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Chapter 2: High Standards, Low Profile of Steve Bisciotti

Posted on 13 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“Steve (Bisciotti) is straightforward and that makes it easy. He’s not a prima donna. He’s direct. He’s upfront. If there’s something he doesn’t like, he tells you. If he feels strongly about something, he tells you. There’s no secret agenda. There’s nothing you have to discover. Steve is a great believer in direct communication and he runs the business that way.”

— Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass (March 2013)

 

IN MANY CITIES IN AMERICA the owners of sports franchises can still somehow stay or hide in the shadow of their local investment and create nary a stir when they enter a room. Being anonymous has its privileges and benefits, a thought Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti would certainly echo. But in Baltimore, where the owners of the local professional teams have been true newsmakers and iconoclasts for the better part of a half a century, owning the NFL franchise that a community treats like family or a personal treasure can be like carrying the collective weight of the civic mood on your shoulders.

Bisciotti did his best to remain a private citizen after taking over the Ravens from Arthur B. Modell in early 2004, but you can’t be invested in the most significant sports soap opera in the community and stand at the top of the pyramid making the most important decisions for the fan base without becoming a public figure of the highest order.

If you are a sports fan from Baltimore, Maryland, you have endured your fair share of abuse. In the 1970’s, the Baltimore Bullets were dragged down I-95 to the Washington suburbs by owner Abe Pollin, professional hockey went into hibernation with the Clippers and there were strong whispers of the Orioles going to D.C. to replace the departed Washington Senators. It got no better in the 1980’s. There was always the ominous and omnipresent shadow of Robert Irsay, the man who acquired the Baltimore Colts from Carroll Rosenbloom in a swap for the Los Angeles Rams in 1972 and later moved them to Indianapolis in a convoy of Mayflower moving trucks in the middle of a snowy, teary night for the Charm City on March 28, 1984 after a decade of tyranny and threats to the community of the inevitable move.

Since the turn of the century, both the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles fan bases’ have been tormented and tortured by disastrous moves on the field and big moves downward in the standings since the involvement of Daniel Snyder and Peter G. Angelos have fallen upon the I-95 corridor. These two have shined a bright light on what can go wrong when poor decisions are consistently being made from the top of the organization and how quickly decades of support for enduring brands can erode and deteriorate when fans and customers smell the stench of poor ownership.

The reality in the 21st century is that with the scarcity of teams available and the cost of buying a sports franchise for hundreds of millions of dollars, no one wants to pony up the kind of money to be an owner without having a strong desire to be heavily involved in strategy and a strong desire to win – whether it’s on the field or at the cash register. Many of these thrill seekers have lacked proper training, background and the feel for sports ownership especially with such a public light illuminating every decision that is made in real time on the internet. What sounds like fun in the beginning becomes an albatross and a public nuisance once it becomes apparent how specialized each league, sport and business is from an ownership standpoint.

It was no secret that Art Modell was struggling financially in Cleveland and those ghosts of burgeoning debt followed him east to Baltimore in 1996. By 1999, the NFL and his debtors with the banks demanded that he find a partner to buy the team and help him find the exit door with the class and dignity that his departure from Cleveland clearly lacked.

The same man who found Modell in Cleveland and brokered the deal for the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore in the Fall of 1995 was the same man who found a buyer four years later: local attorney and sports franchise expert John Moag. After Modell made the move to Baltimore, Moag became a trusted confidant and had all of the institutional knowledge that would be necessary to assist in finding a new owner for the Baltimore Ravens.

Moag knew Bisciotti and was privy to most of Modell’s financial struggles. The rest is history.

By any account, Steve Bisciotti is a sports nut. He’s long been a fiercely loyal University of Maryland supporter, close confidant of legendary Terps basketball head coach Gary Williams and a Ravens and Orioles season ticket holder at the time. At worst, he would’ve been a very educated sports radio talk show caller before he got involved in the purchase the Baltimore Ravens in 1999.

Bisciotti, born April 10, 1960 in Philadelphia, came to the Severna Park area of Anne Arundel County in 1961 when Bernard and Patricia Bisciotti moved from Philadelphia for Bernard’s new sales executive job. He was 8 years old when the Colts lost Super Bowl III to Joe Namath and the New York Jets. He was a huge Paul Blair fan during the heyday of the Earl Weaver-led Orioles in his adolescence. He journeyed with his friends up Richie Highway to Memorial Stadium in the 1970’s and loved the Bert Jones-era of the “Shake and Bake” Colts.

