Tag Archive | "mike"

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Happy 5th Anniversary to my Free The Birds friends who want change for Baltimore baseball

Posted on 21 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been watching the Baltimore Orioles since 1973 and I’m not sure any of us could’ve predicted what this franchise was to become back in the late 1980’s when Camden Yards was built, our city was starved without football and the Colts had split town.

It’s amazing now because most of the people in my company and many of you reading this under the age of 35 do not remember the Colts at all. Or a time when there was no purple. Or when there was no shiny stadia downtown that we all take for granted.

I watched William Donald Schaefer fight for all of this. I watched John Steadman politic and report through all of this as a colleague and a kid at The News American. I watched the first shovel go in the ground downtown. I was at that magical game in 1988 when all of this civic planning was announced on the backend of an 0-21 start that invigorated the renaissance of not only the Orioles but this community as a whole. I wrote more than 75,000 words on this topic five years ago. You can read all of it here…

I was there for all of it. I’ve got some perspective on just how incredibly foolish this all looks – the Orioles who drew 3.6 million people now barely getting a legitimate 1 million people through the turnstiles from the interior Baltimore community. Let’s face it: if it weren’t for a few tourists and 18 games a year against the Red Sox and Yankees, the place would be empty every night. Even on nights when they give away bobbleheads and orange T-shirts, they don’t have enough productive players to even get the promotions right. How many years in a row will they hand out an item for a player who isn’t even on the team?

Sheesh. Starting with all of the craziness of Peter G. Angelos in 1993, I could write a f**king book.

Well, actually, I did…and it’s all right here.

The civic devastation and their annual derelict status in the AL East (and in all of sports, really) makes them so insignificant as to not even be criticized by most national media and the locals are never going to say a word while their companies collect advertising checks from Angelos, via MASN or the Orioles.

The black cat is out of the bag – there’s intense financial greed behind that legal façade of Peter G. Angelos and that’s just fine, I suppose, if your audience participates in the Fantasyland charade of the Orioles attempting to compete to win a championship in Major League Baseball.

The Orioles are funded by you — the cable television buyer. You give your money to them – specifically MASN — through a third party. I bet if you got a bill every month for a couple of bucks from MASN – and it were optional – you and 99% of the state of Maryland would opt to NOT have MASN.

The same way I opt to not have Sirius radio, an IPad or a newer car.

I don’t like anything about the fact that $3 a month of my money goes directly to Peter Angelos under some mystical civic umbrella and trust that he’s investing it back into making the Orioles a better baseball team for the citizens of Baltimore.

That’s clearly not happening these days.

And that’s not my lie. That’s from Angelos himself. Here’s the direct link to our friends over at Pressbox, who take a check from Angelos and get “inside access” and get to ask questions once every decade. This is from 2006 when the Greek God of Losses told Stan Charles that MASN would change the team’s fortunes via increasing the payroll.

Instead, Andy MacPhail came out from underneath a rock in New York and came to Baltimore to quell the insurrection and help Mr. Angelos better understand the way to the profitland of Major League Baseball. Just like he did for many years for the Tribune Company and the Cubs, who now are entangled in the ownership of The Baltimore Sun.

It’s amazing how most Baltimore sports fans in town have no idea how the business of baseball and MASN and free agency and the MLB draft all work. Angelos clearly preys on the naïve nature of the local sports fans who are being fed the new “company line” that MacPhail has parroted through all of his worthless years here in Baltimore: “We just don’t have enough money to compete with those evil teams in Boston and New York.”

My other McFail favorite is this one: “We’ll grow the arms and buy the bats.”

Yeah, what bats? Mark Reynolds? Garrett Atkins? Cesar Izturis?

I can’t imagine that we’ve seen the end of the Orioles demise or the bottom of the proverbial barrel in this macabre tale of “How to Wreck a Baseball Franchise for a Local Community.” Given the state of the franchise and the fact that they’ll be looking for another “leader” who’s given “full control of the baseball operations” in two weeks, it’s pretty apparent that Angelos and the Orioles will still be big spenders of Syd Thrift’s “Confederate money” this offseason.

Angelos clearly bunkered down five years after Free The Birds. He was angry. He was humiliated. He took my press pass. He issued an edict to every member of the franchise to treat me like a pariah, even though it’s pretty clear that I love the team more than any of those people because I’m willing to face the hard reality and 14 years worth of facts.

Sure, Baltimore came back on the home jerseys a few years (I told Drew Forrester then that it was an empty gesture that wouldn’t improve the team) and Andy MacPhail was brought in to stabilize the organization (at least in the minds of the fans) and put a set of spectacles on it so it could look semi-legitimate.

Everything has been fine since Sept. 21, 2006 except for the fact that the team never won, stars haven’t emerged and accountability continues to be non-existent. Oh, and the fact that the man running the team at the time killed himself a few weeks ago.

The death of Mike Flanagan would be a tragedy anytime, anywhere. It’s a story that’s among the saddest I’ve ever heard as a Baltimore journalist. But amidst his suicide, there’s a story that must be told of his relationship with Angelos, the Orioles and the Baltimore fanbase.

Someday I might be the one who tells that story. But for now, I continue to grieve his loss with his family and attempt to help them heal.

Flanagan’s death has made my phone ring off the hook with former teammates, loved ones and people in the baseball community who are reaching to me to find out what happened.

I know a lot more about what happened than what I’m telling out of respect to Flanny’s family and loved ones. But I know the truth. And the truth should and will be told at an appropriate time.

