Tag Archive | "peter"

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Another prime example of what Al Davis & Peter Angelos have in common

Posted on 26 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Banning free speech and free access to information by legitimate journalists is now apparently catching on in the NFL, as Al Davis has banned former-QB and current CBS broadcaster Rich Gannon from the Oakland Raiders facility in advance of Sunday’s game against the Broncos.

“Rich Gannon is not welcome here,” Raiders executive John Herrera said Friday when asked about the ban. “We told CBS we did not want him in our building, we did not want him to be part of our production meeting, and that’s where it sits.”

“He’s attacked us on a regular basis since becoming a member of the media,” Raiders King of Propaganda (also known as public relations executive) John Herrera said. “After affording him the opportunity to establish a career here, he has since gone on to attack us in a way that’s totally unacceptable.”

This has become a way of life in Oakland, as it is here in Baltimore with Peter Angelos in regard to me and WNST, who continually report the truth only to be scorned and castigated in an effort to undermine the credibility of our journalistic conviction. (Hey, WNST is a Top 100K Alexa company and the Orioles are 60-93 — not a low blow, just a fact!)

At least someone in the media in the Bay Area has some level of conviction and integrity to ask the team to explain the “corporate rationale.” But as you’ll see below, the goofy un-American, Marxist answers that you get from delusional, uber-wealthy 80-year old men are right up there with the nonsensical speeches of Iran and Libya’s leadership at the United Nations over the past few days.

And with Gannon, he’s a guy who wore the silver helmet and led the team to a Super Bowl seven seasons ago and was the NFL’s MVP in 2002. I just a kid from Dundalk with a microphone and a 25-year record of journalistic integrity.

Gannon’s crime? He had the audacity to say the Raiders should “blow up the building and start over again.”

“We think in a post 9/11 world, that’s not a very proper thing to say,” Herrera said. “It’s uncalled for. He seems to be a guy who can’t get over the fact that he played the worst Super Bowl game in the history of the game and he wants to blame everybody but himself.

“I guess it’s our fault he threw five interceptions.”

(I think this was known as the “sticks and stones” reasoning when I was 8 years old on the Colgate Elementary playground in Dundalk.)

CBS is outraged, the NFL is embarrassed (as they should be) and Rich Gannon is apparently amused, because he’ll be calling the Denver game at 4:05 p.m. in Oakland on Sunday no matter what Al Davis thinks.

This is a way of life in Oakland, as we’ve reported several times before.

So, you want to be a sportswriter, huh?

Here’s a classic video of the aforementioned Herrera attempting to humiliate and intimidate a Bay Area reporter last year over the Lane Kiffin storm, which all turned out to be true:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruiUgDyMf60[/youtube]

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‘Twas The Night before the Ravens opener…

Posted on 12 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It kinda reminds me of Christmas Eve with anticipation. We’ve been waiting…and waiting…and waiting…and finally, football season is really here in Baltimore.

Wash away those ghosts of Troy Polamalu – the ones from the AFC Championship Game in January not the one from Thursday night – and let us begin a season anew.

First up, it’s the woeful Kansas City Chiefs. The general vibe around town all week has been one of supreme confidence. Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed began their Wednesday press conference with dancing. John Harbaugh has sounded confident. Joe Flacco seems like a veteran all of a sudden.

I’ve quizzed several Kansas City media members and I had a chance to watch parts of two of their preseason games (both without Matt Cassel). No one is brimming with confidence in the land of the red Chiefs and no one really expects them to win tomorrow.

The Vegas line started at 10 ½ and has now moved to 13 points. Even if Matt Cassel plays on Sunday – and that seems to be a sure bet given their backup options with Tyler Thigpen and Brodie Croyle – the Chiefs are a team of nobodys and “who is thats” coming in to serve the purple patrons an Opening Day patsy.

The Ravens should win on Sunday. There should be no excuses.

The team has looked brilliant in virtually every facet of first-team play through four preseason games. They’ve almost made it look too easy, even without Terrell Suggs for long stretches.

Confidence is high. Tailgates are sizzling with Roma Sausage and cold beer. Even the weather looks to be strong – forecast is 78 degrees and zero chance of precipitation.

So, just how will the 2009 season go for the Ravens?

The fans are abuzz with talk of depth at the wide receiver position. The offensive line is trying to find some depth to open up holes for a running back-by-committee arrangement with Willis McGahee, Le’Ron McClain and Ray Rice, who will probably be the leading rusher if they all stay healthy. And the health and productivity of Todd Heap is certainly a question mark.

But, offensively, it feels like Flacco will be asked to do more and looks more than capable of stepping up to that challenge.

Defensively, the eyes will always be on Ray Lewis, who is fighting Father Time with every season. Consider that he’s now survived two years longer than Jon Ogden and the likes of Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, Chris McAlister, Duane Starks – who all entered the league after No. 52 – all seems to be done in the NFL. Lewis was considered a surefire Hall of Famer five years ago is now continuing to pile on his own legacy.

What kind of a year will it be for Lewis?

And Ed Reed, who has had neck issues and certainly doesn’t appear set for a long, long career given his style of play and reckless abandon and penchant for physical contact?

Terrell Suggs appeared injured during most of camp but quieted all questions for me in the Atlanta game, when he looked dominant and healthy.

The secondary will have a fresh look with Dominique Foxworth and Fabian Washington mixing it up with Frank Walker, who has to earn a little more confidence from the purple crowd and probably will vs. Kansas City.

The defensive line appears to be the strength of the defense, led by Haloti Ngata who had a mysterious injury appear earlier this week.