Bisciotti’s father died of leukemia when he was in elementary school leaving his sports-crazed widowed mother, who raised him by preaching faith, hard work, determination and manners. Nicknamed “Shots” by his college pals at Salisbury State, where he earned a Liberal Arts degree, Bisciotti became obsessed with making enough money by the age of 35 so that his wife and kids wouldn’t have to work if his father’s fate befell him. He had the early jobs of a kid who worked hard and learned the world: pumping gas, mowing lawns, and building piers in Anne Arundel County, where he graduated from Severna Park High School. He founded a staffing firm called Aerotek in his basement with $3,500 of seed money at age 23 during the Colts final season in Baltimore. He now owns a massive stake in Allegis

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 12): Selig vs. Angelos – trust, antitrust and billions of dollars

Posted on 17 December 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

This is Chapter 12 of the upcoming book, “The Peter Principles.” This lengthy excerpt is a prelude to a WNST report on ten years of MASN money and how Washington baseball has affected Baltimore baseball over the past decade. The first three chapters of the book are available here:

The Peter Principles (Ch. 1): So, just how did Angelos become ‘King’ of Baltimore baseball?

The Peter Principles (Ch. 2): The error of tyranny at Camden Yards

The Peter Principles (Ch. 3): How close did Angelos come to owning Baltimore’s NFL team?

 

 

The Peter Principles

Chapter 12

The Washington Nationals were the greatest thing to ever happen to Peter G. Angelos

 

“We’re going to be watching very carefully to see what’s going to happen with some of the efforts to put a baseball franchise in Washington or in Northern Virginia. And I’m gonna tell ya straight up: we don’t think there should be a baseball franchise in Northern Virginia or in Washington. Because you would have a repetition of what you have in Oakland and San Francisco. In Oakland and San Francisco you have the same kind of population mix that you have between Baltimore and Washington. And those two teams kill each other off. Both of those teams drew, last year, less than two million fans. Together, they drew 3 million fans. But because they’re so close to each other and they’re both part of one metropolitan area – mega metropolitan area – they are literally killing themselves at the gate. We have argued, I think to this point, successfully, that there should not be another Major League Baseball franchise 30 to 40 miles away from Baltimore. It isn’t that we would deny the people that live in those areas the recreational pursuit of baseball. We think baseball is a great game for everybody. But when we look at the experience of Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco – Boston and Philadelphia and St. Louis had two ballclubs. The history of baseball dictates that you can’t put two teams that close together. We are opposing that. We think Orioles baseball is plenty good enough for us as well as the people in the Washington suburbs and we thank them for that support and we want to retain that support.”

Peter G. Angelos

The Barn, March 1997

 

 

WITH THE BIG MONEY SPLURGE OVER the winter, Peter G. Angelos believed he’d solved most of his 2004 problems on the field with the Orioles. But, truly, the team on the field or how it performed in the spring was the least of his big-picture problems with the franchise. Angelos was far more focused on its future viability in Baltimore if his Major League Baseball partners were going to acquiesce to mounting civic pressure from Washington, D.C. and move the fledgling, all-but-homeless Montreal Expos to the capital of the free world to openly compete in a marketplace that had solely been the territory of the Orioles since the early 1970s.

Once again, a decade into his ownership of the Orioles, Angelos found himself knee-deep into circumstances that went far beyond the boundaries of the normal business of simply running a baseball team and trying to win and turn a profit. For the first time in modern baseball history – the last team that moved was the Washington Senators to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 1972 – a MLB team was going to being uprooted and potentially moved directly into the territory of an existing franchise.

While he picked many of battles over years with political figures, media members, Orioles players, agents, partners, insurance companies and big businesses, this was certainly a battle that found Angelos. He was a natural fighter. But this was not a fight he ever wanted.

When Camden Yards was flooded with fans in his early days he always maintained that there was no way two teams could survive and thrive in the Baltimore-Washington corridor. He was always adamant – if not even enthusiastic and animated – in his protests of anything related to Washington having a Major League Baseball team.

Washington baseball was his worst nightmare.

And he saw the clouds were forming very clearly heading into 2004.

Angelos saw where this might be going, and despite his work on an amicable relationship and pro bono efforts during the 2002 labor negotiations on behalf of Major League Basbeall, he still truly believed that commissioner Bug Selig would never cross him and his daily struggle to keep another MLB team out of the nation’s capital. He called Selig “a friend” at one point and indicated his staunch belief that Washington baseball would never happen.

“Washington has a baseball team,” Angelos would say. “They’re called the Orioles.”

You can hear him discuss this topic at length here from March 1997:

If anything had been proven over the years it was that Peter G. Angelos loved a good fight. He was now more than $150 million upside down in his ownership of the Orioles – reports would say at this time that the team was worth $325 million, which would’ve more than cleared up his losses. But, having lost money every year for 10 years and reaching into his personal vast fortune annually to financially support the team was an unnerving reality. But, given his reputation and track record, it was his own doing by chasing away large chunks of revenue streams with a myriad of poor decisions and poor civic form.