And, rest assured, the truth isn’t going to make the Orioles look very good or make you feel any better about Peter Angelos’ ownership here in Baltimore.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be Tippy Martinez or Jim Palmer or Rick Dempsey or Boog Powell — when you walk around your hometown every minute of every day getting recognized by people over 45 who don’t know whether to console you, hug you or engage you in any sort of baseball chatter because let’s be honest – the only reason we’d know who any of the former Orioles are is because of baseball. It’s the one thing that bonds us.

And, really, none one of us wants to discuss the Orioles or Angelos or the situation with Mike Flanagan when they’re in last place the entire topic of baseball, suicides and World Series take a backseat to the purple football machine in the fall.

But, therein lies the problem.

No one EVER says ANYTHING.

I hate to say it, but YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

So, embrace that statement, stew about it, send me “F**K YOU!” letters, sharpen your pens and your wit.

And then send them to Peter Angelos and see if the 82-year old can find your thoughts on his Facebook page.

The local media here is such a civic disgrace that they should be ashamed of themselves for burying the topic of the Orioles’ ineptitude and profit line and intentions. And you should be ashamed of yourselves if you tune into any of the Orioles “media partners” (it should say “protectors”) and believe a word any of these hosts and personalities say. They’re all told what they can and can’t say and when they can say it.

CBS & WJZ = guilty

WBAL = guilty

The Sun = perhaps the most guilty because their unique selling point and marketing tool is “credibility” and “knowledge of the community” and “journalism”

Pull Scott Garceau or Peter Schmuck or Gerry Sandusky or Mark Viviano up on the side and ask them what THEY REALLY THINK. Ask any of these “local leaders” and “trusted experts” off the record how they’ve been treated. Ask them how they’ve seen people treated around the organization. Ask them what Mike Flanagan told them about the team when he was running it and beyond.

I saw 15 Baltimore reporters crowded around a young Ravens cornerback named Cary Williams in a locker in Nashville three days and yet no one can make their way to downtown Baltimore to interview a guy who has chased 2.5 million people out of downtown on summer nights and destroyed local business in such a profound way as to be the most powerful man in the state?

Disgraceful…

Ask ANY bar and restaurant owner or anyone involved in the beer industry about whether their businesses would be stronger if the Orioles actually existed in their establishments on summer nights.

I’ve asked them ALL. And there’s not one who doesn’t want to see a stronger baseball franchise in Baltimore.

I go into bars all summer long and see that many don’t even put the Orioles games on their televisions these days. And that’s just in the suburbs.

I live in downtown Baltimore. The city comes to life when events prosper and the community swells with pride. The U2 concert was amazing. The IRL brought tons of new faces into the city that hadn’t been this happy near the Convention Center since the All Star Fanfest in July 1993. The Caps-Predators game last night was an incredible event – bringing 11,000 into the First Mariner Arena and stimulating commerce throughout downtown for a night.

The Orioles success and their verve and mojo doesn’t seem so far away to me. I remember it all. I wrote 19 chapters about it and you can click here and begin that journey if you’re really interested in my thoughts and my rationale and my legitimacy.

I’m not some hack journalist from out of town coming into Baltimore to tell you what to think. I’m not an out-of-town media leader.

I’m a citizen. I’m a taxpayer. I paid to get Camden Yards built back in the 1980’s. My city tax dollars fronted that IRL mish-mash three weeks ago. I own a business in Baltimore County. I employ people and put them to work and I trade off of ONE THING: your trust!

The team routinely doesn’t spend money. They’ve made far more money losing than they’d ever make trying to win. That’s just a fact.

And, right now and for the past decade, that’s been exploited and profiteered from by Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group. We’ve got a dead Cy Young Award winner who worked for the company for most of 38 years and his life became so entangled that he put a gun to his head and ended his life less than a month ago.

Who’s going to ask the tough questions?

And when is Angelos or anyone at Major League Baseball going to answer them?

Winning is not as profitable as losing. And when the citizens of the state are paying the freight and there’s only tens of millions of guaranteed profit every year, apparently popularity or civic pride or winning ownership and respect for tradition doesn’t factor into the equation for Peter Angelos.

If the richest guy in the state isn’t interested in winning a World Series then the Baltimore Orioles might as well just leave town and return when they’re ready to win.

It’s such a fragile trust to begin with in Baltimore, where Angelos was a resident and apparently unmoved by the Mayflower vans or any of the chicanery of Bob Irsay back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when he did a beauty tour that was a disgrace to everyone but him.

The story of Angelos and his wrecking machine for the baseball traditions of our community is a legendary, well-told tale that as Ronnie Milsap once sang: “It’s too sad to write.”

Free The Birds is five years old today.

What will the Orioles look like five years from today?

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Five years ago we did Free The Birds rally and I’m still proud of it

Posted on 20 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

There’s been plenty written about the Orioles demise and the AL East standings and the empty stands at Camden Yards speak for themselves as to what the Baltimore community feels the value of the baseball team is circa 2011.

The stadium is empty most nights. Fans stuck with tickets can’t find anyone to take them for free. The city has tumbleweed blowing down Pratt Street most nights when the Orioles play. The fan base is so angry, so disenfranchised, so beaten down and/or disillusioned that they’re literally all but gone.

It’s the Fall of 2011 — the most recent version of The Apocalypse for any lifelong Orioles baseball fan and baseball lover like me. With the tragic suicide of Mike Flanagan last month – and the subsequent tales of the trail of a broken baseball man who loved this city and the Baltimore Orioles more than words can express – the Orioles have clearly hit rock bottom.

Or have they?

Oh, I’ve now been hearing for well over a decade that “the Orioles have bottomed out.” Heck, Ken Rosenthal was writing that stuff 12 years ago when he was covering the Orioles for The Sun. I’m not sure any of us knew how far into the abyss this situation would go but “bottoming out?”