Questions and more questions. We’ll have 16 weeks of this marathon.

The answers begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Bring on the season. Bring on the Chiefs. Bring on the roadtrips!

My prediction: Ravens go 12-4 and win the Super Bowl.

Baltimore 31, Kansas City 13

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Hey Baltimore: Where is the fight in you on this Art Modell issue?

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Hey Baltimore: Where is the fight in you on this Art Modell issue?

Posted on 12 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I am a little embarrassed to be from Baltimore these days. And it has nothing to do with the 30,000 Red Sox fans who invaded the Inner Harbor two weeks ago.

Look, no one loves the city or the sports teams or the “culture” of Baltimore more than me and I dare you to find someone who has displayed more civic pride over the last 25 years in the sports circle here than me and/or WNST.net.

But, honestly, I don’t know what that’s worth these days.

Every Facebook user and tweeter I can find within earshot all share the same opinion: DAMN, I’m glad it’s football season!

Hear, hear…

Yet the man who brought the team here, Art Modell, continues to be coldly left out of the Hall of Fame and no one here seems to be interested in picking up the torch and taking the slight a little more “seriously” or “personally” as a civic cause.

As a community, we were the city that fought desperately and embarrassingly through the loss of the Colts and the frequent use of our metropolis and tax payers by the NFL machine as a $20 hooker for more than a dozen years. The sham of the Paul Tagliabue era still stings. I remember the “museum” comments. I remember the Sundays without a team. I remember the disgusting expansion process. I remember the Saints-Dolphins game on 33rd Street. I remember the Charlotte and Jacksonville coronation.

I remember the desperation and the loss of hope like it was last night.

What these writers and disgruntled Cleveland Browns fans with an axe to grind — one that really isn’t based in true damage — are essentially saying is this: “We should all be embarrassed that the Baltimore Ravens even exist!”

And I find that unacceptable and an issue worth “fighting” for. And Art Modell’s Hall of Fame candidacy – or what’s left of it because it’s pretty clear he’s been blackballed and if there were any doubts before the reaction to Rod Woodson’s words there are none after the local reaction in Canton Saturday night – should be a MAJOR, MAJOR civic cause here.

The guy who brought the team here in the September of his life because Cleveland never took care of him deserves better treatment from all of the PSL owners and the people here in Baltimore who think the Ravens are pretty cool and pretty special.

I wonder if we can find 50,000 people who are willing to fight for Modell. Or even 50…

Steve Bisciotti once said to me: “You’re a cause guy!”

Well, yes I am, and I’ve started a Facebook page for Art Modell’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Feel free to join it and spread the word…

Here’s the direct address: http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=art+modell&init=quick#/group.php?gid=60824460336&ref=search&sid=1740947610.1010947778..1

It’ll be interesting to see how many people think that Cleveland and the NFL machine spitting on Modell is essentially spitting on Baltimore.

These Browns Backers are people with very short memories for facts and very long memories for acrimony and anger and bile.

As I said to the Cleveland blogger who wrote a typically-negative “Art doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame” piece after Woodson’s mention of Modell in his induction speech: the residual damage a decade later is ZERO! As a matter of fact, it’s been a GAIN not a loss.

It’s like being mad at your ex-wife after you’ve remarried and found a better life. They’ve gotten a better stadium, their name, their colors and their records. They got an ownership family with the Lerners that they allegedly were going to like more than the Modells. Other than a few 5-11 seasons 13 years ago, they’ve missed NOTHING and restored everything!

But again, we’re talking about Clevelanders. In general, my experience with their hospitality and intellect has been less than impressive.

And I’ve got a LOT of experience with Cleveland. I’ve been going to Cleveland for 25 years. I was in Cleveland Stadium on the 1986 day that John Elway drove 98 yards to send them home from the Super Bowl.

I’ve probably seen 75 sporting events in Cleveland over the years along with various concerts, events, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Flats – I’ve done it all.

And their fans stink!

The boo their team every single year that I’m there — win or lose. They hate virtually everything. And, let’s be honest, they haven’t won anything in my lifetime and their hometown hero, LeBron James, is about to drop all things Ohio like a habit and run to New York to try to win a championship elsewhere. (Imagine Cal Ripken pulling that in 1992?)

It’s kind of sad. It sucks to be a sports fan from Cleveland. Ask Drew Carey…

And the people in Cleveland have plenty to be angry about – including the crappy weather, economy and the current state of their football team – but to continue this petty grudge against Modell is almost silly and continues to further ingrain their shortcomings.

And for Tony Grossi or Peter King or anyone else in their camp to make a paper-thin argument that a man who owned the team for nearly 40 years and helped manage the league through prosperity that no other league in the history of the planet has ever seen is just downright small and petty. And to put Al Davis or Lamar Hunt or Ralph Wilson on a higher pedestal than Modell is a testament to the vindictive nature of this group of voters and their agenda.

The merger. The TV deals. Monday Night Football. A .600 winning percentage over the course of his ownership. Free agency. Revenue sharing. The salary cap. The rules. Modell voted in every meeting and was a leader in many areas, including moving his NFL team to the “AFL” after the merger and convincing the Colts and Steelers to come with him.

Oh, and there’s that little accomplishment that NEVER gets mentioned – the restoration and growth of Baltimore football in the shape of the Ravens, which this city is obsessed with 365 days a year. Oh, yeah, and the Super Bowl win as well…

Modell “rebirthed” the NFL in Baltimore and over the past 14 years I dare you find a more successful franchise at recruiting the community and feeding the fire with positive energy and great people in the organization from Ozzie Newsome straight on down.

