Tag Archive | "tour"

Indoor baseball doesn't have to suck. Houston has known this for 50 years...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 11 Houston Astros

Posted on 30 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Houston – While Minute Maid Park has a bit of an airplane hangar vibe like Arizona and Milwaukee, this is by far the best of the trio of similar buildings. Great concessions, a cool left field wall and center field hill and the place doesn’t feel so cavernous. The team is playing good baseball and there was distinct energy in the air on the night I saw Dallas Kuechel sink the Yankees. Maybe there are some big games to come and some memories yet to be made but this is an underrated building and a nice (mostly indoor) place to watch a baseball game.

I never saw a game at the Astrodome. The punchline from most Astros fans would be: “Good, that place sucked!” But I must admit that I pine away for one night of glory in the cradle of Luv Ya Blue where sunburst uniforms and Jose Cruz running around. The current setup definitely feels like the same franchise. I liked the stadium. It’s the nicest of the domed places by far.

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 12 Chicago White Sox

Posted on 29 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Chicago White Sox – They’ve tried a few times to make this place more comfortable since it was outdated from the moment it opened. It always gets compared to Wrigley Field because it’s 11.4 miles away. When I was syndicated at the turn of the century and had many occasions to attend them both, and I always preferred Comiskey (or U.S. Cellular Field or whatever they’re calling it these days) and this tour did nothing to change that. The food is better. They have elotes. The fans are more legitimate and not a bunch of drunk frat idiots. It’s better equipped to handle people at every turn. There are many more quality seats close to the field. When I’m in Chicago, this is where I prefer to go to watch baseball.

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 13 Wrigley Field

Posted on 28 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Wrigley Field – Sure, there’s the old world charm about the home of the Chicago Cubs. Yes, it was built a hundred years ago. But every time I think about going to a game at Wrigley Field it’s one giant pain in the ass. The parking. The people. The place is built about five times smaller than it should be. One bonus: it has troughs, which makes it legit. But, unless you buy a seat in the bleachers (and those seats are always premium priced) you can’t even visit to take a picture. The place really smacks of corporate greed and has for most of my lifetime. The team always sucks (except when Jake Arrieta is involved). The food and choices suck. The scoreboards are still so antiquated as to be confusing. Seriously, I put it even a little higher on this list than I thought it deserves to be because my wife likes it but I think the place mostly sucks. It’s a great throwback experience. They’ve done a nice job of keeping it clean but it’s such a tourist trap of a place for my tastes. Sure, you gotta go and I get that. But I’m glad my team doesn’t play there and that I don’t have to get scalped for a C-minus experience every time I visit. I’m not planning on going back anytime soon and I don’t feel like I’m missing much. It’s a far better place on TV.

But, you still gotta go and see it.

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A year after major changes at WNST, I’m very happy and here’s why…

Posted on 24 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”

– O.A. “Bum” Phillips.

 

A year ago this week, I famously made some massive changes in my life and here at WNST.net & AM 1570. At the time, as you might remember, my wife Jennifer was bald, frail and fighting for her life after battling a rare form of leukemia, the effects of chemotherapy and radiation and in the early recovery phase in the aftermath of a June 26, 2014 bone marrow transplant.

At the time, the moves to reduce my staff and increase my radio responsibilities were considered by many to be “controversial” or “desperate” or somehow inexplicable even though I wrote ­– from my heart – more than 8,000 words in two blogs about the changes. I wrote a lot about happiness and my journey in life and a unique calling to do sports media in Baltimore as my life’s work from the time I was 15 years old.

With the aid of my former employees ­– who fanned a social media assault on me and WNST and my sponsors even as my wife quietly spent the following six days in the hospital in a dark room fighting for her life after the firings – my reputation was being smeared and relationships were being poisoned by the very people I spent years of my life trying to nurture and feed. A year later – and after unearthing many truths that weren’t as clear last August, as well as seeing the world with far more clarity and unfiltered information – I can assure you that I made the right decision.

As a matter of fact, I would say it was the best decision I’ve ever made – downsizing, rightsizing, reorganizing and getting back to doing what I do best and what makes me happy and why I berthed WNST to begin with in August 1998: opining, reporting and talking about Baltimore sports.

