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Sadly, Orioles force cancellation of “See The Birds”

Posted on 08 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

UPDATED 10:43 p.m.: After we had already elected to cancel the “See The Birds” event next week, WNST just received an official “cease and desist” letter from some attorney at MLB telling us that we’re not allowed to help the Orioles fill a few thousand of their 40,000 empty seats next Tuesday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

So much for gratitude or fan friendliness. I guess they don’t want to see real Orioles fans in their upper deck.

Well, they are who we thought they were. Their shady business practices are on full display this morning.

Sadly, the WNST effort to bring 1,000 people to the Orioles-Rays game for next Tuesday night has been thwarted by the team, who refused to sell our group their heavily advertised $1 tickets (which, as we pointed out last Friday, don’t really exist).

We will be refunding more than $1,000 collected today to the many who wanted to come to the game with a fun group and donate to Nick Markakis’ Foundation.

I’ll be writing more about this sad turn of events later (or maybe not — I’m a little wrung out with these clowns), but many had been inquiring and trying to rally groups of friends to come down to the ballpark. I think we might’ve been able to top the 2,000 mark if we had the whole week to promote the event and mobilize the fans. We had more than 500 today before lunchtime and we hadn’t even really started getting the Twitter and Facebook thing going.

It’s just sad…but “See The Birds” is over — at the legal urging of Peter G. Angelos and his staff. They don’t want our money. They don’t want our fans. What can I say? I did my best to help them and support these young players.

We are still encouraging people to join us down at The Nest for a beer next Tuesday night but I will not be attending the game.

At least everyone at WNST can say, “We tried!” We really DID TRY and we thought of it as a “no lose” proposition for them and a way for them to reach out to our substantial audience at WNST.net in their 12th consecutive year of losing.

We wanted to come and cheer for their young players. They obviously want us to stay home.

As predicted, they always want to fight and be difficult and be mean-spirited.

As some had predicted, it would end with a MLB “Angelosian” legal missive from the gutless people printing money by the millions at the lowest point in the history of the franchise.

These are the same people who ban legitimate media members with 20 years of sportswriting experience from covering their team.

On a night when they managed five hits and lost in a what-would-be-embarrassing for any other franchise 10-0 defeat at Fenway Park, I’m frankly out of words to convey my disgust.

I’ll just turn my cheek and join the rest of the city in turning my attention toward the Ravens and a very exciting and promising NFL season.

The Orioles don’t want us at the ballpark next Tuesday night and their $1 ticket claim is fraudulent.

We’re going to tell dozens of kids, Little League players and charitable groups that we’re not taking them to the Orioles game next week. Fathers and sons, friends and co-workers once again doing what we’ve been doing for years — staying away from the ballpark.

All we wanted to do was have some fun and do something nice for a local baseball-related charity before the Orioles go into hibernation for the winter. And show some support for these players that the MASN commercials like to portray as “family.”

Once again, the Orioles continue to expose themselves for what they are — not very nice and not very fan-friendly.

And NOT very smart…

I’m going to bed…

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Hope you come and “See The Birds” with us next Tuesday for $2

Posted on 08 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The Orioles $1 ticket promotion gave us a great idea over the weekend. You can read or view my lousy experience from Friday here but this isn’t about crushing the Orioles for yet another foray into dubious marketing.

This is about doing the “right” thing and if they’re going to offer tickets for a dollar I’m happy to give them a dollar and go to the ballpark.

We’ve all been Orioles fans all of our lives. We all want the team to get better and the city to get stronger because of it. That’s been my personal mission ever since “Free The Birds” began three years ago in the midst of their ninth consecutive season of losing.

Now, at the end of their 12th consecutive summer of meaningless baseball, this “See The Birds” campaign is our pledge that we ALL want the Orioles to return to relevancy and bring joy to the people of Baltimore with a product that makes us proud.

Last week, they offered $1 tickets and blanketed their “bought off” media market with their offer – ostensibly to try to get that LAST remaining naysayer or guy with his kid who wants to “See The Birds” one last time before next April.

Gotta admit — it was intriguing, an offer that seems too good to be true.

At WNST – after thinking it over – we want to take them up on it, do a good thing for Nick Markakis’ charity and invite anyone and everyone to Oriole Park at Camden Yards next Tuesday night when they play the Tampa Bay Rays.

