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Part 3: Which Baltimore sports media entities suck? Here’s my report card…

Posted on 23 October 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been nearly three years since I started publicly examining the “State of Baltimore Sports Media” at WNST.net. As I predicted, the way you get your local sports news, information and analysis has seamlessly changed and now sits in the palm of your hands.

Three years ago when I wrote this in depth look at where the Baltimore sports media universe was heading, Twitter was truly at the dawn of its existence. The ability of mobile devices was far more limited and far less distributed. And the access to the genie of instant information in the palms of our hands that we’ve quickly become accustomed to will never go backward into the narrow bottle of the limited access of newspapers, television and radio waves.

Today, I will examine the current state of the Baltimore sports media experience and as much as many local journalists like to give “report cards” on the Ravens every Sunday night and Monday morning, I’m sure some folks will get their feelings hurt today.

I’ll tell you what I think about our competitors and the intentions of their bosses and their corporate, money-making media machines. Honesty. Candidly. Openly. As usual…

And, we’d love to hear what you think here in our “2012 State Of Baltimore Sports Media Survey” here.

One lucky survey entrant will win a trip next weekend to Cleveland on our Miller Lite Orange Roadtrip powered by Jiffy Lube.

As I’ve said over the past month, we’re trying to make WNST.net better every minute of every day so that we can be your primary source of Baltimore sports news and information on your mobile device.

Examining the Baltimore sports media business is the most important thing I do on a daily basis and while I rarely write about this stuff, it’s been my life’s mission to improve your experience as a local sports fan.

I find it almost hilarious and/or pathetic that anyone would listen to the radio station that calls itself  “The Fan” when the entire concept was drawn up in a board room in New York and never factors the actual “fans” into the equation when they assembled their corporate radio station team.

But competition is good. It sets the bar. At WNST.net, we’ve never ducked the obvious or taken Baltimore sports fans for granted – we know you’re judging us and comparing us every day because you utilize more than one outlet for your sports media consumption on a daily basis in 2012.

But we’re always striving to the be the FIRST place you go to get Baltimore sports information on your IPhone, Droid or mobile device.

In an effort to encourage you to give your feedback on the local Baltimore sports media scene, it’s only fair that I file my own report card.

So, who are the competitors and players on the local scene and where do you turn when breaking news happens in Baltimore?

My general overview of this is candidly clear: Baltimore is a lazy market on the new media end. I know how hard we work at WNST.net and I know what our resources are. I know the strengths and weaknesses of all of our competitors in the marketplace and many of the assembled group of “journalists” in the market have either been on my team, interviewed to be on my team or have cross-pollinated in something I’ve touched because I’ve been doing Baltimore sports media longer than virtually anyone in the marketplace.

My journey began almost 29 years ago in January 1984 at age 15 when Baltimore had three newspapers, three TV stations and a handful of AM radio stations that did local sports of any kind.

In 2012, there has been a mass fracturing in the way and convenience in which we consume media so many of the entities have “loose ends” in their coverage or holes in the strategy. Some of their portals to garner attention, feedback and building a trusted community of information are very old world and “lazy” for my tastes.

And before I begin defecating on all of our competitors – and that will be prevalent below – no less than two of these fossilized radio stations have the arrogance to call themselves “the only station that matters.”

It’s hilarious. And the truth is that WNST.net is kicking all of their asses in the only place that really matters – the internet and on your mobile device via instant access.

Here’s a report card from two weeks ago via Twitter:

Some will get their feelings hurt, but if you click to Page 2 you’ll see what I think of our “competition” at WNST.net…

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Maryland to visit Northwestern in ACC/Big Ten Challenge

Posted on 14 May 2012 by WNST Staff

The 14th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods on Nov. 27-28 will be highlighted by North Carolina at Indiana, Ohio State at Duke and North Carolina State at Michigan, six programs expected to be highly ranked entering the 2012-13 season. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU will combine to televise all 12 games of the two-day event matching top college basketball programs playing for conference supremacy and the Commissioners Cup.

All 12 games will also be available via WatchESPN, which delivers live access to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 on PCs, smartphones and tablets to fans who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks or Verizon FiOS TV.

The 2012 Challenge involves nine teams ranked in an ESPN.com early preseason top 25, including five of the top nine: No. 1 Indiana, No. 5 Michigan, No. 6 NC State, No. 8 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State.

The ACC won the first 10 Challenges while the Big Ten captured the Commissioner Cup for the third consecutive event, including an eight to four win advantage over the ACC last year. In the event of a 6-6 tie, the Commissioner’s Cup will remain with the conference that won the previous year. 2012 Challenge highlights:

  • Off a Ratings High: ESPN’s telecast of Ohio State’s 85-63 victory over Duke last year was the highest-rated and most-viewed Challenge game ever, averaging a 2.6 rating and 2,618,000 households. The telecast propelled ESPN to its most-viewed Challenge, averaging 1,555,000 households, based on a 1.6 rating.
  • One more Shot at the Dozen: Duke, which has won 11 of its 13 Challenge games, will host Ohio State in its quest for an event-record 12th victory. Duke lost to Ohio State last year and to Wisconsin in 2009.
  • First Challenge Matchups: Four of the telecasts will feature first-time Challenge matchups: Virginia at No. 22 Wisconsin, Maryland at Northwestern, No. 9 Michigan State at Miami and Georgia Tech at Illinois.
    • In addition to first-time Challenge games, several of the teams are infrequent opponents: Michigan State and Miami have never met; Northwestern and Maryland played one other time, a Northwestern victory in 1958; Virginia and Wisconsin split its two games, Virginia in 1975 and Wisconsin in 1999; and Illinois has defeated Georgia Tech in six of its seven games, including the last one in 2001.
  • Tourney Teams: Eleven teams between the two conferences played in the 2012 NCAA Tournament: Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia from the ACC, and Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin from the Big Ten.
  • Following a First with a Rematch: Boston College and Penn State and Nebraska and Wake Forest will follow first-time Challenge meetings with a second consecutive showdown in the event.
    • Boston College, which won its first five games, lost to Penn State last year, while Nebraska lost its Challenge debut to Wake Forest.
  • Threepeat: Five of the games will mark three-time Challenge matchups: North Carolina at Indiana (Indiana win in 2001 and North Carolina in 2004), NC State at Michigan (Michigan win in 2003 and NC State in 2006), Ohio State at Duke (Duke win in 2002 and Ohio State in 2011), Iowa at Virginia Tech (won by Virginia Tech in 2006 and 2009) and Purdue at Clemson (Purdue win in 2003 and Clemson in 2007).
  • Three and one more: Minnesota and Florida State will meet for the fourth time (Minnesota won in 2000 and Florida State in 2004 and 2007).