I abandoned doing something that wasn’t profitable, didn’t make me happy and didn’t appear to hold out any hope of growing.

I did something that I’ve been doing since January 1984 when I got my first sports newspaper internship: I adjusted and changed and learned and grew.

It’s been 12 months since I’ve blogged about my business, my station or my work/life situation because I’ve been too focused on re-building a fantastic company and my personal brand via a daily regiment and lifestyle that works for me and my family. I also did a little 30-city MLB tour and swabbed thousands of people for the bone marrow registry along the way this summer and threw a May 14th gala with Chuck Pagano for There Goes My Hero that many are still talking about around Baltimore. We’re also working with the premier golf tournament in town with Ruth’s Chris at their Sizzling Classic on Sept. 21st to benefit a charity that was personally involved in helping my wife survive leukemia in 2014.

I’m also doing the finest and most comprehensive radio interviews and conversations of my career with distribution greater than my mind could’ve imagined when I started in the newspaper and radio world. It’s by far my best work and I hope you’re enjoying it at WNST.

Inspiration, passion, energy, commitment and a sincere follow through have never been an issue for me. This is the sole reason WNST came into existence in 1998. This is how I birthed a sports radio station from a small AM brokered radio show on a big band radio station in afternoon drive time in the early 1990s. There’s always been a

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 29 Miami

Posted on 11 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Hard to believe the louses who own the Miami (nee Florida) Marlins could not only connive their way into ever getting this hard-to-get-to and even harder to return “shiny gem” built in an area that even people who live nearby don’t want to visit. I had a great time drinking beer at the Clevelander in left field – and yes that young lady behind me in the picture is wearing her birthday suit and a little body paint in left field – but it can hardly even be considered a ballpark at all. It’s really just the Skydome, built two decades later, with a nightclub in the outfield and a crappy team on the field that no one cares about and based on this weird Willy Wonka ballpark, no one will ever care about this awful franchise. It’s a giant indoor carnival. The place smells like sugar, like a confection factory or some place on a boardwalk. Miami Beach is ten minutes away. Who is the world would want to sit in this joke of a monstrosity and watch baseball in South Florida. Seriously, this should be the second-to-last-place you should ever want to see a ballgame in your life. But if you do go, make sure you jump into the pool.

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On Sept. 8-9-10, I will be releasing an extensive essay documenting my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit journey of 2015. You can read it and all of my work here: http://wnst.net/author/nestoraparicio/

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What's the worst MLB stadium? Nestor says No. 30 was easy: just go to Orange County and see what the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have under a broken halo...

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MLB #GiveASpit Ballpark Ranking: No. 30 Anaheim

Posted on 10 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, someone has to be “last.” Simply put: this place is a dump. I visited “The Big A” in 1991 when it was still a two-sport relic and they’ve had me believing from afar for nearly two decades that they actually fixed the place up. I dunno. Maybe I just harbored higher expectations. I watched it again last weekend when the Orioles visited on television and nothing cosmetically on the broadcast prepares you for how ordinary the whole experience is once you arrive in Orange County. The concessions are so far inferior to every other ballpark as to be laughable. The alcoves in the stadium are dark, dreary and awful. It’s not really structurally much different than I remember it from 24 years ago – and even then it was an awkwardly shaped, multi-use facility at a freeway exit near what used to be orange groves that are now strip malls or outposts of Disneyland. Now, to point out some positives: even the worst place (and last place) in MLB to see a baseball game had some bright spots. I did see a visor for $6.88 and I have great remorse that I didn’t purchase it to match my Dodgers “LA” visors. I also bought a draft beer in the 3rd inning at a discount stand for $4.50. And it was a real beer ­– like 16 ounces and tasty! But, overall, the place is an eyesore, really, if you judge it against the other 29 parks. I’ve been to many minor league parks with more to recommend them, including Aberdeen. The Angels should be embarrassed, especially considering how great the fanbase has been and how cute those monkeys are all over the place. I walked around all 30 MLB ballparks in 30 days. This place is the worst. And, for me, it’s not really close. Well, except for perhaps No. 29…

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On Sept. 8-9-10, I will be releasing an extensive essay documenting my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit journey of 2015. You can read it and all of my work here: http://wnst.net/author/nestoraparicio/

 

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Nestor traveled to 30 MLB ballparks in 30 days this summer and is putting them in order. We'll be counting them down from worst to first through Sept. 8 when he'll release a three-part essay on his MLB #GiveASpit leukemia and bone marrow awareness journey.

