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Happy 91st Birthday to the “real” creator of WNST

Posted on 05 March 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear Pop:

Happy 91st birthday!!! I know you might be used to me doing the radio show dedicated to you every year here on March 5th but this year I’m “off” the radio (the listeners call it “retirement” and I call it “sabbatical”) so I’m just gonna write you this letter and hope it gets to you. And instead of taking calls all afternoon, I’m gonna take comments from folks on this space-aged thing called the internet. (I’ll explain it to you later but there’s a lot of stuff in the world here in 2010 you wouldn’t really understand without seeing it!)

A lot has changed since you left us back in July 1992 and I just thought I’d check in and update you a little with this letter – just kind of catch you up a little bit because every single day I think “What would Pop think of this crazy place now?”

And I know how much you love to read, so I thought I’d put it in writing for your birthday – how much different this place is in 2010!

Yes, I still write “for the paper” occasionally, but they just don’t call it a newspaper anymore. The words kinda live on a little television set and you don’t have to print them. You just “click” and you can get almost any information in the world. It’s kinda like the radio, TV and newspaper worlds have all gone into one place, if you can understand that. It’s called the “internet” – and really, I’d probably have a helluva time trying to make you understand it but I’m gonna try.

These days I’m so freaking busy building this sports media business I’ve created that I don’t even get to write about sports or talk about sports as much as I’d like but I’ll be doing more this baseball season for you and keep you in the loop on the Orioles and stuff. I’m also doing a book that I’m gonna send you a copy of later this year. It’s about coaching and leadership – I think you’ll dig it because it’s a lot of the stuff that you were always trying to teach me only put into words and kinda organized with words of wisdom from all of the coaches that I’ve met since 1984 who’ve taught me about life through sports.

Pop, a LOT of these people really helped make me the person I am since you’ve been gone. You remember Gene Ubriaco from the Skipjacks? Well he kinda gave me the idea since he was the first coach I talked to back in the day and he visited me recently and inspired me. I remember introducing him to you back at the Civic Center when I first covered the team for The News American.

Anyway, I remember that summer back in 1986 when we coached that Little League baseball team at Eastwood together. (One of those kids is now my Facebook friend, but I’ll save explaining that for next year’s letter, OK?)

I think a lot about you managing the 1973 Colgate Pirates, when I was the batboy, and we won the championship. I’m gonna write a little bit about it in the book. Gus Kaplanges still calls me and I ran into Teddy Boccia at Pizza John’s in Essex a few weeks ago. Tom Duni always sends along his best when I see him on the mornings when I take Mom to the IHOP over on Merritt Boulevard. It’s the “International House of Pancakes” – right in Dundalk. I know how much you love pancakes. They even have all of the fancy syrups!

So when I heard they just got email up there where you are I thought I’d send you a birthday card with some updates here from Planet Earth instead of doing the radio show. (Wait’ll you get a load of these “smart” phones when they get there with the “internet” on them. And wait’ll you see this thing called “texting”!)

Look, some of this stuff you’re not gonna understand. You’re just not, no matter what I do or how I try to explain it. Lemme just start with this – we have a black President of the United States, so you KNOW things are little different but the changes these last 18 or so years have been incredible – especially the last few years. You wouldn’t believe what’s happened in Baltimore with sports media and sports in general.

You were right about ESPN – they’re still around and they have a monopoly on virtually every sport and they have this 24-hour a day newspaper that people read all the time. You can even listen to the radio and watch videos on a screen without an antenna! (It’s all on that “internet” thing I told you about. And it’s all in the palm of your hand on this thing that’s like a phone. I’d try to compare it to a “cell” phone but even that would be hard.)

You know me, I still love hockey and the NHL is fun. The Capitals are really good and I think you’d even get on this bandwagon, even though you always hated hockey and Washington, D.C. The Caps have this Russian kid named Ovechkin – he’s like Gretzky, only bigger and meaner. It’s a fun time and the Caps SUCKED big time for a long time, kinda like they did when back when I started dragging you down there to the Capital Centre in 1981. I’m really sorry you never liked hockey, but I really do appreciate you taking me down to those Clippers games back in the day! You have no idea how great those memories are for me and how much hockey still means to me!

The Terps are having a great year – they even won a BIG one against Duke the other night and they play in this shiny new building and Gary Williams is STILL the coach! They finally won the National Championship back in 2002 and it was a lot of fun. I know how much you loved March Madness around the house and it’s still pretty much the same although they wear these long pants these days. And people don’t play bracket pools on paper – they do it on this “internet” thing!

