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LeBron's Antics .... Should We Be Surprised ???

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LeBron’s Antics …. Should We Be Surprised ???

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Rex Snider

I was wrong …. DEAD WRONG. As the clock stroked 9:15pm, I was absolutely convinced LeBron James was headed back to Cleveland’s Cavaliers. After all, he dropped subtle hints, like referring to the Cavs as “our team,” and declaring that his mother was happy with the decision.

I should’ve really looked between the lines (and LIES) to see the obvious. Would ‘Bron’s Moms be happier spending her January’s and February’s on the icy shores of Lake Erie or the warm sands South Beach?

Hmmm ….. you tell me.
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Okay, so maybe Mrs. Delonte West isn’t really worried about the fringe benefits of a winter solstace, in South Florida. However, I’ll bet LeBron has thought it over ….. and he likes what he envisions.

Good for him.

By the way, doesn’t LeBron have a family? Indeed, he does. LeBron Jr. is going to be six years old, in October. And, Bryce Maximus just turned four, last month. What’s best for the family?

Silly me, “King James” made it very clear ….. he talked to his mother and they concluded he needed to do “what’s best for ME.” And, according to him, the “Man Upstairs” is okay with it.

Shew ….. I certainly feel better. I was convinced the “Man Upstairs” is swamped with situations like OIL in the Gulf of Mexico …. unrest in the Middle East …. homeless earthquake victims in Haiti ….. and many more desperate souls.

Then again, wasn’t the “Man Upstairs” hovering over the Orioles dugout, in Arlington, late last night? How else can you explain such divine intervention?

You can lump me in with a few other notable ‘NST personalities; I’m not a devout NBA fan. Yeah, I’ll sporadically watch NBA games on a cold winter night, and my interest is piqued when the finals roll around, in June. But, that’s about it.

I grew up in a blue-collar city, without a pro basketball team. It is what it is …..

But, I think I’m old enough and wise enough to know the “American Story” when I see it – especially when it unfolds on the field of play …..
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I’ve witnessed humility and loyalty among many famous and wealthy souls. In life’s big picture, they haven’t allowed greed to numb their consience. Indeed, being rich and possessing the resulting power it wields is never a justifiable excuse for being selfish. But, that’s LeBron James …..

Last night, he showed me, you and the WORLD what’s really important to HIM. He may very well be the guy who loves himself more than Terrell Owens and Alex Rodriguez, combined.

Nice distinction, huh?

Over this past week, I’ve really experienced a heavy dose of LeBron’s self-promoting schemes. From his endorsement of pep rallies and organized pleas in other cities, to his acceptance of gifts and underhanded bribes, he has displayed a smug love of it all.

However, none of his past promotions could surpass last night’s “State Of The Selfish Star” address. Does he really have any idea what he’s done to a collective group of hardworking people who’ve loved and supported him?
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That’s what happens when a professional athlete establishes roots within a community and wears the city’s name across his chest. A “marriage” of sorts, is consummated.

Now, don’t misunderstand the spirit of my message ….. I recognize that marriages and relationships end eventually. And, I’m a CAPITALIST. I have no issue with the money he makes and his innovative means for creating more of it – as silly and egotistical as those ideas have been.

However, there is no prudent justification for hurting and embarrassing people – especially when they’ve adored you and been so instrumental in creating your wealth.

You wanna leave? Go ahead. But, there’s a way to do it. And, more importantly, there’s a way NOT to do it.

Of course, LeBron chose the latter.

Perhaps, he didn’t hold his WORLDWIDE PRESS CONFERENCE to intentionally humiliate Northern Ohio. Indeed, I think it’s safe to suggest he held the primetime special, because he wanted to do it. He wanted even more attention than he’s already received. And, he didn’t care about the residual effect on anyone.

Last night’s orchestrated media moment amounted to nothing more than a real-life scenario of a husband ditching his wife in public. It’s beyond insensitive. It’s wrong …..

It’s said that NFL, NBA and MLB owners are tight knit groups; each an exclusive club. Better yet, Baltimore Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti has publicly described other owners as his “partners.” I get that, I really do.

Thus, part of me believes the owners of the New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls could’ve stopped last night’s conceited convention of one’s EGO. The King could’ve been dethroned ….. or at least publicly scolded.
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Collectively, those four teams could’ve united and basically said “you’re not going to publicly snub three of us.” They could’ve threatened to rescind their offers, if the ESPN Circus wasn’t canceled by 8pm. Instead, their desperation for his services and mystique overruled the strength of PARTNERS.

The individual soldiers should never be bigger than the army.

These teams allowed this entire process to be on LeBron James’ terms. Each owner pacified the situation with a reckless hope that he would choose THEM. And, just like a desperate spouse, who’ll do anything to save a marriage, the owners really served as LeBron’s enablers.

They allowed the legitimacy of their league to be reduced to an evening of WWE drama and storyline.

As Nestor has advertised in the upcoming BRUNO SAMMARTINO DINNER, “we all have a little bit of old school rasslin’ fan in us.” But, we also know it’s choreographed and as phony as an episode of Reno 911. But, last night, was not a fictional event.

And, a community suffers today.
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They’ll get over it. The sun will continue to rise each morning. The mortgage will still be due. And, life’s more important realities will take over, once again.

But, being a sports fan is a passionate endeavor. The heart gets involved. In an indirect way, your passion has led you to following the Ravens and Orioles, to visiting WNST.net and clicking on this blog.

Most of us don’t take sports too seriously, and that’s a real relief.

But, cities, towns and communities invest in athletes as symbols and ambassadors of the local culture. Do the athletes have an obligation? You bet …. if they take a dime in exchange for any such services. Or, if they’re really part of the neighborhood.

That’s what really astounds me in this whole LeBron James mess. He didn’t just breakup with Cleveland and Northern Ohio. He discarded his HOMETOWN in grand pompous galore. While it’s not even remotely similar, LeBron created a hybrid “Mayflower Van” moment for the people of Cleveland.

Does he care? Does he regret last night? Of course, not. The guy is way too self-absorbed with a bestowed sense of entitlement to ever consider the realities of how his actions impact anyone else. He’s beyond selfish.

While he had every justifiable reason to seek employment elsewhere (HE WAS A FREE AGENT), he absolutely went about the entire set of circumstances in the most improper way. He just laid a blueprint to serve as the ideal steps NOT to take when leaving a team.

He’s a bad guy.

He obviously cares about himself above anything and anyone else. He disregards humanity and good character in the name of doing as he desires. But, he’s not alone in the culpability.

