Tag Archive | "stadium"

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Before The Knee in Wembley and SOBs of Donald Trump there was left hook of Ray Rice

Posted on 21 December 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

PART 2: The Ghost of Baltimore Football Present

The fact that the Baltimore Ravens have lost some fans this year is indisputable.

It’s also a fact that after 22 years of consistent sellouts and mostly competitive football – unprecedented in the modern post-expansion NFL world – the Ravens have certainly been the best thing about Baltimore to come along during my adulthood.

By any measurement of its 32 teams and their successes on and off the field, any student of the National Football League considers the Baltimore Ravens a “model” franchise.

And I make no excuses or hide from this transparent fact – other than my parents, son and wife (and her miracle donor) to coming along in my 49 years on earth, the Baltimore Ravens have been the best thing to ever happen to my life. Professionally. Socially. Spiritually. Whatever I’ve ever been able to do, see, accomplish, contribute, build or have the ability to make a small positive difference in the world of local sports and media and charity has come because that purple football team came to Baltimore.

I have respected that opportunity and have worked tirelessly to make it a big part of my life and business and legacy.

So, I have no shame in admitting that Art Modell changed my life when that team miraculously landed here in October 1995. Everything good that has happened during my journey on life’s highway since that fateful day can be pinned back to Baltimore having an NFL team. The gratitude I have for having the privilege to be a vested fan with a voice and a major investment in a local AM radio station, thriving web and social media outlet and the ability to feed my family moving forward relies on local sports thriving and blossoming in my hometown. I own a sports media company here. My business partner is the former head coach of the only first Super Bowl title there will ever be in Baltimore on behalf of the Living Classrooms Foundation. I own a company in Towson, Maryland. I live in downtown Baltimore.

I pay taxes here.

I care a lot.

The Baltimore Ravens have been much more than a football team for many people here since their arrival and their incredible arc of success on the field and in the community.

The Ravens have consistently been the one common ground – a centerpiece for everyone with pride in our community to rally around and support unilaterally in a world that seems in a constant attempt to divide us.

On its best day and at its actualized pinnacle, sports universally brings people together and can be a shining example for society in regard to fairness, hard work, sacrifice, competition, strategy and perseverance. We’ve all heard and used those axioms and realize that sports teaches teamwork and teamwork builds strong

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Chapter 4 pic

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 4) – The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

Posted on 09 June 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

(Author note: This is Chapter 4 of my book “The Peter Principles,” which I was working to finish in March 2014 when my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time. I will be releasing the entire book for free online this summer – chapter by chapter. These are the true chronicles of the history of Peter G. Angelos and his ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If you enjoy the journey, please share the links with a friend.)

Chapter 1 is available here.

Chapter 2 is available here.

Chapter 3 is available here.

Chapter 12 is available here.

Chapter 13 is available here.

 

4. The Dumb Dumb error begins in Baltimore

 

“I don’t think any boss, anybody in charge should ever criticize subordinates publicly. That is even in this business here that Frank Sliwka operates [at The Barn in Carney]. If he has a problem with one of the employees I think he should take them in the back room quietly and tell should tell him or her what he objects to. I don’t think anyone should publicly chastise an employee. When you’re a boss you keep that kind of thing to yourself. And that’s what I said to Davey Johnson. And I’ll repeat it again and I’ve told him that since then. He’s a great manager. He’s a great guy. I love him like a brother and we get along fine. Except I’ve said to him, “If you have to criticize someone, you take him in your office, shut the door and let it be between you and the player.”

 – Peter G. Angelos on WWLG Budweiser Sports Forum

March 1997

THERE COULD BE NO ENCORE for an act and a night as emotionally charged as the Cal Ripken 2131 night at Camden Yards in September 1995. Once again, there was no postseason baseball in Baltimore for the 12th consecutive year and Angelos, aided by the immortal Iron Man streak and the intense, family-like local passion for baseball, had enough revenue coming into the franchise to afford any baseball player he wanted in the marketplace. The club was swimming in money vs. its MLB foes. Plus, given his pro-player stance in the contentious labor dispute, many believed the Orioles would be a haven for free agents who wanted to sign with an owner who saw their side and wanted to win and put the best team on the field.