We want to extend the ultimate “olive branch” to the franchise despite their years and years of insolence. We’re here to buy tickets and have a rare evening of fun with WNST friends and family at Oriole Park on what would otherwise be a dreary night with 6,000 people in the ballpark and the team 30 games out of first place.

We believe we could get a lot of folks to join us at the ballpark next Tuesday and enjoy a final night out in 2009. We already had more than 500 tickets sold before noon today!

Just a word to anyone who will lie or portray this as a veiled attempt at anything more than a simple group outing of like-minded baseball and Orioles lovers:

There’s no “funny” stuff or alternate agenda. No Free The Birds gear. Just a bunch of WNST old-schoolers taking in a ballgame for a buck – just like 1,800 people we took to the ballpark with Wild Bill Hagy back in 2001. Or the 1,200 we had at our big night in 2002.

Hey, it’s a baseball game for a buck — even if you only stay four or five innings, we’d have a great night.

We’ll start the party early with a few 12-ounce arm curls over at The Nest. We could sit in the upper deck, root for all of the young Orioles and spell out O-R-I-O-L-E-S and enjoy baseball.

We are making one request: please wear ORANGE if you’re coming to the park with us on Tuesday to show you’re supporting the Orioles.

No strings. No agenda. Just baseball for buck.

Our Pay Pal button features  a special “$1 service charge” that we’ll take all of the funds from and donate to the Nick Markakis Foundation called “The Right Side Foundation.”

So, it’s a measly $2 – half goes to the Orioles, half goes to The Right Side Foundation for local charity.

Of course, the Orioles might continue their years of “disassociation” with all things WNST. They might not allow us to come back to the ballpark to support the team (which would NOT surprise me!).

We always give them a chance to show their class or their ass. They’ve ALWAYS shown their ass when given the chance.

I honestly hope they do the “right” thing –like Markakis’ foundation says — and allow the WNST fans back into the ballpark to support the club’s young players.

If they don’t take our money and offer us the tickets, we’ll simply offer you the chance to donate the entire $2 to the charity, thank you for your donation and call it a day — or refund your $2.

It’s up to them, really. The Orioles are the ones with the tickets and the 40,000 empty seats for next Tuesday’s game.

We’ve been very, very unabashed about a few things regarding the Orioles:

1. We’re not going away. We’re going to keep them “honest” (if that’s possible) and support them when they do things that warrant support.
2. “Unconditional” love doesn’t come without conditions. We don’t want to be lied to and misled.
3. Losing and last place is unacceptable.
4. We’re more than willing to support the Angelos Orioles if they are making strides and doing things properly on and off the field.

Here is the team’s progress in wins and losses in the three years since Free The Birds on Sept. 21, 2006:

3-6 in 2006
69-93 in 2007
68-93 in 2008
56-81 in 2009

Judging from this lackluster result, we’d be well within our rights to do another “Free The Birds” walkout. Or worse, just ignore them altogether during a week when the city is buzzing about the football team and their Super Bowl dreams for 2010.

But, instead, we’re back at ground zero with the baseball team – actually attempting to rally some enthusiasm for the franchise before they go into hibernation (or Scottsdale) for the winter.

Instead of discussing putting on our purple duds and focusing on the wide receiver position and the Chiefs’ tenuous quarterbacking situation this week, we’re going to try to get 1,000 of you to give us $2 in an effort to support the Orioles and some local charities. We’re halfway there after one morning of sales!

But, as promised and as we’ve all been all of our lives, we’re still Orioles fans. And they’re still in major need of “fixing.”

Let’s hope this is the start of a “reconnecting” with the WNST fanbase.

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So, just how irrelevant are the Orioles?

Posted on 02 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Let’s start with these simple facts: the last three days have been the best weather days of this or any other century and Oriole Park at Camden Yards has been pretty much devoid of any signs of life from Baltimore fans. There have been roughly 10,000 Orioles fans at the ballpark each night while the team is en route to probably getting swept tonight by the New York Yankees.

The evil empire. The doers of bad deeds, like paying the best players on the planet the most money to come and continue a winning tradition. They’re easy to hate but it’s mandatory that you respect the New York Yankees.

They play to win. For the most part, they exclude class. And you get your money’s worth.

And you know how much tickets have been for these games?

Yeah, eight bucks. So for just $8 anyone in a four-state area could come and watch the Orioles play under the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen.

So, clearly, people aren’t as turned on by Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, etc. as the ownership hoped we’d all be.