2012 ACC/Big Ten Challenge schedule (times and networks are to be determined):

Date Game
Tue, Nov 27 No. 13 North Carolina at No. 1 Indiana
  No. 6 NC State at No. 5 Michigan
  No. 25 Minnesota at Florida State
  Maryland at Northwestern
  Iowa at Virginia Tech
  Nebraska at Wake Forest
Wed, Nov 28 No. 8 Ohio State at No. 15 Duke
Virginia at No. 22 Wisconsin
No. 9 Michigan State at Miami
Purdue at Clemson
Georgia Tech at Illinois
Boston College at Penn State

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Upcoming UMBC Lax Game Gets TV Coverage

Posted on 09 April 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE – The UMBC men’s lacrosse America East contest vs. Albany on Sat., April 21 will be televised live by Live Well Network, WMAR-TV’s (ABC2) digital channel. UMBC will also honor its three seniors competing in their final regular season home game before the contest. The pre-game show and senior ceremony will take place at 1:00 p.m., and the opening face-off is slated for 1:10 p.m.

The network can be accessed over the air at channel 2.2, on Comcast on channel 204, and on Verizon on channel 463. The game will be produced by Jomar Productions and Steve Stofberg will be performing play-by-play duties.

The Retrievers and Great Danes have forged an outstanding north-south rivalry in America East. The two teams have met in three league
championship games, with UMBC prevailing twice (2006, 2008) and Albany taking the 2007 title match-up. The Retrievers have won five of the last six games, including a 13-9 decision in New York in 2011. UMBC leads the all-time series, 9-4.

This will be UMBC Athletics’ sixth televised game on LWN in the 2011-12 academic year. The fledgling network previously aired three men’s soccer games and a women’s and men’s doubleheader.

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Stevenson Falters After Half In Loss at Cortland

Posted on 17 March 2012 by WNST Staff

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Greg Wright scored all three of his goals in the third quarter while Cody Consul totaled two of his game-high six points as No. 3 SUNY Cortland outscored the No. 9-ranked Stevenson men’s lacrosse team by four en route to a 13-9 victory Saturday at the Stadium Complex.

The Mustangs (5-2) suffered their first loss in three career meetings against the Red Dragons and their second in as many road games this season. The last time Stevenson lost at least two games on the road was during the 2005 season against Gettysburg, Lynchburg and Salisbury.

Freshmen Stephen Banick (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic) and Pat Candon (Long Beach, N.Y./Holy Trinity) led the Mustangs with two goals apiece while freshman Michael Crowe (Arlington, Va./Yorktown) tied his career-high with two points on a goal and an assist.

Stevenson was outshot 40-28 and were 0-for-4 on the man advantage. The team has not scored on its last 15 extra-man opportunities, a stretch that spans the last three games.

Consul led Cortland (4-0) with three goals and three assists while Wright finished with four points.

Today’s loss marks the first time this season that Stevenson’s ninth-ranked scoring defense allowed more than six goals in a game this season. The Mustangs’ six-game streak of six goals or less was the longest in school history, eclipsing the previous mark set in 2003 when they held five consecutive opponents to six goals or less from April 10 to April 22.

Stevenson is 86-2 all-time when allowing six goals or less. The team had won 52-straight before falling at No. 9 Lynchburg last Saturday, 6-3.

Freshman Parker Bratton (Baltimore, Md./McDonogh) led the defense with five caused turnovers and three ground balls.

The Red Dragons jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the game’s first eight minutes before the Mustangs scored four of the next five goals to take its only lead of the game at 5-4 with 13:11 remaining in the second quarter.

Cortland answered with a quick 3-0 burst to go back in front 7-5 before Stevenson scored two goals in the final 52 seconds of the first half to tie the game at 7-7 going into halftime.

However, the Red Dragons outscored the Mustangs 5-1 in a decisive third quarter and 6-2 in the second half.

Senior Ian Bolland (Mountain Lakes, N.J./Mountain Lakes) was credited with 12 saves while counterpart Mike Kaminski had 14, including five in the fourth quarter.

Stevenson returns home to face No. 2 Tufts on Tuesday at Mustang Stadium beginning at 7:00 p.m. The game will be televised live on Maryland Public Television’s MPT2 which can be seen on Comcast 268 and Verizon Fios 480. It will also be simulcast live at GoMustangSports.com.

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Terrell Suggs Named Co-Winner of Pro Butkus Award

Posted on 27 January 2012 by WNST Staff

Suggs, Ware Named Co-Winners of 4th Professional Butkus Award®                                                                 

CHICAGO – (January 27, 2012) – Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware were named co-winners of the fourth annual professional Butkus Award®, honoring the best linebackers. It is the second such honor for Ware, who won the first ever professional Butkus Award in 2008.

The Awards will be announced formally on a special broadcast of Pro Football Weekly the weekend of January 27-29 on Comcast and Fox Sports Network (check local listings).