Now, as a mostly unpopular figure through both cities’ baseball fan bases, he was bunkering …

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Thirty years after Mayflower crime, I’ve pardoned Irsay and moved on from the hate

Posted on 28 March 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published on March 28, 2011, I think this is appropriate for where my life stands with #JennStrong & #BmorePositive mojo. nja)

Twenty-seven years ago today I awoke to see my father crying in my kitchen in Dundalk. It was one of two times that I ever saw him cry. The Baltimore Colts’ infamous ride of the Mayflowers out west on I-70 just two months after I started interning at The News American defined the end of my childhood at 15 and the beginning of my lifelong education about money and the real world of sports for the remainder of my sports fan and business life as a journalist.

It’s been a tumultuous quarter of a century plus a year for my feelings of anger, anguish, desperation, loss and bad vibes about the Colts leaving Baltimore on March 28, 1984. My Pop died in 1992 and never got to see the Ravens come back to town to avenge the loss of the horseshoe. I never got to go to one more football game with my father. And over the years, it’s really been a civic badge of honor to hate on all things Irsay and Indianapolis.

Nestor and Mini Bob

I’ve been to Indianapolis more times than I can count since 1996 – always for a football game or the annual March combine. There’s never been a time that it hasn’t taken me 15 minutes on the ground there to get ill seeing the horseshoes and “Go Colts” kind of marketing that is ubiquitous in Indy from the minute you land at the airport. It drives my wife batty — my almost irrational instant anger, ranting and self-inflicted torture when I’m in Indianapolis. I’ve always figured that I’d proudly be like the old dudes in Brooklyn, still pining away about the Dodgers 50 years later.

Here’s an example:

It’s taken me years of internal therapy and self soothing to calm myself when I see the game day experience there in Indy as those Midwestern hillbillies parade around in my father’s stolen laundry. In many ways, our “friend” Merton From Indianapolis (and no, none of us has any idea who he is or where the whole gimmick started – honest to God!) sort of exemplifies the entire experience of dealing with their fans when you travel to the “friendly heartland.”

My loathing of all things Irsay and Indianapolis is a bit legendary – there are plenty of pictures of me carrying Bob Irsay’s head on a stick through the streets of Indy — and my rants and raves throughout the 1990s are all very “on the record” and still accurate. What happened to this community at the hands of Bob Irsay and how I saw it affect my father and the psyche of the citizenry here will never been forgotten. The degrading and demoralizing “begging” to get back into the league that fell on Herb Belgrad. Paul Tagliabue’s “build a museum” expansion declaration in Chicago. All of it…I’ll remember those feelings and emotions for the rest of my life. Most Baltimoreans older than me — and I was born in 1968 – still can’t begin to imagine a world without the Colts of that generation. If you’re from Baltimore, sports is etched into your DNA.

(And if you doubt those feelings, imagine how you’d feel if the Ravens packed up and left tomorrow morning and never played another game here? For you young’ins that’s essentially what happened here in 1984…)

But after long and careful consideration – and as today’s 26th anniversary of the dastardly

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Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

This is an excerpt from a new, 480-page book on the Baltimore Ravens championship run called Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story. If you enjoyed every aspect of their Super Bowl win in New Orleans, you’ll love this book that chronicles how the team overcame adversity and personal tragedies, and used theology sprinkled with faith, family and love on the way to a Baltimore parade fueled by inspiration, dedication, perspiration and yes, a little bit of luck.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco

This is from Chapter 9, “Injury after insult after implosion – Psychology 2012.” If you enjoy this small snippet you can purchase the book and read another excerpt here. You can also join the Facebook fan page here. The book will be released on May 31st and will be delivered before Father’s Day if purchase before June 5th.

 

AS THE TEAM WAS ASSEMBLED in the preseason, questions lingered, but Harbaugh felt great that the team had survived an offseason without arrests, without incidents, without any member of a veteran team blaming Evans or Cundiff for the New England loss. He inherited a fractured team in 2008, and by the summer of 2012 he was feeling good about the unity of the players and their maturity.

But the obvious questions for fans, media, and The Castle staff were all the same:

Is this the last chance for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Matt Birk?

Will the offensive line hold up?

Can the Ravens win the big one?

Can Joe Flacco win the big one?

As Bisciotti knew on draft day in 2008, and as Newsome, Harbaugh, and everyone else in the organization had experienced the hard way — it always comes back to the quarterback. Was Joe Flacco going to be the franchise quarterback who would win a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens?

Flacco, who played perhaps the best game of his career and threw what would’ve been the pass that took the Ravens to the Super Bowl on his last drive in January, somehow went into the 2012 season as the man on the hot seat who had not only turned down a $90 million offer for more than six months, but who had gone on WNST.net & AM 1570 in April and said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL. As much as Tim Tebow was the darling of ESPN with a seemingly non-stop Jets theme on SportsCenter, Flacco became something of a punch line for a quarterback who could get a team to the playoffs, but somehow was perceived as “not Super Bowl caliber.”

Short of catching his own pass in Foxborough, he literally had done everything he could do to get his team into the Super Bowl and yet the abuse was seemingly endless.