To my way of thinking, after 12 consecutive years of putrid, rancid baseball you’d think any signs of life and youthful exuberance would at least put a spark under people to support this seemingly nice young group of men who wear “BALTIMORE” on their road jerseys, except on Friday nights.

So it’s bad enough that no one really cares about the Orioles. Once again, for the 12th cruel summer in a row, we’ve been subjected to making the Orioles irrelevant in the sports landscape.

But what’s worse? It just occurred to me while seeing the sea of empty seats and hearing these MASN commercials continue to make me want t puke that not that many Baltimoreans have any interest in seeing the best baseball players in the world play for $8, either.

You would think between Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, local frenemy Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia and Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettite, some folks here would love the sport of baseball to come and see several sure-fire Hall of Famers play.

And, like on Opening Day, the ballpark had the potential to be overrun with Orioles fans but it’s not.

They’ve had 25,000 available empty seats the past three nights that the Orioles can’t seem to get their own fans to occupy for as little as eight bucks. And if people don’t want to see the Yankees play for $8 and they don’t want to see this group of “exciting young group of future Hall of Famers” what do they have left to sell?

Pretty sad.

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Orioles continue to sink even lower than we thought possible

Posted on 20 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As the biggest critic of Orioles ownership over the last decade, I’ve purposely refrained from being particularly hard on the team in 2009. Unfortunately for you, the WNST fans and true Baltimore sports lovers, they have me right where they want me. I’m back on the radio without a press pass to their games and no one is going to tune into my show if all I do is tell the truth, and bury them for their ineptitude, mean-spiritedness and general incompetence over the past dozen years for four hours every day.

And at this point, what do I have to lose? Short of them killing me, what do they have left to take away from me?

The team is awful (again), there is not an iota of pride remaining in being an Orioles fan and I’ve watched about 90% of the action this season and I’m here to tell you that it has NOT been a fun or memorable summer for baseball here in the land of pleasant living.

And really, telling the truth — see the paragraph above — is NOT what Baltimore wants to hear from me about the Orioles. It’s like a broken, freaking record — me bitching about the Orioles.

And, here in the summer of 2009, the truth hurts and this blog hurts!

At their current pace, the Orioles “defining moment” of 2009 might be their 100th loss sometime around October 1st and that would certainly speak volumes for where the organization stands in the MLB cosmos.

As every sports fan in Baltimore has uttered at some point since the turn of the century: “Thank God for the Ravens!” And anytime we even think about talking Orioles baseball at WNST, someone will send a nasty note over stating this: “Just forget about the Orioles and talk about the Ravens.”

Well, as I said three years ago during the Free The Birds campaign, I will not be letting Peter Angelos or any of his servants off the hook for this decade-and-a-half civic tragedy — the worst stretch of bizarre local ownership and strategy since Bob Irsay pilfered the Colts off in the middle of the night back in March 1984.

No, we’re not done with the Orioles. As Drew Forrester has said many times: “We’ll either kill them or fix them. It’s their choice.”

But this current dismal summer of dreadful baseball — in a season when “miracle-man” Andy MacPhail has talked about promise for young players — still has six weeks left on the schedule and there are no creampuffs left on the docket and there is no end to the bleeding in sight.

You can piss on me in the comments below all you want, but this current team they’re fielding might be the worst of them all on some nights because we all want to buy into some hope and promise for a better team in the future.

Here is your stat of the day: the Orioles were 40-48 at the All Star break, which is hardly acceptable or decent, although MASN’s lame coverage and “state run” media would tell you this was a team “on the rise.”

Now, the Orioles are 48-72, which means they’ve managed to go 8-24 since Adam Jones doffed the cap in St. Louis.

Folks, that’s .250 baseball and 32 games is about 20% of the season by my math. Of course, when you’ve already put up a legendary 4-32 a few years ago — and for now, we’ll just let the 1988 team off the hook because that had nothing to do with Peter Angelos or 2009 — somehow 8-24 doesn’t sound like it sucks so bad.

But it sucks. And this team sucks. And this ownership still sucks. And the broadcasts still suck. And MASN still sucks. And — once again — it’s another set of broken promises, lies and “come ons” about progress, youth, getting better and competing in the AL East.

And this was supposed to be the time of the season when the team starts to exhibit some signs of hope for the future and some momentum going into 2010?