The NBA kinda sucks these days and nobody watches. I know you saw Abe Pollin up there a few weeks ago. I hope you guys made up – he really did do some good things, though that would be hard for me to explain to you. The new guy here who owns the old Bullets (they call them the “Wizards” now — again, don’t ask…really some of this s&%t is too crazy to even try to explain!) is a guy named Ted Leonsis. Good dude and now he owns the Caps. I know him a little through the radio show. They moved outta the Capital Centre into downtown D.C. back in 1998 and they play in this place that kinda looks like a mall with windows. It’s wild, man, the way the stadiums and the arenas have changed. It’s all about business now with sports – lots of money, but still a lot of fun most of the time. And people love it more than ever!

But there’s even these new sports like this “mixed martial arts” — where guys literally beat the s&*t outta each other like something in one of those weekend Roman gladiator movies on Channel 45. It’s crazy. It’s like boxing, kinda, without gloves. It’s kinda like WWF only it’s REAL. Swear to God! But people love it!

Oh, about “rassling,” one of your favorites. It’s now called World Wrestling “ENTERTAINMENT” these days. Vince McMahon is still running it and making money but they’ve admitted what you said along: “It’s fake.” But nobody seems to mind and they still sell a lot of tickets.

Stock car racing (they just call it NASCAR these days) is this HUGE thing – these fancy cars, crowds of over 100,000 and big TV ratings. They moved the Olympics into every two years – summer and winter alternate – and they have these skateboard kids who surf on the snow getting medals. It’s exciting – you might even like it!

The Preakness is a mess. They took the beer away last year and now nobody goes but no one here seems to care too much about horse racing. Kinda sad. I know you never liked it too much but it’s tough to see it die like this, especially in May when Baltimore used to rock for the Preakness. They’re doing this new thing this year – “Get Your Preak On” – we’ll see how it goes.

I know I haven’t mentioned the Orioles because, well, you really don’t want to know. I know when you left us back in July of ’92 you were sorta losing it a little for life and sports and I know you thought Camden Yards looked nice on TV. Sorry I never took you down there before you left but honestly you haven’t really missed much down there, Pop.

This guy from Highlandtown named Peter Angelos bought the team about a year after you left us. Hotshot lawyer, got involved with some union guys who died from asbestos and made a zillion dollars, bought the team in 1994 and, well, they’ve turned into the worst franchise in sports.

They lose every year. They lie every year. They’re really rather disgraceful! And nobody goes to the games anymore. Mom still watches – we all kinda do – but no one goes to the games and the owner is the biggest heel since Bob Irsay.

Pop, some people hate him even MORE than Irsay and I’m not kidding!

I know it sounds crazy, but he’s kinda at war with me personally because I have had the balls and the voice to do what you’d have done if you were me – I tell the truth about the losing and the sad state of the city on summer night. But you’d dig it that some of the old Orioles from when we were taking the No. 22 outta Highlandtown are still around and are really cool to me. Those old Orioles come up to me and tell me to continue to fight with him but, really, Pop, it’s not the same and I’m tired of fighting with these lunatics.

I don’t even wanna bore you with it. (I’d tell you to “Google it” but you’d have no idea what the hell that means but I think you’d really think it’s cool. Imagine one of those World Book encyclopedias you bought me combined with every library in the world and all available in one place and you’ll begin to grasp it. Yeah, I know, you’re a little confused…so is Mom, don’t worry.)

But more than ANYONE, you’d be the proudest of how I’ve stood up and fought for what’s right. I take a lot of heat. People write me hate mail, threaten my life on occasion – but I know I’m right. This Angelos guy can’t even get along with Brooks Robinson, who’s still alive and has battled some illnesses recently.

This spring, I’m going to get behind a big civic movement to get a statue built for No. 5. I’ve sorta gotten to know Brooks since you left us and he’s just as great of a guy as you always thought he was and he deserves it. So I’m gonna help these guys who want to do this and I want to do it in your honor, if you’ll let me. I always tell Brooks about how you took me to “Thanks, Brooks Day” way back in 1977 and how we spent the day together out in left field like we always did in those days on 33rd Street.

By the way – I’ve got some more bad news. They tore down Memorial Stadium about 10 years ago. It really PISSED me off. I drive by there, think of you and get all pissed off again. I can’t even turn the corner up by Lake Montebello without getting depressed. The old site was turned into a YMCA. You’d hate it — trust me! Some days, I think you’re better off where you are and I can’t wait to join you!