But the game is won on the X’s and O’s and the execution, and Flacco knew this. Cameron and Flacco had talked about more passing, more shotgun formations, and more pressure on defenses, but over the summer of 2012 it became clear the Ravens would become more of a personalized offense for No. 5. If the Ravens were offering Flacco $90 million dollars, they’d need to trust him to earn that money. He loved the tempo of the no-huddle offense and loved that it allowed him to dictate to the defense both personnel and pace.

“What quarterback wouldn’t want to run the no-huddle or fast-paced offense?” Flacco said. “Let’s be honest, it’s more fun to play quarterback when you do that. We like the pace we’re running on offense right now, but it’s a work in progress. We’ve done OK, and we’ve played pretty quick. But, we know we can play better, and we will play faster as we get into it more.”

Harbaugh endorsed this ideological move from being a team that always allowed its defense to cut loose while always seeming to fear the worst from the offense — trying to utilize the clock, run the ball, and be more conservative. “We’ve talked about the no-huddle [offense] since Joe’s [Flacco] rookie season,” Harbaugh said. “He ran it at Delaware and has had success in it when we’ve run it the last few years. He is a key to running it, and he loves it. And, we have the parts for it right now, including the offensive line. We can run the offense very fast, a little fast, slower, and we can huddle. We’re in a good spot right now with how we can run our offense.”

While some of the idiot sports talking heads and media types were constantly flogging Flacco, the people who watch coaches’ film were always impressed with him, using the evidence and residue of four straight playoff appearances and his improving game to shout down the detractors.

“We’ve spent time with Joe [Flacco], and I perceive a change in him,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who saw Flacco play at Audubon High in his hometown of Philadelphia. “He’s won since Day One with the Ravens, but he’s more confident now. They’re confident in him, too, and the improved offense reflects all of that. He can make every throw. He can bring his team from behind. The question becomes, ‘Can they win a Super Bowl with Joe?’ And the answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’”

Mike Lombardi, who was doing NFL analysis in the summer of 2012 before becoming the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, said “That anyone spent the offseason criticizing [Joe] Flacco strikes me as ludicrous. Flacco didn’t drop the ball in the end zone against the Patriots. In fact, it was Flacco who drove the Ravens to give them two chances to win that game. It was others who didn’t make plays. While he doesn’t play in an offense that shows off his skills statistically, Flacco is a winning QB, and his record [45-21] shows it.”

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski spoke out on Flacco’s arm strength and ability to attack opposing defenses. “Arm strength – that’s Flacco’s No. 1 attribute,” Jaws said. “I get so tired of hearing how arm strength is overrated. It’s far more important than people think. He has the strongest arm in the NFL. And he has an aggressive, confident throwing mentality. The element always overlooked by those who minimize arm strength is the willingness of quarterbacks like Flacco to pull the trigger. Few recognize that because there is no quantifiable means by which to evaluate throws that are not made by quarterbacks with lesser arm strength. It’s all about dimensions. Flacco gives you the ability to attack all areas of the field at any point in the game.”

Flacco took the responsibility as a personal challenge and something he embraced.

“It’s definitely my offense as a quarterback; it’s my job to get out there and lead these guys and direct them and run the traffic, and get it run the way that I want it to be run,” he said in training camp. “Cam may be running the plays, and I may be controlling certain things on the line depending on what the play is, but the fine details of being a good offense are all of the fine details. And it’s my job to get those correct and that we have everyone on the same page. As long as I’m out there in practice getting it to the games and on game day, as long as I’m doing that and expressing to the receivers, expressing to the running back, and to the offensive line how I feel, and what I see back there and as long as we can get on the same page as that together, then that’s when we’re doing something, and that’s when I’m doing my job.

“You talk about being paid that much money, they don’t do that so that they can go out there to do every job, they do that so they can delegate some jobs onto me. And I can go out there and get it done the way it should be. That’s a big part of being a quarterback. To be able to make sure that everything is running smoothly and everybody sees it the way I see it. And that once we get there on Sunday, we can just react and play. Because we’re all up to speed and we all have the same vision of everything. I think that’s what good quarterbacks are able to do, is to take that and then take a certain play and make it great, just because everyone has a good understanding of that.”

By the beginning of training camp it was very clear that the Ravens and Flacco were at an impasse in negotiating a new contract that would replace the final year of his five-year deal from 2008. Newsome called Bisciotti and said that after tireless conversation with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, there was no way to get a long-term deal and that the Ravens would need to play out the season and consider signing or franchising their star quarterback in 2013.

Bisciotti authorized a final offer – a “bump and roll” contract that gave Flacco a $1 million per year bonus if he won a Super Bowl and $2 million per year for the six years of the deal if he had won two Super Bowls. It would’ve been a raise that stayed on the books for the life of the deal. The average salary number was $16.7 million per year on the Ravens’ base offer, which would’ve made Flacco the fourth-highest paid quarterback behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Flacco was essentially turning down $90 million because he was rejecting the notion that he was the fourth best quarterback in the NFL.

