Tag Archive | "yards"

Ravens fans vs. Orioles fans – are we two birds of a different feather?

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Ravens fans vs. Orioles fans – are we two birds of a different feather?

Posted on 16 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It goes without saying that Baltimore isn’t quite yet embracing this 2012 version of Baltimore Orioles pennant fever. No matter how dramatic the victories or how unlikely this late August run for postseason glory seems, nothing about The Birds has moved the sports fans of Maryland.

Even into the great beyond via the long reach of MASN – not to mention the reach into your pockets every month like a public utility – for whatever reason people aren’t coming back in droves to give King Peter Angelos their money to watch the likes of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and even boy wonder Manny Machado, who has been worth the price of admission alone this week.

Oh, I know I’m being “Negative Nestor” by even writing this blog when the Orioles are winning baseball games and on the verge of a sweep of the hated Boston Red Sox. But every time the TV cameras pan the more than half-empty stadium, I can’t help but thinking the same thing you’re thinking: “I wonder why people aren’t going to Camden Yards to support this winning team?”

Yeah, we all thought Camden Yards would be packed once the Orioles started winning. And as the team closes a 10-game homestand tonight in full control of a wild card berth and still within striking distance of the New York Yankees, a true “pennant fever” atmosphere has yet to emerge in Baltimore.

It seems that a few months of prosperity hasn’t wiped out 14 years of bad vibes, bad baseball, steroid needles, lies from the owner and the emergence of the Washington Nationals as the regional team with marketing legs and, dare we say, “Natitude.”

And here’s where we’ll piss off both side of the Baltimore fence.

I have one question for you: “Are you excited about the Baltimore Ravens’ upcoming season?”

My gut is that you just yelled, “YES!”

My gut also says that your neighbor is excited, your cousins, your co-workers, the folks in your social group – wherever your friends and loved ones reside — they’re ready to don purple and are counting down the minutes until the 7 p.m. kickoff on Monday, Sept. 10 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

I’m not sure when it became sort of fashionable to only support one of the two teams in Baltimore and perhaps for the younger generation there has never been a good time to embrace the Orioles. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m ready for Ravens’ season and that my love for the purple guys has superseded my spirit and energy for the Orioles. But I do love them both. And I will support them both equally for what it means for Baltimore to have a winning sports team and a chance to hang red, white and blue bunting here in October.

And, somehow during this emergence of the purple birds of Baltimore since 1996, this weird kind of divide has occurred here in the Charm City where some folks only have enough “love” – if not dollars and time and energy – for one of the two teams.

Do you know people who love the Orioles and have no use for football or the Ravens? Almost to the point where they root against the purple birds in football season?

I do.

And, conversely, from what I can tell there are a myriad of people everywhere around town who are fervent Baltimore Ravens fans and have long-since given up following the Orioles on a nightly basis, even now that the team on the field is representative of the community’s desire for hard work, overachieving and beating the Yankees and Red Sox.

I know many, many people who have purple “Man Caves” – an entire kingdom and closets dedicated to all things Baltimore Ravens. There are whole stores like The Raven Zone dedicated to selling merchandise year-round.

I don’t know anyone who has a basement that is an homage to the Orioles these days, despite the fact that you get 162 chances to enjoy games vs. just 16 that count.

I also admit that the amount of hours necessary to follow the Orioles is extraordinary. It’s a lifestyle commitment to watch four hours of baseball six nights a week for six months. It’s almost like a full-time job if you’re going to vest into MLB fandom.

And certainly this isn’t a new phenomenon for sports teams anywhere in America. It seems that there’s plenty of love for all four sports teams in places like Boston, Philadelphia, etc. where the seasons and the reasons all seem to blur together into a full calendar of activity and passion.

But it might be time to ask, “Where’s the emotional investment for Baltimore fans?”

Is it possible that you only have room in your heart — or wallet — for one successful local team?

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Hey Peter Angelos: If you can’t honor Brooks Robinson, why the hell do you own the Orioles?

Posted on 23 October 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

After attending the amazing and memorable Brooks Robinson statue unveiling in front of Pickles Pub on Saturday afternoon my emotions left me two choices – either speak out about the painfully obvious and disgraceful lack of participation by Peter G. Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles or do what the rest of these phonies in the local bought-off media have done: turn a blind eye to the biggest and smelliest orange elephant in the middle of downtown Baltimore and refuse to ask the tough questions.

So today is a day when I again unleash my raging fury regarding this sham on Baltimoreans everywhere perpetrated by the smallest of small men of our time in Maryland – Peter G. Angelos.

There were roughly a thousand hearty Orioles fans and Brooks admirers at the feet of that gorgeous statue this weekend for a man who literally lifted the first shovel in erecting the modern era of professional sports in Baltimore. Brooks Robinson is a walking living legend and civic treasure and one whose inherent goodness and decency has been wasted over the past 20 years by this awful, mean-spirited and petty ownership group and the Angelos ownership reign of terror that has turned its back on this community.

That’s not my feeling. That was the feeling of virtually every participant in Saturday’s festivities who were all asking the same glaring, obvious questions:

1.    Why wasn’t this done a long time ago?

2.    Why isn’t that statue on the Camden Yards property where the Baltimore Orioles actually play baseball? (Although, I must admit, the notion of Brooks Robinson greeting every person who comes into Baltimore and drives past that stadium on Russell Street is pretty cool. You can make an argument that Angelos’ anti-Brooks stance actually makes the monument even more visible and relevant.)

3.    Why hasn’t Brooks Robinson been involved with the Orioles during the September of his days and his life in baseball?

4.    Why didn’t the Orioles build a statue for Brooks Robinson long ago?

5.    Where was Peter Angelos or any representative or player from the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday? (No Angelos, no Showalter, no players, no orange…the stadium was locked shut and Orioles representatives reportedly were telling fans to call Pickles Pub for more information because they didn’t have any information about the proceedings.)

Let me ask one more serious question and I want you to answer this in your own mind:

Has there EVER been a more beloved Baltimore sports figure than Brooks Robinson?