I’m writing you this letter from a plane tonight and I’m going to spring training – but it’s not Florida, it’s Arizona. I’m doing some research work on this book on coaching and leadership. I’m going to be interviewing over 100 coaches with Baltimore ties and writing about their feelings on life, leadership and sports. I’m in Arizona and because the Orioles don’t let me come to their spring training games (or any games, really) because I did this protest of their ownership back in 2006. I had a press pass for all those years after you left but they took my pass away for telling the truth. I know, it’s kinda what you’d expect in Cuba or Russia, but that’s the way it is these days in America when you tell the truth – people hate you, abuse you and fail to be accountable. Especially when they’re rich and they threaten people with lawsuits every day. It’s a sick world. The more I know, the less I want to know about a lot of this stuff.

But that’s OK. I’m happy standing for what’s right and not falling for anything. Like I said, I know you’d be proud of me!

So anyway, I’m on this flight to Phoenix and I’m writing to you (we do it on these fancy computers that are kinda like typewriters that sit on your lap) and there’s a guy from the Ravens sitting behind me. His name is Justin Green – he’s a running back who used to play on the NFL team we have now in Baltimore.

I’m sorry it took me so long to tell you about the Ravens. But I wanted to save the good news for the end!

The Ravens are our new NFL team!

I know, I know. You said we’d NEVER get another NFL team but we did. It was something like a miracle, Pop, this team that Art Modell brought to Baltimore from Cleveland back in 1996. No, the Browns colors and logos stayed in Cleveland where they replaced the team but those people are STILL pissed, kinda like you were with Irsay until you left us.

(I’m assuming if you’ve ever run into Irsay up there you’re in the WRONG place…so I’ll just tell you that he died a few years ago!)

But Modell was great for Baltimore! He even hired Ted Marchibroda to be the first coach! It’s been a LOT of fun since this football team came to town.

We have a young local owner named Steve Bisciotti, who does his best to not be the jerk that Angelos is and Irsay was. He’s interested in winning and making the team fun every year and Baltimore appreciates that!

The Ravens have the best defensive player I’ve ever seen – a guy like Butkus and Curtis and Singletary but only better! His name is Ray Lewis and he’s fun to watch. He was a rookie on the first team back in 1996 and he’s still playing but the Ravens have really had a lot of good players and they win most years and the games are fun and it kinda reminds everyone here of those fun days you had with the Colts back in the ’50s and ’60s with Mom and Johnny Unitas. (I hope you said hi to No. 19 when he dropped by a few years ago. He stood on the sidelines here for the Ravens on game days and people thought it was cool! I talked to him a few days before he came to be with you…)

I miss you the most on those Ravens game days in the fall because you’d LOVE this football team. They wear purple, your favorite color. The band still plays, they’re just called “The Ravens Marching Band.” People come to the games really early and have picnics and drink beer. They call it “tailgating” because they sit on the trunk of the car and dine on swine and wait for the game and play catch. We’ve got this new stadium down where the railroad tracks used to be on the other side of the harbor, right next to the baseball stadium. It’s wild driving into downtown now and seeing those giant stadiums and all of the purple.

But I really miss you on those days when the team plays. I think of you every Sunday. I really do!

Because of what I do for work, I even get to go to all of the road games and sometimes we even take people who listen to the radio station and read my columns (we call ‘em “blogs” now) on the internet with us and it makes it more fun. Beer drinking, good food, football cheers – Pop, you’d LOVE it!

So, even though I did the radio show for a long time, I’m still here doing my media thing on this “internet” contraption and some of the people haven’t really changed. You remember Tom Davis and Scott Garceau – they work for my competitor. Stan The Fan still does this magazine every month. And Phil Jackman is still my friend and he’s gotten even older and even crankier. It’s fun to watch!

But I turned the old radio station into this 24-hour-a-day “internet” sports place with radio, television and news all in one place. We even have all of the box scores and standings for you! I wish you could see it!!! It’s like the Sporting News back in the day only even more in depth. You’d be really proud, Pop!

I have these awesome business partners – led by a guy named Brian Billick. He was the Ravens coach back when they won the Super Bowl in 2001. (I’ll tell you more about that later!)

Billick is sorta like Earl Weaver was to the Orioles – only taller, but he does cuss just as much! I’d pay a lot of money to see you and Billick have a conversation about sports. You’d make him laugh for sure!

Billick is just a fabulous guy and I really wish you two would’ve gotten a chance to meet. He joined me about 18 months ago as a business partner but all of the money we ever make on his behalf goes directly back to the community through this charity called “Living Classrooms” which helps the kids in the city who are trying to stay out of trouble, learn and get jobs. One day, we’ll make a lot of money for the people of Baltimore together! You always taught me to give something back and that’s what I’m trying to do because people have really been great to me as I’ve gotten older and you’ve left us.