LeBron James is surrounded by people who’ve obviously injected a perceived wisdom for making shrewd decisions. They’ve built him up, while convincing him of a false indestructible immortality. They’ve enabled his arrogance to grow to utterly flamboyant reaches …..
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They’re wrong. He’s not indestructible. He’s not above any of us …..

Think about it ….. in the span of less than 24 hours, LeBron James has transformed from a babyface to a heel. While the people of Miami may worship him, EVERYBODY else is looking at him for the selfish and indignant dude he’s proving to be.

True character eventually surfaces. And, in the life of LeBron James, the public disclosure just took 25 short years.

Aside from the mansions, luxury cars and huge piles of money, LeBron may never acquire some of life’s most invaluable treasures. He may never really learn and appreciate the lessons savored by a common man …..

BE GOOD TO OTHERS

GO OUT OF YOUR WAY NOT TO HURT PEOPLE, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY

PUT YOUR FAMILY AHEAD OF YOURSELF

LeBron James may never really understand these human traits and values. He is so insulated from reality that his perceptions obviously contradict with anything attached to selflessness. But, are we really surprised?

After all, he is what he is …..

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A Sports World Look At The 4th Of July .....

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A Sports World Look At The 4th Of July …..

Posted on 05 July 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, another 4th Of July has come and gone. It was a relatively uneventful holiday in this house; grilling dinner, cold beer and fireworks. But, from a personally historical perspective, I can add a damn good pitching performance by Brian Matusz and a few head scratching All Star selections to my list of things I’ll remember about this July 4th.

The true meaning of INDEPENDENCE DAY is much more important than anything spirited in the realm of sports and competition. From the declaration of a freedom from the Kingdom of Britain, to the inventory of thousands of bodies upon the battlefields of Gettysburg, the day commemorates the inception of the AMERICAN WAY.

Over the last century, the celebration of July 4th has certainly included our love for sports. It’s an absolute tradition. Doesn’t everyone have a “July 4th” sports-themed memory or two (or twenty) from their lifetime?

Of course, just like every other day, the sun rises and sets. People are born, injured, married, arrested, hired, fired and even killed.

But July 4th is still regarded as a day of American Pride and enjoying SPORTS, along with cookouts, fireworks and family. In the truth of it being a very REAL day, here are some distinct memories ….
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1923 – Fists Of Fireworks
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Jack Dempsey knocks out Jess Willard to capture the Heavyweight Championship of the World. He knocked Willard down SEVEN TIMES in the first round.
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Dempsey would finish his career with a 60-7 record, including a 2-0 resume’ during Independence Day fights. He is regarded as the GREATEST BOXER in history, by many experts.
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1929 – How Is This Possible?
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Peter Angelos and Al Davis are born on the same exact day and year. How is THAT possible? I suppose there really is some truth to this whole Astronomy thing, huh?
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Quick, when were Danny Snyder and Jeffrey Loria born? There must be a common connection somewhere along this bizarre trail. ** For the record, I know George Steinbrenner was born on July 4th, too. However, I think he’s dug himself out of this group.
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1939 – The Luckiest Man Retires
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Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with ALS humbly bows out from the game that made him a household name in New York and around the world.
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Known and regarded as a great ballplayer in LIFE, Gehrig would be remembered as the “Original Ironman” and a standard of courage after his death.
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1964 – The “Show” Must Go On !!!!
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The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals square off in a twilght showdown at Memorial Stadium. Although, Boog Powell connected for his 21st homerun of the season, the game is halted as an official 6-6 tie after 8 innings.
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Did it rain? No …. the City of Baltimore stopped the game so that a pre-planned fireworks show could take place. How’s that for 33rd Street trivia?
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1976 – Borg Is Absolutely Perfect
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Bjorn Borg was the definition of UNBEATABLE on this day, just 34 years ago. He defeated Ilie Nastase to capture first of five consecutive (1976-1980) Wimbledon Championships.
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The astonishing part? Bjorn Born didn’t lose a single set during the 1976 Wimbledon Tourney. Now, that’s dominating !!!!
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1980 – “The Express” Notches #3000
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Many baseball fans and insiders consider Nolan Ryan to be the most prolific “power pitcher” in the history of the game. At just 33 years old, he collected his 3000th strikeout on this day.
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As we all know, he had plenty of GAS left in the tank. Nolan Ryan finished his big league career with 5,714 strikeouts …. along with one hugely famous bloody ass-beating of Robin Ventura.
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1983 – No Fireworks For The Red Sox
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You remember Dave Righetti, right? Well, he enjoyed his most masterful pitching performance when no-hitting the rival Boston Red Sox during a matinee matchup.
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Although, he was only 24 years old, it would be Righetti’s only no-hitter. A season later, he would become the Yankees closer and he enjoyed a solid career in that role.
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1998 – No NASCAR @ Daytona
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For the first time in 35 years, NASCAR did not host a race at Daytona International Speedway during a July 4th weekend. A growing swath of wildfires threatened the entire Daytona community, forcing the race’s postponement to October.
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This was an era when NASCAR was dominated by a certain car and driver. Thus, while the race was delayed nearly four months, Jeff Gordon still showed up and ran away with it.
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2004 – A Total Of 1735 Bombs
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Yesterday’s release of the All Star rosters was a mere formality. Heck, many fans haven’t even noticed, yet. There was no pomp and circumstance revolving around final appearances of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn, or the anticipation of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in the same lineup. The biggest dilemma was “will Stephen Strasburg be an All Star?” He’s not.

On July 4th, 2004, All Star rosters were announced – and it was a historical moment. For the first time in BASEBALL HISTORY, three players with 500+ homeruns were elected to the same All Star squad – to start in the same outfield.
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When the 2004 All Star rosters were announced, a behemoth amount of career dingers were occupying the N.L.’s outfield …. Barry Bonds – 682, Sammy Sosa – 553, Ken Griffey – 500. As we sit here just six years later, we know these homerun totals were inflated and achieved via less than honest means. That said, electing an outfield of 1735 homers is still pretty amazing.
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2009 – Tragedy in Tennessee
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You remember exactly where you were when your phone buzzed with the WNST text, right? I was standing on a pier, in Canton. From that mid-afternoon moment, we browsed the internet, watched the news channels and made Steve McNair the topic of 4th of July conversations.
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It’s still hard to believe Steve McNair is gone. In the year since his death, many controversial disclosures and allegations have surfaced. Most recently, a select group is purporting a cover-up by law enforcement and prosecutors. I’m not buying it; too many people are privy to the situation. A cover-up amounts to a “secret.” And, we all know there is only one way to ensure a secret stays intact – if you’re the only one knows it.
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2010 – 54 Dogs & 1 Arrest
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Somewhere in Chicago, Glenn Clark is celebrating the feat of his hero, Joey Chestnut. The human hoover inhaled 54 weiners to win yesterday’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Yet, as the Coney Island crowd reveled in Chestnut’s title defense, a bit of reality drama broke out …..
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In a scene resembling a WWE Monday Night Raw skit mixed with Jerry Springer, former Eating Champ, Kobayashi, was arrested after storming the stage during Chestnut’s celebration. Kobayashi did not participate this year, because of a “dog dispute.” The arrest footage was pretty funny …. but, I would’ve loved to see him get tasered !!!!