Linta and Flacco once again turned it down the week before training camp opened.

Bisciotti was flustered, wanting to get the deal done and ran into Flacco in the cafeteria in Owings Mills during the first week of training camp and summoned the quarterback to his office upstairs.

“I had never, ever – not for one minute – even spoken to Joe about the contract,” Bisciotti said. “That was for Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] to do, but I wanted to take one more swing at it and try to understand the situation.”

They spent 45 minutes with the door closed.

“There are two things here that I don’t understand,” Bisciotti said to Flacco. “I don’t understand why you’re walking away from this deal? As maligned as you are in the press and as little faith as so many pundits have in you, we’re offering you a $90 million deal and you can go wave that in their face and say, ‘F**k you guys! See, the Ravens DO believe in me!’ ”

Flacco was nonplussed. “I really don’t care about my critics,” he bluntly told the Ravens owner.

Bisciotti was exasperated. “I don’t understand it. Joe, don’t you think you’d play better with a clear head and having this contract behind you?” he continued. “You won’t have to answer questions from anybody, and you can just focus on playing and winning the Super Bowl.”

Flacco said it again. “Steve, I appreciate the offer, but I really don’t care about the media, critics, any of it. I’ve gotta trust my agent, and he doesn’t want any incentives in contracts. And I’ve gotta leave it to him.”

Bisciotti reasoned that until they won a Super Bowl together neither one would get that ultimate respect they desired. “I’m offering you a better deal than the one you’re asking me for if you’re planning on winning the Super Bowl,” he said.

Flacco wasn’t upset or emotional, as is his custom. He simply smiled and said he was going to play out the year. Bisciotti said, “Well, I tried,” as he shook Flacco’s hand. “Then go out and put a few rings on my desk and get what you think you deserve.”

“I figured if he’s fine with it then I should be fine with it,” Bisciotti said. “I wanted it behind both of us. I guess I didn’t really understand how different a guy he was. I told him, ‘You are a different cat, man!’ ”

Flacco remembers the conversation vividly. “Yeah, he couldn’t get over it,” Flacco said. “He said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!’ I told him I knew what I was doing and my price wasn’t getting cheaper. I saw his point of view but I also thought that I was right. I’m a little bit of a hard head.”

Flacco believed the market always get set by the next elite quarterback that signs and the price always goes up if you perform. “It wasn’t a bad offer but I felt like I could do better if I waited,” he said. Like his adversary in this $100 million negotiation, he had gone to the Bisciotti school of downside management.

“My agent said to me, ‘Think about the worse possible situation and if you’re OK with that then hold your position,” Flacco said. The downside here would’ve been a catastrophic injury or a bad 2012 season on the field. “If I got hurt, I got hurt,” he said. “That’s the nature of the game. I was willing to look in the mirror and live with that.”

Flacco said he turned the tables on Bisciotti: “I told him, ‘You should give me four or five million more now because if I win the Super Bowl’ – and I did say ‘if’ – ‘then it’s gonna cost you $20 million.’ ”

Flacco figured he was still only making his base of $6.5 million in 2012 no matter what. The Ravens weren’t ripping up his deal. It was an extension. And there’s always a new “going rate” for top quarterbacks.

“I was actually glad that he called me up to talk about it because it was a cool conversation to have,” Flacco said. “Even though we weren’t agreeing it was a great conversation. It’s one of those talks that grows a relationship, I think.

“Hey, I tried to throw him a bone and save him some money.”

 

To purchase Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story, click here.

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How can Baltimore simply allow the Orioles to rot like this under Angelos’ greed & profiteering?

Posted on 01 April 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

There’s no sense in shirking the responsibility here in Baltimore — the facts that show this community has been complicit in the damage done during this baseball free fall on the field and profiteering being done off the field by Peter Angelos via MASN. The truth is this: we get the government we deserve.

And the truth is that we get the Major League Baseball team that we tolerate as a community.

The Orioles are about to enter their 15th consecutive year of irrelevance and losing. Fans in Baltimore have turned away from the stadium by the millions instead of demanding a better product and an owner with the integrity to run the team in the best interests of the community.

The judges allowed this to happen by allowing television moguls to pass along unavoidable, mandatory charges you never know about and you vote for these judges.

Comcast (or your local cable TV provder) has passed along the “Angelos Tax” to you and you simply keep paying the bill.

The politicians allowed this to happen to the heart of Baltimore on summer nights and you elect the politicians. You elect the politicians who allow Major League Baseball an almost inarguable anti-trust exemption and public financing for stadia while they pad their pockets and Angelos shirks his “sacred responsibility” here in Baltimore to attempt to field a competitive team that stimulates interest and economic impact to the local economy.