I’m not really sure any of us know where the bottom is anymore when it comes to the Orioles.

This cesspool of lies and shameless civic profiteering clearly has no signs of receding and why should it when losing is far more profitable than trying to win and the owner has no desire to really win a World Series.

And, apparently, the only “outspoken” and “honest” member of the community is, well – me.

And because I’m the only one who’s not a coward and willing to point out the gigantic orange elephant in the middle of downtown Baltimore, people will continue to write on the internet that “Aparicio hates the Orioles.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I love the Orioles. That’s why I fight for justice. That’s why I tell the truth. I’m the only one who writes this stuff. I’m the only one who cares enough to speak my mind. I’m the only one who challenges the king of Baltimore baseball, Peter G. Angelos.

So while Andy MacPhail came in here the summer after Free The Birds as “Vice President of Baseball Operations” and got four years worth of big paychecks every other Friday while the team never had a moment of relevance and has finished in last place each fall, he’s about to bow out and quit on this morbid experiment that was allegedly going return the Orioles to relevance by cutting payroll, increasing profit and lying to the media and the fans about the goals of the franchise.

After all, the team is serving hamburger and making $50 million per year in profit. So, then, why would Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos ever conspire to serve you filet mignon?

Maybe the players on the field can’t pull up in the stretch like a lame horse but the fans of the Baltimore Orioles – even some of the most diehard and patient and former orange Kool Aid drinkers and baseball worshippers – pulled up a long time ago and moved on to other pursuits during the hot summers in Baltimore.

So, was I really wrong for shedding honest light on this issue five years ago when we did the “Free The Birds” rally on Sept. 21, 2006?

In the immortal words of Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men,” you’re goddamned right I was right.

I’m proud of Free The Birds. I’m proud of what it stood for and as much as Peter Angelos thought it was some “personal attack,” it’s also pretty clear he never read any of the 19 chapters I wrote preceding the walkout where in 75,000 words I expressed why the Orioles were the love of my life and why everything I’ve ever done in my professional life can all be traced back to the first time I picked up a Wiffle ball and bat in Dundalk.

Here’s a link to 19 chapters worth of “Why Nestor Loves Baseball and The Orioles”…

To be honest, I spent that summer of 2006 in the midst of my own midlife questions and answers and I was struck then by how easy it was for many people to simply walk away from baseball and the Orioles and never come back. Oriole Park at Camden Yards was already getting pretty empty even back then but five years later it has been even harder for me to watch the fun and joy of doing sports media for a living be completely sucked out of me because of the way Angelos has treated virtually everyone in my life who loves the Orioles as well.

And then there’s the losing that chases Baltimore sports fans away from the only sport that matters in the spring and summer.

People in Baltimore simply don’t care about the Orioles anymore. In the heat of the summer, the Orioles are annually mired in last place amidst some more failed policies and cheap payrolls while Angelos sucks tens of millions of dollars from your wallet and every wallet in the state via your cable television bill.

A high-ranking person in the baseball community asked me last week if I really believed that if a change in ownership (he called it a “messiah”) were to appear in Baltimore that the “old Orioles” could be restored.

Honestly, given the price tag of skyboxes and box seats and the lack of sponsorship money in the marketplace, I’m not really sure. I do know that people could easily care about and follow a winner. I’m not sure if the Orioles will ever draw 3 million people again given the Washington Nationals proximity and the atrophy of the sport in Baltimore.

But my Free The Birds campaign was designed to bring awareness to the plight of the baseball franchise and the helplessness of the fan base of the Baltimore Orioles. It was designed to give a voice to the fans in the bleachers who were fed up with losing and lies from Angelos.

I feel there’s great value in what I did. And I feel like my words, en masse, have been the most relevant words written about the baseball team over the last decade.

Where is the journalism being done on behalf of Mike Flanagan and his family? Why is it that one of the team’s favorite sons – a former Cy Young winner who dedicated 38 years of his life to a franchise – would take a gun to his head on a Wednesday night in August 2011?

And where are the journalists to ask questions about how this could possibly happen and the circumstances that led to such desperation for a wonderful community man like Flanny?

And where is Angelos to answer questions about what the Orioles are doing for Flanagan’s family, who understandably are trying to digest and mourn and make sense of why a 38-year employee of the franchise and one of the most prominent athletes of our generation would take his life on a summer night in Baltimore County.

But this city is full of cowards. Cowards in the business community who won’t speak the truth. Cowards in the media – all with out-of-town, corporate management councils who seek to profit off of the Orioles at any cost and “journalists” who are as soft as the Pillsbury dough boy. And cowards in the political system, who are too eager to take a campaign contribution and look the other way as more than 2.5 million people have been chased out of downtown every summer over the last decade.

Shameful isn’t a strong enough word for what’s happened in Baltimore. It’s more like a civic tragedy.

I called them all cowards five years ago when I did Free The Birds. And I’ll call them cowards now because their ability to “take a check and cough” has led the Orioles and the downtown business community and any ancillary business (like mine at WNST.net) into the abyss with a baseball team that is guaranteed tens of millions of dollars in profit every year and contributes nothing to the quality of life of Baltimoreans who foot the bill for a greedy franchise that leeches off of the banner “sports” in a way that doesn’t bring any sense of pride to our community.

If you really think about it, the Orioles are a source of civic despair. Who in Baltimore wants to brag about a team that finishes in last place every year and seems to have a black could of tragedy and darkness follow it everywhere — from Steve Bechler to steroid scandals to the suicide of their Cy Young Award winner who went on to hold every role in the organization except manager.

And here’s the dirty little secret – there’s absolutely no incentive for Angelos to improve the team and have it compete. And, like Willy Wonka, he never seems to appear, answer questions or give clarity to the direction of the franchise.