Suggs and Ware both received 46 points and 10 first place votes from the panel of 51 coaches, recruiters, scouts and journalists, coordinated by Pro Football Weekly.  Meanwhile, rookie Von Miller of the Denver Broncos finished third with 14 points, after having won the collegiate Butkus Award in 2010 while at Texas A&M University.  NaVorro Bowman of the San Francisco 49ers and Derrick Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs finished fourth and fifth, with 10 points.  Six other players received votes, including 2010 winner Clay Matthews of the Green Bay Packers and 2009 winner Patrick Willis of the San Francisco 49ers.

“Suggs and Ware excelled at beating their blockers and terrorizing quarterbacks,” said Hub Arkush, editor of Pro Football Weekly. 

“Terrell Suggs had his best year in 2011 of his nine years in the NFL, especially against the run.  He understands blocking angles as well as anyone, and has been one of the most consistent pass rushers during his career.  He really stepped up his dominant play when Ray Lewis had a late-season injury.

“DeMarcus Ware is the best pure pass rusher in football.  He is a persistent and dominating defensive player, and overcame an off-season foot surgery to regain his speed and explosion during 2011.”  

In addition to Suggs and Ware, other 2011 season honorees include collegiate winner Luke Kuechly of Boston College and high school winner Noor Davis of Leesburg High School in Florida.  A complete list of winners is available at www.thebutkusaward.com.

The Butkus Award honors legendary linebacker Dick Butkus, who wants athletes, coaches and fans to join him in the I Play Clean™ campaign, which encourages teen athletes to train hard, eat well and play with attitude instead of resorting to illegal steroids.  More information is at www.iplayclean.org

Considered one of the greatest football players in history, Butkus was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979, following an illustrious career with the Chicago Bears, University of Illinois and Chicago Vocational School. Meanwhile, his son Matt was a defensive lineman for the University of Southern California, and joins his father in philanthropic efforts. Friend him at www.facebook.com/51.butkus. 

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Towson’s Frank Beltre Named To Pre-Season All-CAA Team

Posted on 28 July 2011 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. – Junior defensive end Frank Beltre (Randolph H.S./Randolph, N.J.) of Towson University was named to the All-Colonial Athletic Association Pre-Season Football team which was announced at the annual CAA Football Media Day which was held at M&T Bank Stadium on Wednesday.

Beltre, who ranked second among all CAA defensive linemen last season with 85 tackles, was the only Tiger to earn Pre-Season All-CAA honors. As a sophomore, he was named third team All-CAA. In his first season as a starter for the Tigers, he tied for second on the team with 85 tackles. He also ranked sixth in the CAA by making 12.5 tackles for lost yardage.

William & Mary, the CAA pre-season favorite, led all schools with six players named to the 30-player Pre-Season All-CAA squad. Delaware, the NCAA FCS runner-up last season, placed five student-athletes on the team while James Madison and Villanova each had four honorees.

For the sixth consecutive year, CAA Football Media Day was held in Baltimore. Coach Rob Ambrose did a number of interviews with the assembled media while senior defensive tackle Marcus Valentine (below) (Winslow Township H.S./Sicklerville, N.J.) and Beltre were also interviewed.

“We’re very happy that Frank was named to the Pre-Season All-CAA team,” said Coach Rob Ambrose, who will be starting his third season as the Tigers’ coach. “He is one of those guys who loves to play football and he works hard at it. We are expecting big things from Frank this season.”

Coach Ambrose told the media, “For the first time since we came back to Towson, we are talking about wins. Two years ago, our focus was changing attitudes and working hard. Last year, we worked to close the gap and we did that.

“Now, we can talk about winning some games,” he added. “There is so much momentum around this program right now. We have a lot of people who believe in us and they are excited. One of the most amazing things about last season was our attendance at home. We averaged more than 7,000 fans per home game – and we had only one win. So, we know there are a lot of people behind us and they are rooting for us.”

The Tigers, who have eight starters returning on offense and defense, will open their 43rd season of college football on Sept. 3 when they host Morgan State University at Johnny Unitas® Stadium at 7:00 p.m.

At CAA Media Day, the CAA also announced its schedule of televised games for the 2011 season. The CAA has the most watched FCS Television Package in the nation as 28 games are scheduled to be aired this season.

Of the 28 games, 19 will be televised by the Comcast Sports Group.

On October 29, Comcast will visit Unitas Stadium to televise the Towson-Delaware football game at 7:00 p.m.

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MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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EXCLUSIVE: It was Peter Angelos vs. Steve Bisciotti in latest skirmish over MASN & Ravens TV rights

Posted on 08 August 2010 by WNST Staff

In a city with two sports teams and a major regional sports TV network that’s owned by one of them, conflict is inevitable.

So, when the Ravens sat down at the negotiating table with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) last spring to hammer out the details of a new contract, the football team was prepared for a difficult negotation but maintained confidence a deal would get done for their pre-season games and weekly TV shows such as The John Harbaugh Show.

Instead, the Ravens abruptly lost their broadcast partner last week in an 11th-hour flip by MASN owner Peter Angelos, who also owns the rival sports franchise in Baltimore, the MLB Orioles.

The two parties, led by high ranking officials from the Ravens and MASN, reached a verbal agreement on a new four-year deal in April.  “It actually went more smoothly than we thought it might,” said a Ravens source.  “We went in asking that our old four-year deal just be renewed under the same terms and conditions and they (MASN) were agreeable.  The deal was beneficial for both of us.  MASN got winter programming exclusive to their network and we were able to bring the shows that comprised Rave TV to the Ravens fan base throughout the Mid Atlantic.”

There were a few new twists to the agreement, including more prominently placed signage for MASN at M&T Bank Stadium and the installation of permanent fiber-optic wiring in the press rooms at the stadium to give MASN the highest quality production capabilities.