Art Modell created Baltimore football as we know it.

Doesn’t that count for anything?

Well, it only does if we say it does.

Don’t expect anyone from Cleveland to lead the charge to get Modell into the Hall of Fame.

That has to come from Baltimore. That, quite frankly, has to come from you.

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It’s about time for Dave Trembley to go…

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Being on the radio every day over the years I’ve had the sad fortune to listen to more than my fair share of “fire the manager/coach” calls from knee-jerk reactionaries on a mission to be a public “coach killer.” In general, it’s just not my style to call for the firing of a skipper.

In fact in my 17 years on the radio – from Johnny Oates to Davey Johnson, from Phil Regan to Sam Perlozzo, from Mike Hargrove to Lee Mazzilli – I’ve never gone on the air in any fashion and said, “Fire the manager.”

(Not even for Mazzilli, who was such a freaking train wreck that it was reprehensible.)

But, today, I’m strongly toying with the idea that it might be getting close to the time for Dave Trembley to exit.

I’ve watched the first three months of the 2009 version of the Orioles.

They lack consistency in virtually every aspect of the game. They even lack consistent effort, Tuesday night’s miracle notwithstanding. They’re in dead last place and going nowhere anytime soon.

They run the bases like Jeff Stone on certain nights. The mental mistakes and ill-placed errors are maddening at times. But, for me, the worst part of watching the games are the bizarre strategic maneuvers of Dave Trembley and the failure for many of them to ever be properly explained to the fans. Of course, when the Orioles and Peter Angelos summarily ban “free speech” and access to legitimate journalists to ask questions of the manager, it’s made all but impossible to get answers about anything. It’s the “Oriole Way” handed down from ownership.

But on most nights, a somber and sullen Trembley appears before the local “firing squad” of team-employed “journalists” and co-workers and submits a dreadful 10-minute dirge that feels more like a root canal for the fans than a discussion about baseball strategy. And that’s when the Orioles WIN!

I’ve had Dave Trembley on my show before, a few years ago at spring training. I honestly don’t remember much about it but I found a picture of it last year. As I remember, he was relatively uptight even on a midday February afternoon in Fort Lauderdale. It was a Joe Friday-style interview.

But watching him react to the questions every night from a frightened room of my
“colleagues” is only second on the “Are you kidding me?” list to watching MASN’s often-comical dialogue in the middle of the games on “Wired Wednesday.” He hates talking about the game or letting the fans feel “into” the game. Recruiting the community is the furthest thing from his mind. (And none of the fools or cowards in the Orioles P.R. department have apparently issued a memo in his direction that he’s talking TO THE FANS when he makes the bitter-beer face. You know, the people who actually pay the bills? The ones their marketing department is trying to get to come down and fill the seats and drink beer…)

He’s absolutely equally joyless in victory or defeat, as witnessed twice in less than 18 hours after talking about the biggest comeback in the history of the franchise and the subsequent devastating loss this afternoon to the Red Sox after he pulled Brad Bergesen from the game in the 8th inning.

Sure, the pitching is subpar and that’s not his fault. The youthful, streaky hitting makes his win-loss record look acceptable when it’s going well, which hasn’t been much lately. Let’s face it: the team has last place talent in the only place that matters — the little hill in the middle of the diamond.

And, I’m not an unreasonable fan. I’ve known every Baltimore manager and sports coach of this generation very well and my business partner is a decorated NFL head coach. From Gene Ubriaco to Kenny Cooper to Terry Murray to Barry Trotz to Ted Marchibroda to all of the college basketball and football and soccer coaches – I’ve dined with them, drank with them, rapped with them and ultimately learned from all of them.

I’m a coach-lover, not a hater.

Some of my best friends on the planet are current and former coaches in a variety of sports. I love coaches. I respect smart people. There’s a craft to their management and intellect that I know I don’t personally possess. I’ve learned more from sports coaches as a reporter and journalist than I’ve ever learned anywhere in life. I’ve been “taken in” by some of the best coaches in the business all over the country.

I know pretty intimately what managers and head coaches go through and it ain’t easy. There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of personalities and egos and a variety of different ownership and management styles.

I’m not some knucklehead on a bar stool when it comes to this subject matter. I don’t write about this stuff to be inflammatory or directive. But it’s my job to opine and this is my opinion:

I would be actively seeking a new manager.

There are defenses for Trembley and his supporters will illuminate them.

We are talking about a lot of young players on the roster, some who are emerging and slumping at various speeds and degrees. I know – trust me I KNOW – he was doomed to last place with the hand he was dealt and the garden variety of Triple A and washed-up pitchers he’s had to pencil into the starting rotation most nights this season.

It’s not the manager’s fault when a starting pitcher can’t get out of the first inning, which happened twice in one weekend recently.

It’s not about any “one” incident, although today’s hook on Bergesen and the resulting embarrassing loss that leveled Tuesday night’s enthusiasm is Exhibit A. His decision, even moreso than the arsonist effort by Jim Johnson and George Sherrill today, cost the team the game.

The biggest question now is the future. My only question now for Andy McPhail and this ownership is this: “Who will be the manager of the team when the Orioles actually win again?”

(That is, assuming all of the orange Kool Aid drinkers are correct and the team is capable of winning 95 games in 2011. A large, suspect assumption at any rate but let’s go with a “best case” scenario.)

I can all but assure you that Dave Trembley is not the answer to above question. And for that reason, I think the search has either begun or will begin very shortly.

He’s the first Oriole manager that I’ve never had direct access to speak with in a generation. So, I don’t know how he’d react to me but I assure you there would be some quality questions after some of these losses. If they ever issued me a press pass it wouldn’t take long for them to take it away if I started asking Trembley some legitimate questions after games.