You can argue for Johnny Unitas — and maybe Cal Ripken or Art Donovan — but Brooks was by far the most personable, likeable and accessible superstar of our lifetime. He also spent an extra two decades coming to life on my living room television with baseball in my life every night, all summer long. His relationship with Crown Central Petroleum was indeed a crowning achievement for both he and Henry Rosenberg, who made sure this statue was built for a man who is so richly deserving of every morsel of the immense praise and outpouring of love he was given by the Orioles diehards on Saturday.

Maybe some of these other gutless (or in some cases, witless and/or from out-of-town) journalists think it’s uncouth to take shots at Angelos after such a glorious fall day for a statue unveiling of the greatest living sports legend in our community but I think the timing is perfect.

These are the occasions when Angelos memorably shows that he’s classless, clueless and petty when it comes to the treatment of his fellow human beings on the planet.

Of all of the sins of Peter Angelos that has led to the decimation of the reputation of the Orioles in our community – and the list is so long  that it’s not even worth itemizing or detailing any more –  nothing says “I’m an gigantic, collosal a**hole” more than turning your back on someone like Brooks Robinson in the deep autumn of his life as civic treasure.

To publicly ignore Brooks Robinson or to disrespect him is akin to fighting with Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama or Santa Claus.

It’s unthinkable. It’s unconscionable. And it’s wrong.

But I’ll be the only one pointing out the obvious this week in regard to Brooks, the Orioles and Angelos. And you can tell me what you think in the comments below…that’s why we’re here at WNST.net.

Oh, there was plenty of childlike joy on Saturday of the memories of World Series’ past and plenty of you will say this blog somehow “takes away from a great day for Brooks” but that’s not the point. All of the “great day” parts of the statue unveiling and its eternal charm and beauty at the foot of Russell Street as folks drive into Baltimore and past Camden Yards will long outlive both Brooks Robinson and this dark, ugly era of Orioles baseball that Peter Angelos has profiteered from over the past two decades.

If you want to know how Saturday looked and felt, I covered all of that in this blog and honestly most of you weren’t there for the statue unveiling.

But I think today is a perfect day to examine what’s gone on here with the once-proud Baltimore Orioles and where their place will be in the hearts of this city in the future, especially once Angelos is done raping the community of its spirit for baseball and sports in the summertime downtown.

I don’t really know what Brooks is thinking these days but I know he was left all but broken down, overwhelmed and speechless at the end of the confetti, unveiling and the heartfelt words of his admirers on Saturday.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2WfCI4V59Y&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

His health is not good. That much we know. We all pray for No. 5 but his innate happiness and joyful emotions on Saturday seemed to be overflowing and he looked the part of a man who fully realizes that he’s captured and retained the heart of this city for all of his lifetime.

Time will NOT dim the glory of HIS deeds, that’s for sure….

But I know Brooks Robinson deserved better than this from his lifetime of

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Unveiling of Brooks Robinson statue very emotional for No. 5

Posted on 22 October 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It was like a scene out of a movie today in downtown Baltimore, as Brooks Robinson was feted with a lifetime of community contributions with a beautiful statue at the foot of Russell Street on the plot of land in front of Pickles Pub. Visitors coming from the south will be greeted by a barehanded, throwing Brooks Robinson in the motion of cutting down another runner.

Come with us now at WNST.net via the amazing world of WNStv and take in an afternoon in honor of Brooks Robinson from the statue site. Enjoy these incredible stories of how No. 5 helped shape our lives in sports in Baltimore.

Here’s the entire speech from Brooks Robinson:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2WfCI4V59Y[/youtube]

Here’s the unveiling of the statue:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrbRrcAxv_k[/youtube]

Josh Charles amazing speech:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kMS6gUaDac[/youtube]

Barbara Mikulski’s incredibe authenticity, passion and humor:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnc03DqJWaA[/youtube]

Henry Rosenberg, former CEO of Crown Central Petroleum and great friend and business partner with Brooks. He is the one who got this amazing statue built and deserves all of the credit:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=choveOOFsWk[/youtube]

World-renowned sculptor Joseph Sheppard of Baltimore talks about why he made Brooks Robinson statue and all of the fun facts:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzbzh1P-Yss[/youtube]

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Here’s why Adam Jones and anyone who thinks like him is a nitwit…

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Two weeks ago Adam Jones, the starting centerfielder for the Baltimore Orioles who also fancies himself a free spirit, world social media maven and loose-lipped athlete, repeatedly told our local fans to come back to the ballpark in 2011 and “knock the s**t outta Yankees fans” when they bring their money to Camden Yards.

Being the only real journalist left in Baltimore with a free voice (and, conversely, no Orioles press pass), I wrote a scathing blog here about this very public pronouncement made by Jones on video at www.baltimoresun.com that cost me a local sponsorship and got me roundly slammed by the morons, apes and trolls on various “hangout” message boards and web blogs for “being too negative” about the Orioles.

Well, it turns out, a couple of Los Angeles Dodgers fans took the “advice” of Adam Jones and now a 42-year old paramedic named Bryan Stow – same age as me, by the way – is in a coma in a Los Angeles hospital and his two children might never have a father again.

Think I was a little too hard on Jones now?

Or were the other local “media” members, afraid for their jobs and press passes and encouraged by their bosses to “just pretend Jones never said anything that dumb,” a bunch of cowards in not writing the truth about Jones’ overt and brazen stupidity in recommending that our fans get violent with Yankees fans in Baltimore?

This has been the biggest sports story on the West Coast this week, with Giants and Dodgers fans speaking out about the  violence and the senseless pain of this not-so-random attack.

Today, perhaps I come to you as a blogger or entrepreneur or social media critic or washed up sports talk show host, but just know one thing: I’m a REAL fan. I’d be willing to bet you any amount of money that I have sat with visiting team gear on in the upper decks of more out-of-town ballparks and arenas than you have in my 42 years on the planet – 27 of them covering sports as a journalist and fan.

And I’ve seen it all. I’ve had dog bones thrown at me in the upper deck in Cleveland. I’ve been punched in the back of the head in New York while standing at a urinal. I’ve been cursed and MF’ed in Philadelphia. I even somehow managed to find a**holes in Green Bay and Nashville, who made it thoroughly unenjoyable to watch a football game in their “hospitable” stadiums with purple gear on in the stands.