What stat do you want me to throw at you? They’re 4-14 this month. They haven’t won in a week. They can’t score runs with the bases loaded and nobody out.

They’ve dealt away three veterans and gave Aubrey Huff away for nothing. Every night the team is behind it seems.

And I’m not really sure that any of these young players know how to win or are surrounded by any positive role models who’ve won. Gregg Zaun was the only guy with a ring and they gave him away, too.

Here’s where the orange Kool-Aid drinkers will say: What about Adam Jones? And Nolan Reimold? And the promise of Matt Wieters? Blah, blah, blah…I hope they all step up in 2010 or beyond and make me eat my words. But for now, we report the truth.

And here’s the truth:

The ownership group of this franchise has lied to the city for years about just about everything.

“We’re close” or “we’ll win next year” or “we have some exciting young players” all sounds like incoherent babble at this point. MacPhail has bragged about all of the pitching in the system with the likes of Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Jake Arrieta coming to “The Show” and making the Orioles competitive in the elite AL East division.

I’ve now seen them all. They all have some nice strengths but some glaring weaknesses. None of them have the hype of a Ben McDonald and if they’re all as good as he was the Orioles might sniff .500 at their zenith of this era. Pitching is never a sure thing in the majors. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that.

Ok, so now what happens? This offseason won’t be much different from any in the past. How can this team possibly get better or find talent outside the organization during the winter to compete in the AL East?

When does this team finally turn the corner and even feign some competitiveness that will lead them somewhere near a .500 record in the future?

When will the team be able to attract any top free agents to come to Baltimore and help the team compete with the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox?

Where’s that “veteran, straw who will stir the drink” that the Orioles will bring in to show some leadership?

Once they fire Dave Trembley, who will be the “next victim up” to try to get the Orioles out of the cellar?

When will the team stop banning free speech and allow the legitimate media back into the stadium to ask questions?

When will they stop running these stupid, mind-numbingly phony commercials on MASN that make the games all but unwatchable on top of a team that has been wretched over the past month?

When will residents of Boston and New York stop filling our city and our ballpark with out-of-town fans who boo and jeer young Orioles players from the moment they arrive?

It’s just a dreadful, dreadful product right now — the entire package of Orioles baseball. Going into September, I can’t remember a season worse than this because the promise of these young players from lips of MacPhail and the baseball “establishment” back in the spring was palpable.

We were supposed to feel better about the team at the end of the summer, not worse…

From going to the games to watching the games on TV to following the progress of the team even through the box scores and the standings every day — this really isn’t any fun.

It’s not fun to watch. It’s not fun to talk about. It’s not fun to listen to me on the radio talking about it.

Honestly, to any thinking person this is about the worst summer yet in a dozen horror shows since 1997.

But you don’t really want to hear that from me, do you?

They promised hope. They promised progress. They promised excitement.

They’re dangerously en route to playing the last two weeks of the season and not trying to hit triple digits in the loss column.

They made promises not only to you and me but also to Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, who were the latest to sign multi-year contracts here under the guise that the team would show progress and get competitive.

Of course, Jim Hunter will tell you every night that 8-24 is progress.

Obviously, from where we sit today, it just looks like the latest batch of lies from Angelos and his henchmen.

Orioles Baseball 2009 — Feel The Tragic!

Ooops. That’s right. I’m not supposed to criticize the home team, am I?

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Hail Cesar: Matusz impressive in debut win over Tigers

Posted on 04 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

9:57 p.m. –The Orioles got a huge rookie debut from Brian Matusz tonight. Cesar Izturis flashed leather and even hit a home run as the Birds defeated the Detroit Tigers 8-2 at Comerica Park.

Matusz on his comfort and happiness after the win: “I’d like to enjoy it a little longer. I was a little nervous out there. I can go out there for my next start and be a little more comfortable.”

On his family: “It’s awesome to have that support, My family and friends have been supportive. It’s awesome. I could hear them all after my first pitch.”

On his effort tonight: “It’s important to really attack the zone. I had a couple of walks today. I fell behind in the count. To not nibble so much on the corner and go after the guys. The strike zone is a little smaller. Relax. Have fun. It’s the same game. Enjoy it and hopefully I can carry it over.”

On Izturis: “Izzy was awesome. He made some great plays. Got me out of a jam. It was a lot of fun.”