The dirty little secret for this segment of MLB owners is very clear.

Here’s the new formula:

LOSING = PROFIT

And that’s a very, very difficult concept for most people to grasp because I can’t think of another line of work or a business in any sector where you can guarantee profit lines by serving the worst product in your industry.

Of course, I don’t know many companies that use their television network as a public utility to print money from every home from the state that subscribes to a cable television package.

Just like the folks at WBAL-AM, who call themselves the “news leader” who had people chanting “Free The Birds” repeatedly on their airwaves for an hour on Sept. 21, 2006 and never mentioned what the chants represented. And even then, Angelos stripped them of the radio rights and made them grovel before ditching CBS Radio last year to continue their cozy “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” style of journalism.

As I wrote in my 19 chapters in 2006, until more people in the Baltimore business community and political scene and what’s left of the “media” challenge these issues and ask hard questions, the Orioles will continue to profiteer, hide, dodge questions and accountability and inevitably finish in last place in the American League East Division.

I’m not passing the buck. It’s the fans of the Orioles and the citizens of the community who have given this franchise a hall pass and allowed and made excuses for how this team could be irrelevant for 14 years running.

If you want the truth, I believe that we get the baseball team that we deserve.

Tomorrow, on the 5th anniversary of our walkout, I will present a current state of the franchise and on Thursday we’ll look to the future to examine how the Orioles will ever become a relevant and/or beloved franchise again in Baltimore.

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Don’t go jumping off the Key Bridge just yet fellow purple bird watchers

Posted on 11 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

PHILADELPHIA — As I sit here wrapping up a futile evening of unusually awful preseason football — and the bar was set pretty low to begin with — I’m just going to throw out a few random observations from tonight’s Ravens’ 13-6 loss to the Eagles here at The Linc:

The Ravens need to get on the phone and find a backup quarterback and probably sooner than later. Not unexpectedly, Tyrod Taylor stank in his NFL debut last night playing primarily with and against the usual second-teamers.

Harbaugh, who always seems to provide us with some quotes that are outlandish, had nothing but praise for Taylor. Check it out here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJdWh1TBl0[/youtube]

Taylor is going to be mighty sore all weekend but the three interceptions were ill-timed even by preseason standards and certainly avoidable. Pray for the health of Joe Flacco, Baltimore! Or pray for someone legitimate to fall out of a tree. Call Marc Bulger. Call Brett Favre. Call someone, Ozzie!

It’s impossible to gauge how good the team is as a whole when the starters were out of the game before we blinked but it was pretty easy to see that Michael Vick and the Eagles offense were far ahead of where the Ravens defense is at this point. Vick made it look far too easy, especially against a veteran secondary and Chris Carr.

This new kickoff rule is going to ruin special teams while saving players’ health. I have a feeling many teams will go weeks without returning a kick or having to tackle anyone. And the way Billy Cundiff kicked last year, we might not see a return before Thanksgiving in Baltimore. At this rate, they should just do away with kickoffs and spot the ball at the 20 after every score.

I always forget how much the preseason sucks. The crowd isn’t into it. The announcers aren’t into it. And last night’s brand of NFL football was about the worst I’ve ever seen given the lack of OTA’s, offseason playbooks and organization that’s needed to put 22 men in motion on the field. This will be the biggest story of August — how NFL coaches pull these rosters together when many young players are baffled in their new systems.

It was nice to see Dennis Pitta contribute on a night when he had some opportunities. It’ll be even nicer when the Ravens get Ed Dickson on the field.

The Ravens’ offensive line was suspect last night and in particular Oniel Cousins stunk when I zeroed in on him when he was battling 2nd and 3rd teamers. Ray Rice had no room to run on his handful of carries and Joe Flacco was running for his life in the first quarter. This is far more disconcerting than any other facet of the team because it involved productivity, protection and the ability of Joe Flacco to be standing upright for 16 weeks.

All this said — and virtually none of my observations were positive — it was a preseason game. Don’t sweat it. It was a practice, that’s all.

We’ll have three more chances to watch bad football this month before the emotions, energy and drama of the Steelers’ visit on Sept. 11 at 1 p.m.

WNST is open for business all day on Friday for phone calls, observations and civic therapy.

Feel free to vent. It’s why we’re here!

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I hope Ripken isn’t next Orioles hero signing up to polish Angelos’ smelly turd?

Posted on 10 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

On Tuesday night, as Camden Yards sat mostly empty on another beautiful summer night, it happened again. No, not just another “tough-luck, one-run Orioles loss” en route to what could possibly be the worst season of this era replete with 100 losses, but instead the whining, moaning and embarrassingly homerish “media” scam pulled on a nightly basis in my living room by the likes of Jim Hunter, Mike Flanagan, Rick Dempsey and company at MASN.

Along with all of the apologists at The Baltimore Sun, WBAL, PressBox and WJZ (the entire CBS “family” is in bed with the Orioles and has spent 14 years making lame, transparent excuses while taking a paycheck) – it’s amazing these employees of Peter Angelos can put their heads on a pillow at night and believe they have any integrity left in their words this community.

The crazy part is that there are still hopeless fans in the orange Kool Aid bunch who refuse to even acknowledge that all of these former “heroes of Birdland” are employed by Peter Angelos and will lie to you every night like state run media in Egypt, Syria and Libya.

It’s been said many times in many ways but it’s absolutely true to any thinking person in America circa 2011 — false praise in the absence of legitimate criticism is hollow. Perhaps these are the same morons who watch Fox News and believe they’re getting “balanced” reporting.