I just wish you could see it – even for one day, what my life has been like! The travel. The roadtrips. The time I’ve spent in Europe, South America and Asia. I went to China with Cal Ripken Jr., who just like you told me, wound up in the Hall of Fame. We even went to Cooperstown for the induction!

But I’ve done World Cups, a bunch of World Series, All Star Games, Stanley Cups, Final Fours, Kentucky Derbies, Super Bowls — you name it! I’ve really had a great life – a great time since you left me!

Oh – that’s right – I almost forgot. The Super Bowl!

Yep, Baltimore WON the Super Bowl back in 2001. I sorta forgot that you didn’t know that…

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mom happier than she was when the Ravens beat the Giants that night. I was at the game that night in Tampa under the stars but she called me, bawling like a baby – she really loves the Ravens, Pop. I wish you could be there to watch those games with her on Sunday.

I took her to a game back in August to see the guys in purple play. I’m not sure if you get You Tube up where you are, but if you do here’s what it looked like:

She calls me every weekend and a lot of times I’m there at the games in all these far-flung places like Minnesota or Green Bay or New England and she wants updates. We have this tall quarterback named Joe Flacco who is her favorite. He wears No. 5 – just like Brooksie!

But sports and radio and Baltimore have been good to me all these years. All those things you taught me – fairness, integrity, working hard, practicing hard, being a good teammate, running out every groundball, looking for the cutoff man, playing by the rules – that’s all really helped me in the business world. Some days I feel like a success, some days I feel like the world’s biggest failure but I never give up. I never, ever give up!

And I always try to do the right thing…

And even though things are kinda crappy – the economy is worse than it was back in 1979, when you came home every day scared to death that you were gonna lose your job at ‘The Point – I’m in a good spot. I have a really good product and it’s growing every day but it’s hard work. Nothing I’m allergic to though. (Don’t worry…I never take a “scratch” either!)

But there’s lots of stuff you’d really like about the world in 2010 and stuff that reminds me of you every day.

They have Chick-Fil-A’s now where you don’t have to go into the mall. These computers have kinda taken over the world and you wouldn’t have to wait for The Sporting News or the Baseball Digest anymore. Heck, you wouldn’t even be pissed every morning at 5 a.m. because The Sun came late and you didn’t get to read it before work. You can read it ANYTIME on this device! Sounds kinda like a “dream,” doesn’t it?

You could even take your phone into the bathroom and READ on it while seated instead of taking the newspaper up there when you stink up the joint!

Ha!!! (Made you laugh!!!)

But we’re cool down here. Mom is fine, still feisty and nagging the hell outta me the way I like it. Barry is 25 now and helps me at WNST and is good guy. You two would be hell together watching Orioles games in high definition TV. (They call it HD – it’s kinda like 3D, just a little different. It’s just a really, really clear TV – everybody has them now and it’s kinda neat, makes you feel like you’re right on the field!)

I have an awesome wife that I met at a hockey game who likes sports even more than I do — most days anyway. She’s a Red Sox fan and she gets to have all of the fun in baseball season because the Orioles haven’t played a meaningful game since 1997. They stink every stinking year! It’s awful, really…but like I told you, google it!

Maybe I really just wish you were here from August through January every year — but you’re really not missing much from April through the summer…

So, I just wanted to say hi and share this letter. I’m gonna share it with the people who read my “internet column” and hope that they write me some neat stories about their lives and memories and emotions with their Pop. You wouldn’t believe what a big “celeb” I turn you into every March 5th!

People write me every year and ask me about my “radio show for my Pop.” Well, this year for your 91st birthday, I thought I’d do something extra special and write you a letter instead. Maybe this will be the new format every year, who knows?

But I hope you’re resting comfortably and that someone is watching over me down here.

Life is good. Times are tough. The world is changing. Sports is in a weird place in Baltimore but I have a good feeling about things and I’m even optimistic that one day the Orioles will be good and kind and honorable again and the games will be fun for me.

Give Steady my best if you see him. Tell all of my friends like Clem Florio and the other fellas that “Nasty loves ‘em and misses ‘em!” (OH…I almost forgot! I really hope you got to say hello to Ted Williams a few years ago. I know how much you loved him!)

In the meantime, I’m sure the Ravens will give me plenty to write you about and the business stuff and building this company has been a lot of fun and keeps me plenty busy.

And if you ever bump into Howard Cosell, you should apologize, Pop! You were really wrong about him! He really DID know what the hell he was talking about!

Have a great birthday, Mr. Pisces! I’ll have some strawberry shortcake out in Phoenix in your honor!

Strangely enough, I’m having breakfast with Frank Kush today at his office at Arizona State and lunch with a bunch of the San Diego Padres front office folks. (Aunt Jane would really dig it!)