Instead of being intimidated I’d be emboldened on live TV every night because this is where you show what you’re really about. Most people are great winners but I don’t even sense any fun or joy when they win, which is really a shame because they don’t win that much!

It’s the worst and coldest part of the franchise at this point watching Trembley brood every night and be evasive, almost “Angelosian.” It’s really weird given their marketing platform of defining moments and joy in “Birdland.”

It’s a time when as a Baltimore sports fan (which is all I am at this point with my press pass revoked for speaking and writing the truth) there’s genuinely a lot to be excited about as the team comes together. The fans are more excited than they’ve been in years because we have some young players with genuine upside. Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Luke Scott, Nolan Reimold, Matt Wieters and Brad Bergesen could just as easily be Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, Rich Dauer, Gary Roenicke, John Lowenstein, Rick Dempsey and Mike Boddicker when you think about it.

They all seem like “right” guys and they’re really kinda easy to pull for every night.

Honestly, I think this group could be winning more games if the team were better managed and led. And they certainly could be recruiting the community and ca$hing in on the excitement with a leader who was a little more inspirational and less confrontational and gloomy.

The team has been in dead last place for virtually every breath of his tenure as the team’s manager and NO ONE in the room of media “executioners” he meets with every night on live television has EVER crossed him, called him out or asked a question that was unfair or even remotely confrontational. He just comes off like an arrogant ass every night and the business side of me and the Baltimore side of me kinda cringes.

Geez, it’s baseball. Everyone watching a simple press conference after the game LOVES baseball and LOVES the Orioles (even after 12 years of insolence and ineptitude) and just wants to know what’s going on with the team.

How freaking hard is it to answer a few questions and be honest and polite with the fans/customers/sheep. The press conference ISN’T for the press — it’s for THE FANS!

Despite my continued outrage at the practices and principals of this Fascist ownership group, I still love baseball. I still love the Orioles. Really I love Baltimore more than the Orioles but one day they’ll actually be merged again. And I still watch the games every night hoping that “tonight” will be the beginning of some kind of run that will bring the Birds to relevancy, if not a championship.

I suppose I’m a little jaded because I’ve essentially BEEN the guy in that room asking questions for 25 of my 40 years on the planet. At sporting events all over the world in every category you can imagine. So, this is my ONLY access to know what’s going on. Your “lens” is the same as mine.

And I don’t like what I see.

On the field. In the press conferences. In the community. And with the results, which are a lot of losses.

Seriously, if you could pick anyone on the planet to be the manager of the Orioles right now, would that guy be Dave Trembley? I’ve been watching his managerial strategies and style over the past two years. I’ve seen enough.

I don’t think the franchise will win with him. I think his direness is unattractive. I think his managerial strategies are questionable and illogical in some cases. And I can’t think for a second some of the younger guys in the clubhouse have any “relationship” with him that inspires them on a nightly basis.

A change is a’coming, I think. It might not happen now for a variety of reasons, among them:

1.    Firing a manager in midseason is a messy endeavor, even when you are in last place

2.    Finding the “right” manager is a search onto itself and easier to perform in the offseason and perhaps you’ll get better candidates

3.    Doing the interim tag can be inspirational for the right guy but could involve a revolving door that’s unnecessary

4.   Does anyone worthwhile really want to take this job? (Joe Girardi certainly ran like hell 24 months ago but perhaps some of the personnel upgrades and minor-league pitching prospects would make the franchise more attractive.)

Who knows? Maybe Andy McPhail is enamored with Trembley. If that’s the case – and McPhail didn’t hire Trembley as much as inherit him – I’d be utterly shocked.

And if Trembley’s not “his man” long term, he should begin the search for a successor immediately because at this point I feel like they’re wasting time and relationship and energy with Trembley.

My good sense says they’re not going to win with him.

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A weekend of MASN and Baltimore and Washington and “Battle of Basement”

Posted on 24 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, if they weren’t going to get the sweep at least they lost in dramatic fashion. Jamie Walker gave up a prodigious grand slam to Adam Dunn in the 7th inning and the Nats beat the O’s 8-5 to avert a sweep in D.C.

Brad Bergesen pitched well enough. The Orioles battled and the game was pretty nip and tuck through the middle innings with lead changes, big hits and competitiveness. But it all unraveled in the 7th for the O’s bullpen after Bergesen hit the shower.

I’ve spent all three days pretty much glued to the TV watching this series. I was just as amazed by all of the empty seats as I was the full ones. It looks like they sold a lot of tickets and many didn’t come. It was just weird looking at it for 30 innings over the last 45 hours.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog all weekend but I thought I’d just do a “summary” here today about what I’m thinking as I watch all of this pretty-much lousy baseball.

I’m also a little overwhelmed with MASN’s hodgepodge display of Nats and O’s as “friendly rivals” and how chummy the “Battle of the Beltway” feels as they both meet again and are both again headed for the basement of their respective East divisions. I call it the “Battle of the Basement” and it feels like it’ll probably be that way again next year.

With Jim Palmer back in the booth today, it was a refreshing change from the Nats-dominated coverage from Friday and Saturday. And when Cakes talks, I listen. He’s one of the few (Dave Johnson would be another) who actually teaches me stuff as I watch the game. I like that.

So, before I criticize MASN, let me say that Palmer eradicates many of their deficiencies with his brilliance, information, stories and general arrogance and candor. At this point, he’s Howard Cosell compared to what I hear anywhere else on MASN, CBS Radio, 105.7, Pressbox or anyone else who is “on the payroll” with the Orioles, Angelos or the axis of the “powers that be.”