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Ranking 30 MLB stadiums from worst to first isn’t easy

Posted on 10 August 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

Today, with my 30th ranked stadium in Major League Baseball, I’ll be unveiling – and highlighting – a different ballpark and experience from my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit tour. We’ll be ranking them from worst to first every day over the month.

Much like criteria for various sports Halls of Fame, postseason awards and/or any other smarmy institutional rankings or polls or opinions, this one rests solely on me. I figured if I could rank my Top 50 Bruce Springsteen songs, or U2 numbers or Rush classics, then I could work out the most requested piece of advice or expertise from spending a month of my life on the road chasing baseball.

Along my journey this summer, everyone seemed to ask the same question:

“Which stadium did you like the best?”

And, honestly, when you’re in a different ballpark every night for 30 days, it’s pretty natural to start comparing and contrasting every facet of every place you visit.

My ranking are based on an all-encompassing vibe and mojo. These are my personal rankings. They’re not “traditional” in any way. I put a lot of thought into them and invested the time and money to visit them all and experience baseball in totality in 2015.

I didn’t take as gospel what some broadcaster or “journalist,” who enters through the press gate and rolls up to the feeding room, said about these venues. Instead, I walked through every park – some of them twice – just to see every nook and cranny.

It’s also obvious that every stadium is better with more people in it and fans filling it. Some parks are struggling to get folks to come to the games and many with good reasons across MLB.

Baseball ain’t really so cheap and “family friendly” anymore. Sure, you can score a $5 get-in these days in Denver or Phoenix but there’s a reason these owners are making hundreds of millions of dollars while putting a sometimes “cheap as possible” brand of baseball on the field.

Your TV money (and every neighbor you have) is what’s driving the business of baseball. The stadiums are simply a stage that allows the money to flow.

Some teams – like the Yankees, Tigers and Orioles – have built stadia over the past two decades that are chic, sexy and printing money but they haven’t really captured the spirit and charm of their previous homes. It’s almost been a backward ride for the mojo of the franchise in some ways. For other dumps and cookie cutters like The Vet and Busch Stadium and Three Rivers (which was one of the worst places to watch a game from any sight line), well it was hard to not improve with a new facility.

And the venerable places – and the top two on my list – are old-school stadiums that have renovations that have made them shine even more.

Look, many of these ballparks are lovely. Every community – save for Oakland, Tampa and maybe Toronto, can look their fans in the eyes and say “we have a world class facility that warrants you dropping a bunch of money to see a game in our stadium.”

One criteria I’d use is this: if I were a fan of this team, how compelled would I be to buy a 13-game plan, venture to the stadium and want to spend money at baseball games. I’ve been going to baseball games since 1972. Before Peter Angelos took my press pass in 2006, I did 40 to 60 games a year. Now, it’s more of a “special occasion” for me to go to a baseball game. Especially given the amount of money it costs to spend a summer night at a game if you pay retail and eat inside the park.

The bottom line is this: where is my money good?

In the end, which of these places would make me want to fly back – right now – and do it all over again and watch a ballgame.

There’s a lot of ethereal, intangible qualities in a stadium experience.

In some places – like Seattle, San Francisco, Minnesota – I was held at the top of sections and could only take my seat at the of an at bat. It was forced courtesy. I thought it was superbadass and long overdue at baseball games. I like the hockey rules. You are allowed to move around when the ball isn’t in play. Seems so sensible as to be standard operating procedure. But we’ve all had some idiot walk in front of us just as a 3-1 pitch is being delivered with two on in the mid innings.

In others, you could just feel the charm of the staff. Seattle, Minnesota and Philadelphia most notably – every vendor, ticket taker, staffer – was completely helpful and cool.