HAPPY 5TH OF JULY – SEE YA TOMORROW @ 2PM !!!!

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The Bar Stool Blogger Police Have Arrived .....

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The Bar Stool Blogger Police Have Arrived …..

Posted on 11 April 2010 by Rex Snider

Whether I’m sitting in front of a microphone and our respective WNST audience, or a keyboard in the WNST.net blogs, I’m hardly ever at a loss for words.

Yet, I’ve been searching for a proper means of summing up my disappointment in Orioles fans, who booed Mike Gonzalez as he departed Friday’s home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

It’s been a frustrating challenge …..

How do I admonish fans, while not letting Gonzalez completely off the hook? I’ve agonized over the complex circumstances and even considered letting it go …..

But, I finally found my inspiration – right here at WNST.net

That’s right, just one glance at Barstooler Erich Hawbaker’s “Gonzalez Has To Go” blog has provided me with the fitting angle for delivering my message …..
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Don’t misunderstand me, Erich is not the guy who gave up Friday’s 9th inning lead – that would be Mike Gonzalez. And, Erich is not the guy who took a BAD on-field situation and made it far WORSE – that would be Dave Trembley.

But, I do think Erich embodies the typical Orioles fan, who’s allowed years of frustration to consume a rational reaction to the struggles of one player, over the course of 4 early season ballgames. And, unless he could honestly tell me something to the contrary, I’d assume if Erich had a seat at Camden Yards, he would’ve joined the chorus of boos when Gonzalez walked his first batter in the home opener.

In his blog, Erich wrestles with the Orioles decision to sign and annoint Mike Gonzalez the team’s CLOSER, because “I haven’t seen anything yet that would lead me to make the same decision.”

Really? Look, Erich is an an educated guy – attending Shippensburg University and employed as a banker. But, in reading his bio, I didn’t see any mention of baseball scouting and experience. Is there something we should know?

Enlighten us …..

I’ve got an idea. Perhaps, we can snatch a BIRD-BRAIN to fly up to the ‘ole bank and tell Erich about interest rates and financing …..
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Better yet, maybe “Joe Schmoe” (everybody knows him) can examine Erich’s pile of recent decisions to see if anything questionable stands out.

I think it’s fair to suggest Andy MacPhail has been pretty conservative with the dollar during his 34 months, in Baltimore. Thus, something must have inspired him to give Mike Gonzalez $12 million, over a couple years time.

Here’s a suggestion …. instead of looking for Gonzalez’s “CLOSER” qualities in just 4 appearances, how about taking a look back at his career? While I’ll concede he’s blown saves (as EVERY closer does), he’s also compiled an impressive strikeout/walk ratio and overall WHIP.

If you examine Gonzalez’s past, it’s pretty logical to surmise his brief stretch with the Orioles is uncharacteristic of his resume’. Indeed, 3 appearances doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of a guy who’s spent 8 years in Major League Baseball.

Erich has also questioned the legitimacy of Dave Trembley defending decisions to use Gonzalez in the 9th inning, because “he’s the CLOSER.”

That’s the deal, bro. They’re not paying him $6 million, per season, to pitch in the 7th inning. He’s succeeded in high-pressure situations and he’ll do it, again. If you honestly think he forgot how to pitch during the 696-mile drive from Atlanta to Baltimore, let me know …. I’ve got a beautiful Canton rowhome, on the NORTH side of Patterson Park to sell you …..

Interestingly, Erich feels the the Red Sox and Yankees wouldn’t “put up with this.” Really? The “Blown Save Fairy” has never wandered into the depths of Boston or New York?

If given a choice would you prefer your CLOSER to blow a couple early season games, or the most important game of the postseason?
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That’s right, Jonathan Papelbon blew the lead when it mattered most. He surrendered 3 runs in last season’s playoff finale’ against the Angels. The Red Sox held a 2 run lead and he couldn’t hold it.

Let me guess, Mike Gonzalez is not Jon Papelbon? You’re right – Papelbon is DEFINITELY expected to deliver in such situations.

And, Mike Gonzalez also has NOTHING to do with 12 years of pitiful results for Orioles fans.

Yet, on Friday afternoon, his ass paid the freight.

A tormented and jaded crowd leveled their overwhelming frustrations upon a guy that has nothing to do with 12 years of LOSING BASEBALL. That’s right, he pitched poorly over the last 3 days !!!! What the hell was I thinking …..

In truth, I’m not trying to beatup on Erich Hawbaker. I just expect him – and all WNST.net bloggers to be accountable. I do think a responsibility is attached to WNST.net blogs. This isn’t some salacious message board. Writers should deliver and defend their work. Thus, I’ll address the theme of Erich’s blog …..

“Gonzalez Has To Go”

Where do you want him to go, Erich? I’m certain a banker understands and appreciates the significance of a $12 million investment. Would you just cut the guy loose? I can hear Andy now, “here’s your money, Mike, best of luck with the Yankees or Red Sox.”

He’s MIKE GONZALEZ – owner of a career 2.67 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 333 strikeouts/133 walks in 282 innings. He’s lefthanded and throws in the mid-90’s.

If the Orioles just “let him go,” he would be free to sign with any team for the Major League minimum salary. And, the Orioles would be obligated to pay the remaining portion – which adds up to $11,200,000.00 over a couple seasons.

Where do you think he would go, Kansas City? Better yet, he’d choose a return stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, right? He’s making the same money, regardless of where he goes. Might as well win, right?

And, consider this situation – the Yankees have one left handed reliever …..
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Damaso Marte !!!! He’s 35 years old and compiled a 9.45 ERA, in 21 appearances for the Yankees, in 2009. Do you think they would take Mike Gonzalez for $400,000 ???

He’s not being released – BET YOUR LIFE ON THAT.

So, if “Gonzalez Has To Go,” how will the Orioles make it happen?

Will they trade him? Let me know when you find a team that will gladly eat the contract, while knowing the O’s are desperate to dump the guy.

While you’re at it, find Jen Aniston and see if she’ll accept an invitation to my Roman Shower …..
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I know …. Andy MacPhail can package Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins and an autographed Eddie Murray baseball to the Milwaukee Brewers for Prince Fielder.