But I’m just overwhelmed with how “templated” the Orioles and Nationals “fan experience” is when they tune their favorite club in on television. Both of their TV ratings are in the dumper and heading south with my last place summer nights. So, I suppose, other than telling us when Matt Wieters comes and pitching more events and MASN house ads and promotions, what else can they do with these teams that will be well into September before they win a combined 100 games?

But I love baseball. And I’m watching. And I’ve been taking some notes this weekend on Baltimore vs. Washington and how “flat” this thing feels.

Some random observations:

* A lot of orange in the seats all weekend in D.C. The O’s fans represented in almost Boston-like color in the seats. I’m not sure if that’s the D.C. side of the fanbase that thought that having a team they knew would suck as opposed to Montreal’s problems and MLB’s ownership would be a better play five years ago?

I’m not really sure how I would feel if I lived in Rockville and loved baseball. Why would I become a Nats fans? (Granted, it’s pretty easy to jump off the orange ship with the way Angelos has behaved with D.C. in general over the past 15 years. He’s more disliked in D.C. than he is here for trying to block the team’s entrance and now summarily screwing up the TV rights and presentation of the games.)

I suppose it’s the same situation for someone in Baltimore who truly fell in love with the Redskins in 1984 and just became a fan of the “nearest” team. I’ve rooted for the Capitals most of my life and considered the Bullets my “home” team until they moved into D.C. and changed their name to the Wizards.

It sucks bad enough being an Orioles fan. Imagine adopting the Nationals and watching them BOTH and trying to hang in there watching two doses of MASN every night to get your baseball fix…

* Debbi Taylor, former NESN girl who got her start as Peter Gammons’ girl wonder about 15 years ago at ESPN, makes Amber Theoharis look like Bonnie Bernstein or Suzy Kolber. The Nats broadcast team in general sounds like vanilla, blah, so what, etc. But again, they do have a 13-30 team that they have to make sense of every day. It ain’t easy talking day after day about losing. Trust me, we at WNST.net feel the same way. How many ways can you “sell” something that’s lousy?

* Palmer is hysterically funny. I’m not sure the guys at Famous Dave’s are happy with his assessment of their food, but it is funny.

* Hall of Famer Bob Feller stopped by in the middle of the game today and was just fabulous with one liners and old stories. Jim Palmer and Bob Feller talking old-school baseball might bore the hell out of some of the 21-year olds in the audience, but I love that stuff. I wish Feller, who is now 90 years young, would’ve stayed for two more innings. My Pop told me all about Bob Feller and the old stories are what sustain my interest in baseball these days.

•    I really wish this rivalry were good. The Redskins-Ravens thing is hot. Even when both teams suck, the game will always be a four-year war and the fans draw up the battle lines. I’m good with that. I hate the Redskins. I want to hate the Nationals. But neither one of these teams gives me any reason to feel any emotion. We had a bus trip planned for today and couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go. That’s pretty sad, I think. The Nationals are – alas — just “another team.” I wonder if sometime in the next 10 years whether it will ever develop into a “Hatfield-McCoy” thing. Right now, that feels a long, long way away…

* The one thing that I have found thoroughly offensive since Friday night has been MASN’s “mixed marriage” coverage. Look, I CLEARLY KNOW AND APPRECIATE that they’re “saving a buck” by combining the coverage. But if I hear Dibble call the Nationals “us” or “we” again or watch one more dorky Nats fan talk about “defining moments” in the same exact canned ads as they play on the Orioles broadcasts as they start the day 12-30, I’m gonna puke.

Angelos really HAS screwed up both cities for baseball. At least it’s comforting to know MASN’s just as lousy as a “templated” D.C. product.

And while I’m on it, the marketing phrase “Birdland” sucks. It’s just awful.

In D.C., they’re clearly “cultivating” Natstown”

As my wife pointed out, what would be wrong with “O-Town”?

Or “O’s Town”?

Anything but “Birdland,” which sounds like a place a last-place team would play to me.

•    I’ve gotta go now. Ray Knight and Johnny Holliday are on talking about the Nats in HD. I have to tune into MASN2 now to see Rick Dempsey and Tom Davis try to make sense of a loss to the Nats.

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Preakness on my mind…

Posted on 12 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m up early this morning and reading online about the Preakness and where it stands in the realm of the sports world circa 2009. I’ve been googling videos, watching drunken fights, potty races, some bare breasts and (oh yeah) horse racing and a history and legacy that defines sports in Baltimore and Maryland over the last century.

This week I could most certainly write my annual “Can The Preakness Be Saved?” blog/column and now that I’m back on the radio maybe it’s time to have a spirited debate about the Preakness and its merits on AM 1570.

Does it matter?

Do you like the changes to infield?

Are you going this week?

When’s the last time you went? (Or, when is the last time you went to any track, period?)

Why don’t you go?

Do you know how to read the Racing Form?

If you do go, why do you go?

I’m actually going to the race on Saturday and have been asked to participate on one of the stages and interview some of the stars of the event. I’m excited and honored. I love the Preakness but I also readily and sadly admit its incredible decline from once reverent status.

It’s been fascinating to see how everyone from Peter Angelos to Kevin Plank to David Cordish — and to my knowledge these are three of the most prominent and wealthy branders, marketers and developers our community has — have all rallied to keep the Preakness in Baltimore.