I have a feeling your name will come up!

Happy Birthday, you old fart!

Ninety one would’ve been fun but, hopefully, you’re getting satellite up there so you can watch the Terps game this weekend.

And if the MASN feed doesn’t come in, don’t feel so bad. You’re better off with the VHS tapes you left with from 1983…

Love,

Me

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Hey John: You can’t be 4-4 and seriously talk playoffs

Posted on 09 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just judging from the sheer volume of social media I consumed all day yesterday, the fan base here is in “quit on the 2009 season” mode. The lofty expectations following a rookie campaign for John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco that ended in the AFC Championship Game led all of us in the Charm City to feel as though this year would somehow be better.

Well, we’re halfway through the race and things haven’t gone according to the best laid plan.

The Ravens have lost four of their last five, including yesterday’s turd in Cincinnati. The team, overall, just hasn’t been as good as advertised in many ways. The Bengals have now embarrassed the Ravens twice in four weeks en route to sole possession of the AFC North lead and have earned the right to crow.

While yesterday’s loss certainly felt like more of a beatdown than the final score — and we’ll get to Steve Hauschka’s missed kick in a minute — the NFL only counts one thing en route to a playoff berth in the tournament: wins. And right now, at 4-4, this isn’t going to get it done.

I could make excuses for all of the other three losses — and losing in the waning seconds on the road to New England and Minnesota doesn’t make you a bad team. But the pair of losses to the Bengals has been illuminating, especially when you consider Marvin Lewis’ recipe for building a team with a 6-2 start.

The Bengals have just about everything you’d want — a world-class quarterback with a world-class wide receiver and a running back who runs like Jamal Lewis with a line that’s got a nasty streak. On defense, they’ve built through a young linebacking corps (sound familiar?) and a pair of first-round cornerbacks who allow the safeties and linebackers to play hardball with the pass rush. Oh, yeah — they also arguably have the best kicker in the sport.

The Ravens, as was in full display yesterday, are sorely lacking in various departments but especially the ability to get off the field consistently on 3rd down on defense. It’s been a defensive franchise for the better part of 11 seasons. All good things must end and the 2009 defense is not up to “Play Like a Raven” standards.

Is that Greg Mattsion’s fault? Is that because of the clear falloff at the cornerback position? Is it not having Rex Ryan? Is Bart Scott missed that much? Is Ed Reed OK? Will Haloti Ngata be injured all year?

The entire secondary was beaten in coverage during the first half and the penalties were dreadful. All over the field. Ray Lewis is still the Ravens best player when Ngata is not dressed and that speaks volumes.

The first three losses were “excused” in my opinion. Yesterday, however, did a lot to expose the Ravens as a team that’s pretty good but not a serious playoff contender, especially not with that secondary and lack of pass rush.

Sure, Haloti Ngata’s absence needs to be factored into the equation in the Bengals debacle, but the Ravens have sufficient depth at that position and I’m not sure Ngata would’ve been a difference maker in the outcome yesterday in Cincinnati.

As for the offense, Joe Flacco just was not good enough yesterday, nor was the offensive line, which played its worst game of the season. Penalties? All over the place and ill-timed. Productivity? How about making their first third-down conversion in the fourth quarter? That’s just putrid, unacceptable and not worthy of the NFL playoffs.

They didn’t run well. They didn’t pass well. They were out of sync all day and Flacco looked bewildered during his short stints in the first half. Flacco has now dropped five straight to teams led by Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer.

Derrick Mason and Ray Lewis declined to comment after the game yesterday but I’m sure they’ll have something to say on Wednesday at The Castle.

Harbaugh did his usual tap dance around any tough questions from the media — (memo to John: denying that the team doesn’t tackle well is laughable at this point) — but it’s easy to do what you want when you’re in the AFC Championship Game and things are going better than advertised.

But when the team is a disappointing 4-4 at the turn and the one decision that’s truly pinned to Harbaugh’s special teams badge of expertise — the banishment of kicker Matt Stover in the offseason — costing the team team parts of two of the losses, the questions are only going to get tougher around the head coach and around Steve Hauschka.

This team was supposed to go to the playoffs. This team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. The “upgrades” of the offseason were well-calculated and the draft went well. The Ravens and the fanbase were not prepared to be swept by the Bengals and be 4-4 at the turn.

All eyes will now turn to Cleveland, where the Ravens most certainly will awaken eight days from now at 5-4. Right? We can only hope…

The Ravens have amassed four losses and haven’t yet seen the Steelers, the Colts or a frigid December night at Lambeau Field and a West Coast trip to the zoo in Oakland in early 2010. There’s a lot of football left to be played.