Should I make the call?

Why am I solving this problem? I’m not the guy who thinks “Gonzalez Has To Go.” And, I’m not one of the umteen thousand buffoons who acted as if Mike Gonzalez was making his debut on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, at Camden Yards, on Opening Day.

This is Erich’s shot at credibility. Who knows, maybe he can get Andy MacPhail out of this awful dilemma.

But, I do have to ask “where was Erich Hawbaker on December 17, 2009?” In fact, I’m curious to know where every disgruntled fan, who’s bent on GONGING GONZALEZ, was on December 17th?

Did you picket the warehouse?
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Did you voice displeasure on any talk shows? Did you email the Orioles? Did you, AT LEAST, disparage Gonzalez by using an anonymous screen name on some message board?

Of course, not. But, I’m sure those very message boards are burning up, right now.

I’m not defending Mike Gonzalez. He must turn his game around – or else. And, I’m not defending Dave Trembley. In fact, he’s probably the guy who deserves most of the blame for the current Orioles crisis.

He allowed a pitcher, who struggled through Spring Training, to report for duty – when something was definitely wrong. And, Dave Trembley worsened the entire situation when he figuratively carried a GAS CAN out to the pitchers mound and totally enflamed Gonzalez’s fragile reputation with the fan base.

Yeah, I’m sure Trembley just wanted to win the game. But, I wonder if he thought about the resounding treatment Gonzalez would receive when he walked to the dugout, without his teammates.

I’m not trying to sensationalize the rough treatment Gonzalez received from fans, on Friday. But, it didn’t help the situation. Lets remember, the booing started when he walked his FIRST BATTER. I’m not trying to suggest booing from ANYONE gets into his head, either.

In fact, if booing or anything from the seats affects him, Mike Gonzalez would not have the emotional complexion of a big league ballplayer, let alone a CLOSER. But, don’t think that treatment has no effect, at all. I’d imagine Gonzalez privately has some choice thoughts for Baltimore’s fans, right now.

And, you can bet his teammates have his back. As if another potential divide between players and fans is needed !!!! The booing was wrong – it’s unproductive and in a roundabout way, such crowd reaction diminishes the homefield advantage.

Be assured, I’m not openly criticizing Mike Gonzalez, Dave Trembley or the fans.

And, in reality, I’m not criticizing Erich Hawbaker – provided he’s accountable for his work.

This is his chance.

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A Redneck's Wrestlemania Report .....

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A Redneck’s Wrestlemania Report …..

Posted on 29 March 2010 by Rex Snider

I’m assuming everyone enjoyed the weekend’s NCAA matchups. Who would’ve guessed Duke, Butler, Michigan State and West Virginia would be primed for a Final Four appearance? Obviously, nobody …..

Seeing the Mountaineers beat Kentucky was a welcomed event in the Snider household. My wife is from West Virginia, and my niece is a student, at Morgantown. Here’s to hoping they win the NCAA Championship.

The rest of my weekend was not very smooth. I’m tired of freakin’ rain. In fact, the downpours postponed Sunday’s NASCAR race, in Martinsville, Virginia. It was really rotten luck, to say the least.

So, what does a redneck do without his promised 500 laps of beatin’ and bangin’ …..

That’s right, I purchased Wrestlemania-26 !!!! It’s the first rasslin’ PAY PER VIEW in the Snider household, since 1998. Yep, after a decade of sensible sobriety, I’m back to being hooked on turnbuckles, suplexes and sleeper-holds.

And, I’ve got one guy to blame …..

RAY BACHMAN

I was “rassle-free” until we started the REX & RAY SHOW. In less than two months, I’ve gone from watching a couple minutes, per Monday, to spending $69 for 3+ hours of phony, but fun storylines. And, this Wrestlemania was no exception.

Enjoy my review …..

Match #1 – Tag Team Championship

Admittedly, I’m still not familiar with the names and roles of the entire roster of WWE stars.  I was less than interested in the opening match of the evening, as the current champs Big Show & The Miz squarred off against some lesser intimidating dudes, named R-Truth and John Morrison.

Say what you want, but it appears the current climate of rasslin’ tag teams is not nearly as charismatic or engaing as the old school combos …..
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I found the match to be kinda boring. But, it was the opening performance – and the 7-foot rassler pinned a smaller guy. Go figure …..

Triple Threat Match

This was a pretty entertaining match, as it featured the offspring of 3 legendary rasslers – Cody Rhodes (Dusty’s son), Ted Dibiase Jr. (Ted Sr’s. son) and Randy Orton (Cowboy Bob’s son), squaring off in an “every man for himself” contest.

Randy Orton is a physical specimen – he’s freakin’ cut. The first thing that came to mind is the guy has a natural HEEL appearance and demeanor. I thought he was the most athletic performer of the night, and as an outsider could predict, Orton made relatively quick work of the smaller opponents.
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I don’t know Randy Orton’s history – I’ve been watching this NEW ERA of rasslin’ for just a few weeks. But, he’s gonna be a STAR around Vince McMahon’s empire for a very long time.
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No Holds Barred Match
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Make no mistake about it, Vince McMahon is the most hated dude among rasslin’ fans. And, he channels the impassioned hatred into a tool that pries open the wallet of virtually every paying customer.

Regardless of where I think he’s headed in the afterlife, Vince always entertains the FAN …..
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This Wrestlemania edition was no different. Vince McMahon portrayed himself as the guy who snookered the night’s opponent, Bret Hart, by buying off Hart’s family. However, the Hart clan double-crossed Vince and proved blood is thicker than a wad of cash.

Thus, Bret proceeded to beat Vince to a pulp – while whacking him 13 uninterrupted times, with a mangled steel chair. Vince never raised a fist. The fans got excatly what they desired – and Vince, undoubtedly got what he desired, too …..

Today, he’s a richer man.
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Intercontinental Championship
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This was definitely what I considered to be the “Tannest Dude vs. Whitest Dude” in rasslin’. In fact, the match could’ve been sponsored by Coppertone or the Melanoma Research Foundation – both interests were represented during the contest.

During my decade-long hiatus, Sheamus is one of many notable things that has happened to the WWE. He’s billed as an Irish hero, of sorts. And, with his blazing red hair, he kinda looks like “Heat Miser” from Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer fame …..
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You tell me? Do I have a point, or not …..

When I originally stopped watching the weekly antics of rasslin’, the Orioles were on the heels of their FIRST losing season in this horrid streak – and Triple H was a pretty powerful dude, both inside and outside the ring. I see some things never change. He’s married to the owner’s daughter, he can’t lose, right?