Many local businesses and business owners – intimidated for one reason or another – all talk dirty out of the corner of their mouths to me at cocktail parties all over Baltimore yet no one except me and this radio station and web entity that I own have spoken up over the years and reported the dirty facts.

I am very proud of Free The Birds. I’m proud of being the only one to speak the truth and report the facts. I sleep well at night knowing that I’m TRYING to make a difference and get this corrected for the community.

WNST is the only free media company in the marketplace that is banned from covering the team while CBS Radio, The Sun, WBAL, Pressbox, etc. all have continued to exchange corporate media backrubs and “partnerships” while not demanding accountability from Peter Angelos.

 

Many others — from intimidated former Orioles players who need the autograph money to local fans, former season ticket holders and businesses who previously wrote a direct check to the Baltimore Orioles to sponsor the franchise — all now cough and “look the other way” while the city has been emptied of more than 2 million people every summer. The Ravens’ and their everlasting prosperity seems to only make it easier to turn away from the Orioles.

How can it be possible that local businesses downtown and at the Inner Harbor simply await the arrival of visiting fans from Boston, New York and Philadelphia in order to turn a profit off the fortunes of the Baltimore Orioles?

It’s unspeakable, shameful and YOU should be ashamed of our community for allowing it happen.

When all of this cowardice and the collective “turning of the heads” stops, perhaps the fate of the Baltimore Orioles will change?

Here’s what WNST.net is doing about this Thursday and Friday night as we hold a candlelight vigil and an Opening Day protest of the ownership and the way the team has been run into the ground for Baltimore and its baseball fans…

 

You can follow our Facebook page here and follow us on Twitter @FreeTheBirds12

 

Staying away from the ballpark and not contributing by buying tickets and $8 beers has simply not worked to correct the issues with Peter Angelos and improve the baseball team. We’ve been writing about it here at WNST.net and opining at AM 1570 for the better part of a decade.

Sometimes I think that everyone knows the dirty little secret about Angelos and

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Hear Drew Forrester rap about Flacco, Cam and Ravens crew here

Posted on 19 January 2012 by WNST Staff

In case you missed the Drew Forrester rant about bitchy fans and unappreciative Baltimore football fans, our friends at WEEI in Boston have set his classic segment to music — ala Steve Porter and Ray Lewis.

Here it is…

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

Posted on 10 August 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Ripken is smart, he’ll stay away.

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

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

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

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

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Bisciotti thanks the fans, Ravens set to open for business

Posted on 25 July 2011 by WNST Staff

Steve Bisciotti just issued the following statement via the Baltimore Ravens:

“This is a good day for the NFL, all of its members and fans of our league. I congratulate the Commissioner (Roger Goodell) and the Players Association leadership for reaching this agreement. We’re excited to have the players coming back to our facility in Owings Mills, and we know the coaches are chomping at the bit to get the team ready for the season. I salute our Ravens players for the way they handled this process, particularly Domonique Foxworth, who was instrumental in getting this agreement completed.

“We want to thank our business partners, suiteholders and season ticket holders for sticking with us during the lockout. Your faith and financial support in us is greatly appreciated. I’d also like to give a salute to members of our Ravens family, who continued to work hard and be productive in recent months. We’ll be ready for training camp and the season. It’s time for football.”

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Here’s Buck…so where’s Peter?

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

As we watch the next press conference welcoming yet another Orioles manager to Baltimore amidst more rhetoric about the farm system, young players and how “tough” things are in the AL East, I’ll be wondering where the owner of the team is to take accountability for this 2010 meltdown.

Now in their 13th year of nonstop losing one thing has remained constant — the man who is responsible for all of this civic tragedy, Peter Angelos, will be absent once again.

And once again, Angelos’ many employees in the media will be front and center to ask their newest co-worker, Buck Showalter, softball questions and lay-ups while the team flounders, the downtown business community decays and the team is 32-73.

Today will once again illuminate the difference between the baseball team and the football team.

When the Ravens hire, fire or take on water, owner Steve Bisciotti shows up for the press conference and sometimes painfully has to accept responsibility for failures at season’s end.

Today, with the Orioles 13 years into a black hole, their owner Peter Angelos and his family will act the roles of cowards and  scarecrows — fingers pointed in every direction except the mirror — and be absent from the front of the company and brand that they’ve systematically wrecked and then profiteered from via the cable TV gods and the ineptitude of Bud Selig and the MLB ownership group.

Baltimore continues to suffer the loss of its baseball heritage and joy.

Today is another stark, clear reminder of why the Orioles are a mess and the city is empty.

And Peter Angelos won’t be on the podium today to answer questions when he most certainly should be.

And WNST.net will be the ONLY media entity that publicly challenges this as unacceptable.

And until the ownership accepts accountability, things will never change for Baltimore baseball.

Let’s hear what Buck has to say about “saving” the Orioles today at noon.

But, really, what difference does it make? Anyone with any sense — and that often doesn’t include the people who are still watching this disgrace nine innings a night, seven nights a week — knows that no matter what “power” was promised to Showalter will soon be proven to be a lie, like all of the rest.

