Dear John Vidalin: Welcome to Birdland where baseball ain’t great and beer ain’t so cold anymore

July 08, 2018 | Nestor Aparicio


Peter Angelos brought on the attention and scrutiny by purchasing the team and crowing about greatness for our city. He was going to make the Baltimore Orioles great again in 1993! He was going to hire the best people and let them do their jobs!

Over the last 25 years, I’ve simply held up a light and a mirror. And, occasionally, the American League East standings.

But, John, legitimate people in Baltimore take me pretty seriously. You can ask around and find out for yourself. We have plenty of mutual acquaintances on all three of your LinkedIn pages. You can read any of my work over three decades. It speaks for itself – my access, my intellect, my history, my information, my sources, my friends, my intentions, my community work, my track record.

My mother died last year very proud of what her kid from Dundalk became.

I take my career, my resume and my integrity seriously because I’ve built a sports media life and entity and reputation from nothing without ever having NHL or NFL or NBA logos or shields to stick on my business card.

And I’m the only guy you’ve ever met in your 20 years who owns his own local sports radio station in a major American media market because I’m the only guy who has ever put the work in and figured it out.

I’ve never needed a title. I’m simply a fact provider. I’ve only needed an audience that trusts me and sticks with me for three decades and loyal, local sponsors who want the truth told. I built it and here you are.

The “Braveheart” in you leaving Miami and the mighty NBA shield – a sport searching for a ceiling internationally, not a floor – for what many would argue is one of the worst jobs in professional sports is admirable. My friend who once inhabited The Warehouse and has been an industry insider for many years and knows you peripherally texted me when he found out it was you: “That poor bastard!”

Everyone I know who knows you speaks very highly of you. They tell me that you and I would become fast friends if you didn’t work for the Angelos family.

(Here’s a prediction: you’ll never be allowed to speak to me. File that one, John!)

Time will tell if “Baltimore Orioles” is the next stop on your LinkedIn resume as you move around as a “fix it” guy for whoever buys this thing – or whether you are here for the next decade or two. It probably depends if Mr. Angelos is still upright and how many years you signed up for in blood. Ask Dan Duquette – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!

I’ve already written a few #DearOrioles notes to your boss(es) in the previous days. I’ll be writing to everyone around your new digs about the culture changes that are apparently coming – and, oh so very necessary.

I don’t know much but I do know the times they are ‘a changing for the Baltimore Orioles and here you are, eh?

I’m doing a lot of writing about fixing your brand these days. As an enlightened guy with no history here, you will find my #DearOrioles series to be a useful sales tool. You are now here as the lead bird in selling the “hope” of the Baltimore Orioles. You will meet a LOT of sales objections along the beltway. I sell for a living, too. I hope you find my candor to be refreshing because I’m here to help you understand what is in your rear view mirror so you can navigate a treacherous road ahead for this franchise.

It benefits me greatly for you to have success.

(No one around there ever named Angelos ever seemed to understand this very basic premise of “community” but you’ll find that out for yourself.)

Now, on a personal level, I want to express why if you were to call on WNST to be a corporate partner ­– and don’t worry, I’ll have a #DearOrioles letter for the dolts over at your FM radio flagship who have decided to discuss your purple competitors all summer instead of my chosen method of holding your new co-workers responsible for the triple-digit losing – you’d get an ear full of truths.

You’ll probably never speak to me because the Angelos family wouldn’t allow that but please consider this our first “lunch date” in Baltimore. Lots of people in town speak to me privately. Many of your predecessors and contemporaries. But this might be my only “on the record” note for you so I hope you respect the spirit of my civic goodwill.

Keep in mind, I’m about to write about my personal interactions with your brand over 25 years and then you can judge how I should feel or how any local business owner or fan should feel about your franchise when you call and say “invest” in the Baltimore Orioles.

Hey, if you don’t know what’s wrong, you can’t fix it?