Actually, I’d say Vince will force the hand of defeat on whomever stands to generate the most profit for the role – including his own son-in-law. As for the match, it was pretty evenly balanced. But, in a silly moment, Triple H finished off Sheamus with a weak version of his trademark “Pedigree” move.

It was so FAKE – he released it way too soon. To be honest, it would’ve been more believable if Triple H knocked Sheamus in the head with this …..
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Of course, I know rasslin’ is phony. But, if anyone ever doubted it, they just needed to watch the end of this match. It was definitely the poorest execution of the night.
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World Heavyweight Championship
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One of the sillier realities in today’s world of rasslin’ is the collection of different championship belts. There must be a strap for each day of the week – and, I’m not exaggerating …..

And, one of the championship matches at Wrestlemania was Chris Jericho vs. Edge. To be brutally honest, I’m not buying this Edge guy as a dominating personality in the business – he’s much smaller than most contenders and the personality is tinier, too.

While Chris Jericho is not a hulking, behemoth creature, either ….. he had a notable size advantage over Edge. I cannot emphasize it too strongly – Edge does not have the rassler stature, if you know what I mean.
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It was a rather acrobatic match, but in the sense of how things would go on a street, alley or dance floor, at a Baltimore nightclub, Jericho pinned the little guy. This match was unimpressive and that belt needs to make its way into the hands of another, more deserving rassler ….. like Doink the Clown or Koko B. Ware.

I’m just sayin’ …..
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WWE Championship
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I told you raslin’ had alot of belts. That said, these two guys are CHAMPIONSHIP material. But, I’m also suspecting that if they played pro baseball tomorrow, they’d be getting a 50-game suspension letter from Uncle Bud, next week.

You know what I mean, right …..

John Cena and Bautista have that blend of charisma, athleticism and natural acting ability. They put on a very entertaining show, with numerous near pins.

Both guys earned their money and the fans got what most desired …..
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Cena is clearly the crowd favorite among the small stable of Vince McMahon’s stars. He’s the ultimate babyface – combining his engaging appearance and schtick for the masses to enjoy. I know he’s been in a couple b-movies, but the guy is a pretty good actor.

But, since I prefer seeing HEELS dominating the biz, I’d hoped Bautista would successfuly defend his championship …..
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However, it was a night for all the people who believe in Super Heroes, Richie Cunningham and Flintstone Vitamins.
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Undefeated Streak vs. The Career
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Last year, the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels headlined Wrestlemania 25, with one of the greatest matches, ever ….. so, I’m told.

This year, they served up the MAIN EVENT, again. With an added twist, it was the Undertaker’s perfect Wrestlemania streak (17-0) vs. Shawn Michaels’ CAREER. That’s right, if Michaels lost, he would be forced to retire from rasslin’ …..

Yeah, okay.

Plenty of these guys have rassled in “CAREER MATCHES” and lost. Yet, they’ve re-surfaced more often than Evander Holyfield. What else are these guys gonna do?

Work at 7-11 …..

Work at a gym …..

Oh, I got it …..

RASSLE FOR HULK HOGAN AT TNA RASSLIN’ !!!!

Yeah, Shawn Michaels lost the match – after two TOMBSTONES …..
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Think about it – makes perfect sense, right? Now, the Undertaker can carry his UNDEFEATED streak into the next Wrestlemania and Shawn Michaels can make another comeback. It’s a win-win storyline.

And, that’s just how it ended – with more potential storylines.

I wanna thank Mother Nature, for postponing the NASCAR race.

I wanna thank Ray Bachman for leading me back into the HELL HOLE.

And, I especially wanna thank my cable provider, Broadstripe, for siphening $69 from my checking account, during a moment of weakness ….. and boredom.

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Orioles Hall Of Fame Excludes Palmeiro & Alomar - I Don't Get It ....

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Orioles Hall Of Fame Excludes Palmeiro & Alomar – I Don’t Get It ….

Posted on 24 March 2010 by Rex Snider

On Monday, the Orioles announced 2010’s Hall Of Fame inductees. The list includes former pitching coach, Ray Miller, as well as former manager, Johnny Oates. A hearty congratulations to Ray and Johnny’s family …..

When these latest inductees were announced, I was a little surprised. It’s certainly my oversight, but I think of players prior to anyone else ….. and I think some pretty deserving on-field contributors await the team’s distinction. In fact, as Allen McCallum can attest, I’ve been openly campaigning for Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar for more than a month.

Better yet, lets be accurate, I’ve really been feeding the “Palmeiro – Orioles Hall Of Fame” rumblings, since around January 25th – just a couple days removed from the confirmed reacquisition of Miguel Tejada. And, to dispel any suspicions, I wasn’t being a smartass about it.

I honestly believe Rafael Palmeiro belongs in the BALTIMORE ORIOLES HALL OF FAME …..
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Yet, for the past couple years, I’ve bought the common impression and assumption that the Orioles organization is trying to distance itself from any tie to the albatross known as PERFORMANCE ENHANCING DRUGS. I don’t blame them …. and if such a standard existed, I would understand and respect it.

That said, it’s hard for me to believe the Orioles really have such an unspoken standard – if they’re paying Miguel Tejada $6 million to bring his “bag of tricks” back to this clubhouse and in a uniform.

I wholeheartedly believe Miguel Tejada will be a benefit to this 2010 Baltimore Orioles lineup. Call him a “stopgap” (I’ve only heard this term 748,529 times in a few months) or whatever else, he makes the lineup better, in the short term.

And, I don’t wanna beatup on Tejada’s character, while rooting for him to drive in runs – in less than two weeks. It seems kinda hypocritical to me.

Yet, when the Orioles announce another Hall Of Fame class, brimming with freakin’ COACHES, and still without one of the organization’s greatest players EVER, I’m compelled to be honest about the situation. It’s deserving of conversation and dissection.

Just as we hold the Baseball Writers accountable for their decisions on who merits a day in Cooperstown, I believe it’s imperative to learn WHO contributes to the consensus on the Orioles annual induction of immortals. Who decided on this year’s class?

I don’t wanna hear the convenient “Orioles Advocates” response, either. Who are they?
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According to the Orioles Advocates website, the team’s Hall Of Fame process is conducted by board members and “prominent media members.” I’ll asume that I don’t work with any “prominent” media members, at WNST. But, I’ll check …..

I honestly feel we have a rightful expectation to know who to lobby for this cause. If it wasn’t important, the Orioles Hall Of Fame wouldn’t exist and the organization wouldn’t dump money and effort into it.

Do Orioles Advocates board members and “prominent media members” make selections and run ’em up the flag pole, to see if the Orioles organization is comfortable with the choices? I would think so. And, I don’t blame the Orioles, one bit, if they have such an enforcement arm.