As recently as four days ago in my home ballpark with the same black and orange jersey on as the home team I was accosted by a fan, who crossed the line between passion and abuse.

On Sunday afternoon in the bucolic and mostly empty confines of Camden Yards, as I was exiting the stadium in Sect. 32 with my Baltimore jersey on, holding hands with my wife and walking next to my son and his girlfriend – in seats amidst Orioles wives, families, etc. in a stadium where you can literally hear a pin drop most of the time – I was accosted by an angry Orioles fan who stood up, pointed at me from five feet away and screamed in his loudest voice, “Nestor you’re a F**KING JERK!”

As I wrote two weeks ago when the largest media conglomerate in the country (if not the world) had one of its pathetic, in-over-her-head employees sue me and two of my employees for

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Point: I love Mike Bordick…just not in Orioles Hall of Fame

Posted on 20 March 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I guess this is what happens when your franchise has atrophied to the point of having few fans, few glaring All Stars and no hope of playing baseball in October for 14 consecutive years. When it comes to time to find Orioles “Hall of Famers” you begin to stretch and reach and embarrass the honor itself by attempting to find the next candidate to appear at your annual rubber chicken luncheon in August for the Oriole Advocates.

I like Mike Bordick. I like Mike Bordick more than I like most people who have ever put on an Orioles jersey. Great baseball man, great family guy and a guy teacher of the game.

But, if we’re considering numbers and contributions and Orioles “Hall of Fame” worthiness, then Mike Bordick can’t be taken seriously as a candidate or an honoree.

Bordick played parts of six mostly-forgettable seasons of Orioles baseball and was once dealt away in the heart of the pennant race to play in the 2001 World Series with the New York Mets.

He hit .236, .260, .277, .285, .249 and .232 in those five seasons. He was a wonderful role player and served as the man who replaced Cal Ripken at shortshop. He was a team leader, a good fielder and what most teammates would call “a gamer” — a real baseball gym rat who loved the game more than most.

But a Hall of Famer? Not really…

I’d put Bordick in the “Hall of Nice” — as I wrote @WNST on Twitter yesterday, but not any serious Hall of Fame.

This is the problem with all of the Hall of Fames in every sport in America. They’ve all become a pandering situation, where the media, sponsors or “powers that be” need their egos (or wallets in some cases) stroked in order to bestow the honor upon even the worthy. In this case, the Orioles simply don’t have any warm bodies from the last 15 years who haven’t been busted for steroids or fallen out of the good graces of Peter G. Angelos to the point where it would be uncomfortable for them to return for an honor.

The baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t have the greatest hitter of the century (Pete Rose) in it. It won’t have the greatest player of this generation (Barry Bonds) in it. It also won’t have any of the single-season home run kings (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Bonds) in it. And if Roger Clemens goes to jail over the steroid scandal, I’m assuming he won’t get elected, either.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just announced its 2011 candidates. Somehow, Kiss, Rush and Def Leppard have been left off the docket while the Beastie Boys and Bob Geldof have somehow found their way into consideration ahead of bands that changed the landscape for their genre.

And the Pro Football Hall of Fame has become a limited country club for the less-than-50 voters who work their agendas, grievances and politics into the selection of the NFL’s best players of our generation under a heavy microscope each Super Bowl weekend. And in my opinion, most years they seem to induct worthy candidates into Canton but overlook many others who are yellow-jacket worthy.

And speaking of football, it would be inappropriate and unfair to not mention that the Ravens “Ring of Honor” was tarnished upon its conception when Art Modell unilaterally made Earnest Byner the first member of the club. Every time I look over onto that wall and see his name, it makes the entire institution feel like a joke, really. But give the purple birds some credit — they have held the line in a big way ever since, only allowing players who have made a Pro Bowl eligibility into the “Ring” and I think that’s a standard that’s the very lowest bar that should be set. (Although, I could make a case for Edwin Mulitalo, Mike Flynn and a few others who served the team capably for many years but I sort of like that the Ravens have now made it a REAL honor and a difficult club to enter.)

This isn’t an Orioles problem. Or an Orioles Hall of Fame problem.

For me, its an endemic part of ANY Hall of Fame, the phoniness, crony-ness and screwiness that these “highest honors” awards have become.

Who gets in and who doesn’t? And how can we argue the point when the criteria is either non-existent or so vague as to be obtuse to anyone who would have to justify their vote?

And who are the “qualified” voters or judges?

In this case, the Orioles talent pool has been so shallow for so long that they’re doing the only thing they can do at this point.

If you suffered through enough losing seasons as an Orioles player and you’re a “nice guy” and you don’t say anything bad about Angelos, you get your Hall of Fame passport stamped at The Warehouse.

Either way, I’ll be at the luncheon this year with Aunt Pat and delighted to shake Mike Bordick’s hand.

But I wouldn’t have voted for him.

But then again, if they’re going to have a luncheon each year the Orioles have to honor SOMEONE and clearly they’ve just run out of names and worthy people at this point.

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Were you one of the few Orioles fans amidst sea of red this weekend?

Posted on 02 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, it’s all over. The Orioles were once again swept in Baltimore by the Red Sox. Once again, thousands of New Englanders and supporters raided the city and brought millions of dollars of civic kindess on the metropolis while they continued to point out the biggest crime of Peter Angelos’ tenure as the owner of our baseball team.

I ventured to Camden Yards today. Instead of writing about everything I saw and did, I shot a video for you.

If you like my radio show, maybe you’ll like my lengthy set of views, observations and comments while I spent my day watching Jason Berken and Orioles pitchers give up 23 hits and 18 runs.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNQtAwg-nGI[/youtube]

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Triple losses: First the Caps, then the Orioles, then Danny Gokey

Posted on 14 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Despite the fun we had in Dundalk last night with an evening of 12 semifinal auditions at Donna’s Tavern, it was an ugly night for local sports. The Capitals fell behind early and had one of the most disappointing Game 7 efforts in recent memory. The Orioles got clubbed by the Rays while Adam Jones left the game early with a hamstring pull.