Only one man is in charge of the Orioles and he won’t be present today to answer questions from the real media or his employees and henchmen.

Welcome to Baltimore, Buck. You took the job.

And we all know what happens when you lay down with dogs…

Just because we’re betting against you doesn’t mean that we’re not pulling for you.

The smart money says you can’t fix this, Buck. But you probably already know that.

Of course, it’ll feel a lot better every two weeks when you get your direct deposit check.

But it won’t make you sleep better next May when this broken record gets replayed again and you’re the one in the dugout losing instead of poor Dave Trembley or Juan Samuel.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

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Bud Selig

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Let’s check back in on the “State of Baltimore Sports Media” with Orioles sitting at 2-14 on NFL Draft Day

Posted on 22 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

So this media situation is exactly what I tried to warn everyone about back in February. I spent a week with my “State of Baltimore Sports Media” blogs attempting to take 27 years of my knowledge as a kid from Dundalk who loved sports and journalism and has spent a lifetime trying to build a better platform for integrity and honesty in an effort to enlighten folks about why we think WNST.net is a great way to communicate in 2010.

The Orioles are 2-14.

It’s almost unthinkable — unimaginable given the “enthusiasm” that was sold by the corporate suits over at CBS Radio and the MASN “partners” of a 13-year running sham known as Peter G. Angelos’ Orioles. Don’t worry, the rest of the local media that takes checks from King Peter and the crew aren’t off the hook here, either, for hiding the truth and burying the story about last week’s Ripken blowup.

The Orioles are 2-14 and there’s not a negative word – not anywhere. There’s no call for the manager’s head. The owner – completely unaccountable and in hiding longer than the guy in the cave in the Middle East – never answers questions. The Ripken story has gone away until his camp leaks the next story to Rosenthal, who quite honestly, probably doesn’t need to be called a liar again with his next “scoop” given his 25-year track record of integrity in reporting about Baltimore baseball’s real inner workings.

And the general manager, Andy MacPhail, known throughout Major League Baseball as the heir to the throne of Commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig, he of blue-blood baseball royalty, is scratching his head and working day and night with his “media partners” to make sure this Ripken P.R. move doesn’t come back into play again this week while he figures out how to fire Dave Trembley and not have his neck enter the guillotine next here in Baltimore.

Oh, and the team is 2-14 and headed for 12 in a row against the Red Sox and Yankees.

But, really, MacPhail’s true play here is to practice to become the next commissioner of Major League Baseball. His job here ISN’T to win. It’s to MAKE MONEY. And doing that, amidst ridiculous circumstances and an absolutely insufferable owner in a situation where virtually every thinking person in the community has turned its collective back on the franchise that Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson and Cal Ripken built here for our fathers and grandfathers, will show him to be “Commish worthy” when Selig steps aside from his Baseball Digest, typewriter and carrier pigeon and leaves the throne of his $18 million per anum “leadership role” with Major League Baseball.

Bud Selig

Rest assured, Andy MacPhail is doing a great job as far as Peter Angelos is concerned.

MacPhail is printing money, keeping the “media” off Peter’s back and he doesn’t even have to leave the Baltimore home office when the team goes to the West Coast and the manager is under fire and the team is 1-11 and losing in front of no one in the middle of the night.

Get this: while Trembley was out West trying to hold the sinking ship together, MacPhail was back here trying to figure out how to sell Brad Komminsk to the Baltimore fans as the next savior/manager/scapegoat put in an impossible situation where you “can’t compete.”

Hey those aren’t my words, they’re MacPhail’s words as you can read here in Glenn Clark’s blog from Opening Day via USA Today (another Selig mouthpiece, whose “journalists” should be here in Baltimore writing about how Angelos has killed baseball in Baltimore).

And while the team continues to flounder in every measurable fashion except their corporate bank account, which is filled with riches every month when the Comcast check hits their desks over at MASN, the community suffers and wonders if it’ll ever change.

Again, they’re 2-14 and have 12 in a row coming up against Boston and New York. They haven’t played a meaningful game since 1997. There were less than 5,000 people in the ballpark two weeks ago. Last week, there was tumbleweed blowing down Pratt Street. Next week, the city will be overrun with 35,000 Red Sox and Yankees fans for the 10th summer in a row.

This is an Agent Orange, Code Red earthquake, tsunami and volcano simultaneously and NO ONE in the media says ANYTHING.

NEVER!

Companies that are in last place perennially – and again this has been THIRTEEN YEARS of lousiness, never even hovering near mediocrity in any measurable category – should not be siphoning money from people’s pockets via cable television so they can make record profits in the middle of an economic depression while leaving the citizens with a product that shames them when they put on the same cap that Brooks and Frank wore.