The media in Baltimore are not really “media” at all. They’re paid employees of the Orioles. It’s the only way you’re allowed to “report” on the team. It’s a “no criticism” rule when you sign up for the credentials and access.

Jim Hunter is as much of a journalist as Vince McMahon was when he interviewed Ivan Putski and George “The Animal” Steele on Saturday afternoons on Channel 45. And Rick Dempsey – well, sorry pal, I loved you as a ballplayer but as someone who allegedly has “insights and observations” that I’m being told to respect you’ve become a sick, nightly joke on my couch.

This is the part where I’ll let Jim Palmer off the hook for being Jim Palmer. But at this point, I’m astonished he hasn’t been fired. I really am…and most nights he goes overboard in trying to be kind to another young pitcher who has surrendered six runs in three innings in another loss. And Gary Thorne, who makes no bones about being an outsider and hired gun, is just cashing a paycheck and trying to not laugh at the nightly ineptitude, almost playing a straight man in what would be a comedy if it weren’t destroying the city on summer nights.

They should all be ashamed of themselves and allowing this civic tragedy and disgrace to continue while taking a paycheck and lying to the very fans who made them heroes.

Trust and integrity are a funny thing. You only get one chance to lie to me and I’m gone forever. And after watching a 20-minute post-game show that grilled third base umpire Phil Cuzzi for “costing the team the game” on a blown call on Nick Markakis, it’s apparent that serving up the Kool Aid is the only way to keep your job with the Angelos clan if you’re name isn’t Palmer.

The Orioles are in the midst of their fifth straight last-place season. Of course, if you watch MASN, they’re not in “last” place – the co-workers of Andy MacPhail and Buck Showalter are only allowed to refer to it as “fifth place” or else they’ll be fired.

And either way, they’ll have to grovel for their jobs, careers and lives once again next February when Angelos goes through this his usual bullying tactics and stall techniques to gain leverage over these poor over-50 former ballplayers/heroes and tarnished “media” members as they try to earn a salary for another year in the MASN empire while serving up pretzel logic and lame baseball excuses for why the team hasn’t played a meaningful game since 1997. It’s the same methodology that Steve Bisciotti experienced in trying to “partner” with Angelos and MASN last July.

The Orioles PR and marketing staff – despite the awfulness of the team and the emptiness of the stands and the downtown area in general – still employ Gestapo tactics against my staff and anyone else who doesn’t praise the team’s .393 baseball this summer as “the road to improvement.”

Intimidation and threats are a daily way of life at The Warehouse. And, if anyone doubts whether Greg Bader and the Angelos family will take away your ability to feed your family, my picture is on the wall there as the “poster child for bad behavior” by the local media.

The truth: I’m in the only one in the local media who seems to care enough to be loud about their awfulness but that’s nothing new because the WNST staff are the only ones who aren’t on their payroll. We might also be the only media members who actually purchased season tickets (not my idea, by the way) this year via Drew Forrester’s “parent and child” program.

On Tuesday night in between the innings I managed to catch the entire episode of “The Band That Wouldn’t Die” on my DVR. To see the passion and energy of John Ziemann and his cohorts with the Colts Marching Band and their still open wounds from their undying love of the local team and the Irsay move is still inspiring and amazing. I can’t help but wonder if I’m going to live long enough to have a real baseball team with a community spirit in Baltimore or whether this will go on into perpetuity and Angelos will buy another 20 years of life from the devil and continue to torture my baseball soul while making $50 million per year in profit.

To think that ANYONE still cares about the Orioles enough to watch every night is amazing enough.

But to insult our intelligence again and again, night after night with this mindless banter? Really, the joke’s on me for giving my time and energy to these clowns.

At this point, it’s become a macabre comedic act in our house to watch the post-game just to see how many excuses Hunter and Dempsey can come up with after each nightly loss. It’s particularly entertaining when the Orioles lose 17-3 and these guys can come up with ways the “home team” got screwed or were a play away from being “right back in the game.”

The Orioles didn’t lose on Tuesday night because of one call – and, sure, it was an awful call. The Orioles lose because they don’t have enough good players. The Orioles lose because good players don’t want to play for Peter Angelos. We get crappy programming because real reporters with integrity don’t want to work for Peter Angelos.

But, sadly, for some legends, they don’t have the option of staying away like Cal Ripken.

Which brings us to the next rumor – the “Ripken to join the front office of the Orioles” phonebooth whispers have begun against in earnest as they seemingly do every summer.

If Ripken is smart, he’ll stay away.

But my gut tells me he won’t be able to help himself at some point. Eventually, if the old man lives long enough, Ripken will sign up for the party and become the butt of the jokes as well.

Cal Ripken’s involvement can’t fix the Orioles. It might create a few headlines and sell Angelos some more tickets but putting gold paint on a pig still doesn’t make it more than ham and bacon.

And that would be really, really hard to watch, Ripken falling into the Jim Hunter trap.

Lord knows, watching Dempsey and Flanagan is hard enough these days…

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Point: I love Mike Bordick…just not in Orioles Hall of Fame

Posted on 20 March 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I guess this is what happens when your franchise has atrophied to the point of having few fans, few glaring All Stars and no hope of playing baseball in October for 14 consecutive years. When it comes to time to find Orioles “Hall of Famers” you begin to stretch and reach and embarrass the honor itself by attempting to find the next candidate to appear at your annual rubber chicken luncheon in August for the Oriole Advocates.

I like Mike Bordick. I like Mike Bordick more than I like most people who have ever put on an Orioles jersey. Great baseball man, great family guy and a guy teacher of the game.

But, if we’re considering numbers and contributions and Orioles “Hall of Fame” worthiness, then Mike Bordick can’t be taken seriously as a candidate or an honoree.