And, adding insult to the injury that effectively ended my hockey season, my favorite American Idol contestant Danny Gokey got bounced by the American public in a shocking turn of events. (Somehow, I think Kris Allen got through just because he looks like Brian Roberts!)

The Capitals played the entire postseason from behind and last night it finally caught up with them. Simeon Varlamov’s magic ended quite early last night and Bruce Boudreau and the troops must be devastated – if not embarrassed – by that performance in a Game 7 last night. It’s always hard getting eliminated, but not showing up prepared to compete in a game like last night is unacceptable.

The home-ice advantage was nullified pretty early last night in D.C. and it will be a tough offseason after losing a game in that fashion.

The Orioles and Rays combined for 30 hits last night and the teams scored eight runs in the 9th inning, taking turns using each other’s bullpens as piñatas. Bob McCrory got a rough big-league initiation last night, giving up four runs in 1 2/3 innings and Troy Percival entered the game with an 8-2 lead and came close to allowing the Orioles to force extra innings.

Obviously, with Adam Jones leaving the game with a hamstring tweak after losing Luke Scott and Felix Pie to various ailments earlier in the week, it was an ueasy night at The Yard. The Orioles (14-20) will take to the road now for 10 games in 11 days in Kansas City, New York and Washington, D.C.

Nolan Reimold is the “next man up” and McCrory is headed back to Norfolk.

More roster decisions are coming for Rich Hill at some point this weekend and the inevitable Matt Wieters call-up and the need for better starting pitching continue to loom for the franchise.

And, last but not least, the loss of Danny Gokey was probably the biggest shocker of the night. Given that the American Idol competition is a pure “viewer vote” it’s almost impossible to handicap who will actually like these singers and then go through the rigors of voting for them.

So, while Adam Lambert and Kris Allen are clearly talented guys, it’s almost like having a phone vote for U2, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Who knows which one would get the most votes? It’s a big crapshoot.

Either way, I hope Gokey does well in the “real” world because he seemed like an affable, talented guy with a great story to tell. I’d buy an album by Danny Gokey. I can’t say the same for Lambert or Allen.

Meantime, we had our own “American Idol” competition in Dundalk at Donna’s last night. I’ll blog a little later with those results and we’ll get the videos into wnsTV soon.

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Orange fireworks: Players and Trembley flip Peter Angelos “The Bird” today in The Sun

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been saying for years that Fort Lauderdale Stadium and the Orioles’ sub-par Florida spring training situation is by far the biggest sin of all of their many sins and finally the folks over on Calvert Street are doing some “investigative journalism” with the orange birds. The club’s No. 1 promise to the public is that it’s doing everything possible to commit all of its resources to fielding a winning team.

That’s the goal in baseball: winning a championship. You always want to give your team the best chance to compete.

The Angelos family hasn’t done that for the entire tenure of their ownership in regard to the significance of spring training as anything more than a line item expense. The mere fact that they’re the only organization in the sport to have “two camps” in Florida that sit three hours apart is telling enough. It’s bad business. It’s bad baseball. It’s just inexcusable, unacceptable and dumb.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium is a dump. It’s a disgrace. It’s been a disgrace for the entire balance of the 15 years they’ve played there. I’ve worked many, many a morning and pulled many 12-hour days at Fort Lauderdale Stadium doing radio and covering baseball back when I was a “real” media member. I’ve spent 100 days of my life at that facility over the years before the team banned me from having a press credential.

Most of the fans here in Baltimore never make it there and it’s not like the team does anything to market having fans come south with their off season efforts. So it kinda goes unnoticed and when I bitch about it – and again, I think it’s probably the most obvious and lousy “white elephant” of all of their many sins – the fans don’t really care or “get it” but it’s so bizarre and so blatantly “bush league” in the eyes of anyone who knows anything about baseball from management to players to coaches to the locker room attendants that it defies description.

Just the mere fact that the visiting teams come in and see the situation and don’t lay down negative comments day after day is astonishing. Apparently, according to The Sun, the situation over at the minor-league camp is even worse. I haven’t personally been to Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota since 1995. It was “amateur” then, but not in disrepair. It was “minor league” but it wasn’t “unsafe” as several of the opposing teams indicated in contacting MLB and refusing to schedule games against the Orioles farmhands.

But the quotes in The Sun aren’t from Nestor. Or Drew Forrester. Or the glowing crap you’ll hear on MASN from Jim Hunter, Fred Manfra and the “boys club” who all take their paychecks from Peter Angelos.

They’re from the players themselves, who also take their paychecks from Peter Angelos. And it’s precisely these types of stories that makes Angelos ban a guy like me from having access. Because the players would be talking my ear off to get their message heard in the public eye.

Today’s whoppers and haymakers from their best people and players are “instant classics” and are sure to have the Angelos family in “flip out” mode on this Friday before Opening Day. It’s almost like all of the players just got together and decided to give the team’s ownership a rectal examination of unprecedented proportions.

This morning, it’s like Brian Roberts, Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora, Dave Trembley and Jake Arrieta are on the front page of the local newspaper wearing FREE THE BIRDS shirts!

Here come the quotes:

Dave Trembley: “I think we’ve finally reached the point where it’s fish or cut bait. We’re in the business of developing players. What would enhance that development is a facility that is more conducive to us all being all together and being on an even playing field with the other clubs.”

Brian Roberts: “I think most of us would be lying if we said this is what any of us would expect from a major league organization.”

Aubrey Huff: “When you have a big-league team that has a weight tent with rented weight equipment located in the parking lot, that’s pretty sad.”

Melvin Mora: “That’s the worst field I’ve ever played on in my life and I’m from Venezeula.”

Chris Ray: “I don’t know what to say about the facility other than that it just needs to be leveled and rebuilt. It’s a shame. You draft someone, hype them up and then they go to that facility and they’re like, ‘Wow.’ I think that’s a little bit embarrassing.”

Jake Arrieta: “We’re all very blessed to be in the situations that we’re in, but it also comes with the territory that you expect to have nice facilities to work out in. Not that we’re tired of Twin Lakes, but I all think we deserve something better.”