I just can’t figure out why, other than sentimentality and the dream to try to fix it in someway but my fear isn’t for the race as much as the sport in general. No one under 50 acknowledges that the track exists. And they’ve done a horrible job over the last 25 years of keeping the track up to date, the sport up to date and the marketing of the Preakness has turned up a reputation as a raunchy, outdoor, East Coast Mardi Gras drunken fest.

My questions:

Are they bailing out Chrysler here or can this race not only be “saved” but can it be “revived” over the next decade? And what would it take to revive the Preakness? (Not to mention revive horse racing in general.

No one loves the Kentucky Derby more than I do. But the city of Louisville absolutely “lays out” for that event in every way, for every man, woman and child. It’s a BIG, BIG deal there — a major source of civic pride that only the Ravens have in Baltimore circa 2009.

Then there’s the whole slots, gambling, new track issues…

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover at 2 p.m. today.

(We’ll also talk a little Caps Game 7, King of Baltimore Sportstalk and Orioles-Rays).

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Orioles continue to lie about WNST and press credentials

Posted on 01 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

At some point, the Orioles will “get even” with me by winning. Maybe that’s in 2011? Maybe that’ll never happen, but that’s not even the point. The point is that they really believe “Nestor and WNST are out to get us.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

No, I’m simply here to be honest and to continue to tell the truth about the way the ballclub is run, the way it functions and the way it continues to be a poor community partner for the city and the fans who literally BUILT the franchise between 1954 and 1994. The gobs of empty seats and a daily series of empty phone lines anytime we attempt to discuss the Orioles, their strategies or their rationales paints the true picture of how far the franchise has fallen. The opposite of “love” isn’t hate. It’s indifference. This year the Orioles will almost certainly continue a 12-year spiral downward as a franchise. They’ve all but admitted that there will be less people in the ballpark then there have ever been.

I could write for hours or days about all of the lies and cover-ups and shenanigans that the team has pulled over the last decade while going roughly 70-92 every year since 1998 and making a fortune off of the fact that the Washington Nationals exist allowing them to own MASN and its money-printing machine.

You don’t care to read it and I know I don’t care to write about it anymore. At this point, if you’re not smart enough to believe the truths that I put forth and verify with facts and evidence then the joke is really on you.

Honesty is not a pride issue with the Orioles. It’s simply a mere inconvenience. Take the team’s stance on something as fundamentally American as “free speech.”

It’s not news at this point (although it would be if it were Scott Garceau or Peter Schmuck or Roch Kubatko getting banned from doing what they do to feed their families) but the Orioles have once again denied me my absolute right to free speech in America by wrongfully denying me a press credential to cover the team’s home games this year while credentialing even the interns who work for me at WNST.net. It’s their little way of “getting even,” which is apparently an obsession in their small, petty world.

But people who speak out about injustice have been persecuted since the beginning of time all over our planet. Denying me a press credential to Camden Yards when I’m granted one by every sports entity on the face of the planet (including working press visa credentials by the Chinese AND Cuban governments!) is undoubtedly a restraint of trade issue. It’s most certainly a discrimination case. And it’s illegal – every expert I’ve spoken with says I have a slam-dunk legal case, but one that will cost me roughly $100,000 to pursue – but let them have their “fun” in banning me from coming to their press box while I report on their team all summer from behind a microphone and here in my blog at WNST.net.

They can artificially restrict my access at home games – and again, I was in Los Angeles last weekend on the field at Dodger Stadium with a MLB-granted press credential talking to Brian Roberts and Jeremy Guthrie – but the joke isn’t on me. It’s on them!

Every chance they get to show their “class” or their “ass” it’s always a safe bet that we’ll see them take the lowest road possible. Nothing they do surprises me or casts shame upon them any further than their own record on the field and all of the remnant space inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards over the last decade.

I’m a journalist. I’ve been a journalist since I was 15 years, since 1984 when I walked into The News American with John Steadman. I report facts. I research sports and the business of sports and how it works with great gusto and passion. I’m accountable and I’m professional. And I report to you what I know and what I think about what I know. Like the great John Eisenberg, I give facts and opinions and clearly separate between the two.

Fact: The Orioles have been amongst the worst teams in professional sports since 1998. (Fill in record here…)

Opinion: They’re going to stink in 2009 because they have no pitching but the organization finally has some kids who make the team competitive in a few years and this kid Matt Wieters is the No. 1 prospect in MLB this year.

Fact: Nestor Aparicio led the biggest protest and walkout in baseball history when nearly 2,500 people left an O’s game in the third inning of a game on Sept. 21, 2006. (Yes, it’s been 2 ½ years already!)

Opinion: The Orioles will lie or go to any length to try to get even with Aparicio for the rest of his life because of “Free The Birds,” which quite frankly might’ve helped them get better and that was the whole goal of the movement.

(By the way, two weeks from now when the team sports those sexy “BALTIMORE” jerseys, make sure WNST and Drew Forrester get the requisite credit. We fought for that for a decade!)

Two years ago, when I was told by “spokesman” Greg Bader at the front gate of the stadium that I wouldn’t be getting a press credential he then told Rick Maese of The Baltimore Sun that I wasn’t being credentialed because the team only credentials “working media members who are on the air, not radio station owners.”

Well, I’ve been back on the air every day for three months now and this week they called my staff (they never even speak to me or return emails or communicate in any way) to give them the newest excuse, which we all saw coming. They just move onto the next lie.

“Nestor gave up his right to a press pass with the walkout because it showed that he’s not objective,” the Orioles P.R. girl told my Vice President.

I suppose that Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra and Roch Kubatko are “objective” in their analysis of Orioles baseball in 2009 while Peter Angelos writes their paychecks?

Why don’t they stop lying and “reaching” and just tell the truth?