If I stood in the shoes of Mr. Angelos, I would want final say on selections for the team’s Hall Of Fame. After all, the selections represent the franchise and the franchise has a public face and image. I get that – I really do. If the two entities (the Orioles & Orioles Advocates) are associated in this endeavor, the team needs final say.

But, tell us.

The Orioles Hall Of Fame will be a significant part of this city’s history – just as much as the resume’ of players who play for the team and wear BALTIMORE across their chests, whenever they visit another city. For me, its very much about civic pride.

Some folks might read this far, while assuming I’m on a mission to stir up controversy. I’m really not …..

If the organization was in a spot where the only alumni worthy of enshrinement was coaches, I would understand – while also admitting a tad bit of embarrassment, in front of the baseball world. How does this look to people in New York, Minnesota or Boston?

Ahh, in truth, they don’t even know. After all, I don’t know who the Twins are inducting, this year. But, I’ll go out on a limb and predict it’s a PLAYER. I’ll just check …..

Well, it was a pretty simple search …..
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That’s right, on September 9th, the Minnesota Twins will be inducting Joe Mauer into the team’s Hall Of Fame. He’s definitely deserving. In fact, rumors persist that the state will be renamed MAUERsota, on the same day.

Whow, whoa ….. I’m just kidding. No need to cite or reference this anywhere else ….. if you know what I mean.

In truth, the Minnesota Twins will be inducting Greg Gagne into the team’s Hall Of Fame, on September 9th. You remember him, right? He was a rather light hitting shortstop, who averaged 105 hits, 9 homers and 10 steals, in 8 seasons with the Twins. For the record, Gagne also got caught stealing nearly as many times …..
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My first impression of Greg Gagne is he’s not really one of the GREATER Twins. But, it’s Minnesota’s deal.

I’m sure the Orioles have former players with Gagne’s achievements, who are on the outside looking into the team’s Hall Of Fame. Heck, they have even more stalward candidates.

The likes of Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro are evidently not worthy enough – or mitigating reasons keep them out. Of course, it’s the latter. We’re not stupid, we get it.

However, I’ve maintained and I still maintain that some sort of STANDARD or degree of morality should be exercised on the current Orioles team, if such a character measurement exists for personnel who will be Orioles “life longers” forever.

What’s the difference?

If somebody in the Warehouse is comfortable in saying “we don’t want steroids in the team’s Hall Of Fame, but we’re okay with having steroids on the present-day team,” I’ve got a problem with that. Hanging an alleged steroid user’s plaque on the wall, in the Club Section, won’t hurt anyone. Yet, acquiring a player who used and distributed steroids is very compromising to the team’s fragile and impressionable young cast.

Have you considered the immediate future of this guy?
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Rafael Palmeiro has no influence on Matt Wieters and his array of young teammates. Miguel Tejada does have influence over them. To be fair, it could be a positive, as well as a negative influence. But, the opportunity exists.

I’d be much more worried about the current Orioles culture, as opposed to recognizing former standouts for a day of pomp and circumstance, in late summer.

I’m not sitting in front of this computer and magically absolving Rafael Palmeiro of any misconduct or sins of the game. That era is etched in history and it will never go away. But, when do you move beyond it?

Rafael Palmeiro collected the five most productive seasons of any Orioles player, ever. That was during his first stint with the team and I’m inclined to think he was a different “player” at that time, if you know what I mean ….

Do you really need to hear him baring his soul? What will it do – beyond potentially revealing a dark period of his life, while humiliating his wife and kids? Miguel Tejada did the same thing – but we’ll be cheering for him in two weeks.

You wanna split hairs? Okay – a urine test caught Palmeiro and Congress caught Tejada.

In fact, if Palmeiro comes out and SAYS ANYTHING, he’ll be caught by Congress, too …..
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If there is one guy who merits a best interest in keeping his mouth shut on the issue, it’s Rafael Palmeiro. Anybody in his shoes would do the very same thing.

Yet, he’s a convenient target for fans and media who are bent on driving the Steroids Era down our collective throats, again, and again, and again. I suspect Rafael Palmeiro might end up carrying most of the baggage for guys who did the same thing as him.

What’s the difference between Palmeiro and Brian Roberts? I’m serious …..

We don’t believe Rafael Palmeiro took a tainted supplement, right? But, we also don’t believe Brian Roberts tried steroids just one time, either. Well, at least most of us don’t believe that story. But, we’re looking forward to Brian Roberts leading off for this Orioles lineup.

And, Brian will be in the Orioles Hall Of Fame someday. Heck, he might be there before Rafael Palmeiro gets the nod.

If we knew who to question, in a respectful manner, it might shed some light on the legitimacy of the Orioles Hall Of Fame election process. Perhaps, we would have a clearer understanding on criteria and protocol. And, we might learn about Rafael Palmeiro’s true chances of joining the “club.”

I think we deserve a transparent process.

If Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar are not deserving of plaques at Camden Yards, so be it …..
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But, those who render such a decision should be compelled to defend it.

The absence of really knowing the system and procedure yielding the Orioles Hall Of Fame process makes it kinda like the decicions Vince McMahon makes whenever his World Wrestling Entertainment company holds another event.

We know wrestling is fake, but we’ve trusted that everything about baseball is real.

This would include annual selections of the Orioles Hall Of Famers. Like I said, we deserve that much …..

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Monday's PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Monday’s PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 22 March 2010 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

Terps terminated at the buzzer.  Twenty-four hours later… and still, wow.  Yesterday’s Maryland-Michigan State contest was truly a great game.  It featured two perennially successful programs; the regular season co-ACC Champs against the regular season co-Big Ten Champs, both armed with rabid fan-bases and, oh by the way, national title winning coaches.  Could we really have expected any less?  Expectations are a funny thing, aren’t they?  To be competitive in the NCAA Tournament and make ‘a run,’ different guys need to step up at different times.  But, before the moment comes, you never know who it’ll be.  It could be those you expect, like one of three seniors trying to will their team back from behind to play another day, like Maryland’s Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne and most particularly Greivis Vasquez… or it could be a guard who himself never would’ve expected the ball to be in his hands for the big shot, like MSU’s Kori Lucious.  Sunday afternoon in Spokane, a spectacular second half was played between two teams ready for their respective moments, and thrilling drama ensued.  In the final four minutes, Maryland’s full court trap was carried out to a textbook equivalent level and Vasquez, playing his last game in a Maryland uniform, was simply incredible.  The only problem was that injured All-Big Ten point guard Kailin Lucas’ backup, Korie Lucious, a sophomore from Milwaukee, had the final opportunity to step up… and he did… as time inevitably expired on Maryland’s 2009-2010 season. Tournament heroes can emerge from anywhere, even Tom Izzo’s bench.  And who could’ve expected that?