And here is my favorite, from a minor-league farmhand named Mike Costanzo, who was given the “Nestor treatment” by the franchise: “We were told to not say anything about the field, but if nobody says anything, it’s never going to get fixed. It’s tough to get quality work in here.”

I guess Nick Markakis must’ve been in the shower or “unavailable for comment” on this one.

Costanzo’s quote is almost poignant to me because that’s EXACTLY what FREE THE BIRDS was all about.

“If nobody says anything it’s never going to get fixed.”

It almost brings a tear to my eyes. I’m a BIG Mike Costanzo fan all of a sudden. I’ll be monitoring that young man, who showed some big-league bravery for that quote but will undoubtedly be in the corporate “doghouse” for life after that one.

Aside from being quality journalism by Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly, it’s the kind of story in this economy that will piss off Angelos so much that you might even see the fireworks ads get pulled from the May editions. Mr. Angelos reads The Sun every day and will be ripe and randy today, no doubt about it.

I can hear him now…

“The insubordination. These ungrateful millionaires. How dare they speak this way about our franchise to the media!”

There’s one thing Peter Angelos hates the most and that’s hearing the unfiltered truth about how bad this franchise is in so many ways in print or in the media. Seeing his highest-paid employees flipping him the bird in the morning fishwrap – well, that’s gonna make for an interesting weekend.

Of course, Angelos and his son John declined to speak about the “Fort Lauderdale situation” in the media.

The worst part are the paper-thin and almost silly quotes from Orioles spokeperson and huge WNST fan, Greg Bader, who knows less about P.R. than any P.R. person I’ve seen in 25 years of doing journalism for a living.

Now, apparently, a baseball expert and groundskeeper, Bader officially deemed the field in Sarasota “perfectly safe and adequate” after a handful of visiting MLB teams refused to show up and play games there.

I’ve only met Greg Bader twice, but my guess is that he never played an inning of baseball in his life. Or pitched on unmeasured mounds? Or caught a two-hopper after it hits a rock in the dirt? Or had to work out to get into shape for a 162-game Major League grind that baseball demands.

(As an aside, the first thing I learned when I began doing sports radio in 1992 and hanging around baseball players was how HARD the job was. As a kid it sounds like a fun gig, but being a Major League Baseball player is HARD, HARD work. These guys make millions of dollars and if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Baseball players live pretty difficult, complex lives from April 1st through October 1st. I have great respect for the work they do, which can only come when you see it first hand.)

Bader also said the club has “always had the urgency” to find a new home. That is just a stupid, silly thing to say. Urgency? They’ve had 15 years and roughly 80 percent of the MLB teams in South Florida have relocated or found better situations since the Orioles landed in Fort Lauderdale by sheer accident in 1996, after going several years in weird and bad situations in Miami and St. Petersburg.

They’ve been offered at least five sites that I can think of over the years – from Sarasota to Orlando to Vero Beach to Jupiter to Winter Haven — and have never done anything to rectify the combination of the major and minor league camps, which should have been done in 1997 or 1998 at the latest. No other team would DREAM of having a split camp and say they’re serious about a winning organization. It’s just unconscionable.

The 2009 season has already gotten off to a rocky, rocky start.

They have absolutely zero starting pitching. Jeremy Guthrie has been dreadful. Koji Uehera certainly bears watching but the rest of the retreads from Adam Eaton to Mark Hendrickson to Rich Hill to Danys Baez to the soon-to-be-celebrated Alfredo Simon are just arsonists of varying degrees at this point.

Brian Roberts isn’t healthy.

They’re still banning free speech in the media and being miserable and unprofessional to deal with at every level.

And now, every level of their organization from manager to players to minor leaguers are popping off in the morning newspaper about how “bush league” their ownership is in regard to spring training and a commitment to winning. It’s like a scene out of “Major League” but the Orioles have become the Indians.

Next Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay still doesn’t have a starting time and the Ravens are expecting 20,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium that morning and afternoon for an Inside Lacrosse doubleheader and no one in the city knows what the parking situation might be. The game is eight days away. You’d think they’d announce to the Tampa Rays, their season ticket holders and their employees when the game will be played. (Again, this kind of management is just unheard of in professional sports in 2009.)

Oh, and the Yankees are bringing 30,000 obnoxious fans into town on Opening Day to cheer for Baltimore’s greatest homegrown player in a generation as he takes the field at Camden Yards wearing pinstripes.

Oh, and advance ticket sales have been abysmal and they’re having a “Fan Fest” tomorrow that feels like a rumor around town.

Other than that, things are just fine in Birdland.

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The Teixeira conundrum and Angelos conspiracy theory

Posted on 16 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Because this saga regarding Mark Teixeira and the Orioles and the Red Sox and the Nationals and the Angels has dragged on far too long it’s given me way too much time to think about it. And it’s really quite the mystery and little game from the media’s standpoint. And his uberagent Scott Boras just eats this up – when the media pits “offers” against each other with lots of zeroes. It’s gone so far that there were media people in the press box at the Ravens game with binoculars stalking down whether Tex was in the stadium and what sky box he might be in.

Yes, it’s gotten a little nutty and I have been entertained if not totally perplexed by the whole thing. There are still people in Baltimore (and many in the media who are being handsomely paid by Angelos via CBS Radio, MASN, The Sun, Orioles Hangout, Pressbox and others to be, ahem, “optimistic”) who honestly believe in their soul that the Orioles might actually be involved in a pennant race again sometime this century. For the record, as long as Angelos is alive and owns this team and continues to run it like he has for 15 years, I really don’t believe they’ll win. I believe it’s karma at this point. I would LOVE to be wrong, actually because this city is a morgue in the spring and summer compared to what the Ravens and hope bring us each Labor Day.

But as a fan and a Baltimorean what do you really want here?

There’s certainly a part of me that begs to have real baseball back in the Baltimore – the kind we see in October in the cities where it perpetually matters like New York, Boston, Chicago or in places like Philadephia or Detroit or even Denver where we’ve seen the game resurrected by a winning team. Or at least the mere chance to win.