The Ravens will sort this out on the field. They need to go 6-2 to have a chance. They need to go 7-1 to be assured of a spot.

If they do it, they’ll be good enough. If they lose two more times to the Steelers, they’ll be playing golf on Jan. 4th and deservedly so.

And if that happens, John Harbaugh’s gonna have a lotta ‘esplainin’ to do at that postseason press conference while he sits next to Steve Bisciotti and the Steelers and Bengals are still playing football…

Things like:

What really happened in the decision to replace Matt Stover with Steve Hauschka?

What really happened with Chris McAlister and how did we get sold that Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr are upgrades?

Why all the penalties?

Where is the pass rush?

Where is Willis McGahee?

Where is the urgency on offense when the team is down two scores with three minutes left?

Of course, Harbaugh doesn’t really like the tough questions but they’re coming. It’s a tough job. It’s been a lot of fun, this honeymoon of riches and a great start to his era in Baltimore. Getting to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie head coach indeed buys you a hall pass for a while.

I have a feeling a lot of that ended yesterday, with a sweep to the Bengals and a 4-4 record at the turn.

But, as Brian Billick would no doubt tell him, these Monday mornings aren’t a whole lot of fun when the town gets disappointed and the team plays poorly.

And someone has to answer the questions…

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A somber locker room in Minnesota

Posted on 18 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

All of the videos are up now here at WNST.net. I’m sure folks will be crazy in the Purple Haze in a little while as well.

If you ever want to know what I’m thinking during the games, I’ve been TWEETING LIKE A RAVEN on Twitter each week during this season. It’s a LOT of fun for me to share my thoughts via the internet from my seat in the upper deck of the Metrodome surrounded by people in braids. Simply follow us on Twitter and you’ll know every stupid thought that’s on my mind.

It was a tough, tough loss today. The Ravens were outplayed dramatically in the first half and the comeback should’ve been good enough to save the day. Honestly, I was filing out of the upper deck before Ray Rice caught that pass thinking the game was over.

It was an amazing, memorable comeback and it leads you to believe that anything is possible with this team.

The final Frank Walker penalty was so blatant that it’s not even worth discussing. And, if you have a kicker who can’t hit a 43-yarder with the game on the line on the road, you’re not good enough to win.

The Ravens “victims” were very upfront in their candor after the loss and everyone in the locker room went out of their way to not throw teammates under the bus.

Steve Hauschka had bloodshot eyes a few minutes after the game when he faced the media.

And Frank Walker was somber at his locker…

Meanwhile, Ray Rice talked at length about the comeback and how strong mentally his offensive teammates were in getting back in the game with such a large deficit…

The Purple Haze chat begins in a bit. Hope you come in and chat with the crew. I might be a little late getting into the sphere but I’m going to try to participate.

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Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 16 October 2009 by Glenn Clark

Much like on Monday, only Purple links today. My intern was out this morning, so my productivity was particularly limited. Super Jack might have the bubbling personality of Joe Flacco some days, but he’s definitely helpful to have around. If you’re Jones-ing for information from yesterday’s Maryland basketball Media Day, please check out Patrick Stevens’ “D1SCOURSE” blog at WashingtonTimes.com Also, all of the audio from Media Day (including Gary Williams) is in the Audio Vault at WNST.net.

Here are our picks for Sunday’s game….

Drew: Vikings 29, Ravens 26 (OT)

Drew says Minnesota will get the ball first in overtime and take it right downfield for the winning score.

Me: Ravens 24, Vikings 13

This team is ALWAYS better up against the wall and when they have a chip on their shoulder. They’re going to rally around the criticism of Greg Mattison this week, and this defense is going to show up in a big way.

I think. I hope.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say….

Best of Thursday’s WNST Blogs:

Glenn Clark says Mattison has ‘great confidence’ in secondary

Nestor Aparicio says Stover concerned about being considered ‘traitor’ for signing with Indianapolis but never wanted to leave Baltimore

Mark Suchy says “The Band That Wouldn’t Die” brought back painful memories as Baltimore NFL fan

Rex Snider thinks Jim Irsay hypocritical for thoughts on Limbaugh after family’s history with Baltimore football

And from the rest of the world…..