Sweet Sixteen.  So how about that?  Absolutely phenomenal opening weekend, huh?  … And please, I really don’t care about how bad your bracket is, everyone’s is down the toilet; earlier today Ryan the Intern told me I stayed out of the “bottom quarter” and that I’m only in the “bottom third” of our WNST In-House Pool.  Yikes.  But anyways, it all started Thursday afternoon with the first three tips of the tourney – ODU over Notre Dame by a point, Richmond taking ‘Nova to OT, and Florida bowing to BYU in double-OT  – and the action hasn’t disappointed anyone since (except for you Terps fans, I guess).  When teams with double-digit little numbers next to their name, and we’ll throw No. 9 Northern Iowa in there too, move on to the Sweet 16 everyone goes nuts; we all love upsets, cheering on the ‘little engines that actually DO.’  That said, I tip my hat – figuratively, of course, I’m not actually wearing a hat – to you: Horizon League, Ivy League, Missouri Valley Conference, and West Coast Conference.  You are a collective 9-1 in this year’s Big Dance.  And that’s pretty awesome.

Tiger speaks to ESPN‘s Tom Rinaldi and the Golf Channel‘s Kelly Tilghman.  A few highlights from Ms. Tilghman’s interview…  On returning April 8th to the Masters: “I’m excited to get back in the game.  I miss playing.  I miss competing, … I’m starting to get my feel back.”  On therapy: “As far as my schedule going forward I don’t know what I’m going to do… I don’t know how it will affect my future.  What I know I have to do is become a better person and that starts with going to more treatment.” On his crash Thanksgiving night and how he crashed his car: “It’s all in the police report… I wasn’t going very fast, but ahhh… unfortunately I hit a few things.” On his father’s death and absence through his time of infidelities: “He’d be very disappointed in me, we’d have numerous long talks… I miss his guidance, I know he’d be able to straighten me up.”  On what he wants his legacy to be: “Just like I ever wanted before, golf is my vehicle to help other people.  My dad always said… ‘in order to help other people, you must first learn to help yourself.  And going into the treatment center for 45 days I’ve learned a lot.   I’ve learned how to help myself and that’s how I can help other people in the future.”

Scanning the Blogosphere

WNST.net:  Glenn Clark says, “Ravens agree to a 2-year deal with Cory Redding.”

WNST.net: Rex Snider says, “What a Weekend.”

FanHouse: Jay Mariotti says, “Tiger Fooling Nobody with 5-Minute Blips.”

Big League Stew: “Done Deal: Joe Mauer signs with Twins for $184 million.”

The Big Lead: They have their 64-subject, “2010 Culture Tournament” almost down to the Sweet 16.

Pro Football Talk:  NFL Draft hopefuls C.J. Spiller and Arrelius Benn may not be ‘smarter than a 5th grader.’

Peter King, SI: “MMQB” Mike Tomlin: “I’m highly concerned for our franchise and for Ben personally.”

SI.com: In photos, “Baseball’s 100 Million Men.”

With Leather:  Sorry Bill Self and all you ‘Rock Chalkers’, “Toto, we’re not in the Tourney anymore!”

SI.com: Extra Mustard alerts us that Pete Rose will host WWE’s Monday Night Raw this evening.

Video of the Day

Tim Brando: “Draymond Green finds Lucious, for the win… He got it!  Spartans move to the Sweet 16!”

Tweets of the Day

— WNST Ravens Analyst, Glenn Clark after he spoke with new Ravens DL Cory Redding – WNST

#Redding: “Love the program, love the facility, love the organization. Respect the men who play there.” #Ravens

— Baltimore Ravens Head Coach, John Harbaugh on the signing of Cory ReddingWNST

#Harbaugh “Sideline to sideline type of player. He’s excited to be a Raven. He fits us. Plays with a high motor, plays with great energy.”

— The Nasty One, Nestor Aparicio, from the NFL Owners’ Meetings in Orlando – WNST

Nestor: #Ravens denied compensatory picks in April draft. Guess when you don’t lose, you don’t gain?

— The Nasty One, Nestor Aparicio, from the NFL Owners’ Meetings in Orlando – WNST

Nestor: No word on #Ravens potential Thanksgiving nite game w/#Jets expected today. #NFL will leak nat’l game sked Tuesday here in #Orlando

— WNST NFL Correspondent, Chris Pika – BlogAndTackle

One anniversary of note today: 1989 – Pete Rozelle announced his retirement as #NFL commissioner after 29 years (via SI.com).

— ESPN NFL Insider, Adam Schefter – Adam_Schefter

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger: “At the appropriate time, I’ll be meeting with Ben.”

–ESPN AFC North Blogger, James Walker – espnafc_north

Last year Baltimore lost starters such as LB Bart Scott, S Jim Leonhard and C Jason Brown but got zero comp picks in return. Interesting.

— TheBigLead.com Editor, Jason McIntyre – TheBigLead

bad news, Gus Johnson fans: He’s going to have two more blowouts thursday: Syracuse>Butler, KState>Xavier. http://is.gd/aTpum

The Day’s Final Thought

So just who has been the 2010 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player thus far through the opening weekend of play?

I have three nominations:  Ali Farokhmanesh, G. Northern Iowa; Omar Samhan, C. Saint Mary’s; and Ryan Wittman, G. Cornell.

Ali Farokhmanesh had such a good weekend in Oklahoma City he went from someone I’ve never heard of before to someone whose last name I don’t need to double-check for spelling anymore.  Thursday night with the game tied 65-65 against UNLV, he nailed the game winning 3-ball from where seemed like Stillwater with 5-seconds left to knockout the Runnin’ Rebs… and that wasn’t even his most dramatic dagger of the weekend.  His ‘you take it, you better make it’ three pointer Saturday evening to push UNI up 4 over Kansas with 34 seconds to play sent shock-waves through college hoops and eliminated the No. 1 overall seeded Jayhawks.  In his pair of games, Farokhmanesh was in total 9-19 from beyond the arc and tallied 33 points in Northern Iowa’s unlikely run to the round of 16.

Omar Samhan from Saint Mary’s is not Blake Griffin, 2009 College Basketball Player of the Year.  However, if you just look at Samhan’s numbers from victories over No. 7 Richmond and No. 2 Villanova, you’d think he’s every bit the All-American Griffin was.  The brash 6’11, 260 pounder rang up 29 points and 12 rebounds in the first round and 32 points, on 13-16 shooting, and 7 boards against in the second.  His domination of Jay Wright’s Wildcat big men prompted Samhan to question why his opposition didn’t double team him, he said in the post-game presser, “I get it, I’m a slow white guy, and I’m overweight. So maybe you don’t respect me because I have good numbers. But after I kill you the first half, what are you waiting for. I don’t know what he [Coach Wright] wanted. Did he want me to have 40?”  I respect you Omar.