Because I’m a little more removed and less emotionally involved in it on a daily basis (most of my energy to truly care has waned again), I honestly haven’t given a lot of thought to the Teixeira drama until the past week when all of a sudden it somehow miraculously seems like they have a shot to sign him. As recently as a month ago, general manager Andy McPhail was telling most people that it was extremely doubtful that the O’s would be involved in the Tex Sweepstakes at all. And that’s when most thought he’d get “about” $100 million.

Now, at the 13th hour and a week before Christmas it appears as though Angelos has gotten personally involved in the bidding war – same as he did in New York that day when he spent $173 million on the franchise that he has summarily destroyed on the field and in the community (but not in his pocketbook, thanks to Bud Selig getting a rectal examination and the threat of a whopper lawsuit on the Washington territorial rights issue).

It’s all become very clear to me. This mating call with Scott Boras has all of the fingerprints of Peter Angelos and his intense will to get Teixeira in a orange uniform on Opening Day. And it’s not much different than when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti “strongly recommended” to Ozzie Newsome that Joe Flacco needed to be a Raven eight months ago. Turns out, Bisciotti has made several good calls in 2008.

It’s not like Ozzie to want to deal up in the draft and give up picks on draft day. And it’s not like Andy McPhail to want to pay a first baseman $150 million or more over seven years. It’s almost against everything in his baseball DNA. McPhail, who was told 18 months ago to slash the payroll and save (and or make) the team more money by promising the populace “young talent” and “working through the draft” and “obtaining lots of young arms” and “building through the farm” (all his words, not mine), clearly understands the team’s ongoing public relations nightmare and lack of passion within the fan base. There’s nothing about signing Mark Teixeira – short of the price tag — that is a bad play for the Orioles in a short term “win back the people of Baltimore” ploy. It’s a good ploy, mind you. It’s the best thing the franchise can possibly do to say: “We’re trying and we care as much as you do!” (Even though I think answering questions from real journalists would be a distant second place.)

They have millions of excess dollars that they’ve pocketed over the past few years via their obscene MASN deal. They finally have some useful, young talent on the field (Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Luke Scott, Jeremy Guthrie and potentially Matt Wieters) to build around. And let’s be honest – when will the team EVER get a chance to sign a superstar player who grew up in Baltimore and actually remembers the greatness of the Orioles that we all are wondering if we will ever experience as a community again?

Angelos NEEDS to get Teixeira in an orange jersey before Christmas. At least HE feels he needs to and at no point does McPhail even appear to factor into the equation. And, honestly, Angelos is probably right.  He needs something to “make a splash” and it’s not signing more minor league free agents in March. Bringing in Teixeira shows that they’re serious about trying to win. And it’s been a little while since we could say that.

But that’s the just the Orioles side of the story. Hometown boy comes home, gets huge payday and…

Well, there’s a few ways this could go:

1. He’ll come here and the pitching will suck and the team will suck and the Yankees and Red Sox fans will continue to own Camden Yards 20 times per year. (This is the most likely short-term scenario with or without Teixeira.)

2. He’ll be part of a return to mediocrity and the team might squeak out an 81-win season in the first few years and maybe play a game in August that matters in the wild card race.

3. He’ll be the cornerstone of a baseball renaissance in Baltimore that will return the Orioles to perennial 90-win seasons, greatness and Camden Yards and downtown and the city of Baltimore will become electric in the summer of 2010 and the city will love the team like they love the Ravens.

* This is all assuming that he comes here and hits .300, mashes 35 homers per year and drives in 120 RBIs each season in any scenario. If they pay him $20 million a year this is a baseline expectation.

But that’s just a few possibilities from the Orioles’ perspective of what result they’re ultimately getting as an organization for buying a player who they’re paying TWICE as much as they’ve ever paid in the history of the organization for anyone. What’s Mark Teixeira really going to mean to the only two bottom lines that matter: winning and selling tickets? (Of course even THAT doesn’t matter too much when their Mickey Mouse television network is earning $100 million per year by just turning the lights on via the tax base civicly funding MASN.)

But what if you’re Mark Teixeira? What’s in it for him, besides getting richer?

As I wrote four days ago he’s getting wealthier (he’s already made $35 million playing baseball and he’s only 29) no matter where he goes and I believe it’s ultimately about happiness, the ability to win and perhaps somewhere the ego of “getting paid as much as you can” or being the “highest paid” this or that.

The four suitors – if there really are four suitors, with Boras who the hell knows what the truth is? – all have situations that I’m sure Teixeira and his bride and family could find palatable after he cashes his paycheck each week for $400,000 until he’s 37 years old.

The Red Sox, to me, are the first place he should start if winning and playing in a “real” baseball environment matter to him. He got his first taste of the postseason this year (and hit .467 no less) and that should be all he needs to know about the difference between playing out the string in the boiling heat of Arlington and being involved in something akin to fun and what he remembers about being an Orioles fan when he was 16. If you are a man of integrity involved in any competitive industry or athletic pursuit, there’s NOTHING ON EARTH better than winning. If you’re not serious about WINNING, then why the hell are you playing? (Oh, that’s right. The money…)

It sounds like his experience in Anaheim didn’t completely win his heart despite the fact that he was a “rented hat” for two months there. (And he “inherited” a pennant race in Southern California. He didn’t “earn” it, by and large.) If a full stadium, a winning tradition, a great manager, a great owner, Rally Monkeys, pretty girls in the stands and unlimited sunshine (think of those dreadful April and September games when it’s 45 degrees on the east coast) didn’t win him over this year then I don’t know what the heck he’d want in a Major League Baseball career. This is an outstanding place to make $150 million for any human being. You could make a case that it’s a BETTER option than Boston, if you’re wired a certain way.

The Nationals is a weird, twisted concept to me. If he wants to be “home” then that’s Baltimore. If Tex wants to win, there’s not much tradition or reason to believe that the Nats will become the UCLA of the N.L. East. Yeah, you get to live in Annapolis and play in a pretty ballpark with low expectations, but that’s a lot different than going to a winning franchise like the Angels or the Red Sox. And it still ain’t home.