Bordick played parts of six mostly-forgettable seasons of Orioles baseball and was once dealt away in the heart of the pennant race to play in the 2001 World Series with the New York Mets.

He hit .236, .260, .277, .285, .249 and .232 in those five seasons. He was a wonderful role player and served as the man who replaced Cal Ripken at shortshop. He was a team leader, a good fielder and what most teammates would call “a gamer” — a real baseball gym rat who loved the game more than most.

But a Hall of Famer? Not really…

I’d put Bordick in the “Hall of Nice” — as I wrote @WNST on Twitter yesterday, but not any serious Hall of Fame.

This is the problem with all of the Hall of Fames in every sport in America. They’ve all become a pandering situation, where the media, sponsors or “powers that be” need their egos (or wallets in some cases) stroked in order to bestow the honor upon even the worthy. In this case, the Orioles simply don’t have any warm bodies from the last 15 years who haven’t been busted for steroids or fallen out of the good graces of Peter G. Angelos to the point where it would be uncomfortable for them to return for an honor.

The baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t have the greatest hitter of the century (Pete Rose) in it. It won’t have the greatest player of this generation (Barry Bonds) in it. It also won’t have any of the single-season home run kings (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Bonds) in it. And if Roger Clemens goes to jail over the steroid scandal, I’m assuming he won’t get elected, either.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just announced its 2011 candidates. Somehow, Kiss, Rush and Def Leppard have been left off the docket while the Beastie Boys and Bob Geldof have somehow found their way into consideration ahead of bands that changed the landscape for their genre.

And the Pro Football Hall of Fame has become a limited country club for the less-than-50 voters who work their agendas, grievances and politics into the selection of the NFL’s best players of our generation under a heavy microscope each Super Bowl weekend. And in my opinion, most years they seem to induct worthy candidates into Canton but overlook many others who are yellow-jacket worthy.

And speaking of football, it would be inappropriate and unfair to not mention that the Ravens “Ring of Honor” was tarnished upon its conception when Art Modell unilaterally made Earnest Byner the first member of the club. Every time I look over onto that wall and see his name, it makes the entire institution feel like a joke, really. But give the purple birds some credit — they have held the line in a big way ever since, only allowing players who have made a Pro Bowl eligibility into the “Ring” and I think that’s a standard that’s the very lowest bar that should be set. (Although, I could make a case for Edwin Mulitalo, Mike Flynn and a few others who served the team capably for many years but I sort of like that the Ravens have now made it a REAL honor and a difficult club to enter.)

This isn’t an Orioles problem. Or an Orioles Hall of Fame problem.

For me, its an endemic part of ANY Hall of Fame, the phoniness, crony-ness and screwiness that these “highest honors” awards have become.

Who gets in and who doesn’t? And how can we argue the point when the criteria is either non-existent or so vague as to be obtuse to anyone who would have to justify their vote?

And who are the “qualified” voters or judges?

In this case, the Orioles talent pool has been so shallow for so long that they’re doing the only thing they can do at this point.

If you suffered through enough losing seasons as an Orioles player and you’re a “nice guy” and you don’t say anything bad about Angelos, you get your Hall of Fame passport stamped at The Warehouse.

Either way, I’ll be at the luncheon this year with Aunt Pat and delighted to shake Mike Bordick’s hand.

But I wouldn’t have voted for him.

But then again, if they’re going to have a luncheon each year the Orioles have to honor SOMEONE and clearly they’ve just run out of names and worthy people at this point.

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As purple Festivus season is upon us, alas the real Grinch continues to be Peter G. Angelos

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As purple Festivus season is upon us, alas the real Grinch continues to be Peter G. Angelos

Posted on 24 December 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been 51 months now since the initial “Free The Birds” campaign that we launched at WNST.net in “Year Nine of The Black Cat” and motivated more than 2,000 other brave souls who said “enough is enough” to Peter Angelos and the losing and nasty ways of the Baltimore Orioles.

The holiday results are in yet again for another sad orange offseason and I’m feeling pretty confident — as is Las Vegas — that the Baltimore Orioles will not be a playoff team in 2011.

And the real reason the team won’t win this year is the same as last year and the year before that: they won’t (or can’t) spend all of the millions of dollars they have managed to extract from this community via their incredibly wealthy and lean “regional sports network” called MASN.

Angelos

We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in direct profit that was allegedly to be spent on improving the baseball team for the community to enjoy. But instead of the $150 million payrolls that were promised to “compete with the likes of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox,” that previously earmarked U.S. money donated by Middle Atlantic cable subscribers is in the pockets of Peter G. Angelos. Along with about $20 million more each year since Andy MacPhail took over in 2007 and slashed the payroll, bought off the local media and preached “young” to the fans while winking “cheap” at the owner that he just made a cool, clean profit for and shared in the financial windfall.

And like any other billionaire businessman without a soul for the pride of his own company and what it represents in the community, all of a sudden it’s very hard for any of them to part with “guaranteed money in the bank.” Especially when there’s no financial upside to giving the likes of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre or Cliff Lee tens of millions of guaranteed money when winning is so far from being a reality in the AL East that even the once-prideful Angelos has clearly quit on trying to win for the fans of the Baltimore Orioles.

Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee? This is what it’s come down to for the Orioles as Santa brings goodies and toys and playoff-caliber baseball elsewhere to even the likes of Milwaukee.

If you’re trying to be a .500 team signing the “leftovers” and “growing the arms” might be a strategy. But, really, is the bar a World Series title for Baltimore or is the bar set at being in third place and making $50 million in profit?

