Tag Archive | "spring training"

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Matusz Sharp as Orioles Bank Phillies

Posted on 10 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Chen Sharp In Debut, Orioles WIn

Posted on 07 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Orioles Aware Leadoff Options Not Good Without Roberts

Posted on 06 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Bundy Debuts But Orioles Fall to Red Sox

Posted on 06 March 2012 by WNST Staff

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Hardy More Comfortable in Second Sarasota Spring

Posted on 27 February 2012 by WNST Staff

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Roberts Upbeat at Start of Spring Training

Posted on 19 February 2012 by WNST Staff

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My Sarasota report: Falling in love with the Orioles and spring training all over again…

Posted on 16 November 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I made a fatal yet beautiful mistake this weekend. My mother in law has a place near Sarasota area and my wife and I used the mini-bye weekend to “visit Sarasota” just like all of the ads I saw on MASN all summer said.

And you know what? I fell in love with the concept of the Orioles and spring training and Sarasota once again.

A proud franchise, steeped in tradition and local lore with the likes of Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken never saw a training facility like the one that is quickly getting erected off 12th Street in Sarasota.

I walked around. I checked it out and I dreamed the dream of the orange Kool Aid. No doubt it’s a personal source of pride for the lovely Janet Marie Smith as she once watched Oriole Park at Camden Yards rise above the ashes of a dusty industrial wasteland six blocks west of the shining Inner Harbor 20 years ago. She is now overseeing this long-overdue re-working of the Orioles ways of spring and much like her predecessors, she’s abruptly stopped returning phone calls and emails from WNST.net.

Work for a thug, act like a thug I suppose?

But, oh how times they are a’ changing in Florida for the Orioles.

I drove through St. Petersburg twice over the weekend and thought of the great times I had there in 1993 and 1994 and the games at Al Lang Stadium. I was too young a reporter then to realize just how screwed up the Orioles spring training situation was there as the players literally trained at a little league facility called Huggins-Stengel Field, which is where the Yankees trained in the 1930’s and boarded a bus in full uniforms to go to a “home” stadium where they didn’t even have a locker room.

And that was when Eli Jacobs owned the team…

Yes, the Orioles spring training situation was screwed up long before Peter Angelos got his greedy mitts on the franchise but he’s certainly culpable for the last 15 years of disgraceful working conditions for players, coaches and scouts alike.

Everyone that I’ve ever encountered with the Orioles over the last decade and a half would easily tell you that of ALL of the really, really screwed up things about the franchise besides the owner himself, the biggest tragedy of all is how bad their spring training conditions have been and how thoroughly unprofessional and painfully slow the progress has been for the franchise.

And it was especially hard on the younger players, who had it the worst and got the least amount of respect in the whole situation.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium was a slum. The team’s minor-league facility in Sarasota – almost a three-hour drive across Alligator Alley – was overrun with weeds, glass and was written up at the MLB offices by several visiting teams as an unsafe facility.

But that’s all rearview mirror based on what I saw in Sarasota this weekend.

The biggest problem I have when I encounter morons on the internet who’ve been watching this vomit called “Orioles baseball” over the last 15 years and somehow find a way to vilify me because I have the audacity to tell the truth about the situation is when they’ve never seen these working conditions or been to Florida.

I did 12 spring trainings in a row with the Orioles from 1992 to 2004. I saw it all. I heard it all. And I watched as Angelos stuffed more money into his pockets as the likes of Cal Ripken, Mike Mussina, Brian Roberts, etc. worked in a slum every day when they reported to work how little regard they were held in by the ownership.

I’ll never forget the look on Javy Lopez’s face when he reported to Fort Lauderdale for the first time after a decade in Atlanta. It was something straight outta “Major League,” like something Tome Berenger would’ve done. He was appalled the minute he arrived.

As they say, the truth hurts.

The truth is the team hasn’t played a meaningful game since 1997. The facts dictate that the team has hovered in or around last place since the days of Vinny Testaverde and Ted Marchibroda and the Ravens were still playing on 33rd Street.

Yeah, THAT long.

And somehow Angelos and Janet Marie Smith are offended that I won’t lie to you for them and write that “they’re on the right path” or “Buck Showalter will save them.”