And finally, the Orioles. Maybe Peter Angelos just will up the ante (like he used to in the “old” days of Chris Sabo and Albert Belle and Brady Anderson and well, you know the rest if you’re reading this…) and offer “the most money” if that’s his thing. And maybe Teixeira really can be convinced – and I don’t mean by money, I mean REALLY convinced in his soul — that the Orioles can be saved and he can be part of saving them by coming here and fulfilling his childhood destiny to be the “Cal Ripken” of this generation. (Even I can get emotional writing that because ANY of us could put ourselves in Teixeira’s shoes and squirm a little with this decision if we’re being truly honest.)

One thing is for sure – if he signs here it’s not because it was truly his best option. If Mark Teixeira really does sign up to play with this sham of a franchise (and it’s Siberia for any real free agent this side of Miguel Tejada over the last decade and anyone from Mike Mussina through Brian Roberts would have nothing good to say to recommend it as a “career” choice) then he is to be roundly applauded and supported because he’s CLEARLY doing it because of his heart WAAAAY more than his head or his wallet. If Teixeira is at The Warehouse wearing a “Baltimore” road gray sweater later this week at a press conference (one that I’ll no doubt be banned from asking any legitimate questions) it’s because he really DOES want to save this moribund franchise and pitch in to make Orioles baseball and the city of Baltimore fun again on summer nights.

And what could possibly be bad about that? And this is the ONLY way Peter Angelos can be given the “hero” treatment by the fans who’ve unwittingly lined his pockets via MASN through all of this mess while the city has rotted and decayed on summer nights downtown. And we all know Peter “The King” longs to be loved and short of winning a World Series, this is the best he’s gonna do in this lifetime. He CAN’T buy a World Series. But he CAN buy Mark Teixeira! I can just hear him crowing on MASN sitting on a couch with Roch Kubatko and Steve Melewski and in that goofy voice saying: “We… did what we needed to do… to restore the pride… to the Orioles!”

There’s only one hometown superstar of this generation. And Angelos has his sights on him. And he doesn’t like losing. (Witness his senseless feud with me and with WNST, people who truly LOVE the Orioles! It’s all about him “winning” — whatever that means? What good is it doing them to continue to be complete jerks in dealing with any legitimate media member who has questions about what is a publicly-funded, civic trust for profit that has gone awry? NO ONE wants the Orioles to be great more than WNST. Anyone who knows me knows that I believe that.)

So where does Angelos’ personal kryptonite, Scott Boras, fit into this equation? That’s really hard to say given his propensity to pit egotistical and wealthy baseball owners against each other in bidding wars that are silly farces when most are reviewed years later. Where is Tom Hicks now? (He gave up on ARod and Texeira, which is the Boras Daily Double!) Does Boras really have a say here with Tex or a dog in the hunt, other than his commission on the transaction? Only time will tell…

Here are a few random observations on Teixeira:

1.    I’ve never met Teixeira but I’ve never heard anything glowing about his marketability or personality. As a matter of fact, he routinely eschewed any “hometown” press coverage on his first visits back to Camden Yards as a big leaguer. It’s not like he’s got a foundation here or a civic cause here or has ever even “appeared” here doing any worthwhile community endeavor that I know about. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here…but no one has ever called or written me with a story, picture, essay or ANYTHING involving Teixeira publicly or charitably in Baltimore.) If he walked through White Marsh Mall today for lunch I honestly don’t think anyone would recognize him. My point isn’t that he’s a “bad” guy. I don’t know a thing about him beyond what I’ve written about. But I do know he’s NOT Cal Ripken. No matter how much you pay him!

2.    He’s been traded TWICE so it’s not like any other franchise has found him  “irreplaceable.” Actually, it’s more like the opposite. I’m always skeptical when a team takes a player who has had Teixeira’s statistical prowess and decides, “Yeah, he’s OK but we’d rather have these OTHER player(s) instead in a trade.” That’s always a major red flag. The dude has raked at the plate. He’s a legitimate force offensively in the big leagues. And if he signs here, he’s on Team No. 4 and is only 29 years old and six years into his career. That really doesn’t sound like a “guy you build your franchise around” or break the bank for to me.

3.    Are the Orioles doing this to win or to sell tickets and get some mileage out of the marketability of a “Baltimore kid” in a “Baltimore uniform?” I’m really unsure of what Angelos’ intent is here. Sure, he’s a nice player and a good hitter but $20 million a year is a little obscene given the position he plays and the fact that I’m not sure there’s going to be a rush on season tickets because he’s an Oriole. That might be the case, but I’m skeptical that he’ll move the needle on ticket sales in any more than in a negligible way. Maybe the “we’re trying!” part of it will sell more goodwill than the actual numbers or W-L record Teixeira produces in the short term. As a matter of fact, I’m 100% sure Opening Day would be a “big deal” again this year (re: sellout) if they sign Teixeira on Thursday for $156 million. But is THAT worth $156 million?

4.    Bottom line: Couldn’t the Orioles spend that $20 million per year on pitching and truly have a better chance to win over the next 36 months? (I ask this rhetorically…I have no answer for this.)

Either way, Baltimore has a MUCH better chance to win if Teixeira comes than by having another Kevin Millar or Randy Milligan or David Segui or B.J. Surhoff playing first base. It’s certainly a major upgrade in that department. And it’s not my money. (Or maybe it IS our money with what these crooks are stealing via our Comcast bill every month and not utilizing on behalf of making the baseball team and the city better?)

It’s getting more and more interesting every day that this drags out. And it’ll be interesting to see the civic reaction and the Orioles’ reaction if he eschews his hometown team and leaves King Peter at the alter by signing with the Red Sox or the Nationals. Would that be unlike Scott Boras, pulling down the Emperor’s trousers with the ONE guy he HAD to get? And, no less, delivering him to Larry Lucchino up in Boston? Wouldn’t that be Boras’ “tea pah-tay.” (For a brief laugh, just click...)

We’re hearing that Angelos and the Orioles really think they’re going to get Teixeira. And that will make it all the more painful if they don’t get him. There’s a lot to digest here and a lot of risk. The Orioles just don’t offer $150 million to ANYONE. EVER! So, if this is legit, it’s a major foundational, tectonic shift.

The coolest part is that this is a major “Y” in the road for the franchise. One way or the other, Mark Teixeira is going to greatly affect Baltimore and its baseball future for years to come over the next week.