The Orioles are so grossly pathetic at this point that no credentialed Major League Baseball player with any other option this side of Pittsburgh will elect to come and play here. And the remaining few lost souls in the fan base are so desperate for any morsel of progress that they’ve even given Buck Showalter a hall pass for lying

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

Posted on 20 December 2010 by Drew Forrester

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

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

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

Enter Vanderbilt — and James Franklin.

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

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

Understand?

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

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

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

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

Who gets the head coaching job?

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

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

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

But SHOULD he be the next coach?

That’s a fair question.

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

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Flacco vs. Ryan: The first final tale of the tape

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Flacco vs. Ryan: The first final tale of the tape

Posted on 15 November 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

I’m pretty well aware that this comparison has been done to death over the last week or so, but I really wanted to make my final evaluation after watching these two go at it head to head. So since re-watching the Ravens @ Falcons a few times proved to be the low-light of my weekend, and since the highlight of my weekend was a fantastic time at John Rallo’s Shogun Fights III, I figured I’d give my first final say on the Flacco vs. Ryan debate in tale of the tape fashion.

The Price Tag: Start with the obvious, as the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 draft, Matt Ryan reportedly signed a rookie contract worth $66 million over 6 years. Bonuses aside, in layman’s math that’s $11 million per season. As the 18th pick overall, Flacco signed a 5-year deal worth about $30 million, or a relatively small $6 million per year or roughly 55% of Ryan’s annual salary. If the rest of the comparison is debatable, then it’s easy to say that the Ravens are getting more for their investment in Flacco than the Falcons are in Ryan, but the price tag argument goes much deeper than just their respective salaries.

 

When comparing the “pound-for-pound” values of these two, we are provided with a somewhat unique perspective on things. According to Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column on November 9th, the Ravens inquired with the St. Louis Rams prior to the 2008 draft about acquiring their first round pick that year (2nd overall) presumably to draft Ryan. King reported the price tag to be the Ravens 1st round pick (8th overall), 2nd round pick (38th overall) and 4th round pick (106th overall) in 2008, plus an additional third rounder in 2009. Instead the Ravens traded their 1st rounder to Jacksonville for for their first round pick (26th overall), two third round picks (71st & 89th overall), and a fourth round pick (125th overall). After that they traded the 26th and 89th picks just acquired from Jacksonville, along with their own 6th round pick (173rd overall) to Houston to move back up to 18th and select Flacco. The second rounder they would have sent to St. Louis (38th overall) was instead sent to Seattle for a second round pick (55th overall) and a third (86th overall).

 

Confused yet? Here’s the short story, the Ravens selected Flacco with the 18th pick gotten from Houston and gave up their own 6th rounder. They selected Ray Rice with the 55th pick gotten from Seattle, selected Tavares Gooden with the 71st pick gotten from Jacksonville, and Zibikowski with the 86th pick, gotten in the Seattle deal too. They also selected Marcus Smith with the 106th pick which was the 4th rounder that St. Louis wanted, and traded the 125th pick also from Jacksonville for Fabian Washington. The following year, the Ravens selected Lardarius Webb with their third round pick (88th) overall, which the Rams had also reportedly asked for as part of a deal. That makes the Ravens real choice in hindsight either Matt Ryan and an unknown 6thround pick (173rd overall) which the Texans used to select Dominique Barber, or Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Tavares Gooden, Tom Zibikowski, Marcus Smith, Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb.

 

*It should be noted that King’s report was based on information apparently leaked by the St. Louis organization. As Chris Pika points out here, the Ravens remain firm that no offer was made by them to the Rams, and this was just St. Louis attempting to posture and compel Atlanta to trade up. Still, if this was the reported asking price, it’s fair to say that whether they actually ever considered trading or not, we know what the cost of moving up would likely have been

 

Advantage: Flacco

 

Commanding the offense: It should be expected that Ryan should still have the early lead here. A starter since the last game of his freshman year at Boston College, Ryan had numerous opportunities to measure himself against high caliber and often times pro style defenses. He didn’t sneak up on the league like Flacco, and certainly had the entire football world’s attention as he embarked on his senior season. To that end Ryan has responded at every turn, maintaining his esteemed draft status throughout his senior season, and quickly living up to his billing as a high draft pick.

 

Flacco on the other hand after losing out on the opportunity to start to Tyler Palko at Pitt, snuck up on the football world on the strength of one strong season at Delaware, albeit against far lesser competition, and some strong pre-draft workouts. It should be considered a virtual no-brainer that Ryan enjoyed a substantial head start as it relates to football IQ and high level experience.

 

What’s more, while their NFL careers will seemingly be forever intertwined because of their similar circumstances, if you look deeper, perhaps their circumstances aren’t quite as similar as they might appear. Both were made first year starters under first year coaches, and both propelled their teams into the playoffs as rookies, that much is undeniable. But when John Harbaugh took over the Ravens, despite their miserable campaign the previous season, the feeling was that the team could turn things around right away if a few things went their way. The Falcons on the other hand turned over the reigns to Mike Smith in the immediate wake of Bobby Petrino, and not long after Michael Vick, for a franchise that hasn’t seen a lot of upside historically, it appeared as if they might have been in for their darkest hours.

 

To that end, the Ravens, forced to start Flacco from day one due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, did their best to hide the shortcomings of their rookie signal caller, balancing his development with the best interests of the team from a competitive standpoint. It’s hard to argue with their success. The Falcons on the other hand, with seemingly little to lose, placed a lot on their rookie QB right away, and to his credit he has responded in spades.