That’s Bulls#$% and anyone who believes it probably is the same person who has believed the last 14 spring trainings of lies and deceit and shameless profiteering and manipulation and intimidation of the local media.

They lie. They’ve lied to me. They’ve lied to you. They’ll lie again.

And they certainly lie about how much money they’re making – upward of $50 million again this year off of your cable TV bill.

And they lose. A LOT…

And we’re all hoping Buck Showalter is the savior for baseball in Baltimore but I’m not holding my breath.

But after seeing this lovely stadium going up amidst the rubble in a largely Hispanic neighborhood in Sarasota, I’ve got some semblance of hope for the future because this represents something that will outlive Angelos. And I’m personally hoping that I’ll live long enough that the Sarasota shrine that is going up will someday be a great source of fun and joy for me one day.

I’ve been doing for 27 years now, telling the truth to Baltimore sports fans about the local teams and why they win and lose.

The Orioles lose because of Peter G. Angelos. That was true 10 years ago and it’s even more true now. We’ll watch Andy MacPhail at the GM meetings in Orlando this week and the Orioles – despite the “promise” of the new manager and emergence of youthful pitching (too) late last summer – will come back without Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford or any other useful (re: expensive) free agents in this crop.

And the “media” – most who are mainly employed by Angelos – will come back and make excuses about why they wound up in pinstripes or elsewhere.

The truth?

The owner is a jerk, has destroyed the franchise with apparent impunity and is COMPLETELY RUNINNG THE FRANCHISE AGAIN and no one seems to think this is a bad idea.

Call Scott Garceau or Mark Viviano or any of the others in the bastion of local journalism who take a paycheck from Angelos and ask them about the working conditions of the Orioles in Fort Lauderdale or Sarasota over the years. Heck, you can ask Garceau how awful Miami was in the 1980’s as the gunshots flew around the ballpark.

Ask these “journalists” what they REALLY think about Angelos and his wife running the team day to day.

And ask where John Angelos has been since he was “escorted” out of The Warehouse back in May and why it was never reported in the media that the President of freaking franchise was THROWN OUT of the building and no one reported on it?

Can you imagine Steve Bisciotti having Dick Cass escorted from The Castle in Owings Mills and not have media asking all sorts of questions?

But that’s the world we live in the Baltimore media. Ask the baseball owner real questions about 14 years of ineptness and get unceremoniously thrown out of being in the media and have your press credential revoked. All while the local “journalists” – the guys who are supposed to see the truth, report on it and keep “the man” honest – instead apologize for a franchise and a man who has profiteered while the fans have suffered and paid premium prices through their cable TV bills to watch a perennially loser and excuse maker.

But these are also local media agencies that also employ former crooked cops and turn them into morning show stars for their honorable opinion on how the world should work.

It’s disgusting. Just like the creepy local politicians who spent the last eight weeks hurling mud at each other on the 6 o’clock news every night as though there was some honor involved.

I think the whole city and state are going to hell, quite frankly.

But back to spring training.

I went to Sarasota this weekend and I saw something rising out of the ashes that will certainly outlive Peter Angelos and provide some hope and joy to any number of Orioles fans who decide to go to Florida for spring training.

I saw a beautiful ballpark being built in a largely Hispanic part of Sarasota, just two miles from the most gorgeous area of America you’d ever hope to see. The bridge from Sarasota to St. Armand’s at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning was memorable in its sheer magnificence.

So, WNST.net is going to Sarasota. We’re hoping to find a few sponsors and a bunch of fans – not easy to do when it comes to baseball in Baltimore these days – who will enjoy a week of orange love in Florida and we’ll go to the games, have a few beers, get a tan and enjoy some Orioles baseball. We might even go up to Bradenton or Clearwater or down to Fort Myers for a few more games.

And we’ll do radio, we shoot videos and we’ll laugh and enjoy the Orioles where they’re best enjoyed – in the fantasyland of hope and dreams in spring training, where they’re record will remain 0-0 and the hopes of the orange Kool Aid drinkers is at an all time high and the baseball nerds who still trek to Camden Yards can “dream” of that mythical .500 season that somehow will hurdle the Orioles into mediocrity, as if that’s some sort of noble goal.