Looking ahead to the 1996 season, Peter G. Angelos was obsessed with one thing: bringing a World Series to Orioles fans.

Immediately following the 1995 campaign, Angelos fired manager Phil Regan and “accepted the resignation” of Roland Hemond, who was actually forced out, along with Frank Robinson, who was glad to leave the Orioles at that point and wound up working for commissioner Bud Selig in the MLB office.

Angelos was clearly running every aspect of the Baltimore Orioles at this point and was quite brazen in the media regarding his daily involvement. He bragged that he had enough time to run a law firm that was netting more than $15 million per year in personal income for him at the time and a MLB team on the side. Now with all of the “baseball people” gone except for his self-appointed farm director Syd Thrift, Angelos needed a new manager and a new general manager. He had already developed quite a reputation in the insulated, incestuous world of baseball men and lifers. He had owned the team for less than 24 months and had already pissed off every one of his 27 MLB partners, upstaged Cal Ripken on the biggest night of his life on national television and chased off two managers and a total of five baseball men: Roland Hemond, Frank Robinson, Doug Melvin, Johnny Oates and Phil Regan. Together they spanned three generations of baseball and touched virtually everyone in the industry with their true stories of an owner who called a manager into his office and demanded – among other things – which third basemen would be in the lineup on any given night.

A year earlier Davey Johnson, a former Orioles second baseman and World Series champion as manager of the 1986 New York Mets, was interviewed by Angelos and his internal committee that included Joe Foss and team lawyer Russell Smouse, but they instead selected Phil Regan, who they thought would be a hot commodity the previous year and whom never was given much of a chance under Angelos.

Johnson, who had a storied reputation for being snarky, cunning and anti-authority, took a shot at Angelos 12 months earlier when he didn’t get the job: “I heard they wanted an experienced manager and a proven winner. That’s why I interviewed for the job. But I guess that’s not what they wanted, right?” he told the media when he was clearly disappointed that he wasn’t selected in October 1994.

Now, after a disastrous year on the field in 1995 under Regan, Johnson’s name surfaced again and Angelos wasted no time in complementing the decorated yet difficult managerial prospect stating, “His baseball knowledge is impressive, and his strong background with the Orioles came through.” Johnson, meanwhile backtracked from any contentiousness in an effort to get the job: “I enjoyed meeting Peter,” he said. “You read stories about the Big Bad Wolf, but he was really nice.”

On October 30, 1995, Johnson was named manager of the Baltimore Orioles, the club’s third skipper in just 18 months under the Angelos regime. “This is a move in the direction of producing a winner,” Angelos said. “We are committed to building a winner in Baltimore, and Davey is a vital part of that effort. He has a winning attitude. He’s a very down-to-earth, forthright baseball professional with an extensive knowledge, and his record clearly establishes that.”

Was Johnson still sore about being passed over the previous year? “I do have a lot of pride, but I don’t have a big ego,” Johnson said. “Maybe I was hoping they’d offer the job so I could say no, but I discarded that idea in about two seconds because Baltimore represents my baseball roots. I thought it was a good fit a year ago, and I still do.”

Angelos allowed Syd Thrift to represent the Orioles at the MLB meetings in Arizona while he remained in Baltimore to interview a bevy of candidates to be the next general manager. Kevin Malone, a former Montreal Expos general manager, and Joe Klein, who had local roots and had been the GM of the Detroit Tigers, were considered to be the front runners but much like with every baseball decision made by Angelos, time wasn’t considered a pressing concern.

And despite most legitimate general managers wanting the opportunity to hire a field manager, Angelos did it backwards. The new manager, Davey Johnson was sent off to the MLB winter meetings along the farm director, Syd Thrift. Both were encouraged by Peter Angelos to recruit an appropriate general manager and working partner that would bring the Baltimore Orioles a World Series title.

In Phoenix, Johnson tracked down former Toronto general manager Pat Gillick, who was his old minor league teammate from

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Hey Orioles: Those empty seats mean that Baltimore is just not that into you…

Posted on 13 September 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

As the first – and only – local sports journalist to poke the bear and pull down the pants of the emperor, it’s now my turn to chime in on the biggest local sports story this month that’s returning to Camden Yards for the next 11 days.