 

Therefore, it seems pretty easy not only to assess that Ryan is further along in his development in responding to defenses on the fly, but easy to diagnose the reasons why too. It could be argued too that Ryan is further along in this capacity because his coaches have allowed him to be. With that said, fans should also believe that if the Ravens coaching staff has been reluctant to put more on Flacco’s shoulders, it may be for good reason, and not simply because they believe that audibles are overrated. It could easily be argued that Flacco has come farther faster in his development than Ryan, but it seems pretty clear right now that he still has catching up to do.

 

Advantage: Ryan            NEXT PAGE

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Dear Peter Angelos: When will you fix this disgrace?

Posted on 18 June 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you watching?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s gonna be a long July.

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

And who will be the one to change it?

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Orioles great Mike Cuellar dead at 72

Posted on 02 April 2010 by WNST Staff

Orioles pitcher Mike Cuellar died today of stomach cancer in Orlando.

Cuellar’s wiki:

Miguel Angel Cuellar Santana (May 8, 1937 — April 2, 2010), best known as Mike Cuellar [coo-el'lyar] is a former left-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who spent most of his career with the Baltimore Orioles. He shared the American League‘s Cy Young Award in 1969, and won 20 games four times from 1969 to 1974 as the Orioles captured five division titles. Cuellar, nicknamed “Crazy Horse” while with the Orioles, ranks among Baltimore’s top five career leaders in wins (143), strikeouts (1011), shutouts (30) and innings pitched (2028), and trails only Dave McNally among left-handers in wins and shutouts.

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[edit] Professional career

A clever pitcher with an excellent screwball and changeup, Cuellar was signed by the Cincinnati Redlegs as an amateur free agent in 1957 after drawing attention with a no-hitter he pitched for a military team in 1955 while serving in the Cuban army during the Batista regime. After two disastrous relief appearances with Cincinnati in 1959, he spent five years in the minor leagues and Mexican baseball, including time in the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians farm systems, before being acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964. After going 5-5 for St. Louis, primarily in relief, he was traded to the Houston Astros in June 1965. He began to come into his own in Houston, joining their rotation in 1966 and winning 16 games in 1967, before being traded to Baltimore in December 1968.

Finally, he found a major role with the Orioles, who were entering their strongest period in 1969. On August 10, Cuellar’s string of 35 batters retired in a row was ended by Cesar Tovar, who also spoiled Cuellar’s no-hit bid in a one-hit shutout against the Minnesota Twins. Cuellar finished his first season with Baltimore with a record of 23-11, 182 strikeouts and a 2.38 earned run average, and shared the Cy Young Award with Denny McLain, becoming the first Latin American-born winner of the award. He started Game 1 of the 1969 American League Championship Series, but had no decision as the Orioles won 4-3 in 12 innings. In the World Series against the New York Mets, he won Game 1 by a 4-1 score but left Game 4 after seven innings, trailing 1-0; the Mets won 2-1 in the tenth inning, and completed their Series upset with a win in Game 5.

Cuellar was 24-8 in 1970 with 190 strikeouts and a 3.48 ERA, leading the league in wins and complete games, and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. He was 20-9 in 1971 with 124 strikeouts and a 3.08 ERA. By this time he was part of a strong pitching staff, forming with Jim Palmer and McNally one of the finest rotations ever. The trio combined for eight 20-win seasons in three years (1969-71), racking up a combined 188-72 (.723) record, while the rest of the staff was 130-92 (.586). In 1971, Pat Dobson joined them by posting a 20-8 record, forming the Orioles’ “Big Four” 20-game winners; only one other team in major league history, the 1920 Chicago White Sox, has had four 20-game winners. Cuellar was ineffective but fortunate in Game 1 of the 1970 ALCS, leaving in the fifth inning with a 9-6 lead (helped by his own grand slam home run). He was pulled again in the third inning of Game 2 of the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, behind 4-0 (though the Orioles came back to win), and was again hit early in Game 5, giving up three runs in the first inning; but after abandoning his screwball he settled down to go the distance, winning 9-3 to clinch the Series championship. He won Game 2 of the 1971 ALCS 5-1, but lost Games 3 and 7 in the World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Game 7 by a 2-1 score.

A winner of 18 games in both 1972 and 1973, Cuellar lost a 2-1 11-inning marathon in Game 3 of the 1973 ALCS against the Oakland Athletics. He enjoyed a great 1974 season with a 22-10 record, 106 strikeouts, a 3.11 ERA, five shutouts and 20 complete games, placing sixth in the Cy Young voting, and split a pair of decisions in the 1974 ALCS against Oakland, winning Game 1 but losing the final Game 4, again a 2-1 contest. After two sub-par seasons, he was released by Baltimore. He signed as a free agent with the California Angels in 1977 and was released that May after appearing in only two games. Attempting a comeback at age 42 in 1979, he had a combined 7-6 record with three clubs in the Puerto Rican and Mexican leagues.

In his 15-season career Cuellar had a record of 185-130 with a 3.14 ERA, 1632 strikeouts, 172 complete games, 36 shutouts, and 11 saves in 453 games and 2808 innings pitched. In five ALCS and three World Series, he went 4-4 with 56 strikeouts and a 2.85 ERA in 12 games.

On August 10, 1971, Cuellar gave up Harmon Killebrew‘s 500th career home run.

In a 1976 Esquire magazine article, sportswriter Harry Stein published an “All Time All-Star Argument Starter,” consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Cuellar, a Cuban, was the left-handed pitcher on Stein’s Latin team.

Currently, Cuellar lives in Orlando, Florida and is an active participant in the Hispanic Heritage Month event.

[edit] Other career highlights

  • 4-time All-Star (1967, 1970-71, 1974)
  • Led league in winning percentage (1974)
  • Finished eighth in 1969 MVP voting, tenth in 1974 voting
  • Became the first player to hit a grand slam in the Championship Series in 1970 against the Twins

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