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Matt Birk will be ‘enemy’ in native Minnesota

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Jarret Johnson, Haloti Ngata returned to practice Thursday

The Official Site’s Patrick Gleason says Ray Rice 2nd in NFL with 114.4 yards from scrimmage per game this season (only Tennessee’s Chris Johnson has more)

The Official Site says Cam Cameron believes getting Derrick Mason football his ‘responsibility’

The Official Site says Oher knows he has to ‘work hard’ against Vikes’ Jared Allen

The Official Site says Heap, Clayton, Oher hosting Halloween event at Dave & Buster’s in Arundel Mills Mall

Vikings Official Site’s Mike Wobschall says Percy Harvin limited in practice Thursday

Vikings Official Site’s Mike Wobschall says Ed Reed ‘game changer’ for Ravens

Vikings Official Site’s Mike Wobschall says Harbaugh knows slowing Peterson will take ‘team effort’

Vikings Official Site’s Mike Wobschall says Leslie Frazier thinks Benny Sapp fitting in ‘nicely’ in Minnesota

The AP’s Jon Krawczynski says 52, Favre share ‘respect’ for each other

The AP’s Jon Krawczynski says Vikings offense more than just Peterson

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens must defend run, slow down Jared Allen, succeed on 3rd down

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens can’t struggle in red zone; let Harvin, Reynaud break long returns; allow Favre to catch fire

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Ravens just 2-5 under Harbs in games decided by 6 points or less

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says fans can’t blame Billick for Flacco’s interceptions

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Favre has been ‘unpredictable’ historically against Ravens

The Sun’s Mike Preston says Ravens’ defense clearly misses Bart Scott

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Vikings TE Shiancoe ‘proud’ to represent Morgan State (who got a big win last night over Howard-Congratulations to Coach Hill-Eley)

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Vikes’ Loadholt, Tahi, Ray Edwards, Steve Hutchinson, Percy Harvin all limited in practice

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Edgar Jones (hamstring) practiced again Thursday

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Cam Cameron defended play-calling

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Cam Cameron ‘guaranteed’ Mason wouldn’t be shut out again

The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Cameron thinks Demetrius Williams not getting playing time just because he’s “4th guy”

The Sun remembers Boller’s Christmas Day win over Vikings in ‘05

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Ravens will be ‘tested’ by A.P. after being gauged by Cedric Benson last week

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Jared Gaither didn’t practice again Thursday

Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Sid Hartman says Leslie Frazier excited for Matt Birk-Pat Williams matchup

St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Sean Jensen says Pat Williams ‘doesn’t care’ about Birk, Baltimore

SI’s Peter King picks Vikings 30-23 (mea culpa for earlier mis-quote)

Fox Sports’ Adam Schein says Ravens will win Sunday, be tied with Bengals again atop AFC North come Monday

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens trying to start new streak against “All Day”

ESPN.com’s James Walker says pass defense will be ‘difference’ for Ravens in AFC North success the rest of the season

Here are the rest of our Football picks for the weekend:

Towson/Delaware:

Drew 21-7 Delaware, Glenn 13-3 Delaware

Navy/SMU:

Drew 33-30 Navy, Glenn 28-20 Navy

Maryland/Virginia:

Drew 19-13 Virginia, Glenn 21-17 Virginia

Rest of our NFL picks:

Drew:
Chiefs 19-17
Texans 24-20
Steelers 34-13
Jaguars 24-10
Giants 27-17
Buccaneers 17-16
Packers 36-20
Eagles 34-10
Cardinals 30-27
Jets 20-13
Patriots 30-17
Falcons 27-21
Chargers 23-17

Glenn:
Redskins 16-7
Texans 31-20
Steelers 24-6
Jaguars 17-7
Saints 38-28
Panthers 20-6
Packers 35-23
Eagles 23-10
Cardinals 30-20
Jets 26-10
Patriots 19-10
Falcons 24-16
Chargers 26-21

Talk to you from Owings Mills.

-G

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Not Auto-Matt-ic: Paging Stover...Matt Stover!

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Not Auto-Matt-ic: Paging Stover…Matt Stover!

Posted on 31 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just in case you’re wondering, the Ravens have NOT contacted Matt Stover about their kicking needs for the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 13. Not yet, anyway.

But, of course, there are more than just a few people around the Charm City who think that might not be a bad idea.

And the team is led by head coach John Harbaugh, who spent his entire existence in the world of special teams and kickers and punters. This has to perturb Harbaugh more than most coaches.

The kicking game and life in the NFL is a strange one. Here is this macho game played by the biggest, fastest and toughest guys in our culture and along comes a little kicker with it all on the line to win the game on his foot and the 40 yards between the line of scrimmage and goal posts.

It’s not a cruel joke or coincidence as much as it’s weekly reality in the NFL.