“They’re all meant to be different” as stadium architect and expect Janet Marie Smith said to me. “It’s why we love pilgrimages. Every one of the Major League Baseball ballparks is unique.”

In many cases, when I wasn’t swabbing or hanging with a celebrity pal or tweeting up pictures from the ballparks, I was interacting with folks on the concourse. Some nights I was treated like a media member. Some nights the team gave us nice tickets. Some nights we arrived super early to swab people. Some nights – like Washington, Miami, The Bronx in New York, Colorado and both sides of Chicago, which, clearly is not my kinda town – I scalped tickets on the street or Stubhub because the team treated me like a disease or a nuisance. The Cubs-White Sox game at Wrigley was a really pricey ticket and I bought standing room seats for $51 each and we squatted for five innings behind a pole at first base and had a fine time because we weren’t getting pelted by rain like everyone who paid $200 did all afternoon.

This isn’t about taking categories and ranking these 30 nights of my life. I didn’t consider the weird rules for each park or even a ton of the history or periphery outside of the main thesis: “If I were sending you someplace to watch a baseball game next summer, where would I send you first…then second…then third.”

So, here’s my list, starting with No. 30 and counting backward. We’ll release one stadium a day for the next month and there’ll be some notes I’ve assembled about why they’re ranked thusly.

I will be writing at length about all aspects of my 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit tour the week of Sept. 8 when we release our No. 1 stadium in Major League Baseball.

My Kerouac tour is complete. I have plenty of stories to tell.

I hope you enjoy the journey…

 

Cheers,

Nestor

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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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WNST Super Trip to The Big Game in New Orleans NOW ON SALE HERE!

Posted on 20 January 2013 by WNST Trips

WNST.net presents what you’ve been waiting 12 long years for in the Charm City – a real Festivus trip to New Orleans for a Super celebration and party for all Baltimore Ravens fans.

If you’ve searched for hotels anywhere in or near The Big Easy, you know that rooms are impossible to find and flights are equally non-existent. As always, we’ve got you covered for this once-in-a-generation trip to The Big Game with our Gunther Motorcoach charter and we’ll make this whole experience easy, fun, comfortable and affordable.

Prices will fluctuate due to the volatility of the marketplace for Super Bowl tickets so please act decisively!

WNST.net  has driven and led more than 15,000 folks to Ravens away games and have logged more than 250,000 miles since 1996 and we always have as much fun as our guests. Families and children are always welcome on our trips and these are designed to be very easy. You board the bus and we take care of the rest! No driving, parking, hassles. We always say the bus is better than a limo because it has headroom, legroom and a bathroom!

PLEASE READ ALL ELEMENTS OF THIS LENGTHY POST BEFORE PURCHASING AT THE BOTTOM OR EMAILING US!!!

If you buy a full V.I.P. package from us, your game ticket will be REAL and you will be going to The Big Game in New Orleans. All of our current pricing is for upper deck endzone tickets. We will not be able to provide specific seat locations for your package until Thursday, Jan. 31st when our buses depart White Marsh Mall. You will be given your game ticket when you board the bus.

Please read all of this carefully and we hope you make the right choice in joining us for every minute of fun, football, family, friends and great memories as we travel south to the Gulf Coast to enjoy the magic of what the Baltimore Ravens mean to our community.

Our buses will leave at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31 and we expect to stop for three meals during the day and arrive in the Gulf Coast area around midnight. (And, yes, a lot of movies will be viewed!)

We have secured several hotels near the Gulfport Airport in Mississippi, which is about an hour from The French Quarter. It’s all highway and will make it easy to shuttle Baltimore fans in and out of the city twice per day on Friday and Saturday and one trip on Sunday for the game.

In addition, the Gulf Coast has great casinos and free transportation from all of our hotels if you’re not up for going into New Orleans on Friday and/or Saturday.