With their unfriendly fan habits of jacking up ticket prices on game nights and their consistent lying, hiding and losing, downtown Baltimore will be a ghost town this summer on game nights as this team will clearly never get out of last place.

And yet no one says a word.

Businesses and the downtown business community sit dormant on spring and summer nights as this awfulness continues.

And there’s no columnist at The Sun who will even touch the Ripken-Angelos story with any credible information or investigation. There are no radio pundits or six o’clock news sports anchors who will step up and say the obvious: 2-14 is a disgrace and people should be as pissed as Nestor and the folks at WNST are!

Of course, if they did “speak up” they’d either be fired by their bosses (see: CBS Radio, TV & MASN sleep in) or they’d have their press pass revoked, like yours truly.

Where are the economic impact studies from those geniuses over at The Daily Record and The Baltimore Business Journal? And what about Baltimore Magazine (oh, that’s right, poor Steve Geppi is tied into this mess and it must break his heart as well because no one loves the team more than him)?

Four years after nearly a decade of losing created the Free The Birds movement the first time around — and nothing has changed except the names and the lower payroll and higher profits for the Angelos group.

The Ripken story is actually kind of incredible. In my nearly 27 years of local journalism this is the most baffling situation I’ve encountered and one that really bears watching closely because it will affect a generation of baseball and where the sport is headed in Baltimore.

Ripken lives here. He knows how screwed up it is. He’s not stupid and he’s not weak and he’s not one to “back down.” He wants to fix the Orioles. He wants to own the Orioles. He wants to run the Orioles.

Some think he can – successfully – and many of his detractors think he can’t but EVERYONE agrees his image would be a welcomed addition circa 2010 and it can’t make things worse.

And if he DOES get inside The Warehouse (which would only happen over Andy MacPhail’s dead body, mind you) could he actually survive it?

But at what cost? And with whose rules? And how would it go down if the team STILL continued to lose and treat people poorly even after Ripken got inside the building?

By the way: there’s NO WAY Andy MacPhail will EVER allow Cal Ripken to be a part of the Orioles organization while he’s “in charge.” MacPhail wants nothing to do with any former player of the collusion era of baseball being in any position to see the books of this cash cow.

Ripken was a “good boy” as an Angelos employee from most accounts but was a quiet firestorm of stubbornness in the clubhouse and really “ran the place” and managers in orange always gave him a special set of rules.

One thing you can definitely say about Angelos. In King Peter’s world, HE makes the rules.

His little “love in” with a few reporters notwithstanding last weekend, Angelos doesn’t consider Cal Ripken to be anything special. No more special than Brooks Robinson or Frank Robinson or Jon Miller or any other baseball player or personality who is “just another guy.”

Peter Angelos is making upward of $40 million in profit off the team this year and he clearly isn’t all that concerned about his reputation or pride 13 years into this mess. His words fended off Cal Ripken last week and the rest of the media will just let it go away until someone in the national media drops the next bomb.

In my opinion, Ripken isn’t “going away.”

And neither am I.

I’ll be opining frequently about this topic and I have plenty of information coming to me from various sources and I have a very good feel for what’s happening. And anyone who thinks last week’s leak from Rosenthal was an “accident” or a “lie” is just naïve. (And there’s no argument I’ll make here to make the Kool Aid drinkers believe it, but all of the scuttlebutt between Ripken and Angelos is very, very real.)

So tonight as you watch the NFL Draft (and hopefully drop by to have a chat with our hosts here in the LIVE CHAT anytime after 7:30 and throughout the weekend – Friday we have NFL Draft, Caps & Orioles all at the SAME TIME!) think about my ridiculously long missive back in February.

Here are the five links to my piece. If you’re bored during the draft, I’d be honored if you go back and read them:

And if you haven’t taken our survey, please do so here. (It really helps us make WNST.net better when you tell us what you like and what you hate!)

This weekend as you turn your dial and turn the pages of whatever you’re reading in the paper or on the internet, think about who you are listening to and what they’re saying and who they work for and what side of their bread their boss is buttered on when the team is 2-14.

It’s abundantly clear who is saying what because everyone should be saying SOMETHING when the team is 2-14.

And if they REALLY cared about Baltimore — or they were “friends you can turn to” — would they really keep filling your collective ears with the manure that’s been going on here for 13 years?

Once again, we’re standing up for Baltimore when the corporate media whores tell you lies and obstruct the truth about the Orioles and how devastating and unnecessary this whole mess has been since 1998.

We’re not a part of the problem — we’re a part of the solution, which does not include more years of denial and lies by people like Greg Bader and Andy MacPhail.

We give you the truth. We work hard to bring you the breaking news. We work incredibly hard to source information and make sure the information we dispense is credible and fair. And then we interact and talk with you about Baltimore sports and why we spend so much of our lives immersed in it.

That’s what we’ll be doing all weekend around the NFL Draft.

Have a great draft weekend. I’ll see you in the chat room or on Facebook or Twitter this weekend.

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