“We put in an extensive amount of work and product in June and July,” said a Maryland Stadium Authority source, who was part of the team that supervised the installation. “And the Ravens paid for all of it.”

At stake now, are various forms of Ravens-exclusive programming that range from weekly shows to pre- and post-game specials for both home and away games.

“The deal is dead,” said a Ravens source. “Angelos killed it at the end of July when our staff was already on the street selling packages.”

A MASN source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the change in the agreement occurred earlier in the summer when Orioles majority owner and MASN managing partner Peter Angelos got involved.  When the two parties consummated their first deal in 2006, the elder Angelos wasn’t involved in the final stages of the negotiation. It was more John Angelos and other officials, who were just launching the money-making regional network after the birth of Washington Nationals spawned the deal.

An insider on that initial deal said: “It was a perfect marriage. The Ravens didn’t want to deal with Comcast Sportsnet, which was featuring Washington Redskins programming and treated Baltimore and the Ravens like a second-class citizen. MASN was just getting started and needed fall and winter programming and credibility and market awareness. They had a presence and partnership with the best brand in Baltimore. Everyone was happy!”

This time around, though, citing changes in the upper management structure of MASN, Peter Angelos stepped in after a verbal agreement was made in April and the deal was ready to be signed in late spring.

“Peter didn’t like the deal once he read through it all and saw the terms,” said a MASN source. “He contended that a network should NEVER pay a team a rights fee for programming if it’s not all entirely live. So we had to go back to the Ravens and tell them we weren’t going to pay them the same fee we had provided in the past. We knew it was about to get ugly.”

A source familiar with the negotiations said MASN went to the Ravens with an offer that included a “greatly reduced rights fee” and the freedom for MASN to re-run the exclusive Ravens programming with no additional compensation to the football organization.

At first, it didn’t get ugly because the Ravens weren’t totally sure what the new offer or new terms were going to be. But, eschewing the history of how the Orioles and MASN conduct business under Angelos, they remained patient, hopeful and confident that a deal was sensible and reachable.

“We couldn’t really figure out what they wanted,” says a Ravens source.  “They would always talk in generalities like, ‘We need to re-work some things’ and they’d never be real specific about what they wanted changed or what the offer was.”

“We called in early June to remind them that the deal needed to be signed and we were told then that some parts of it hadn’t yet been approved by Mr. Angelos and that they’d get back to us with some revisions.”

As has been customary and legendary from those in the MLB world who’ve dealt with Angelos, those revisions sat on Angelos’ desk for weeks and the “official answer” never came.

Just after the July 4th holiday, the Ravens again contacted MASN and asked for the signed deal so they could continue selling advertising and sponsorships for the various MASN-aired programming.

“We were getting nervous by then,” a Ravens staffer said.  “We pressed them a little bit for a signed contract, and that’s when we were told the original deal wasn’t going to be honored,” explained a Ravens source. “We were told at that point that Peter wasn’t happy about paying a rights fee and that he wanted to speak directly with owner Steve Bisciotti.”

The MASN source explained it like this: “Peter never wants to talk to a mid-level or high-level employee. It’s the top of the ladder or nothing.”

That apparently was Ravens president Dick Cass, who allegedly met with Angelos.

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

“One of Steve’s fundamental beliefs is that he employs good people who understand his business and that’s what he pays them for – to conduct business on his behalf,” said the Ravens staffer.  “When Steve got wind of the Angelos request, he said, ‘I don’t need to talk with him about this.  You people know much more about this than I do.  Get the deal done!’ ”

So that became an issue that no one at either MASN or the Ravens could fix.  One person – Angelos – who didn’t want to talk to anyone BUT the owner and another person – Bisciotti – who felt it wasn’t his position to interfere with his people’s work.

“It’s not like Peter suddenly started operating like this,” said the MASN source.  “When the time comes for the deal to get done or not, he wants to look the other guy right in the eye or at the very least speak directly with the person on the other end who is his equivalent.  This time around, it backfired on us.”

It backfired when the Ravens made a final inquiry in late July and were told that MASN’s position wasn’t changing.  A reduction in the rights fee was now the only valid offer and Angelos was adamant that Bisciotti get involved during the final days of negotiation.

Bisciotti eventually did call Angelos, but he did so to simply tell the MASN head honcho, “My people say this deal is no good for us, so we’re going to pass.”

In the aftermath, the MASN public relations people tried to soft-peddle the break-up in early August by claiming the split was amicable.  MASN spokesman Todd Webster included a “we wish the Ravens nothing but success” throwaway line when commenting to the local media, most of whom who are on the payroll or in the profit chain of MASN or Angelos himself.

(A request to speak on the record with members of the MASN executive staff about this exclusive story at WNST.net was refused.)

But WNST.net is reporting that the “split” was anything but amicable.

“We’re basically six weeks from the start of the season with a sales package on the street and a handshake for a deal from April and an existing relationship and they pulled the rug out from under us,” says the Ravens source . “There’s no way that’s going to be amicable.”

The MASN source interviewed for this exclusive piece says the Ravens knew in early June there was a potential roadblock with the deal.

“They knew as soon as Peter (Angelos) got involved there was potentially going to be trouble.  They knew the deal was shaky at that point.”

When given that response, a Ravens staffer pointed to to the recent work done at M&T Bank Stadium.  “If we really thought the deal was in trouble, we wouldn’t have spent all that money to get the stadium ready for MASN.”

A Maryland Stadium Authority source said MASN remains a valuable working partner but they acknowledge it’s not always a bed of roses working with them.  “They’ve been involved in some battles with Comcast and WBAL at the baseball stadium that got very ugly.  It almost always relates to money and it always involves Peter.  And it’s always a last minute kind of thing.  That’s their M.O.  They wait until the last minute to start trying to get things done.”