Ok, the most important question in the land of pleasant living at this time of the year is always about the Baltimore Ravens. Facts are facts. They’re 1-0 and headed to Cleveland to (presumably) be 2-0 by Sunday night.

But the very obvious other “water cooler buzz” around our kingdom is about why Camden Yards is so empty in September with the Orioles facing arch-rivals in the middle of a very winnable pennant race in Baltimore?

TOMORROW I’LL GIVE MY “TOP 10 REASONS BALTIMORE SPORTS FANS DON’T GO TO ORIOLES GAMES ANYMORE”

Two weeks ago, during the “homestand of empty” vs. the Blue Jays and Yankees, I was in Europe reading some laugh-out-loud reports from local “journalists” either on the payroll of Peter G. Angelos, the Baltimore Orioles or any of the MASN-based or CBS-owned arms of business partnerships that permeate the local media. Those organizations are strongly discouraged from critical thinking and free $peech so it’s up to places like WNST to get to the truth. Unlike their employees who are intimidated or “compensated” in the Angelos food chain, we get to say what we think here.

The employees of any of the above entities are not allowed to tell the truth. Angelos confirmed this to me years ago.

So, when you write pieces like the one longtime Washington journalist Thom Loverro inked two weeks ago in The Washington Times – in local sports writer vernacular, “a take down” – you get your press credentials revoked. And amongst those who do follow the Orioles and bow at the shrine of the orange cartoon bird, you get called a hack, a traitor or a guy with an axe to grind.

But, of course, no one at MASN or 105.7 The Fan or The Baltimore Sun or PressBox is ever called a shill – even though the dignity of the whole Orioles operation under Angelos is veiled by the fact that no one ever answers a question about anything. Other than playing baseball games when they’ve locked the doors and told the fans to NOT come, we don’t hear from the Angelos clan.

Loverro and his track record as a reporter speaks for itself. So does mine.

On December 13th, I’ll celebrate 25 years of doing sports radio in Baltimore. In 20 of those years, the Orioles haven’t just been an “also ran” – they’ve been a “never ran at all.” The reasons have all been well- …

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There is no finer venue in the world to watch baseball than Dodger Stadium...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers

Posted on 15 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Los Angeles – Let me start by saying that I’ve always loved Dodger Stadium. I walked into Chavez Ravine for the first time in 1985 with my Pop on a trip to Southern California. I sat in the bleachers with legendary Spanish language version of Los Dodgers besibol blasting from a boombox with the dulcet tones of Jaime Jarren. Thirty years later, when you walk into that same space, you still get the tingles of a fantastic place to watch a baseball game under a painted sky. Timeless. Classic. Elegant. And now, ageless, again all dressed up and pimped out in Chavez Ravine. All that’s missing is the voice of Vin Scully kissing your eardrums. Pick a seat in this shrine. Any seat. Just make sure you get some decent weather and a nice SoCal sunset. Sure, Magic Johnson and his minions have spent a bunch of money trying to buy a World Series title sometime soon. The commitment to the team matches the commitment to keep a perfect baseball day in tact. So spend a day at Dodger Stadium and then measure the rest of the MLB experiences.

And ask virtually any player in baseball where their favorite stadium is and this place is on everyone’s Top 3.

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And Toto, the fountains are blue, the midwest is lovely and it's baseball in a perfect environment...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 2 Kansas City Royals

Posted on 14 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Kansas City – I defy you to go to Kansas City and not fall in love with the Midwest and baseball on a summer night. History. Tradition. Pride. Fountains spewing. Great food stands. A big parking lot full of energy. This is certainly a far different experience than anything you would’ve seen in those 29 years when the Royals were, well, not so Royal in the American League standings. Winning changes everything. And there goes your proof in Kansas City. It’s the best pure stadium every designed for watching a baseball game. All of the seats point to second base. Now, all of the All Star Game fans vote blue. It’s standing room only most nights. The atmosphere has finally caught up the natural beauty and charm of Kaufman Stadium. This is a fantastic place to watch a baseball game. Go see for yourself.