9:07 p.m. — The Orioles are, for once, piling on a first-place team. It’s 8-1 and even Melvin Mora has taken out some of his frustration with an RBI single. Matusz was sensational, if not a bit brief. The bullpen has made quick work. It looks like they’re gonna win.

What more can you ask for? Oh yeah — a great photo op of Matusz have a post-effort chat in the dugout with Chris Tillman and David Hernandez. Gary Thorne says they’ve been inseparable.

Hopefully, Tillman and Matusz are as effective as Hernandez and Brad Bergesen have been. Then, perhaps, 2010 will be a far more interesting campaign.

8:37 p.m. — Like a good book or a good movie, tonight Brian Matusz left us wanting more. Like Led Zeppelin. LOL! He’s done for the night. His line: 5IP, 6H, 1R, 1ER, 3W, 5K…his ERA is 1.80, 99 pitches and is winning pitcher of record.

I can’t argue, although he looked like he was just getting going. But he finishes in double-digit pitches and leaves feeling really, really good about his debut. We ALL feel good about his debut.

Could’ve been better and more dominant. But he certainly didn’t give in when he was in a jam. He was impressive!

Nick Markakis just piled on with a two-run homer. It’s 5-1 Birds. Matusz is in line for a W…

8:34 p.m. — You can’t the kid hasn’t been gritty. He’s had some Tigers tee off on him. He’s gotten some nice defense. He’s battled out of some jams. He’s got moxie! The Birds are still up 3-1

8:28 p.m. — Hard to believe Mike Mussina’s debut was 18 years ago tonight. Just incredible how old I am.

8:23 p.m. — All hail Cesar Izturis. He’s having a career night. Two amazing defensive plays. And now, the unlikely home run.

God, these MASN commercials are painful! I haven’t live blogged in a few weeks and it seems that every time I do it’s unavoidable to not point out how bad the broadcasts are. How “homerish” it’s gotten. And how defensive the announcers are in regard to criticism of a last-place team on a 4-13 run after the All Star break.

I’m not looking for “funereal” — but how about just having some balance and integrity for what truly is: A LAST PLACE team. As Peter Schmuck might say: “Don’t pee orange on my cap and tell me it’s raining.”

Matusz has fought nicely. He finally gave up a run in the fourth. They’re playing hasty baseball at Comerica Park tonight.

The Birds are up 3-1. All Hail Cesar!

8:05 p.m. — It’s an exciting night to be an Orioles fan. The future isn’t just “coming” any more. From all indications, it’s here.

Matusz went 1-2-3 in the first. He struggled and battled in the the second inning and got an amazing play from Cesar Izturis, who followed it up with another web gem in the third.

We’re hanging on every pitch. We’re impressed by that slingshot lefthanded delivery. And we’re hearing Gary Thorne and Buck Martinez salivate with each pitch. Martinez seems particularly zoned in on pitch selection, which is good for a former big league manager and catcher. (And this makes it all the more embarrassing when he protects the organization and makes excuses for their last place standing in the AL East. He’s a great baseball man, even if he is from out of town. He doesn’t need to be a shill.)

Well, Matusz is through three innings. The Orioles have staked him out to a a 2-0 lead on a nice offensive output in the first inning with a big hit from Matt Wieters.

Matusz has rosy red cheeks. (Like I said, a lot of weird observations when you’re seeing the kid for the first time.)

I love baseball when it feels like it matters. Tonight, somehow like Wieters debut against Detroit in May, feels like an “ascension” for the organization. For the first time in a long, frustrating summer, we get the “final piece” added to the big league roster.

I’ll be checking in to write and approve posts all night…

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Tillman scuffles but Orioles beat Greinke & Royals 7-3

Posted on 29 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

For those who chose to attend or watch tonight’s game after the rain delay, it was a different kind of game than what we all bargained for more than four hours ago.

In the end, it was a happy night. The Orioles beat the Royals 7-3 with a flurry of late offense and a huge night from Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, who each had 3 RBIs. Matt Albers pitched some key middle relief and Jim Johnson was unhittable at the end.

But the real reason this meeting of two last-place teams caught everyone’s attention was the pitching matchup: Cy Young current vs. Cy Young future in Zack Greinke vs. Chris Tillman. It was a bit of a long and tedious game and it wasn’t because of great pitching.

The Orioles got to Greinke early when Jones hit a moon shot that just kept going over the left-centerfield wall. Tillman battled but threw 93 long pitches in just 4 2/3 innings and left the game in trouble. Greinke threw a whopping 116 pitches in six innings. Tillman gave up three home runs.