“The Orioles hate Nestor Aparicio and will go to great lengths to ‘get even’ for that stunt he pulled in 2006 even if it means looking like arrogant fools and banning him from our home stadium without any justification or legal reason.”

The only promise I make to the WNST audience and to anyone who loves Baltimore sports is to keep telling the truth and to keep reporting on the progress – good and bad – of the Baltimore Orioles. And we will continue to chronicle their on-the-field activities all summer here at WNST.net.

We’re even running a series of bus trips again in May and June to see the Birds play in New York, Washington and Philadelphia.

Every pitch, every hit, every game WNST.net will cover the team with the only truly “objective” voice in the marketplace. That’s our strategic advantage. You know we speak the truth and act with integrity.

When they play well and do good things, we’ll commend them as we’ve done for 17 years. The truth? They haven’t done much right or well since 1997 — on or off the field. The Angelos family has essentially slaughtered two generations of baseball civic pride in less than a decade and chased away more than 2 million people per year from downtown and from the ballpark.

But the city badly needs the team to win. The city needs Andy McPhail and Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta and all of these young players to be “the real deal.” (My real opinion is that the team needs to be sold to a new owner to ever fully blossom but the last time I said that they took away my press pass.)

But, if they lose and their pitching stinks and they jog out ground balls and do stupid things in the organization (like not showing their Florida spring training games on a TV network they they own and we pay big money for every month via our cable bill) we’ll also chronicle and comment on that.

We hope you participate and hold up your end by actually watching the team play this spring and summer and call into AM 1570 and speak what’s on your mind freely in a free society regarding the baseball club.

I speak for everyone at WNST when I say that we want them to win. We NEED them to win. We need someone, ANYONE to actually care about the team again.

The city needs them to get better. The businesses downtown need them to get better. But in the meantime, it’s 2009 and they look every bit as bad this season as they have for years, especially when no one in the city can name three of their starting pitchers. Oh, they’ll hit the ball for sure. But the games might be a six-month series of four-hour marathons if they’re going to win 75 games.

But that won’t stop me from being at Hooters on Monday at 2 p.m. with Bud Light giveaways and eternal hope that there will once again be quality Major League Baseball in Baltimore.

As Jim Valvano once said: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

I’ve got plenty of “fight” left in me, even if it’s from the stands and my living room and not in their locker room or front office.

I don’t want to fight with them. I’ve never wanted to fight with them.

I just want them to win and bring the “old Magic” back.

Oh, yeah — and be honest, which they never seem to be able to muster.

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Let the NFL Free Agency games begin!

Posted on 27 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

This morning if you awoke to read any website with NFL-related headlines, it appears that the world is upside down and the apocolypse is near. Albert Haynesworth found a cash-rich suitor in Daniel Snyder down in D.C. (yes, he’s at it again!) Linebacker Bart Scott is off to see Rex Ryan and potentially get overwhelmed with a generous offer by the New York Jets. Peter King of SI.com is reporting that No. 57 will get $8 million per year in a deal that could be five or six years in length. Jason Brown and his agent released the “news” that the Ravens aren’t interested in him anymore, when the truth is that they were never “not interested” in the free agent center/guard. In fact, they made him a multi-million dollar offer. Brown will apparently be in St. Louis today.

It all makes good radio and good web rumorama. But the truth is that this free agent game hasn’t changed so much over the years. It’s just that the Ravens and several of their key players are involved in the fray in a major way this weekend and this year. Let’s be honest: today is the first day that Ozzie Newsome and the franchise have ever had to ponder “life without Ray.” The fact that by dinner time today the team might be without Ray Lewis, Bart Scott and Jason Brown is a bit disconcerting but Newsome has had more than a month to ponder the Ravens’ “cap number” as to the value of each of their star players. Keep in mind, it’s all a negotiation and Newsome has never been one to jump at ghosts or ghastly signing bonuses.

“Right player, right price” has always been Newsome’s mantra. Newsome did his homework and offered all three of them deals that he felt the Ravens could afford.

Baltimore fans might scream bloody murder if the trio are all gone by nightfall, but rest assured the money saved will be spent elsewhere in the market by Newsome. The extra $4 million in cap money might have a slight effect on the entire market, but today is the day for the aforementioned players to see if the rest of the NFL thinks they are more valuable than the Ravens do.

It seems that Bart Scott will be a N.Y. Jet by the end of the day.

It also seems that Jason Brown will be backing up a Brink’s truck in St. Louis.

All has been quite quiet so far this morning on the Ray Lewis front, but we all know that Dallas and the Jets will both be a factor, as will dark horse Denver.

I’m on the air at 2 p.m. By then, some of this stuff will begin to shake out. It’s an exciting day and it will probably feel like a “loss” day for any Ravens fan. Losing your core guys to free agency is never fun or exciting but the reality of life in the NFL salary cap system. It could be a painful day, but Newsome and the organization have been prepared all along to potentially lose these guys to other teams.

The team made its statement last week when it franchised Terrell Suggs. Let’s see where the money is and where it goes this weekend.

If you want to be first in the loop with any of the signings, updates or news, please join the WNST Text Service here.

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My Spring Training 2009, Day 1 (A dream)

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My Spring Training 2009, Day 1 (A dream)

Posted on 16 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

Greetings from Ft. Lauderdale!

Pitchers and catchers have reported and the media throng has started to trickle in down here.

Schmucker looks great…must have “tanned up” a little bit before making the trip to FLA.  I saw his rental car in the parking lot.  Know how I know it’s his?  Hawaiian shirts on hangers in the car.  Gee, times must be tough at The Sun.  Peter’s driving a Honda CRV.  I’m not gonna say a word to him about his cheap wheels.  I’m sure, at some point while I’m down here, I’ll need to bum a ride or two from him.