I saw the pools. I saw the palm trees. I saw the pretty girls. I know it’ll be 80 there the first week of March and it’ll be 30-something here.

They’ll most certainly illegally deny us a press credential, well, for just BEING US. But they can’t stop us from having fun. We’re going to try to go Florida and we’re going to try to have some fun.

Now all I need are a handful of sponsors and as many fans as we can take with us.

Who’s with me? We’ll be putting together a trip down and hopefully a few days of radio and a few days of baseball. I found a few awesome hotels and a sports bar that wants to have us do a show every day.

The rest I’m trying to figure out. I’m putting together an interest list.

Drop me a note at nasty@wnst.net if you’re interested in doing Florida for a couple of days with the WNST crew.

Fun will be included.

And that’s been a very rare thing in regard to the Orioles or spring training over the last two decades…

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Orioles continue to drag feet on signing Sarasota deal

Posted on 11 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

While it appears to be a fait accompli that the Orioles will play their spring training games in Sarasota in three months, the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported today that the Orioles still have not officially notified the officials there in writing that they’ll actually show up in February.

As I’ve written before, they’ll live to regret working with the Angelos group. Everyone always does.

Here’s my favorite excerpt from yesterday’s report:

“The Orioles were supposed to tell Sarasota County by Nov. 1 whether they would hold spring training at Ed Smith in 2010.

That notification has not happened yet. So while the Orioles have committed to a 30-year deal in Sarasota starting in 2011, they have not yet indicated whether they will play there in the spring of 2010.

Orioles spokesman Greg Bader did not immediately return a call for comment this afternoon.”

But for now, we’re 72 hours away from free hot dogs and bon bons at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday.

We’ll be reporting on this as it continues.

And it always does…

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And the Orioles continue South with more "neighborly" love for Sarasota...

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And the Orioles continue South with more “neighborly” love for Sarasota…

Posted on 31 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I just got pinged by a friend who tells me that WBAL slipped out a quiet report a few days ago that the Orioles have again made one of their more outlandish moves of 2009. (And that’s saying something, when you consider the kind of season they slept-walked through this summer.)

Remember a few years ago, when Angelos and the boys set up camp in Farragut Square near their “Orioles Store” in downtown Washington, D.C., to feign interest in the market after holding it hostage for five years in exchange for the MASN TV rights that were supposed to buy the Orioles some semblance of respectful balance on the playing field in the AL East. That day — with a 7:05 game looming in another summer of distress — they shipped the entire roster on a bus down to a big city square and served free ice cream and hot dogs and soda to everyone in the park.

We, of course, opined that the Orioles have NEVER given away free hot dogs and ice cream in Baltimore. And Angelos’ true interest in D.C. extended about as far as how much he could extort out of Bud Selig and MLB, then Comcast, then pass it along to each and every one of you who pay a cable TV bill in the state of Maryland. Angelos is in your pocket for a few bucks a month and 90% of people in the Free State don’t even KNOW it.

The result: the Orioles lost 98 games this season, will spend nearly NOTHING on free agents this winter, Andy MacPhail will pocket a big “bonus” check for his role in the profiteering and Angelos and Co. will make upward of $40 million in profit this calendar year while continuing to eschew common decency toward its own community and heroes and continuing as the worst franchise in North American sports.

Now, after holding Fort Lauderdale up for well over a decade and playing a political shell game with half of the real estate from Orlando to the Florida Keys — at long last Sarasota, Florida is getting the Orioles for spring training. I’m not sure if that’s considered “good fortune” or stupid politicians who will live to regret working with this ownership group, like everyone else in their wake.

Here’s a dream photo of what the project is supposed to look like at its finish:

So WBAL via an Orioles press release announced that an offseason “Fan Fest” will be held in two weeks in Florida with a bunch of Orioles players and dignitaries.

“In celebration of their new spring training home, the Baltimore Orioles will join with The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau to host Orioles Family FanFest-a free event for the entire community-at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, November 14 from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. The afternoon will feature autograph sessions with current and former Orioles players, Orioles giveaways, fan forums, a variety of kid-friendly family activities, including Kids Run the Bases, and a free hot dog and soda for every person in attendance.”

