Posted on 14 April 2014 by WNST Audio
Posted on 13 December 2013 by Brett Dickinson
We have heard it all offseason; we have heard it for the past decade. After Orioles owner Peter Angelos was quoted saying Baltimore is a “limited market.” GM Dan Duquette has reiterated those sentiments, discussing the minute “resources” and trying to stay “competitive” against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.
We all know the real story there; the owner refuses to open his wallet, knowing he is going to take $3.50 from every household in the Baltimore area for his MASN network. The reports circle every offseason how much Angelos grosses from his TV deal, but we all know that money will never be re-allocated to the roster, while he is in charge.
In the end, he is the owner and that is his prerogative; he can basically run his “business” however he so chooses (even if that means spitting in the face of those who fatten his pockets; but that’s a different story, which is already well reported by the WNST staff). If Angelos is going to stick to that “business plan” (if you want to call it that), then the team must operate as such.
Every offseason for the past ten or so years, we hear about those players that the Orioles are “interested” in acquiring. Whether it is Mark Teixeira or Zack Greinke or Nelson Cruz, everyone knows the real story; the team will not pony up enough to garner their services, but cry that those players would not sign in Baltimore. So as a fan base, this is a plea for the the organization to stop with this nonsense.
It is time for the Orioles front office to embrace the “limited market” mantra they have been spewing for years. Stop acting as if the team will be actual players in the offseason; start acting like the team that will build from within.
Andy McPhail started that idea years ago; after moving Erik Bedard for Adam Jones (a move that panned out pretty damn well). But those are the smart (and tough) decisions the organization has evaded, since their resurgence in 2012. Take emotion out of your moves; basically make decisions with your head and not your heart.
The team traded away Closer Jim Johnson, one year too late and could not capitalize on his value at the time. A contending team like the Dodgers or Tigers or Cardinals (I know I’ve said this before) would have given up an everyday player or at least some top level prospects in return if they would have pulled the trigger last offseason. Instead, the Orioles received a struggling 25 year, who was demoted to Triple A in 2013.
The same goes for fan favorite Matt Wieters; he’s been a gold-glover and an All-Star, but is he really worth the $100 that his agent (noted Orioles pain in the ass, Scott Boras) will ask for. The question is now what can you get in return for an overworked catcher, who is slow and cannot hit above .250? If they would have considered moving Wieters before last season, they would have returned several top prospects and MLB players, while his value was at an all-time high. Now, no one can even be sure Wieters can get back even one everyday player or starting pitcher.
The point is that if you want to pretend that Baltimore is such a “limited” market than put your business plan in place as such. Do not keep stringing along the hopes of fans holding out that the team will actually sign a Shin Shoo-Choo; start following the same model of successful “limited” market teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays.
Before last season, they traded away a pretty good top-of-the-rotation starter in James Shields. In return they only received…the top prospect in baseball in OF Wil Myers and the Royals best pitching prospect, Jake Odorizzi.
Now the team is in the same bind with former Cy Young Award Winner, David Price. Since their actual resources are limited, they understand they cannot retain him under their budget. In turn, the Rays, a perennial winning franchise in baseball, is looking to deal one of the top five best pitchers in the entire MLB.
And why? Because they understand value and have a business plan in place for the next several years. They are stocked with young talent on throughout their farm system and continually replace players, like Price or Shields, with more top prospects.
The Orioles brass seem to have little grasp of this concept, especially after standing still for the past two offseasons. The tough moves are always the hardest, but will always help in the long scheme of things. If the front office has no intentions of keeping around some of the team’s “star” players in the not too distant future, (i.e. Chris Davis) then why not make the tough decision now.
If the slugger is not in your future plans or budget, then why not recoup as much as possible for players the Orioles will have control over for the next seven-eight years. Teams would be lining up with their best offers to acquire the services of a power-hitting first baseman with two years left of team control.
But then again this is the Orioles we are talking about. They will bank you parking your butt in the seats at Camden Yards for the next two seasons, to watch “Crush” hit bombs towards the warehouse. All the while, you handing them money for tickets and hot dogs and beers and merchandise.
Posted on 12 September 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
Despite all of the advances made in the last couple of decades related to baseball statistics and their implementation into game philosophy, despite our ability to explain, predict and define the successes and failures that we see on a night by night basis in Major League Baseball the two most important aspects of baseball success remain impossible to predict or to quantify. Above and beyond all else, success in baseball is and always will be the result of luck and timing.
As Crash Davis taught us all in “Bull Durham” so many years ago, the difference between a .250 and .300 hitter in baseball is just one hit per week; “A Gork, you get a ground ball, you get a ground ball with eyes. You get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week and you’re in Yankee Stadium”. With one hit per week being the difference between good and great, the timing of that hit and the circumstances surrounding it become increasingly important.