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Did I mention that this place is in San Diego and has fish tacos, too?

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 3 San Diego Padres

Posted on 13 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

San Diego – There aren’t a whole lot of bad days in the world’s air-conditioned city but the ballpark fits the scene of the neighborhood and the vibe of the community. This place is a very underrated stadium and I had to really give it a second look after seeing a game there a decade ago. It’s quite nice, cozy, active. The food is great. The seating bowl is excellent and very unique. Many ballparks are built into urban settings and flood the streets with activity after games. That’s what they’re designed to do. None does it better or more naturally than Petco Park. It’s just a beautiful building a great spot to drink beer, eat a few tacos and watch baseball.

Matter of fact, I’m going back next summer. I’m finally getting my wife to an All Star Game. We’ll be there in July 2016!

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 4 Minnesota Twins

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 4 Minnesota Twins

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Minnesota – This trip had me looking only a handful of parks I hadn’t visited. I never saw a game at the Metrodome so this would be my first MLB game in the Twin Cities. Target Field is universally hailed as a great place and I had very high expectations and this place simply delivered in every way. There’s something cosmic about the giant neon state of Minnesota throwback logo in center field. The concourses are cozy and packed with great local food. The Twins have embraced every hero in their legacy chain from Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew straight through Kirby Puckett and Kent Hrbac. The downtown is now bustling and this is another team that’s in the midst of a resurgence in the standings. Highly encourage you to take in Target Field on a summer night.

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I left my heart in McCovey Cove...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 5 San Francisco Giants

Posted on 09 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

San Francisco – I’ve seen a number of games at AT&T (and a few when it was still dubbed Pac Bell) and I’m always struck by how close that right field wall looks. It’s a wonderful setting and I think it’s impossible to complain it in any way about watching a game in San Francisco. Especially now that Candlestick is long gone. The smell of garlic and pizza is everywhere. Plenty of great concessions. The fans are all jacked up with World Championship swag. And the building is gorgeous. Bring a jacket. As you can see from many of my pictures, you can get football weather in July in San Francisco. And there’s even some charm to that, especially in the middle of my mid-summer heated sojourn during the middle of the season. The ballpark itself is shoe-horned into the waterline and the trail of traffic and folks in orange and black is its own scene. The McCovey Cove scene is also tremendous. A must see…

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Even if you hate Pittsburgh, you'll love this place...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 6 Pittsburgh Pirates

Posted on 08 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Pittsburgh – Although the baseball in PNC Park in the early days was far from ideal, this community benefited more than any other in baseball from its stadium upgrade. The urban backdrop of this gem at the confluence of the Allegany, Ohio and Monangehela sets it apart among all of the other new parks. You feel like you can reach out and touch the city and the big yellow Clemente Bridge in the outfield. The park is nestled into a small space and the rich tradition of Bill Mazerowski, Willie Stargell, Roberto Clemente and even all of the Steelers glory feels a part of this place that many call their favorite MLB park. Normally, I don’t recommend any visit to Pittsburgh but this place makes the trip worthwhile. Hard for even a diehard Steelers, Penguins and Pirates hater to hold any animosity toward this gem. And over the past few years, the team on the field has finally played up to the stadium it calls home.

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Baby, if you ever wondered where Cincinnati lived on our stadium depth chart...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 7 Cincinnati Reds

Posted on 08 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Cincinnati – This is a baseball town. Having traveled to Cincinnati every fall for the past 19 years it’s easy to lose the sense of how the sports world works in The Queen City. Seeing the Bengals only gives you a small sample of what it’s like there. This is the place where Pete Rose can do no wrong and never did any wrong and don’t you bring it up again. I’m not sure that Johnny Bench deserved Top 4 accolades at the All Star Game but that’s the kind of debate that keeps Cincinnati awake at night. It’s a tenured baseball town and the ballpark reflects this charm on a summer night that I honestly took for granted having only visited once in 2004. The pre-gaming bars are spectacular, the downtown buzzes with energy when The Great American Ballpark is full and this is a venerable baseball town that shouldn’t be overlooked. This will be higher on my list than on many others’ but that’s OK. I dig this place. It has mojo. You should go see it!

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