And that’s how the deal with the Ravens eventually ended.  “We just ran out of time,” says a Ravens staffer.  “We had their (MASN) signage up, so that had to come down, and our people are out now trying to re-sell it.  We have shows to produce with sponsors lined up and there’s nowhere to air them.  We’re scrambling now.”

The break-up with MASN and loss of key programming doesn’t just hurt the Ravens financially – “we were nearly sold out of inventory” the Ravens source said – but it puts a crimp on their regional branding and marketing efforts.

“We count on that programming to satisfy our fans’ needs in the outlying areas that are important to us like Frederick, Hagerstown, York, Harrisburg and Lancaster,” said a Ravens official.  “That’s one of the reasons we like MASN so much.  They truly are regional for us.  And that’s important.”

One local media expert says the break-up was not only initiated by MASN, but might have come more as a result of sagging sales efforts.

“The real truth of the whole relationship with the Ravens is that MASN’s heart was never in it.  They just wanted to take something away from Comcast,” said the media source.  “They probably lost a lot of money over the last few years with their Ravens programming and they’re getting paid the same amount by a few million subscribers whether the Ravens are on the network or whether they’re airing Hawaiian League Baseball.”

So why enter into a business agreement with the Ravens?  What’s in it for MASN?

“They (MASN) owned inventory in each of those Ravens programs, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes depending on the show and its length,” the media source explained.  “And MASN needs to sell that commercial inventory to make up for the rights fee they hand over to the Ravens.   If they can’t sell it, the whole relationship becomes a loser for MASN, except they have relevant programming to plug in during the winter months.”

“All you have to do is follow the Orioles broadcasts on MASN and you can pretty much figure out they’re having a tough time selling commercials in the baseball games.  I guess you have to ask yourself, ‘If we can’t sell all the ad space in the live programming we air 162 times a year with a Major League Baseball team, what are the odds we can sell ad space in the football season with taped shows?’ And if they were forking over $100,000 or so to the Ravens for the rights fee, that’s a lot of advertising to sell just to make that up, let alone make a profit out of it.”

A Ravens source would not confirm the amount of money MASN provided to the football team, saying only, “It was a six figure deal with our benefit being that we owned most of the time to sell to our corporate partners.”

The local media expert figures that MASN spent the early part of the spring and summer trying to sell their portion of advertising.  And when they couldn’t, they decided to go back to the Ravens and change the deal.

“That happens a lot,” says the media source.  “You’re on the hook for a lot of money and you figure you’ll sell enough to offset it.  When you initially go out and try to sell it and you can’t, you get nervous and try to change the fee structure.”

The Ravens continue to work hard to try and have their programming in place by Labor Day.  WNST has been told that Comcast SportsNet is not an option for them.

One less-appealing option is WBAL TV’s digital channel, which would serve as an olive branch from the Ravens since they’d likely make no revenue from the arrangement with WBAL.

“We’d be doing that because we want to help our broadcast partner out,” said a Ravens staffer.  “We clearly wouldn’t be involved in the same kind of rights fee deal we had with MASN, but the programming would air and that’s what’s most important at this point.”

The other obvious answer would be to air the unique programming of Rave TV on the team website, which could drive more traffic to their online hub.

The fallout of Steve Bisciotti vs. Peter Angelos and Orioles vs. Ravens will continue to be monitored at WNST.net.

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The Orioles & Andy MacPhail - 5 Mistakes In 3 Years (Part I of V) .....

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The Orioles & Andy MacPhail – 5 Mistakes In 3 Years (Part I of V) …..

Posted on 14 April 2010 by WNST Interns

I can honestly proclaim my fair and balanced treatment of Andy MacPhail, since the day he seized control of the Orioles’ Baseball Operations.

Okay, I haven’t necessarily been an ORANGE KOOL-AID drinkin’ son of a gun, but I’ve certainly been heavy on the patience and guarded praise, while leveling mild criticism on justified, sporadic occasions. In fact, I absolutely believe I’ve given Mr. MacPhail the benefit of the doubt on many occasions – and, I don’t regret it.

Has he made mistakes? Sure. But, I’ve maintained his decisions were in the best interest of the Orioles franchise – and the greater good of Baltimore’s vulnerable baseball fans.

Yet, I think it’s also fair to say Andy MacPhail and the Orioles, as an organization, have fallen short on numerous decisions and transactions, over these last 3 seasons.

I’m not beating them up. That’s not productive. However, I can think of 5 distinguishing events, moves or directives that have resulted in a LOSS for the Orioles. Of course, I’ll qualify my opinions by asserting my FAN CARD …..

I have absolutely no working knowledge or experience concerning the inner-sanctum of a professional baseball organization. I’ve never stuck my hands inside a baseball product ABOVE the college level. And, I think this disclosure is important, because nearly everyone who stands in my shoes (from a media perspective) is also standing on the “same ground.”

That said, I’d like to believe I’m an educated guy and open-minded regarding most topics.

Baseball is one such topic. I love the science of baseball ….. the history of baseball ….. the modern day culture of baseball ….. and, the game as a whole.

Agree with me. Disagree with me. I understand – and, I don’t take it personally.

My first observed/recalled “MacPhail Mistake” can be found below. I’ll write 5 such blogs over the next 5 days. Of course, I reserve judgement to include a 6th mistake if this losing streak doesn’t end soon …..

Mistake #1  –  Letting Joe Girardi Get Away

One of Andy MacPhail’s first decisions was finding a successor to Sam Perlozzo, who was dismissed in the same window that allowed MacPhail’s entrance as the new President of Baseball Operations. While Dave Trembley was named as the interim skipper, MacPhail conducted a thorough search and even levied a firm three year offer to his most coveted candidate.