In the end, neither factored in the decision.

Trembley said in the postgame that the most amount of pitches Tillman has thrown this season was 102. He also said Tillman is going to throw a lot of fly ball pitches.  He also said he didn’t pitch in enough.

Aubrey Huff got off the rocks with a big hit. Trembley was almost giddy in the postgame. Jones and Markakis were rock stars. It was a nice night at Camden Yards.

Here’s the box score…

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Orioles had one more hit than you and I last night

Posted on 07 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The Orioles lost again last night while you were asleep. Sure, you were probably awake when it started and thought (like I did) that with Brad Bergesen on the hill at least the game stood a chance of getting over before Conan and Letterman. Alas, hasty baseball was played — the game ended in 2:09 — but the game moves a helluva lot quicker when you don’t threaten any offense.

Last night in Seattle, Mariners pitcher Jarrod Washburn came about as close as you can get to a perfect game, allowing just one single to Nick Markakis in the fourth inning and cruising to a complete game 5-0 win over the Orioles at Safeco Field.

The Orioles got ONE HIT last night. Hard to win like that.

“He probably pitched one of the best games in Major League Baseball all season,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “Give the guy credit. He was on his game, and boy, he certainly pitched a gem.”

“Let’s give credit where credit is due,” Trembley said. “Washburn pitched a great game. I mean, come on. … He completely dominated the game. That’s as good of a game as I’ve seen pitched against us all year.”

The Oriole have now fallen a season-low 11 games under .500 and remain in last place.

Read the full story here…

See the boxscore here…

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Orioles update: They’re still in last place

Posted on 06 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

While we were all busy following the tragic death of Steve McNair over the weekend the Orioles were still busy losing and playing bad baseball. It seems like the franchise goes further into the witness protection program when they play on the West Coast but all of the mistakes and lousy pitching hasn’t been lost on me.

I actually watched all of the late-night garbage over the Fourth of July weekend.

Where to begin?

Well, they’re still in last place at 36-46. They managed to cross the official “midseason” point in the cellar. They still manage to regularly find ways to blow big-early game leads. And, thankfully for me, Jim Palmer is still employed by MASN so I can actually have a few chuckles with my unending yield of losses after midnight.

Palmer continually called it “bad baseball” and reinforced his opinions with many facts, observations and criticisms that would qualify as comedy after midnight if it weren’t so sad. I think he’s almost bored with it and was more interested in making funny faces with Gary Thorne than watching the Orioles blow one more game after a decent starting effort.

I could itemize the entire weekend and point specific fingers but I’ll limit my abuse to simply discussing the Nick Markakis-Brian Roberts fiasco in right field on Saturday night and wonder how the team’s two best players – Adam Jones’ All-Star berth not withstanding – could watch a game-changing routine, can-of-corn pop up land at their feet late in the game.

Of course, after giving up six more runs in the ensuing innings, this boneheaded play seems irrelevant but it was the greatest source of my personal frustration over the weekend.

The Orioles lost three of four in Anaheim. They’re now headed to Seattle before coming home to play Toronto here this weekend. Something tells me there will be a giveaway or a special “2110” promotion.

All I want is some quality baseball and some decent pitching.

Another All-Star Break looms at week’s end and the Orioles are once again in last place.

Some things never change…

I’ll be back on the air at 2 p.m. to discuss all of the baseball you didn’t watch over the weekend because you had better things to do than watch this lousy team lose again after midnight.

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Ohhhhh what a comeback: Oriole Magic percolates at The Yard after the rain…

Posted on 30 June 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It isn’t hype to say that a miracle happened at Camden Yards tonight. It isn’t hyperbole to say that this was truly the greatest comeback in Orioles history. It really was.

I’m sure this morning many of you will awake to read this and say what most of the city (or the few who were watching to begin with will say): “They were losing 9-1 when the rain came. How the hell did they win that game?”

Well, the box score will tell you all about the comeback — an amazing display of perserverance that saw them get five runs in the 7th inning and five more in the 8th to overcome the Red Sox in an 11-10 win before a stunned contingent of mostly Red Sox fans, who stayed to celebrate what looked to be a rout at 10:45 p.m. after a lengthy and wet rain delay that came in the fifth inning.