Kubatko has big arms but they’re awfully white.  He needs some sun.  Some of that $2.65 per-month I’m giving to MASN must be going to Roch’s expense account.  He’s driving a rental Escalade.  Probably in his contract.

Jeff Zrebiec is in the house too.  I never really noticed this before, but he looks like a cross between Andre Agassi and Live’s lead singer Ed Kowalczyk.  I couldn’t find a photo of Kowalczyk that didn’t screw up the blog, but trust me on that one. 

 

http://odeo.com/channels/2106546-Jeff-Zrebiec-discusses-the-Orioles       http://www.celebrityprayernetwork.com/sports/andre-agassi/   

Anyway, Zrebiec’s in the house and if Live’s playing somewhere in South Florida in the next month, he could go on stage and sing “Pain Lies on the Riverside” and everyone would have a tough time figuring out which one is the rock-n-roll star and which one is the newspaper writer.

I think we’re going to Jackson’s Steakhouse tonight.  My per-diem is somewhat limited, so I might just stick with a couple of glasses of Cabernet and a house salad.  If the guys want to split a nice bottle of Red, I might go with the #72, the Chappellet 2005.  It’s $85.00, but well worth it.

I saw Andy MacPhail in the parking lot.  I said, “Hey Andy, how’s your morning?”.  He looked around for a soft drink table and replied, “Drew, I can’t really discuss that with you.”

I went over to the Japanese reporters covering the team and said, “How do you say, ‘It’s going to be alright’ in your language?”  The translator remarked, “Daijobu desu”.  I said, “You’ll be saying that to Uehara a lot this year.”

That’s about it for Day 1 of my spring training coverage.

It’s great to be here interacting with the rest of the media who were credentialed and given the privilege of covering the team in Ft. Lauderdale.

I wonder if Zrebiec is Croatian?  I know a little bit of that language too from my days in the soccer business.

Gotta run, I see Andy MacPhail over by the soft drink table.

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A great show coming at 2 p.m. today…

Posted on 12 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

This blog is a great way to give listeners to “Limited Access” (our new show name if you haven’t heard) some heads up about what’s coming on the show each day. Today, we have John Rallo, Tom Verducci and Jim Schwartz booked onto the program already. It is shaping up to be a classic and I can’t wait to get started!

Every Thursday at 2 p.m. my old childhood buddy and MMA expert Rallo comes in for a UFC and mixed martial arts segment but we’ll also mix it up a bit and today is no exception with the Verducci visit.

Schwartz is one of my best friends in sports and he just took the Detroit Lions head coaching job and has been blowing me off (including changing his cell phone number!) ever since I got the initial text saying he got the job. I will crank up the Judas Priest and be giving him a very hard time for his all of friends and family in Arbutus who also haven’t heard from him. Old Schwartzie must be drinking from the 0-16 firehouse in Detroit. And I have to be kinda nice because it was his connection that got me to Bruce Springsteen in Tampa two weeks ago. I might even go so far as to offer to wear a piece of Lions swag to support his endeavors to bring a winner to Motown. Schwartz has been a regular visitor to the program ever since he left and has faithfully called in every Friday for six years. Until, of course, going AWOL on us when he got the Lions job. I can’t wait to hear his excuse. LOL. I promise you some classic radio from 4 til 4:30 today!

And Tom Verducci’s appearance at 2:30 today (along with Rallo, who loves baseball as well) should be an instant classic. If you haven’t noticed there’s a major “turf war” going on between MLB, ESPN and SI.com now that Sports Illustrated has decided it will be one of the last bastions of real “journalism” and bust guys like Alex Rodriguez when they’re lying about steroid use. And Verducci just DRILLED Peter Gammons’ “backrub” of ARod on Monday night’s “insightful and remorseful” ESPN apology tour that had exactly ONE STOP — with Gammons, who backed down from any real line of questioning.

The lesson here? When Scott Boras and ARod sit down for an “interview” (much like Peter Angelos) the questions and the answers are all pretty much “scripted” and there’s very little journalism going on and more “fraternizing” and “corporate partnership” happening. Everything Howard Cosell always wrote about was true. I love his books so much and they’re always on point, even 25 years later. It’s a big corporate game to make money and Verducci is one of the last great journalists left in the business who will write the truth. Ditto Selena Roberts, who has also had to defend her own integrity throughout this process while ARod blames her for his problems.

I have massive respect for that Verducci does at SI.com and I’m sure it’s made him QUITE unpopular with Bud Selig and the “establishment” of MLB in New York. (Maybe Selig will take his press pass like Angelos took ours?) If you doubt what I write about the filthy business of censorship of journalism in baseball, check out Deadspin’s account of Scott Van Pelt’s “suspension” after rightfully lambasting the eneptitude of Selig. ESPN has given Van Pelt some “quiet time” after he pointed out that the emperor has no clothes.

ESPN — unfortunately — has become part of the problem instead of the solution in regard to MLB because of their “servitude” to their business partner. Sounds a lot like our friends over at CBS Radio and 105.7 The Fan, doesn’t it? Oh, that’s right, ESPN Radio is one of their partners as well?

I wonder what Scott Van Pelt would say if he COULD say what’s really on his mind. He went to the University of Maryland’s Journalism School. I’m sure most of what they “taught” him there he’s found to be useless in the real world of Bristol and ESPN and MLB and big business.

Don’t worry…I’ll still be feisty at 2 p.m.

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