Of course, EVERYONE knew Andy MacPhail had a solid relationship with Joe Girardi. And, Girardi, who owned the distinction of winning “NL Manager Of The Year” and being fired after the same season was readily available …..
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No, Joe Girardi didn’t get fired for legal or character reasons. He’s a SOLID CHARACTER guy. He was fired by an owner who didn’t like being told to “SHUT UP.” While most employees would get fired for saying such a thing to their boss, lets remember, Jeffrey Luria was heckling the umpire when it happened. And, Joe Girardi does things the right way.

Never mind the task of taking a young, disorganized group of kids and instilling discipline and a WINNING attitude, in less than six months. That’s not important to Jeffrey Luria. Hmmm …. I wonder if he feels good about firing Girardi – TODAY.

Nevertheless, Joe Girardi was Andy MacPhail’s GUY.

In fact, MacPhail and others flew to Girardi’s neck of the woods, near Chicago, to woo and tempt the hottest managerial free agent. When is the last time a TEAM went to the CANDIDATE to conduct an interview?

Days later – on June 21st of 2007 – Joe Girardi told Andy and the O’s “uhh, thanks …. but, no thanks.”

That’s a day I’ll never forget. Why? It’s this girl’s birthday …..
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And, regardless of Joe Girardi falling thru the holes of the Orioles crab net, I’d better never forget the significance of June 21st – ANY YEAR.

Why did Joe Girardi decline the Orioles offer to become the next manager? Of course, I’ll rely on my earlier disclosure – I have no working knowledge of the Orioles inner circle. But, I can imagine or make an educated guess of some possible reasons.

Maybe, he talked with some baseball friends, who have intimate knowledge of the Orioles dysfunction, prior to MacPhail’s arrival. Who? Perhaps, he had coffee with Davey Johnson. Maybe, he had dinner with his former coach, Lee Mazilli. Better yet, I guess he could’ve just had a very long phone conversation with George, Hank or Hal Steinbrenner.

But, something made Joe Girardi reject the Orioles 3 year/$3 million offer. Heck, maybe that’s it.

I realize most managers aren’t breaking the bank with contracts in the same neighborhood as many players. Yet, if a manager with any resume’ of success is going to soil his career with a stint on the Orioles bench, I’ll assume the money will have to do the talking – not a bunch of bigwigs flying into the guy’s hometown.

If Andy MacPhail was serious about hiring Joe Girardi as the next skipper, and he flew 750 miles to meet with him, I’d like to think he had the company checkbook in hand.

What’s the one thing we know about today’s world of pro sports and signing free agents? If you want the guy, don’t let him leave the room without a deal. Do you doubt me? This philosophy brought the Baltimore Ravens a Super Bowl winning head coach …..
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It also landed the Chicago White Sox one of the hottest managerial prospects, following the Florida Marlins 2003 World Championship …..
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And, as the we know, he skippered the team to a World Championship, just a couple seasons later.

Andy MacPhail should’ve never let Joe Girardi leave that meeting – not if he was the guy. And, how does an offer like $3 million, in 3 years, inspire a guy of Girardi’s caliber to take this job? I’m not talking about the Joe Girardi who manages the New York Yankees. I’m talking about the Joe Girardi who broke the disruptive spirit of players who initially balked at his managerial powers, in the Marlins clubhouse.

As many know, I’m a devout listener of the Comcast Morning Show. I was listening to Drew before I knew where the WNST station was located. He makes sense ….. and he’s right on many occasions.

Recently, Drew has pointed out the lackluster and non-chalant attitude of Adam Jones. Whether it’s blowing bubbles on dropped flyballs or stupid baserunning blunders, Jones doesn’t seem to be busting his hump or devoting maximum concentration to the game itself.

And, as Drew has also suggested …. what can Dave Trembley do about it? Counsel Jones? Bench him? Fine him?

Adam Jones has every hunch to assume his manager is just one banana peel OR LOSS away from being a former employee. If such exchanges or relationships exist, would any of us be surprised?

Now, put Joe Girardi in that clubhouse and dugout.

Does Adam Jones or anyone challenge him? If they do, they’ll lose. Just ask Miguel Cabrera. He balked at Girardi’s policies regarding junk food in the clubhouse and locker room. Girardi didn’t bend his rules – and Cabrera didn’t bring skittles to the ballpark.

Marlins players had every reason to dismiss Jor Girardi, as the season neared an end. Everyone knew the manager was getting fired and the team had a losing record. That said, those players respected him and they played hard. The Marlins opened the 2006 season with SIX ROOKIES in the lineup and a $14 million payroll. Okay, some sources have the payroll as high as $21 million – but, I’m certain you get the point.

Joe Girardi was fired, because the owner didn’t like him.

You gotta have that guy, right? He doesn’t tolerate off-field distractions. He doesn’t permit lackluster performances. And, he always protects him team …..
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But, if MacPhail wanted the guy, why offer a measly 3 million bucks? I’ve always wondered if things would’ve turned out differently if Andy slid a blank check across the table, in Chicago. My gut says YES. My head says YES.

I’ll imagine Joe Girardi had enough time to look at the $3 million offer and consider the Orioles plight, as well as the recent history regarding managers. I’ll conclude that he probably thought …. “in a few seasons, OR LESS, I’ll have a few million bucks in my pocket, but I’ll also be that guy who’s possibly been fired from two jobs, in less than 5 years.” “I don’t mind the risk, but it’s not enough money – not near enough money.”

He probably reasoned the Orioles job could ruin him, as far as future managerial prospects go. If that’s the case, the reward had to be greater.

In case “Franchise” is reading this, I don’t see Joe Girardi as a “what if” kinda guy. He rejected the Orioles halfway thru the 2007 season. He had no reason to believe he was going to be the Yankees new manager, just a few months later.

