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Dear Peter G. Angelos: Time will not dim the awfulness of your deeds

Posted on 02 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

This is the first in a long series of #DearOrioles letters to various members of the Baltimore Orioles. I will be writing them all summer in anticipation of the many changes and key decisions that are coming for the franchise’s ownership and leadership.

You can read my #DearOrioles prologue here.

On August 3, we’ll be celebrating 20 years of sports radio and media at WNST.net & AM 1570. I’m still waiting for the Orioles to win and to be kind.

So are you…

 

Dear Pete:

It’s been a while since you last ran from me. I know you didn’t like bumping into me – or most Baltimore Orioles fans, really – so much over the years but it’s not like I’ve really sought you out much lately.

The last time we exchanged a glance was back in the summer of 2014 – you were two blocks from my home. You were coming in the side door of the Hyatt Regency at the Inner Harbor and looking for any way possible to avoid me, along with my then-bald wife and Peter Schmuck. You caught a glimpse of the three of us and quickly disappeared behind a black curtain with a lot of security guys in suits with little earpieces.

Ninety minutes later, Rob Manfred emerged as the new Commissioner of Major League Baseball. And much like the rest of your tenure, you were nowhere to be found. Poof! Right in the middle of downtown Baltimore, you evaporated – like a vapor.

That’s been the eternal story of your ownership: plenty of questions, never any answers and a trail of smoke where the fans never find the fire until the team is 40 games under .500 again in a season of historic disgrace in a long trail of disgraces.

I know you’ve had some time down lately and there was a time when some in the family believed you were permanently moving away from the team and law firm but there’s been some rumblings from some mutual friends that you’ve been feeling better lately and might even be more involved than most think during this most tender of times in your long legacy of losing on the field and printing money behind the scenes.

Someone said recently that you were like “a Phoenix rising from the ashes!”

I hope someone in your department is up for this next challenge of building a baseball franchise all over again.

Most Orioles fans believe July 2018 is the most important of times because it will determine the future.

Oh, don’t worry: I’m not like Mark McGuire.

I AM DEFINITELY here to talk about the past – but only in how it relates to the future.

I know you’ve been trying to get rid of me for two decades – ever since that night in March 1997 when Frank Sliwka set up that lengthy chat over a few drinks at The Barn and you lied a lot about a little bit of everything – including being “a very available individual” – but I’m still here.

I’m still talking, researching, writing, opining, listening, learning and growing entering my 50th year on earth and 27th with the ears and eyes of Baltimore sports fans. And despite your pleas and the ignorance and insolence of your employees, who have been quite joyous in fulfilling your will and wish to punish me and treat me like another “very unimportant Baltimore baseball fan” – I still love baseball.

I still want to believe that one day – when you’re long gone and I’m still here – that I’ll feel welcomed at Camden Yards by the Baltimore Orioles franchise cheering for the team I loved as a kid and devoted my entire professional life to covering with accuracy, honesty and intelligent insights even when the truth didn’t serve your needs.

Maybe? Maybe not…

Time will tell.

I really have no idea how The Peter Principles are going to end. That’s why I’m writing to you today. And that’s why I’m not going anywhere. I’m still here watching Orioles baseball.

Despite all of the ridiculous awfulness you’ve presided over with your baseball team – and my life, my company and my credentials and fair access to do the job I’ve done since I was a 15-year old kid – I still care.

There are days when I’m ashamed to admit that, because it is shameful – the amount of time, money and thought I’ve put into the Baltimore Orioles during my first half century on the planet.

I would’ve loved to have been penning the 25th anniversary story in the summer of 2018 about your magnanimous tenure as a steward of the Baltimore Orioles. I would love to write tomes about you retaining Larry Lucchino back in 1993, hiring Pat Gillick and Davey Johnson for a generation that saw five World Series titles and parades down Pratt Street and two generations of great stars like Cal Ripken, Mike Mussina, Nick Markakis, Mark Teixeira, Adam Jones and Manny Machado we’ve had here in Baltimore. And about the way you welcomed legends like Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken into leadership positions with the organization and community. And how you cultivated and earned the Washington, D.C. market with a solid, burgeoning regional franchise like the ones in Boston and St. Louis that used their regional sports networks and media to dominate the baseball landscape in six states with a national footprint of a powerful and respected brand that competes annually with wise long-term organizational decisions, strong ownership and a clear and transparent communication with its fan base.

But that’s not going to be your legacy for anyone who has been paying attention.

I’ve written most of your story in The Peter Principles – at least through the time when you won your war with your MLB partners and got all of the free MASN money in 2006 that changed every part of accountability and profitability for your family. Every crazy story and word I wrote is true – even your many lies, deceptions and bizarre tales of power, money, ego, ineptitude, pettiness and a life lived with very little emotional intelligence in regard to the Orioles and what it represented in the hearts and spirit of the city and the region.

I really wish you had been the “very available individual” you said you were on that night at The Barn. I really don’t have much to judge you on personally beyond that night, your public words and all of the deeds of your organization toward the community and toward me. It all speaks for itself. There are many things said to me and done to me personally and

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Selig

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 3): Angelos was bleeding cash when Nats money came

Posted on 19 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

 

 

Those who complain don’t know the ins and outs of what’s going on. They have their own lives to lead, their own problems to deal with. And they are not going to become acquainted with what our economics are, and you can’t expect them to.”