Of course Seneca, a Roman philosopher who never saw a game of baseball taught is that “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”. By stacking a lineup full of players with quantifiable and predictable skills you can compel luck and over the course of 162 Major League games you can expect that by stacking the deck in your favor with talent you can also expect that luck to take hold at enough of the right times to be successful.
Still, every once in a while a team like the 2012 Orioles comes along and just throws a wrench into everything that we thought we “knew” about baseball. To call the Orioles lucky might be an understatement. Sure, there’s a heart and an intensity to the team that seems to make them successful, but whether that’s the precursor to their success or a byproduct of it is at the least debatable.
The Pythagorean crowd has already written off this team’s success as lucky and therefore impossible to continue. Maybe they’re right. Actually they’re probably right, but you could pick any other team in baseball that you want and deem them unlikely to win the World Series (or even to get there) and you’d probably be right.
Even the fans that have grown tired of hearing about the luck of the 2012 Orioles are at a true loss to explain their success. While suggesting that the Orioles success this year has simply been lucky is a disservice to those who have performed so well in making it so, explaining it as the byproduct of a manager “hitting all the right switches” is equally insulting. So why have Orioles fans grown so disdainful of anyone looking to explain away their success as lucky, yet so accepting of the notion that it’s Buck Showalter’s uncanny ability to manage the game as the driving force behind the Orioles success?
Of all of the major sports in America, baseball may be the one in which the impact of the manager is most minimal. And the brand of baseball typically played in the AL East only serves to further diminish the impact of the manager. Writing the lineup cards and choosing the pitchers is substantially more impactful than simply shuffling a deck of cards or rolling dice, but once those cards are stacked or those dice cast the manager’s impact is over and it’s up to the turns and bounces of the principals to determine the outcomes.
As the Orioles battle the Rays in an AL East showdown pitting a once improbable and now perennial contender against an unlikely contender of historical proportions it is and will be sold as a chess match of baseball’s grand masters. Buck Showalter and Joe Maddon seem to get the lion’s shares of the credit for their teams’ successes because otherwise we simply struggle to explain those successes. But do they deserve the credit they get? And at what point does that credit to the manager begin to wear on those actually doing the winning?
Posted on 11 September 2012 by Thyrl Nelson
When the Orioles and Yankees got together for their 4-game set over the weekend the biggest winner of all might have been the Tampa Bay Rays. After biding their time without Evan Longoria and suffering through their typical case of mid-season offensive anemia the Rays still find themselves in the thick of the AL East race, close to full strength if David Price is ready to return this week as speculated, and ready now to pounce on the Yankees and Orioles who both suffered significant (injury) losses over the weekend while splitting a 4-game series. Meanwhile the Rays took 2 of 3 from the Rangers and prepare to descend on Camden Yards for a 3-game set beginning on Tuesday.
Whatever hopes the Orioles had for the playoffs took a big step backward with the loss of their most credible and consistent hitter and improbable table setter in Nick Markakis. How the Orioles respond now is anyone’s guess, but maybe the loss of Markakis isn’t quite as devastating as it would appear on the surface. While the O’s are much (much, much) better with Markakis than without, the improbable season of Chris Davis continues (and now in a much bigger way it would seem) in Markakis’ stead. Also the Orioles have been unable, since promoting Manny Machado to the big league club, to find an adequate way to take advantage of Wilson Betemit’s abilities against right handed pitching due to his lack of ability in the field and the compelling desire to keep Chris Davis in the lineup.
The stacking of the lineup has been the subject of a lot of debate amongst Orioles fans all season, and as clearly the team needs a new answer in the lead-off spot; here’s how I’d stack things going forward:
VS. Left Handers
1. SS – JJ Hardy (R) 285/351/453
2. LF – Nate McLouth (L) 210/355/379
3. CF – Adam Jones (R) 296/329/481
4. C – Matt Wieters (R) 313/388/487
5. 1B – Mark Reynolds (R) 237/368/412
6. DH – Chris Davis (L) 256/287/433
7. 3B – Manny Machado (R) 250/280/542
8. 2B – Robert Andino (R) 210/291/305
9. RF – Lew Ford (R) 365/324/588
VS. Right Handers
1. LF – Nate McLouth (L) 259/337/444
2. 1B – Mark Reynolds (R) 232/346/487
3. DH – Wilson Betemit (L) 304/360/506
4. CF – Adam Jones (R) 285/336/525
5. RF – Chris Davis (L) 257/316/466
6. 3B – Manny Machado (R) 291/296/494
7. C – Matt Wieters (L) 213/294/391
8. SS – JJ Hardy (R) 217/256/370
9. 2B – Robert Andino (R) 221/285/320
Posted on 10 September 2012 by Drew Forrester
Closed-door meetings happen all the time in sports. They’re usually held during a time of panic, when a manager, coach or player feels the need to get everyone’s attention by shutting off the outside world and addressing those who are in the battle together.