Yeah, we all heard that Girardi or Don Mattingly would eventually succeed Joe Torre, as Yankees skipper. But, if the Yankees would’ve beaten the Cleveland Indians and BUGS, in the 2007 ALDS, we might’ve never seen a managerial change.
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After all, Joe Torre turned down a one year extension.

Joe Girardi rejected the Orioles, because it wasn’t enough money for such a risky gamble. Who wants to hire a former Orioles manager?

Maybe Joe Girardi would’ve taken the O’s job for 3 years/$10 million. But, that’s an extra $7 million – which means the Orioles couldn’t afford Aubrey Huff. Umm …. make that TWO Aubrey Huffs.

A note to Andy ….. Ozzie Guillen is a free agent, following the 2012 season. If you’re gonna offer 3 years/$3 million, don’t waste his time or yours.

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Caps Win Over Pens Sets Comcast Single Game Ratings Record

Posted on 22 January 2010 by Ed Frankovic

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic posted all-time record ratings for regular-season Washington Capitals coverage – earning a 3.3 household rating and a 6.5 rating in the key Men 25-54 demographic – during last night’s (Jan. 21) road game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The National Hockey League’s premier rivalry attracted an average of 88,000 combined households in the Washington (76,000) and Baltimore (12,000) markets during the Capitals 6-3 win over the Penguins. During the third period, the game earned peak ratings of 4.2 in Washington and 1.5 in Baltimore, which equates to 113,000 combined households.

In the key demographic categories of Adults 25-54 (4.3), Men 18-49 (5.9) and Men 25-54 (6.5), Comcast SportsNet was the highest-rated television network in the Washington market during last night’s game and ranked second among Adults 18-49.

Last night’s record viewership shattered the previous single-game high for a Capitals regular-season game on Comcast SportsNet, set on April 5, 2008 against the Florida Panthers. The overall household rating eclipsed the previous mark by 32% and the 6.5 rating registered in the Men 25-54 demo was an increase of more than 117% over the previous record. Among Men 18-49, last night’s 5.9 rating broke the previous high by 64%. 

Through 46 games on Comcast SportsNet this season, the Capitals household ratings have seen a 15% increase compared to the same time-period last season and an increase of 149% versus 2007-08.

COMMENT: The Caps are no doubt a regional team in this area, as evidenced by these ratings. I applaud the hockey fans of Baltimore for supporting a club that has its best chance ever to win a Stanley Cup in 2010. I think every Baltimore sports fan would agree that beating Pittsburgh in ANY sport is always entertaining and fun! Also, kudos to the Washington Capitals organization for having the vision to reach out to the Baltimore sports fan.

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And the Orioles continue South with more "neighborly" love for Sarasota...

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And the Orioles continue South with more “neighborly” love for Sarasota…

Posted on 31 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I just got pinged by a friend who tells me that WBAL slipped out a quiet report a few days ago that the Orioles have again made one of their more outlandish moves of 2009. (And that’s saying something, when you consider the kind of season they slept-walked through this summer.)

Remember a few years ago, when Angelos and the boys set up camp in Farragut Square near their “Orioles Store” in downtown Washington, D.C., to feign interest in the market after holding it hostage for five years in exchange for the MASN TV rights that were supposed to buy the Orioles some semblance of respectful balance on the playing field in the AL East. That day — with a 7:05 game looming in another summer of distress — they shipped the entire roster on a bus down to a big city square and served free ice cream and hot dogs and soda to everyone in the park.

We, of course, opined that the Orioles have NEVER given away free hot dogs and ice cream in Baltimore. And Angelos’ true interest in D.C. extended about as far as how much he could extort out of Bud Selig and MLB, then Comcast, then pass it along to each and every one of you who pay a cable TV bill in the state of Maryland. Angelos is in your pocket for a few bucks a month and 90% of people in the Free State don’t even KNOW it.

The result: the Orioles lost 98 games this season, will spend nearly NOTHING on free agents this winter, Andy MacPhail will pocket a big “bonus” check for his role in the profiteering and Angelos and Co. will make upward of $40 million in profit this calendar year while continuing to eschew common decency toward its own community and heroes and continuing as the worst franchise in North American sports.

Now, after holding Fort Lauderdale up for well over a decade and playing a political shell game with half of the real estate from Orlando to the Florida Keys — at long last Sarasota, Florida is getting the Orioles for spring training. I’m not sure if that’s considered “good fortune” or stupid politicians who will live to regret working with this ownership group, like everyone else in their wake.

Here’s a dream photo of what the project is supposed to look like at its finish:

So WBAL via an Orioles press release announced that an offseason “Fan Fest” will be held in two weeks in Florida with a bunch of Orioles players and dignitaries.

“In celebration of their new spring training home, the Baltimore Orioles will join with The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau to host Orioles Family FanFest-a free event for the entire community-at Ed Smith Stadium on Saturday, November 14 from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. The afternoon will feature autograph sessions with current and former Orioles players, Orioles giveaways, fan forums, a variety of kid-friendly family activities, including Kids Run the Bases, and a free hot dog and soda for every person in attendance.”

So, for all of about 250 people who might be interested in seeing the worst team in MLB over the past decade with the WORST reputation for hijacking Floridian communities in modern sports, come to their town to bring “civic spirit and cheer.”

Fact: there are a LOT of pissed off Sarasota residents that this deal was ever done and a lot of speculation about its merits in the community. The Orioles already have a problem before they dig dirt at Ed Smith Stadium. (Not to mention their reputation in their own community, which is apparent to everyone but the local “journalists” — or propagandists — who look the other way past the stench to draw a paycheck).

Maybe, the Orioles could ask that everyone brings a covered dish?