After he made the game-winning kick in Tennessee last January, the Ravens jettisoned Matt Stover for three reasons, really:

1. He wasn’t their best bet on kickoffs, which forced them to carry an extra man on the roster
2. He cost them a lot of money (more than $1 million per year) as opposed to a rookie who’d earn 40% of that
3. He wasn’t getting any younger and his distances seemed to get shorter each year, even if he was considered “automatic” inside of 45 yards

Now, with just this lame preseason finale in Atlanta awaiting on Thursday, the Ravens appear to have two young kickers but no one that they can truly trust with big games on the line.

Both Graham Gano and Steve Hauschka have managed to both do something that Stover never did in 14 years in a purple helmet: they’ve manged to make us actually think about the kicking game.

Stover was so automatic, so universally forgotten about that his presence was a bit of a security blanket. Like Ray Lewis has been at middle linebacker. Like Jon Ogden was for many years at the left tackle spot.

Think about all of the kicks Stover made over the years. How many of them do you really remember?

Sure he missed a few biggies – one in the AFC Championship Game in Oakland back in 2001 as I recall. His most memorable miss is almost certainly the 0-13 Miami 2007 “gimme” that contributed to Brian Billick’s ouster as head coach.

But he just came in, made the kick, praised Jesus and ran back to the bench.

Well, over the last three preseason games, not only have we witnessed the competition drama of these two nice young men trying to fill the shoes of a “once a generation” kicker, but we’ve had the “hold our breath” drama over whether the three points is actually going up on the scoreboard on something most Ravens fans have viewed as “Auto-Matt-ic”.

Neither one of them is stepping up even remotely to the level of confidence we had with Matt Stover.

So, will the Ravens call Matt Stover?

Probably not. (For all of the same reasons they had eight months ago.)

Will the Ravens regret not calling Matt Stover?

Only time will tell.

But Stover is available, in shape and waiting by the phone. (For the record, I hear he’s enjoying his first August off in 24 years…)

And if I know that much, you can bet that Ozzie Newsome can’t be too far away.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone…

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Harbaugh refutes ESPN report regarding Ozzie’s interest in Vick

Posted on 13 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

On a bizarre night for breaking news in Baltimore — with Michael Phelps getting into an accident at Calvert & Biddle and Michael Vick abruptly signing in Philly — the wildest story came an hour after the Eagles fans went into deep shock and disgust when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Ravens were very much in the hunt for Vick’s services.

ESPN reported that Ozzie Newsome wanted Vick and had a lack of agreement with owner Steve Bisciotti and head coach John Harbaugh.

It didn’t take me five minutes after the game to find one “off the record” official who called it “bulls**t” and John Harbaugh then told me he was happy to go on the record as saying “that’s completely false, completely untrue.”

Who knows what those conversations sounded like in Westminster last week but both of my sources were very perplexed and almost angry about the report.

Either way, we can collectively breath a sigh of relief that Vick isn’t heading here.

For the folks in Philadelphia the second guessing and the drama has only begun.

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Ray Lewis calls McNair “a king” in eulogy

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Yesterday Ray Lewis had one of the toughest jobs any man can have – burying a friend and trying to put into words the significance of a relationship and a life that ended far too early.

Steve McNair’s death – no matter your feelings regarding the situation, circumstances and salacious details of his decisions and subsequent murder – is a tragedy. For his wife. For his kids. For his friends. And for the NFL and the Titans and the city of Nashville.

Yesterday, Ray Lewis began his lengthy speech by calling Steve McNair “a king.”

In a passionate display, Lewis referred several times to their battles on the football field and said that he and McNair became friends “through fury.” He also implored McNair’s four sons to “walk with your head high.”

Below is the unedited, nearly eight-minute version of the speech from Mississippi:

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Now that we are partners with The Associated Press…

Posted on 09 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

We can link internally to stories like this one from the NFL link on our toolbar above.

This is about the McNair-Kazemi police incident last week when the SUV was pulled over. Hope you check out all that the “new” WNST.net has to offer and please tell your sports friends that WNST is full service on the web.

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Kazemi fired the gun that killed Steve McNair

Posted on 08 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Per TMZ.com, it’s now been confirmed by a Tennessean medical examiner that Sahel “Jenny” Kazemi fired the gun that killed Steve McNair on Saturday in Nashville.

More here…

Plus, The Tennessean is reporting that Kazemi listed all of her furniture on the internet the day before the murder-suicide.

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Any memories of Steve McNair?

Posted on 04 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Obviously a very sad day here for anyone who cheered for Steve McNair or knew him. Obviously, he made quite a mark with the Baltimore fans just six months ago when he co-hosted our fan party in Nashville.

This is a place to post memories. Post below and we’ll get them onto the site…

Also, if anyone has any pictures they took from that night we’d love to get them (NASTY@WNST.net) and post them here on the site. Here’s the video from our night with McNair at Limelight in Tennessee back in January:

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