you will be seeing Ed Reed to start the season. I find it interesting from the point that Ed has still not had contact in any of the team drills, and has not been seen during the media portion of practice the last couple of days. Now could Ed be coming out after the media goes in, sure, but I do not know that Coach Harbaugh would try and pull one over like that. I am still sticking to what I have said all along; there is more to this Ed Reed injury than what we are hearing. If I was a gambling man, the only #20 you will see week 1 versus Cincinnati will be someone wearing it in the stands.
          Kelly Gregg -is another injury that has really had me interested the last couple of weeks. Kelly has been out for the majority of training camp and all of the preseason games with a knee injury. Coach Harbaugh said yesterday that he is optimistic that Kelly will be ready to start the season. I do not think Kelly will be ready to start the season. I do think you will see him at some point during the season, but for how long? Kelly not practicing and not playing just makes me wonder how is he going to be ready for September 7? Again I just have questions about his availability to start the season. (*UPDATE: The signings of Marques Douglas makes me think that there are questions about Kelly Gregg for the season)
          Kyle Boller – early indications are that Kyle has a shoulder issue on his throwing arm that could be severe.  If that is the case, this could be a huge blow to the offense, as crazy as I know that may sound to people. I think Kyle is a very good backup, and regardless of who started this year, would be needed at some point in time. I am not very optimistic we will see Kyle.
          Todd Heap – I have no concerns that Todd will be ready to start the season. I think some people are out of their minds for calling him injury prone like he has missed a ton of time due to injuries every year. He has played in every game 4 out of the last 6 years.
          Willis McGahee – I am not sure what to think about him. Some days you see Willis and he looks like he could go out and play that day, yesterday he had more of a limp than I have seen him with all of camp. If I had to say right now, I would say that Willis does not play in week 1.
          Chris McAlister – Again, much like Willis, McAlister makes you wonder almost every time you see him. One day he looks like he is ready then a day later he doesn’t, then next think you know he is out at practice. I will say I think McAlister is ready to start the season, but have concerns about how his knee holds up throughout the year.
          Dan Cody – I know this might sound like a broken record, but I think this year is the year Dan Cody makes it. I had a chance to catch up with him yesterday for a pretty lengthy 1 on 1 which you can find in the audio vault.
          Derrick Martin –Derrick suffered a shoulder injury during the Vikings game and has been out ever since. Derrick has not been in the practices with the team since the injury, and I think has to be a concern going into the regular season. Derrick I felt really solidified his place on the team with a solid camp and preseason. Now he still has a little incident at an airport to get cleared up, but the league will handle that.

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Ravens Camp 8-11-08

Posted on 11 August 2008 by caseywillett

It has been news worthy day here at Ravens training camp;
          Prescott Burgess and P.J. Daniels were both place on injured reserve today. Burgess, who missed eight games with a hip injury, is out with a broken wrist.  P.J. Daniels is out due to a separated shoulder. P.J. was on 53 man roster all of 2006, but was inactive for every game. He also missed the 2007 season with a hamstring injury.
          The Ravens parted ways today with 2005 5th round draft pick Justin Green. Justin never scored a touchdown with the Ravens while totaling 4yds rushing in 39 games while having 13 catches for 65 yards.
          Ed Reed discussed his shoulder injury today when he meet with the media and said that there is more to the injury than what is being told. I have said all along that there is more to Ed’s injury than what is being told, and Ed basically said the same thing today. You can listen to the audio in the audio vault on the website
          Willis McGahee is in Florida to have his left knee scoped to “clean it out” as Coach Harbaugh put it and to see exactly what is going on with his knee. There is no word as to when Willis will return to practice.
          The Ravens also added two new players this morning in defensive lineman Darrell Campbell and linebacker Terrence Melton.
          The offensive line took another hit this morning when Mike Kracalik left the field with a trainer while holding his left hand.
          Adam Terry, Haloti Ngata, Dan Cody, Dan Wilcox, and Chris McAlister were all working out on the side today during practice and look like they could be getting closer to returning to practice with the team.
          The Ravens will end training camp as it relates to fans and media on Thursday. Friday is closed to the public and media as it is a walk thru for the players

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Ravens Q&A

Posted on 06 August 2008 by caseywillett

Since the Ravens are closed to the public and media for a walk thru/ travel day, I thought today would be another good opportunity for a Ravens questions and answers blog.

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When will Suggs show ? No reason to show for fans tomorrow morning

Posted on 29 July 2008 by caseywillett

So today the discussion of when Terrell Suggs will return to camp came up among members of the media. Several people said next week some said the last week of the preseason. So here is my prediction, August 18th.
I pick that day, because the Ravens will have just finished playing their second preseason game versus the Vikings and will have ended camp that Friday, Aug. 15th. That is the day that makes sense to me. Suggs would have missed all the fun and not so fun things that comes with training camp, yet be back in time to play in the last two preseason games and be at the facility in Owings Mills everyday.
So there is my prediction Monday Aug 18th, I think Terrell Suggs will return to the Ravens.
– Tomorrow’s morning session of practice is closed the public, as it will only be open for special invited guest. They will however have an afternoon session starting at 2:45.

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Ravens Q&A time

Posted on 24 July 2008 by caseywillett

With today being a day at training camp that is off limits to fans and media, I thought this would be an opportunity for readers to submit questions and I will answer them as they regard the Ravens. This again will be a weekly and sometimes twice a week blog I will have here on the website.
Here are a couple of notes from late yesterday evening:
          Willis McGahee appeared to be in better shape than what he was when he was in town for the mandatory camps.
          Chris McAlister may be the happiest guy to be back at camp. Chris was smiling and joking with the media about how much he loves us, saying hello to everyone that works for the Ravens or the Best Western that was within 100 feet of him.
          Ray Lewis was wearing a new shirt he came up with. Ray usually has shirts that say Team 52 on the front. In the past on the back slogans such as Prayed up have been on there. Yesterday it said T52 on the front and Heart of a Lion on the back.
          As was predicted and I wrote last week, Terrell Suggs did not report to camp yesterday.
          Although it is called an Administrative Day today, the Ravens will have meetings most of the morning than a practice this afternoon. Reminder today is closed to the media.
          People at S.A.F.E. might want to learn what Ravens coaches and players look like. I can not count the amount of times over the last two days that coaches, players, and even veterans reporting have complained about getting interrogated by the security at the team hotel. The fact that someone had to verify John Harbaugh was the coach to let him into the hotel is crazy. Several of the coaches either walk or run from practice back to hotel and a couple of gotten stopped by security asking them for identification.
          John Harbaugh is so much about the team and not letting one person have the spot light, I wonder if he will allow the usual King Ugly contest to take place this year?
          Tomorrow morning will be the first time fans and media will get a chance to see the entire 2008 Ravens team on the field at 8:45 a.m. Of course Terrell Suggs will not be there as well as Samari Rolle as he prepares for his fathers funeral.
          It was funny yesterday to see several of the defensive veteran players walk in and run into Dan Cody and ask him what the practices have been like and have then been hitting and trying to get the details on what to expect. They were reminded that there was only 25 players there so there was not a lot that they could do.
          If I was taking a prediction, I think Dan Wilcox and Demetrius Williams, both start out on the physically unable to perform list (p.u.p.). I don’t think they will stay on it long, but it will allow them a week or so to recover to get back onto the field.
So fire away with any questions you might have.

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