The report says that “Orioles Manager DAVE TREMBLEY, centerfielder and 2009 All-Star ADAM JONES, outfielder NOLAN REIMOLD, pitchers BRAD BERGESEN and JIM JOHNSON, and Hall of Fame pitcher and current MASN broadcaster JIM PALMER, are expected to attend the event. The Oriole Bird will also be on hand to greet families throughout the afternoon. Free parking will be available for all fans.”

Well, a little civic spirit might’ve been nice last Monday night here in their “branded hometown” of BALTIMORE when the most celebrated Oriole of all time was being honored for the final time of his life at the Meyerhoff and the franchise couldn’t find a way to get one single heartbeat to the event to speak on behalf of the current players and their respect for the brand and franchise that Brooks Robinson and his ilk built for our parents that’s now been left for dead by the Angelos family and this last 15 years of civic-hostage baseball.

Meanwhile, they’ve taken what formerly was a weekend-long, sold-out, line-down-Pratt-Street event in Baltimore known as “Fan Fest” (and before that, “Moonlight Madness”) and destroyed every ounce of goodwill guys like Brooks Robinson spent their entire adult lives dedicated to building and preserving and turned it into a half-assed, thrown-together “day before the season begins” chilly disaster that isn’t cheap, but somehow FEELS cheap. Like an “obligation” before the season begins…and the same refrains of “improvement.”

The team follows it up with disgraces from Aubrey Huff to the manager calling out the organization’s professionalism during a post-game press conference. And MASN shows goofy house ad after goody house ad. I’m glad the season ended just so I could regroup after seeing those two chicks trying to hit on the Oriole Bird six times a night for six months. And that’s BEFORE they lost 98 more games…

And the owner never shows his face, never spends money, never answers questions and the team never wins. And Red Sox and Yankees fans take over the city (and, once again, THIS is the biggest disgrace in the whole dreadful fiasco of the last 15 years — just disgraceful!). And the downtown business district — sorely in need of assistance — is left for dead except when half of the Northeast quadrant of the United States descends upon the Harbor for the routine of pinstripes and chowder.

Oh, and while Daniel Snyder is down the B/W Parkway banning signs and threatening the media and suing the fans, Angelos is here doing the same thing here and no one dares talks about or ask questions of any substance.

I wonder when Snyder will tell The Washington Post they no longer have media access. (But, apparently that wouldn’t happen because the NFL wouldn’t allow it.)

Shame, shame, shame…

I watched Bud Selig squirm in David Letterman’s chair the other night and it’s no wonder MLB is a damaged brand despite the innate greatness of the game of baseball, which has been decimated over the last 15 years since the strike in many ways (steroids, Hall of Fame, bad pitching, greedy owners, sleezy agents, difficult “heroes” like Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Albert Belle and their ilk, All Star fiascos, Pete Rose, World Series games in November, etc.) but is printing money. Just like Angelos is here.

They’re all ringing the cash register so that justifies it all.

Just like MacPhail — a leading candidate in baseball’s collusion in the late 1980s and whose sole function as President of the Chicago Cubs was to field cheap baseball teams to make the Tribune money (yeah, that company once wasn’t in bankruptcy like they are on Calvert Street these days) for fans who were too drunk to care and who were addicted to Wrigley Field and lore of the loveble, fuzzy, loser Cubbies. The Cubs fans ACCEPTED losing a birthright and a way of life as MacPhail padded the pockets of the shareholders.

It’s all pretty well documented but here’s the worst-kept secret in Major League Baseball:

MacPhail is reading Selig’s cue cards for the direction of the game so as to be able to take the throne when Selig decides to walk away from his $18 million-a-year job. (We’ve written many times: Selig doesn’t own a computer, doesn’t have email and doesn’t have a Black Berry. Just take a second and THINK about that in 2009 if you’re the C.E.O. of of of the biggest brands in America?)

Think Andy MacPhail would be interested in an $18 million-a-year position in 2012? (Me too…)

But as we’ve pointed out many times, they have no shame. Or common sense or decency. But they DO know how to make money. And they do have anti-trust exemptions by our federal government that are so laughable it completely masks the corruption.

Just look at the product on the field here in Baltimore. And look at the empty stands. And the amount of “house ads” on MASN.

To STUPID people, they look “broke.” But they’re not. FAAAAAR from it!

And watch all of the “Confederate money” that MacPhail won’t be waving in free agency in a few weeks. All of sudden, they’re “building through the farm system” which is the code word for “pocketing the goodwill of the Maryland people.”

The REAL money is going in their pockets and no one sees it or talks about it or writes about. And more $$$ is about to come out of the pockets of the good people in Sarasota. Just wait. This will end badly. It always does.

Not a low blow, just a fact.

UPDATE: 1:01 — Searching the web, I found a wonderfully delusional blog here from a Sarasota newspaper columnist named Doug Fernandes:

We’re getting two renovated public assets that desperately need rehabbing, we’re getting the Orioles to pay for their operation and maintenance, we’re getting it funded primarily through tourism tax revenue, and we’re getting it far south of Baltimore’s original demand.

I don’t know about you, but I call that savvy negotiating. And to those who label the $31.2 million expenditure as too exorbitant amid this crummy economy, I respond thusly:

The economy will turn, it always has, and a far greater burden would have been the cost of losing spring training.

So it appears safe for stadium czar Pat Calhoon to begin purchasing gallon upon gallon of black and orange paint.”

We’ll see how “tourism dollars” equates in Sarasota. The Orioles can’t get people to come to BALTIMORE to see them for $1 on summer nights. How the hell are they gonna get fans to Sarasota in March? Mark my words: the crowds will be DOWN from Fort Lauderdale, and that’s really saying something…

Just take a look at the comments under this blog. People in Sarasota are apparently VERY up in arms about the $32 million sweetheart deal that Peter Angelos got from the good people of Florida.

One more city about to be held hostage…just wait and see!

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