In the 7th, Aubrey Huff, Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott heroics were all upstaged by Oscar Salazar’s big home run off of Hideki Okajima.

In the 8th, it was Nick Markakis’ big two-out shot off the left field wall that highlighted a firestorm offensive display against Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. Everyone got in on the act. They managed 13 hits and 10 runs in two innings against the best bullpen in the game and on a night when all but a handful of their fans walked out of the ballpark during a rain delay.

Afterward Dave Trembley said (without joy): “That’s about the best ballgame I’ve ever been involved in. You play all 27 outs. It was calm. But every time we scored it got a little bit more wild. I guess the word would be: believable. Very impressive.”

Well, for all of Trembley’s relative lack of enthusiasm, at least the MASN boys were in great spirits. Jim Hunter looked like he was going to pee himself. Rick Dempsey couldn’t stop smiling. The remaining Red Sox fans were looking for more cold beer. Jim Palmer looked stunned. Gary Thorne was screaming like it was Game 7 Avalanche-Red Wings on ESPN circa 1998. (I love Gary Thorne!)

Former Baltimore Sun writer David Steele commented on my Facebook thread with this amazing observation: With the biggest win in Orioles history “they quieted their own ballpark.”

That’s a scary thought — but it’s true. The more the comeback came, the fewer the people who were cheering in the stands in red shirts. There was one rowdy group of orange over the O’s dugout, the heartiest of hearty souls after 11 p.m. I’m sure they have some great stories to tell. MASN had one cutaway of a Red Sox fan jawwing with an O’s supporter in the box seats and it looked like a fight was about to throw down.

What a night! These crazy kids are so up and down it’s impossible to know what you’re getting. Lost in this amazing win will be the dreadful start of Rich Hill, who managed to give up 9 runs in less than four innings before the magical rain that changed the O’s fortunes tonight.

You gotta admit that what happened tonight takes a certain amount of chutzpah and stones. It was a comeback for the ages. Like Bills-Oilers. Or Maryland-Miami. Or Len Bias at the Dean Dome. (Or sadly, Duke-Maryland 2001!) That Flacco effort in Cleveland last year didn’t suck either.

It was memorable and hopeful. Like Jimmy V, these guys never gave up. You have to respect that. It makes them likable and heroic in many ways. The Markakis at bat could be a “defining moment.”

The Orioles and Sox have a quick turnaround. They play the cap of the three-game series at 1:35 p.m. with Josh Beckett facing Brad Bergesen.

11:26 p.m. — If you are watching the Orioles game right now, you’re one of the few lost souls who have returned. After trailing the Red Sox 9-1 when a brutal rainstorm entered the city early in the evening, the Orioles have come back in the “second half” and brutalized Boston pitching in various ways to take an amazing 11-10 lead in the 8th inning.

There appear to be about 10,000 Red Sox fans still in the ballpark and a handful of rowdy Orioles fans who are truly the last rats on the ship.

A longer blog will follow, but we’re up and we’re paying attention and we’re stunned in amazement at the greatest comeback in Orioles history.

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Wieters HOF

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Wieters fever: Will he be the savior that this franchise needs?

Posted on 28 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

We fully expect that Camden Yards will be packed tomorrow night for the debut of Matt Wieters. It’s a Friday night, the forecast is good and this is probably the most unique evening of baseball in Baltimore since “Fan Appreciation Night” back in May 1988, when the team was greeted with unconditional love after an 0-21 start.

Clearly, the Orioles marketing folks have finally put the “WNST Cap” on and used an evening to create an “event.” They were already guaranteed about 30,000 on a $6 student/fireworks night. And after a couple of years of press, accolades and hype, the can’t-miss-kid is coming to town. They could’ve made his debut tonight, but they’ve chosen a night when they were already en route to a full house. This alone, is a departure from some of their foolish decisions related to getting people interested in the team.

Here’s where you can make all of the jokes about how few people still DO go to Orioles games. Yesterday, the Orioles battled back from an 8-3 deficit to win a game in dramatic, 11th-inning style with a walk-off home run by young Nolan Reimold and there weren’t 5,000 people in the stadium to witness it. On Tuesday night, it was truly a “friends and family” night with less than 3,000 people there in the rain to watch young Jason Berken pitch his debut.

That won’t be the case tomorrow night when the flashbulbs glow all over Camden Yards for the coming of the catcher/messiah. It will be a virtual “sea of orange.”