The Orioles always have the “fall back” position of painting Teixeira as a modern day Benedict Arnold if he “elects” to not sign in Baltimore after the Orioles made a “fair and reasonable market offer.” I can hear and see the somber McPhail at the podium now saying, “We did our best…We made him a generous offer and he elected to go to (City X).” Blah, blah, blah…

Keep the popcorn warm. This is getting good!

The Orioles have lit a spark just by “being involved.” (Hey, we’re TALKING and WRITING and THINKING about them during a week when the purple guys with helmets are playing for their playoff lives…)

But who’s zooming who and who is serious? And where will Teixeira sign? And for how much? And what wild stories are going to unearth afterward when the “truth” is told. One bride. Three bridesmaids.

I think King Peter wants the white dress.

But who the heck knows?

Pass the butter…

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The Fantasy Flavor Positional Power Rankings – Week 15 TEs

Posted on 11 December 2008 by Thyrl Nelson

Here are the week 15 fantasy tight end power rankings. If you’re fortunate enough to still have something to play for this week, you can still probably find some value on the wire. As the season winds down, this may be the worst year for tight ends overall in recent memory with even the usually strong performers struggling to put up respectable numbers this season.

 

Keep in mind that the power rankings, listed here, are based on year to date performance and not a reflection of your best options for week 15. Just below the power rankings are match up previews advising who should be better or worse than usual this week, based on their opponents. At the bottom, are the week 15 start rankings, that’s where you should look for help with your week 15 lineup decisions.

 

Week 15 Fantasy Tight End Power Rankings

 

TE Power Rankings Archive34567 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

 

(last week’s rankings in parentheses)

 

1. Tony Gonzalez (1) – KC – 879 yds 7 TD

 

2. Antonio Gates (4) – SD – 534 yds 6 TD

 

3. Jason Witten (2) – DAL – 771 yds 3 TD

 

4. Tony Scheffler (3) – DEN – 514 yds 2 TD

 

5. John Carlson (10) – SEA – 525 yds 4 TD

 

6. Owen Daniels (7) – HOU – 673 yds 2 TD

 

7. Kevin Boss (5) – NYG – 315 yds 5 TD

 

8. Dallas Clark (6) – IND – 542 yds 4 TD

 

9. Chris Cooley (8) – WAS – 713 yds 1 TD

 

10. Kellen Winslow Jr. (11) – CLE – 428 yds 3 TD

 

11. Anthony Fasano (16) – MIA – 348 yds 4 TD

 

12. Visanthe Schiancoe (20) – 438 yds 5 TD

 

13. Dustin Keller (9) – NYJ – 474 yds 3 TD

 

14. Zach Miller (12) – OAK – 614 yds 1 TD

 

15. Billy Miller (13) – PIT – 450 yds 1 TD

 

16. Heath Miller (18) – PIT – 364 yds 3 TD

 

17. Bo Scaife (15) – TEN – 517 yds 2 TD

 

18. Greg Olsen (NR) – CHI – 450 yds 3 TD

 

19. Daniel Graham (19) – DEN – 293 yds 4 TD

 

20. Martellus Bennett (17) – DAL – 261 yds 4 TD

 

Dropped From Rankings – Jerramy Stevens – TB

 

TEs Who Should Be Better Than Usual In Week 15: Tony Gonzalez vs. SD; Dallas Clark vs. DET; Kellen Winslow Jr. or Steve Heiden @ PHI; Donald Lee @ JAX; Zach Miller vs. NE; Bo Scaife @ HOU

 

TEs Who Could Be Sleepers Based On Week 15 Match Ups: Robert Royal @ NYJ; Dante Rosario vs. DEN; Alex Smith & Jerramy Stevens @ ATL

 

TEs With Tough Week 15 Match Ups: Anthony Fasano & David Martin vs. SF; Vernon Davis @ MIA; Jason Witten & Mertellus Bennett vs. NYG; Heath Miller @ BAL; Greg Olsen vs. NO; Dustin Keller vs. BUF; Kevin Boss @ DAL

 

TEs You Might Want To Avoid In Week 15: Justin Peele vs. TB; Casey Fitzsimmons @ IND; Reggie Kelly vs. WAS

 

And here are the week 15 Fantasy TE start rankings; it’s my top 35 TEs in the order that you should consider them this week. They were gotten using the Fantasy Flavor secret formula, and have their formulary numbers in parentheses, the lower the better.

 

1. Tony Gonzalez (3)

2. Dallas Clark (20)

3. Antonio Gates (21)

4. Kellen Winslow Jr. (25) *keep an eye on his injury status

5. Owen Daniels (26)

6. Tony Scheffler (28)

7. Chris Cooley (29)

8. John Carlson (31)

9. Jason Witten (35)

10. Zach Miller (35)

11. Kevin Boss (37)

12. Visanthe Schiancoe (40)

13. Billy Miller (43)

14. Bo Scaife (43)

15. Dustin Keller (50)

16. Jerramy Stevens (50)

17. Donald Lee (52)

18. Anthony Fasano (54)

19. Mercedes Lewis (56)

20. Daniel Graham (58)

22. Alex Smith (58)

22. Heath Miller (59)

23. Greg Olsen (61)

24. Todd Heap (67)

25. Martellus Bennett (69)

26. Robert Royal (70)

27. Jerrame Tuman (71)

28. Jeremy Shockey (71)

29. Steve Heiden (73) *bump him 5 to 7 spots if Winslow can’t play

30. LJ Smith (74)

31. Dante Rosario (79)

32. Derek Schouman (84)

33. Vernon Davis (85)

34. Brent Celek (86)

35. Benjamin Watson (88)

 

Use the links at the bottom of the page for the rest of this week’s rankings and good luck this week.

 

Peace,

T

(thyrl@wnst.net)

 

Week 15 Fantasy QB Rankings & Previews

 

Week 15 Fantasy RB Rankings & Previews

 

Week 15 Fantasy WR Rankings & Previews

 

Week 15 Fantasy K Rankings & Previews

 

Week 15 Fantasy D/ST Rankings & Previews

 

 

 

 

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