Here is our shuttle schedule from Gulf Coast hotels for the weekend in New Orleans. We will depart from Best Western Gulfport Airport. Please be prompt. The buses will not wait or headcount:

 

Friday, Feb. 1st

11 a.m. departure to NOLA w/Noon drop

5 p.m. to NOLA w/6 p.m. return to Gulfport/Bay St. Louis

Midnight return to your Gulf Coast hotel

 

Saturday, Feb. 2nd
11 a.m. departure to NOLA w/Noon drop at Toulouse at The River

5 p.m. to NOLA w/6 p.m. return to Gulfport/Bay St. Louis

10 p.m. return to your Gulf Coast hotel (early bus)

1 a.m. return to your Gulf Coast hotel (final run of night)

 

Sunday, Feb. 3rd
10 a.m. w/11 a.m. drop in New Orleans at Toulouse at The River

1 a.m. return to your Gulf Coast hotel from New Orleans

 

Monday, Feb. 4th
8 a.m. departure from Gulf Coast to Baltimore returning after midnight

WNST.net will not guarantee tickets in any groups other than pairs. If you order odd numbers of any kind you are subject to being split up at the game as most of the 90,000 seats in the Superdome are issued in sets of two. If you are adamant about special seating – odd groups, large groups or lower bowl premium seating – please inquire. Pricing and availability varies literally hour-to-hour but we’ll try to assist you to make your experience as desired.

All of our seats are guaranteed tickets in the upper deck end zone areas.

Our two hotel locations and multiple offerings are close enough to New Orleans to make this trip comfortable. Bay St. Louis is 53 miles from the French Quarter. Our Gulfport airport hotels are 72 miles from the French Quarter. It’s about an hour drive and you can enjoy refreshments on the ride into The Big Easy.

We are offering rental car assistance via Enterprise Rental Car so if you desire your own transportation upon arrival in the Gulf Coast area, the office is very close they can assist you. Keep in mind that traffic, parking and getting in and out of New Orleans will be extremely challenging on Saturday and Sunday so we highly recommend using our shuttle and being prompt.

Here’s what’s included in WNST.net VIP Big Game/Big Easy Package:

•    Full roundtrip transportation via Gunther Motorcoach from White Marsh to your Gulf Coast hotel of choice on Thursday, Jan. 31st
•    All transfers on our daily shuttles to/from New Orleans on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. (Twice-daily ride of about an hour)
•    One V.I.P. WNST Party admission for our TBA grand event in New Orleans
•    End zone game tickets (only guaranteed in pairs!)
•    Hotel of your choice plus all usual included perks these establishments offer – internet, free breakfast, local shuttles, etc.
•    Ice cold beer, soft drinks & water en route to The Gulf Coast

You can also purchase our travel package WITHOUT a game ticket as well and you will receive all of the above minus the Big Game ticket.

We are working on other combo packages such as “hotel only” and “ticket and hotel only” for those who have other transportation or travel arrangements. We’ll have these together soon. If you have a specific interest in these two packages, please email: nasty@wnst.net with detailed information and we’ll return your emails as soon as humanly possible.

WNST will NOT be selling “tickets only” for The Big Game.

ALL SALES ARE FINAL!!! We cannot offer refunds of any kind for any reason!!! You may resell your trip but we cannot offer name changes after Tuesday, Jan. 29th.

Once you buy a package you have locked your price. Prices are subject to change at any time due to the volatility of the ticket and hotel marketplace.

Due to hotels being overwhelmed, we ask that you request your hotel rooming situation on the checkout form. Given the volume & limited availability for rooms, we cannot guarantee this request at all locations but will do our best along with our hotel partners to honor your needs for your traveling party.

As you can see there are a variety of packages for different budgets and locations. Please choose carefully.

We’d love to have you on this legendary trip to The Big Easy for The Big Game as the purple moves to the New Orleans to win another championship.

ONE VERY IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING PAYMENT OPTIONS FOR THIS TRIP:

We use PayPal at WNST.net and due to fraud issues and government regulations, we cannot accept payments larger than $10,000 via PayPal with credit cards. So, if you are purchasing triples or quads please purchase individually to equal the total amount so that your payment is received in full in two transactions.