And last, but certainly not least,

I’ll bet Ryan Wittman knew a week ago his team would be headed to Syracuse for the East Regional Semifinals.  C’mon, he’s a smart guy; he goes to Cornell.  Wittman’s also a really good basketball player, surrounded at all times on the floor by four other really good basketball players.  Getting to see Cornell play against Temple and Wisconsin over the weekend you really begin to recognize why the 3-time defending Ivy League champs have been considered a threat since November.  Ryan Wittman is dangerous.  He’s a true triple-threat player playing in a system that complements his repertoire and with teammates who feed off his versatility.  He’s averaged 22 ppg in 36 mpg so far on basketball’s biggest stage.  Cornell and Ryan Wittman will have to throw everything they have at new field-favorite Kentucky in the next round… SAT scores and all.

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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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WWE vs.WCW, round II

Posted on 07 January 2010 by mike3505

You know, I have to admit that I really love the world of pro wrestling. Loved it in my teens and 20s, sort of got away from it for a while in the 90s, but came back into it full-force when I fell for my wife, who also happens to be a wrestling nut like me. So you can imagine what a thrill it was switching back and forth from RAW to TNA IMPACT on Monday Night. I would even consider it among the most exciting nights of wrestling I’ve ever witnessed.

Now bear in mind that I’m no TNA fan. I’d watch it occasionally on Thursday evenings while channel-surfing. But when I found out that Hulk Hogan had signed with them, I couldn’t help but want to tune in, just to see what was going to happen. Say what you want about his personal choices in recent years, his wrestling style or his work ethic..but most would admit that it was him who got us to fall in love with wrestling to begin with back in the glory days.  So, when I saw him come out on that stage to that huge ovation, it brought back all sorts of generally happy memories for me. During the course of the show, other notables like Ric Flair, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Hardy, and practically the entire old NWO wound up showing up.

While all that was going on, over on RAW Bret “The Hitman” Hart was making his first WWE appearance in 12 years..something that many of us thought we’d never see. The overall show was just OK, but all of the segments featuring Hart and/or Shawn Michaels and/or Vince McMahon were electric, and it made for a very difficult choice as far as what to watch during the course of the long evening.

The title of the blog, of course, refers to the battle between the well-entrenched WWE and the upstart MONDAY NITRO of the WCW under Eric Bischoff in the ’90s. For a while, all of the big stars went over to Nitro, leaving the WWE (or was it still WWF at the time?) languishing for a period of years until they were able to recover enough to buy out and dismantle their nearest competitor. With Hogan and his new team down south, one has to wonder if we’re witnessing history all over again.

On the one hand, I’ve always been a WWE guy, and want to stay with what I’ve always known. On the other hand, TNA is edgier and with a much greater variety of tag teams, female stars, and younger talent that is a lot of fun to watch. It will be very interesting indeed to see how the coming weeks and months play out as the two wrestling companies go head-to-head on Monday nights. All I can say is, thank GOD for DVRs, or just good old-fashioned VCR tapes so you can watch one and check out the other afterwards.

It would seem that my weekly intake of wrestling has doubled now, at least for the time being. At minimum, I’ll be watching the segments featuring Hogan.  The WWE had better keep their quality up, because it looks like someone else is serious about taking them down a peg, and the battle can only be good for wrestling fans. We shall see…

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Lou Albano

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Wrestling manager & legend Capt. Lou Albano dead at 76

Posted on 14 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s a little hard to write about death on my 41st birthday and I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been in overwhelm running WNST, but the death of wrestling manager Capt. Lou Albano is certainly one more passing of an era of my childhood.
Lou Albano
I spent many, many Saturday afternoons watching the “guiding light” — as he used to refer to himself, but Capt. Lou Albano lived an interesting life in the spotlight of wrestling and entertainment.

The news was first reported by MTV about an hour ago. Here’s the wiki on Albano:

Louis Vincent Albano (July 29, 1933 – October 14, 2009[2]), better known by his ring name Captain Lou Albano, was an American professional wrestler, manager and actor. With an over-the-top personality and a penchant for boisterous declarations, Albano was the epitome of the antagonistic manager that raised the ire of wrestlers and incited the anger of spectators. Throughout his forty-two-year career, Albano guided 15 different tag teams and 4 singles competitors to championship gold. A unique showman, with an elongated beard, rubber band facial piercings, and loud outfits, he was the forefather of the 1980s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection. Collaborating with Cyndi Lauper, Albano helped usher in wrestling’s crossover success with a mainstream audience. Capitalizing on his success, he later ventured into Hollywood with various television, film, and music projects.

We’ll be talking about his life at length at 3 p.m. when Kevin Eck of the Baltimore Sun and Ring Posts joins us.

As Albano said about himself many, many times: “Always imitated, never duplicated” and alas he was correct.

R.I.P. Capt. Lou!!!

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Wrestlemania in Baltimore?!?

Posted on 03 October 2009 by mike3505

All right, now that I’ve caught you’re attention, I just wanted to share something with you guys that I’ve been thinking about for a long time now.

Does anybody think that Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium would make a great site for a future Wrestlemania? We all know that M&T is state of the art and still fairly new, the weather in Baltimore in late-March, early-April can be a bit chancy, but not bitter by any means, and we could squeeze, counting floor seating, at least 80,000 folks in there.

Has anyone else out there had this idea? Honestly, I wouldn’t even know who to contact for the city to put in a bid for it with WWE. I cannot be any more complicated than what everyone is going through with the Olympic Games (I remember our “region” putting in a half-hearted attempt a handful of years ago).

Considering the development of the downtown area in the last generation, plus the incredible support WWE and its other promotions over the past fifty or so years, I think we would make a great host for WWE’s supreme yearly event. Imagine turning Oriole Park into the locale for their version of Fanfest for the entire week prior, or the Arena, if necessary, it would be a huge boon for a city that oh-so-desperately needs it considering how empty the downtown area can be when football season isn’t going on or on Opening Day (see almost any recent Nestor blog for corroboration on that).

I welcome comments on this subject, which I grant is very different than anything that I’ve written about before. Still, as a WWE fan going back to the Hulk Hogan days and as someone who has had the chance to see the event live just once, but several others on PPV and DVD, having something like this happen would be a real dream come true. Does anyone else think that this is a good idea, or at least something that we’d like to see, to paraphrase the classic MAD magazine?

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