(ONE FAIR WARNING: If you’re planning on “walking up” tomorrow at 6:30 and getting in, think again! The Orioles have one of the most inept game day staffs in the universe. You will be standing line until the 4th inning trying to get in if you roll up there at any point after 6 p.m.)

Oh sure they’ll say Wieters is “just another ballplayer” and one of the many “fine young prospects in the organization.” Andy McPhail and Dave Trembley have already begun calling for “calm” and have made the “give the kid some space” pronouncements.

They’ll say all of the “right” things because they don’t know if he’ll hit .300 or flop once he gets to the big leagues. No one ever knows but Wieters is about as much of a sure thing as we’re going to get in this lifetime in an Orioles uniform.

All of the indicators of maturity, pedigree and ability are there for Wieters to literally be a Hall of Famer.

Wieters HOF

Go to www.mattwietersfacts.com for more fun like this above…

He was the best player in the draft, who was made hard to draft because of the Scott Boras factor and signability issue. But at the 11th hour two years ago, Peter Angelos found a way to get it done and get him into an orange jersey.

Wieters has come into the organization and literally earned every promotion he’s received over the last two years.

But the franchise needs “saving” as much OFF the field as on the field. Sure, winning will be the ultimate tonic for all that ails the Orioles. (At least that’s what the current ownership believes.)

But what will Wieters’ impact really be in Baltimore over the next four months?

Or four years?

Or for the next decade or so, if he’s truly “The Chosen One” for the organization?

Will he be a guy who does charity work and lives in the community?

Will he be another guy who lives “out of town” during the offseason?

Will he be stupid enough to go on a radio show and call Baltimore a “horseshit” city? (Doubtful, by the way!)

Will he be able to hit .300 and have the kind of impact that Joe Mauer has had in Minnesota?

Will we be comparing him to Mike Piazza or Earl Williams in 2011?

Will he be Cal Ripken or Jim Fuller?

Will he be Eddie Murray or Craig Worthington?

Where will he bat in the order?

Will fans flock to see him after tomorrow night? Will Wieters be playing in front of 40,000 empty green seats once the “shine” wears off his star?

Will he be a “reason to come to the ballpark” more so than Nick Markakis or Brian
Roberts, who have both exceeded any reasonable expectation over the past five years yet still play in an empty stadium most nights when the Red Sox or Yankees aren’t in town booing the home team?

What’s going to make this promotion of Matt Wieters “special” somewhere down the line?

Here’s hoping that all of our wildest dreams or fantasies as Orioles fans are realized with this promotion on Friday. Let’s hope it’s the beginning of the end of the 12 years of hell and the 16 years of lousy ownership and leadership and accountability. (I’m in no way holding my breath that the Angelos clan will ever learn how to be a quality community partner and civic leaders for the greater good of Baltimore, but I never say “never.”)

So, I’m drinking the orange Kool Aid for the time being. (Hey, I’m at least sipping from a Dixie cup until Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz get here.)

If Matt Wieters is here to save us all, then I’m the first convertible soul to sign up for the congregation. But it’s going to take more than just rolling the ball onto the field at Camden Yards to change what has been a generation of despair for anyone in this region who loves baseball as much as I do.

Here’s my message to Wieters:

Change the losing culture here in Baltimore, Matt!

Hit .300 and drive in runs. Be a fiery leader and say and do the “right” things here. (In other words, stay away from Aubrey Huff!)

Buy, don’t rent, here in Baltimore and get to know the people and heritage and history of the city. Put a little effort into being special and you’ll get special treatment! And whatever you do, don’t take marketing or human relations advice from Peter Angelos or any of his kin.

We want a hero. We want another Cal or Brooks. We’ve been patient but it’s now all on you. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. That’s the way it goes when you get a $6 million signing bonus and negotiate til the 11th hour and you’re the No. 1 prospect in all of the major leagues according to anyone with a baseball website.

We’ve been waiting a long time for you kid!

I’m not a Wieters beater.

I’m more in line with “Going to bat for Matt!”

Come on up, do your best, make us proud to have “Baltimore” on our chests and give us a fun summer.

After all, if it’s ever going to change here – this sea of ineptitude, mean-spiritedness and arrogance this ownership has wreaked upon Baltimore since 1993 – it has to begin somewhere.

They tell me you’re “The Savior.”

For once — at least — I hope they’re not lying.

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