Ask Dick Cass about our little chats. He would probably tell ya I’m one of the better resources to give you the temperature of the community over his two decades here. He considers the criticism truly “constructive” because it helps build, not destroy.

So, since you’re running the other franchise in town now, let’s see if you can overcome my objections to spending money with your team.

Most people who have had bad interactions with the Baltimore Orioles in any way – as a fan, business owner, community leader, MASN subscriber, etc. – won’t be writing you a letter like this one begging you to take them back or giving you unfiltered feedback.

You’ll never know why most fans don’t come or their specific beef.

You’ll just assume that if you find a No. 1 starter and a few more legitimate baseball players that the fans and sponsors and community will just come running back at your price point once you start to win because Camden Yards will be “the place to be” again.

You know, John, the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. And it’s even worse when you’ve been offended or insulted or humiliated.

I remember the 14 years where the franchise didn’t play one meaningful game and always believed – publicly and privately – that “winning” would be the magic elixir that would heal all wounds, pay all bills, fill all seats.

That didn’t happen from 2012 until 2016, which is why you’re here.

I famously don’t come to Orioles games so much lately. Just like in Miami, almost no one does. I have a feeling your Canadian sensibilities and common decency will understand my dilemma. Everyone tells me what a great person you are and a “get it done” guy, so let’s see how you feel about my heartfelt #DearOrioles letter to you.

Before my wife was diagnosed with leukemia the first time, I wrote a book called The Peter Principles in 2014 explaining all the facts as I know them. It was a term paper of Orioles history. The circumstances around the actions, deeds and words of Peter G. Angelos in the community.

My eyes have been wide open for a long time – ever since the Mayflower vans pulled the Colts outta Baltimore on a night when I was a 15-year old intern sitting in The News American newsroom watching the story of the century for any local sports fan.

I earned my Baltimore Orioles media credential beginning in 1986 when I worked at The Baltimore Sun and was trained by the best editors and journalists in the industry. I was colleagues with many of the legends of modern baseball media. Richard Justice. Tim Kurkjian. Ken Rosenthal. Buster Olney. I trained at the side – or at their feet or ear in some cases – of people who wrote the truths about your ownership after they left the Orioles beat.

All of the stories in The Peter Principles are true.

Most of the shit is too crazy to make up.

I was doing afternoon drive sports radio for every single day of it. And running a radio station and hiring the folks who are currently (and thankfully) being paid by someone else to avoid talking about your shitty baseball team on your own flagship these days. Your FM partner has hosts who don’t know much or care much taking phone calls from people who know even less. You’re probably familiar with this special brand of corporate sports radio drivel from your time in South Florida.

(At WNST, we only have intelligent conversations with sports insiders and experts. No fluff. No rumors. No trash. No insults.)

But I want to give you some valuable business knowledge about what you’re entering here, as you are what the dearly departed Baltimore sports media icon Charley Eckman would lovingly deem an “expert.”

(The Coach defined“expert” as “someone from out of town.”)

I had a working media credential for 21 years – from 1986 through 2007 when your organization led by Greg Bader took it away and followed that atrocity with a series of lies to The Baltimore Sun and others and has for the last 12 years treated me with personal contempt.

That would break my father’s heart, as a kid from Dundalk who took the No. 22 bus from Highlandtown after picking up G&A Coney Island Hot Dogs to Memorial Stadium 41 times in the summer of 1979. I wrote about my Pop and why I love baseball back in 2006 when I became Satan to your organization by putting a thermometer out for everyone in The Warehouse in a Free The Birds campaign you might’ve heard about.

Everything about me and my company has always attempted to fairly and accurately cover the Baltimore Orioles – as we cover every other sports franchise in the region and have for more the two decades with professional decorum, decency, integrity and honesty that my parents and family and friends are rightfully proud of over 27 years of talking about sports publicly and building a local sports media brand that has launched many careers and promoted more charitable causes in the