Prior to the final game of their series in Tampa Bay last week, the Yankees held a rare closed-door meeting and aired some of their laundry. It worked, albeit briefly, as New York salvaged the final game of the series with a 6-4 win.
It’s time for us to have a closed-door meeting.
Who is “us”, you ask?
Us…the baseball fans of Baltimore.
I’ll go ahead and shut the doors and get it started. I assume you don’t mind if I run the meeting.
Last week, the Orioles announced a drastic reduction in ticket prices for this week’s home series with the Tampa Bay Rays, offering $4.00 and $8.00 seats in hopes of boosting the attendance for arguably one of the biggest three-game sets in Baltimore since 1996 or so.
Let’s all understand something before we get to the meat of the meeting (no pun intended).
This was a DRAMATIC move by the Orioles. I put dramatic in all caps for a reason. This is a team so desperate for an extra buck or two that over the last three years they’ve charged baseball fans MORE money just because you decide on a whim to attend a home game without day-before notice. This is an organization that has taken to “back-dooring” their own tickets to Stub Hub in what can only be termed “professional scalping”. In other words, money and more money are typically all that matters to the Birds when it comes to matters of ticketing.
But then last week’s news was released and the Orioles actually came full circle and publicly told us what most smart people already knew: In order to get fans back, you have to give them a reason. You have to lead them by the hand.
The baseball team, for the first time in as long as I can remember, is now saying “we need you, please.” This, of course, is the organization well known for their motto of “when we win, the fans will come back…wait and see.” Dropping ticket prices and making a public plea for support is as close to a mea culpa as you’re going to get from the Orioles. If you were waiting for a personal apology e-mail, it’s not going to happen. But make no mistake about it: The Orioles are basically saying, now, “We’ll make the first move. Take us up on our kindness and help the team beat Tampa Bay.”
Don’t pay any attention at all to the way they’ve marketed the ticket price drop over the last week. They’ve used the “20 year anniversary of Camden Yards” as a means of connecting the price reduction with the opening of the ballpark in 1992. We all know they wouldn’t be doing this if they were 20 games out of first place. In the past, they’ve offered a handful of upper deck nosebleed seats for $1.00 just to say “we’re trying”, but never before have they reduced GOOD seats.
Anyway, as one Orioles front office staffer remarked to me last week, this move was done in part because the organization was “stunned” (the front office employee’s word, not mine) at the horrible attendance for the White Sox series three weeks ago. When 47,000 people showed up for FOUR important home games at the end of August, the wheels started turning in The Warehouse and panic set in — and rightfully so.
The recently-completed Yankees series sold itself. The club smartly kicked off the 4-games by having the Ripken ceremony on Thursday night and then playoff fever coupled with the New Yorkers who made their way to Baltimore over the weekend added up to a terrific four days of crowds at Camden Yards.
(Please see next page)
Posted on 04 September 2012 by Drew Forrester
Two weeks ago, I suggested in THIS BLOG that the Orioles should start thinking about what they were going to do in the month of September to draw crowds to Camden Yards while the team battles for its first post-season berth since 1997.
Lo and behold, what do you know? The Orioles are actually heeding my advice and doing something to try and leads fans back into the ballpark, rather than just resting on that silly “when we win, they’ll come back” theory that worked so well last week during the homestand with the White Sox. 47,000 fans showed up last week — combined, for all four games.
Now it would appear the Orioles are finally aware that just winning games isn’t enough to lure fans back to the ballpark and pay major league prices in an economy that can barely afford minor league prices.
For next week’s series with the Rays, the Orioles are offering “throwback prices” for select seats, taking fans back to 1992 and allowing them to purchase tickets for as low as $4.00 and $8.00 each.
In the blog I wrote two weeks ago, I suggested the Orioles reach out to all former season ticket holders over the last five years or so and invite them – via a discount ticket offer – to the Tampa Bay series. The O’s did me one better. They invited EVERYONE to the series via a discount ticket offer.
That’s a nice move at a time when the fans need to feel welcomed back.
I’ll do my best to promote the ticket discount over the next six days, because I feel it’s very important for the crowds to swell next week when the Rays come to town.
I understand how it works. I can’t demand that the team do something smart with their ticket prices and then ignore them when they actually do pull the trigger on a beneficial ticket promotion. So I’ll go out of my way on the air over the next few days to remind everyone that they can now “afford” Orioles baseball at a time when the games are the most important they’ve been in 15 years.
I’m going to assume (and yes, I know that’s dangerous with the Orioles) that the whole “BUCKle Up!” campaign will be on the up and up and that people who want the $4.00 and $8.00 seats will be able to get them. Maybe the team learned a hard lesson from this summer’s “Student Night” mess where they essentially lured students to the park on Fridays with the promise of a $6.00 seat, then quickly sold out the never-disclosed allotment of those seats and tried to upcharge those in line who could no longer get in for six bucks.