So, for all of about 250 people who might be interested in seeing the worst team in MLB over the past decade with the WORST reputation for hijacking Floridian communities in modern sports, come to their town to bring “civic spirit and cheer.”

Fact: there are a LOT of pissed off Sarasota residents that this deal was ever done and a lot of speculation about its merits in the community. The Orioles already have a problem before they dig dirt at Ed Smith Stadium. (Not to mention their reputation in their own community, which is apparent to everyone but the local “journalists” — or propagandists — who look the other way past the stench to draw a paycheck).

Maybe, the Orioles could ask that everyone brings a covered dish?

The report says that “Orioles Manager DAVE TREMBLEY, centerfielder and 2009 All-Star ADAM JONES, outfielder NOLAN REIMOLD, pitchers BRAD BERGESEN and JIM JOHNSON, and Hall of Fame pitcher and current MASN broadcaster JIM PALMER, are expected to attend the event. The Oriole Bird will also be on hand to greet families throughout the afternoon. Free parking will be available for all fans.”

Well, a little civic spirit might’ve been nice last Monday night here in their “branded hometown” of BALTIMORE when the most celebrated Oriole of all time was being honored for the final time of his life at the Meyerhoff and the franchise couldn’t find a way to get one single heartbeat to the event to speak on behalf of the current players and their respect for the brand and franchise that Brooks Robinson and his ilk built for our parents that’s now been left for dead by the Angelos family and this last 15 years of civic-hostage baseball.

Meanwhile, they’ve taken what formerly was a weekend-long, sold-out, line-down-Pratt-Street event in Baltimore known as “Fan Fest” (and before that, “Moonlight Madness”) and destroyed every ounce of goodwill guys like Brooks Robinson spent their entire adult lives dedicated to building and preserving and turned it into a half-assed, thrown-together “day before the season begins” chilly disaster that isn’t cheap, but somehow FEELS cheap. Like an “obligation” before the season begins…and the same refrains of “improvement.”

The team follows it up with disgraces from Aubrey Huff to the manager calling out the organization’s professionalism during a post-game press conference. And MASN shows goofy house ad after goody house ad. I’m glad the season ended just so I could regroup after seeing those two chicks trying to hit on the Oriole Bird six times a night for six months. And that’s BEFORE they lost 98 more games…

And the owner never shows his face, never spends money, never answers questions and the team never wins. And Red Sox and Yankees fans take over the city (and, once again, THIS is the biggest disgrace in the whole dreadful fiasco of the last 15 years — just disgraceful!). And the downtown business district — sorely in need of assistance — is left for dead except when half of the Northeast quadrant of the United States descends upon the Harbor for the routine of pinstripes and chowder.

Oh, and while Daniel Snyder is down the B/W Parkway banning signs and threatening the media and suing the fans, Angelos is here doing the same thing here and no one dares talks about or ask questions of any substance.

I wonder when Snyder will tell The Washington Post they no longer have media access. (But, apparently that wouldn’t happen because the NFL wouldn’t allow it.)

Shame, shame, shame…

I watched Bud Selig squirm in David Letterman’s chair the other night and it’s no wonder MLB is a damaged brand despite the innate greatness of the game of baseball, which has been decimated over the last 15 years since the strike in many ways (steroids, Hall of Fame, bad pitching, greedy owners, sleezy agents, difficult “heroes” like Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle and their ilk, All Star fiascos, Pete Rose, World Series games in November, etc.) but is printing money. Just like Angelos is here.

They’re all ringing the cash register so that justifies it all.

Just like MacPhail — a leading candidate in baseball’s collusion in the late 1980s and whose sole function as President of the Chicago Cubs was to field cheap baseball teams to make the Tribune money (yeah, that company once wasn’t in bankruptcy like they are on Calvert Street these days) for fans who were too drunk to care and who were addicted to Wrigley Field and lore of the loveble, fuzzy, loser Cubbies. The Cubs fans ACCEPTED losing a birthright and a way of life as MacPhail padded the pockets of the shareholders.