OR, you can bring a check to WNST at 1550 Hart Road, Towson, MD 21286 anytime after 9am on Monday, Jan. 21. We will have full forms at our office to accept check payments. We realize this is a big transaction and we want to make payment easy but with online frauds and huge transactions this isn’t as easy as we had hoped. The earlier your check clears the sooner you are officially on the trip.

But we still have space for you and if you act on Monday morning we can promise that you won’t get locked out of our trip.

If you have any questions, email: nasty@wnst.net. We expect to be slammed with emails so act quickly and avoid SOLD OUT status on these properties and trips…

 

ALL PRICING IS PER PERSON!!!!!!

 

Hollywood Casino (Bay St. Louis, Mississippi)

Rooming (how many in your room?) COST IS PER PERSON
Rooming
Mobile contact
Email address

 

Knights Inn (Bay St. Louis, Mississippi)

Rooming (how many in your room?) COST IS PER PERSON
Rooming
Mobile contact
Email address

 

Clarion Inn (Gulfport Airport, Mississippi)

Rooming (how many in your room?) COST IS PER PERSON
Rooming
Mobile contact
Email address

 

Best Western (Gulfport Airport, Mississippi)

Rooming (how many in your room?) COST IS PER PERSON
Rooming
Mobile contact
Email address

 

America’s Best Inn (Gulfport Airport, Mississippi)

Rooming (how many in your room?) COST IS PER PERSON
Rooming
Mobile contact
Email address

 

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With every nerve aware, here are my Top 50 Rush songs of all time

Posted on 07 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

With my favorite Canadian rock band back on the road — approaching 60 years old, each of them — I am back into a groove of listening to Rush. I’ve been listening to Rush since 1980. I wrote about it extensively when they played in Baltimore in April 2011.

And since I’ve always presented my favorite songs by my favorite musical artists, today I present my Top 50 songs – in a very specific order.

These are some liner notes and odes to my favorite lines in my favorite Rush songs. And if you’re a casual Rush fan, here are some “new” songs for you to check out. I didn’t include any songs from Clockwork Angels simply because it’s too young to be put into perspective against the rest of the catalog.

I love me some Rush…

MY Top 50 RUSH SONGS

50. The Pass – Something has to be last in line and I really like this song. “Rebel without a conscience, martyr without a cause…”

49. Grand Designs – I love most of this album. “So much style without substance, so much stuff without style.”

48. The Body Electric – Always loved the drum and bass intro to this one. Old school, underappreciated.

47. Digital Man – “He picks up scraps of information, he’s adept at adaptation. Because for strangers and arrangers, constant change is here to stay…”

46. The Enemy Within – “It takes a little more persistence
to get up and go the distance…”

45. Mystic Rhythms – “The more we think we know about the greater the unknown. We suspend our disbelief and we are not alone…”

44. Earthshine – A beacon in the night.

43. By-Tor And The Snow Dog – They busted this one out a few years ago and the crowd went nuts.

42. Roll The Bones – “Why are we here?”

41. Fly By Night – Overplayed on the radio, I know you’ll think I have this one a little low but it’s never been my favorite.

40. Working Them Angels – Best of the more recent material for me.

39. Working Man – Another one that classic rock seems to like and this was the song that made them a viable U.S. band.

38. Nobody’s Hero – Took a lot of courage to write this one. I like musicians with courage. I like this song.

37. Driven – Incredible bass lines in this one that’s a hard charger.

36. Overture (2112) – Classic, timeless, spacey.

35. Temples of Syrinx – Love the crowd reaction to this one.

34. La Villa Strangiato – Some say the hardest song in rock and roll to play.

33. Stick It Out – “Don’t swallow your anger, don’t swallow the lies…”

32. Witch Hunt – “Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand. Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand…”

31. Big Money — Got no soul.

30. Jacob’s Ladder — “The clouds prepare for battle…”

29. Middletown Dreams – “Dreams transport desires, drive you when you’re down…”

28. Manhattan Project — Dropping the big one.

27. In The Mood — “Hey baby it’s a quarter to eight…”

26. The Analog Kid — “When I leave I don’t know what I’m hoping to find and when I leave I don’t what I’m leaving behind…”

SEE PAGE TWO FOR TOP 25

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