I hope beyond hope the “BUCKle Up” promotion is legit and the seats are readily available. I’m tired of being the watchdog who everyone emails with complaints when the hoodwinking occurs.
(Please see next page)
Posted on 29 June 2012 by Robert Testoni
The best part about the baseball season is that because of its length, in most cases the cream rises to the top. Make no mistake, they could end the season a month earlier and accomplish the same thing. There are teams that have gone from last to first in a year, (1987 Minnesota Twins, 1991 Atlanta Braves) but those were good teams that came together and stayed around for a while because of a solid nucleus of players. The 2012 Baltimore Orioles have been fun, but this may be coming to a crashing end.
When the Orange Kool-Aid was spiked in May, I was the voice of reason. I have always thought August 1st was a good date, as at that point, the contenders and pretenders tend to sort themselves out. Although, I will not stick a fork in our birds right now, because they do have a month to right the ship. Let’s have fun a do a progress report.
In this look, I want to compare the Orioles of this year to the last 5 winners of the American League East. The 2007 Red Sox, 2008 Rays, 2009 Yankees, 2010 Rays, and 2011 Yankees tell an interesting statistical story of what it takes to win the division. Frankly, I know that statistics do not tell the whole story, but in baseball, which is ‘stats driven’ it lets you know where you need to be as a team.
Let’s start off with what I think is the most glaring issue with this team, the defense. In the last 5 seasons no division winner has committed more than 102 errors. That was the New York Yankees off last year. Right now, the Orioles our on pace to commit over 145 errors for the year. That means that Orioles would allow ¼ of an out more per game than the Yankees of last year. No division winner in this span has ranked lower than 4th in the league in this category. As of now, the Orioles are last.
The range for earned run average over the past 5 years is between 3.73 and 4.26. Although the Orioles team staff ERA is right in line with the range of winners at 3.85, there is more to the story. Looking deeper into the numbers the staff ERA has gone up every month of the season. After a wonderful 3.03 in April, they went to 4.16 in May, and 4.25 so far in June, which is the red flag.
Let us turn to the offense and simply look at batting average first. Taking the Tampa Bay Rays from 2010 out, no other team has hit at a clip less than .260. The Orioles are at a .244 team average right now, and as we have seen lately, it isn’t getting any better. Everyone remembers than Tampa team for having an excellent pitching staff, with no hitting. Even they hit for a .247 average.
Lastly, looking at the OPS the Orioles .716 is .20 points lower than lowly hitting Tampa team from 2010. Frankly, if you look at the class of the division over the time, the Orioles need to get the OPS up to the .800 range.
Obviously these numbers are not the, all answers to everything, but it gives you a start of where the Baltimore Orioles need too be to win the division. At this point they do not seem to be measuring up.
Posted on 13 May 2012 by Erich Hawbaker
Well, the Birds overcame a 7-1 deficit and came within an out of sweeping the Rays on Mothers’ Day 2012. Quite a different story than the infamous Mothers’ Day Massacre up in Boston a few years ago (in case you’ve forgotten that one, poor Jeremy Guthrie took a 5-0 shutout into the bottom of the 9th inning only get pulled from the game and watch the bullpen give up 6 runs; it was also the beginning of the end for Sam Perlozzo’s managerial career). But thusfar, this Orioles team has made it easier to put that one and the 13 others like it behind us.
If you had told me in March that the Orioles would ever be 10 games over .500 this year or would have the best bullpen ERA in baseball, I would ask you when the mother ship was going to pick you up. Is it really that hard to figure out? When you have good pitching, you can win most of the time. Of course, a potent offense doesn’t hurt either, but as we’ve seen plenty of times before, hitting alone isn’t enough when your pitchers can’t hold the lead.
And so, the big question inevitably becomes whether or not the O’s can keep this up all the way thru the season. Your guess is as good as mine. It’s the same kind of nervous optimism you get playing poker when you have pocket kings and an ace comes on the flop. From the beginning, I’ve been enough of a cynic to believe that this phenomenally hot start is going to cool off sooner or later. But at the same time, I can’t deny that being an Orioles fan right now is more fun than it’s been in over a decade. They’re getting the big hits when they need them. They’re playing good defense. And perhaps most importantly, they’re NEVER out of the game until the last out is recorded.
Only time will tell. But if current trends continue, the Orioles are on pace to win 96 games this year. Maybe, just maybe, the baseball gods are finally smiling on Baltimore again. Heaven knows we’ve waited and suffered long enough. But I’ve also heard it said that the devil’s greatest achievement is making people believe that he doesn’t exist. And, although it’s easy to forget right now, Peter G. Angelos is still running this show.
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…
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
Posted on 16 November 2011 by Ryan Chell