It’s all pretty well documented but here’s the worst-kept secret in Major League Baseball:

MacPhail is reading Selig’s cue cards for the direction of the game so as to be able to take the throne when Selig decides to walk away from his $18 million-a-year job. (We’ve written many times: Selig doesn’t own a computer, doesn’t have email and doesn’t have a Black Berry. Just take a second and THINK about that in 2009 if you’re the C.E.O. of of of the biggest brands in America?)

Think Andy MacPhail would be interested in an $18 million-a-year position in 2012? (Me too…)

But as we’ve pointed out many times, they have no shame. Or common sense or decency. But they DO know how to make money. And they do have anti-trust exemptions by our federal government that are so laughable it completely masks the corruption.

Just look at the product on the field here in Baltimore. And look at the empty stands. And the amount of “house ads” on MASN.

To STUPID people, they look “broke.” But they’re not. FAAAAAR from it!

And watch all of the “Confederate money” that MacPhail won’t be waving in free agency in a few weeks. All of sudden, they’re “building through the farm system” which is the code word for “pocketing the goodwill of the Maryland people.”

The REAL money is going in their pockets and no one sees it or talks about it or writes about. And more $$$ is about to come out of the pockets of the good people in Sarasota. Just wait. This will end badly. It always does.

Not a low blow, just a fact.

UPDATE: 1:01 — Searching the web, I found a wonderfully delusional blog here from a Sarasota newspaper columnist named Doug Fernandes:

We’re getting two renovated public assets that desperately need rehabbing, we’re getting the Orioles to pay for their operation and maintenance, we’re getting it funded primarily through tourism tax revenue, and we’re getting it far south of Baltimore’s original demand.

I don’t know about you, but I call that savvy negotiating. And to those who label the $31.2 million expenditure as too exorbitant amid this crummy economy, I respond thusly:

The economy will turn, it always has, and a far greater burden would have been the cost of losing spring training.

So it appears safe for stadium czar Pat Calhoon to begin purchasing gallon upon gallon of black and orange paint.”

We’ll see how “tourism dollars” equates in Sarasota. The Orioles can’t get people to come to BALTIMORE to see them for $1 on summer nights. How the hell are they gonna get fans to Sarasota in March? Mark my words: the crowds will be DOWN from Fort Lauderdale, and that’s really saying something…

Just take a look at the comments under this blog. People in Sarasota are apparently VERY up in arms about the $32 million sweetheart deal that Peter Angelos got from the good people of Florida.

One more city about to be held hostage…just wait and see!

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REPORT: Orioles to ditch Fort Lauderdale for Sarasota in 2010

Posted on 21 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Because the Orioles have had many, many “false alarms” over the past 15 years, I’m personally taking this one with a grain of salt but several media outlets are reporting that they’ll finally be moving their spring training facilities from the dump in Fort Lauderdale to Sarasota beginning February 2010.

Here are the initial details according to the Herald Tribune of Sarasota:

SARASOTA – Sarasota County and the Baltimore Orioles have reached a tentative agreement for the team to do spring training at Ed Smith Stadium for the next 30 years.

An agreement that will go before the Sarasota County Commission on Wednesday would bring the team to Sarasota for spring training starting in 2010.

The $31.2 million deal will be funded with local tourism tax revenue and more than $7 million in state money.

The agreement calls for the Orioles to pay all operating and maintenance costs at Ed Smith for the term of the lease.

The county and Orioles will contribute equally to a capital maintenance and repair fund.

The deal also includes:

A proposed Orioles and Cal Ripken Baseball youth academy at Twin Lakes Park.

And promotion of Sarasota County in the Baltimore Washington metro area.

“This agreement aligns with our economic development strategy in terms of maintaining Sarasota County as a destination that folks will want to visit, preserve jobs in the service industry and create new ones through the renovation of Ed Smith Stadium as well as gain exposure to new markets through the Orioles television network,” said Dave Bullock, the county’s principal negotiator with the team.

The county and Orioles deal is contingent upon the City of Sarasota approving an environmental indemnity clause in its interlocal agreement which will transfer Ed Smith Stadium to the county. City officials will meet at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 22 at Sarasota City Hall to discuss the agreement.

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