Peter G. Angelos, May 2006

                                                                                 (as told to PressBox via Q&A)

 

 

THE SINCERE HOPE OF PETER G. Angelos is that you’re too dumb to figure this stuff out and too bored to read all of this vital information about where the money comes from. Especially now that Chris Davis has signed a long-term contract, which isn’t a blip on the radar of the finances of the franchise when you do the real math, many fans somehow believe that it was an incredible stretch to find the money to pay him.

Here’s the truth: knowing the facts about how much money the MASN tree is printing for Angelos and his family certainly doesn’t reflect well upon his legacy or commitment to winning. Especially when you consider that the team has been an abject failure on the field in 18 of the 22 seasons under this ownership group.

I love how Chris Davis said “we want to continue a tradition of winning here in Baltimore.” Spoken like a babe in arms. It’s kinda nice that he thinks that but that’s far from the truth. The Orioles haven’t “won” anything under the reign of Peter G. Angelos.

But Mr. Angelos has made a LOT of money – and after he lost a LOT of money.

But to understand the money – and where it came from and where it’s going – is to understand the Orioles’ offseason budgeting and what they’re trying to do on the field. From Chris Davis to Matt Wieters to Darren O’Day, it’s the money that funds the players.

As Buck Showalter said at the winter meetings on December 8th from Nashville on MLB Network TV: “We have plenty of money.”

Today, we’ll examine the history of Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles ownership group and the birth of MASN and the Washington Nationals and how this nuclear war for the biggest pile of television money in local sports history began.

In the Fall of 2004, Peter G. Angelos, as usual, was preparing for war – this time with his partners over the concept of baseball in the nation’s capital. Realizing that commissioner Bud Selig and the owners of the 29 other MLB teams, who collectively had purchased the Montreal Expos, were hell bent on moving that franchise to Washington, D.C., John Angelos issued an internal memo cutting all expenses.

Of course, some saw this as a sign that he was about to sell the Orioles to local money manager Chip Mason.

“The mere issuance of a memorandum suggesting potential savings in a greater degree in efficiency of operations does not suggest that the enterprise being reviewed is for sale,” Angelos told The Baltimore Sun. “To suggest otherwise is absurd and clearly erroneous.”

The team had just invested $121.5 million into contracts for Miguel Tejada, Javy Lopez, Rafael Palmeiro and Sidney Ponson. “The millions recently spent on player acquisitions hardly suggest we’re on a cost-cutting crusade,” Angelos told the local newspaper. “On the contrary, we are moving forward aggressively to produce a very competitive and winning team for our fans both this year and in the years ahead.”

At this point, Angelos was very quietly hemorrhaging money by the tens of millions. In the early days, he bragged about the Orioles making money to The Baltimore Sun.

Seven years earlier, Angelos sat with me at The Barn in March 1997 on WLG-AM 1360 and went through a lengthy diatribe about how baseball could never work with two teams – one in Baltimore and one in Washington, D.C. (and at that point Northern Virginia seemed a far more likely destination). But he also told me that the Orioles lost $4 million the previous year – and that’s when they were selling 3.6 million tickets and winning.

Feel free to listen to that conversation here:

This Chapter 3 of my MASN Money For Dummies series will be brief because I’ve already written this part of the Angelos journey as Chapter 12 of The Peter Principles, a book I’ve been writing about the ownership of Peter G. Angelos.

I would cut and paste it here, but just click here and continue reading the history of how this MASN money gravy train began with the poor negotiation tactics of Bud Selig to deal with the likes of Peter Angelos. It’s now 12 years later and nothing is really solved except that the money is flowing in by the tens of millions every month via your cable television bill and MLB and the Nationals, along with owner Ted Lerner, haven’t figured out a way to extract their “fair share.”

In 1994, Angelos said about Selig during the MLB owners dispute with the Major League Baseball Players Association: “He is a very successful automobile dealer. What makes him think he has the abilities to do what he is trying to do here is beyond my comprehension!”

Angelos infuriated every partner in Major League Baseball in 1994. In 2002, he came back to save the day as a lead negotiator – and olive branch Democrat who curried favor with the Players’ Association – for Selig and his MLB partners. But at every turn he made it very clear that any notion of a team anywhere near Washington or Northern Virginia would never be acceptable under any condition.

Angelos lobbied many times and in many ways to keep baseball out of Washington, D.C. long before 2004.

“It isn’t that we would deny the people that live in those areas the recreational pursuit of baseball. We think baseball is a great game for everybody. But when we look at the experience of Boston, Philadelphia, Oakland, San Francisco – Boston and Philadelphia and St. Louis had two ballclubs. The history of baseball dictates that you can’t put two teams that close together. We are opposing that. We think Orioles baseball is plenty good enough for us as well as the people in the Washington suburbs and we thank them for that support and we want to retain that support.”

At the 2004 All Star Game in Houston, it appeared that Bud Selig was still unsure of the future of the Expos.

“I will not do anything to make Peter Angelos unhappy,” Selig told The New York Times.

It’s interesting to do the research and see the local media’s role in garnering the Washington Nationals for the nation’s capital. The Washington Post played as big of a role in the franchise and ballpark as it …

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 2): Understanding MASN, Orioles history and big money for Chris Davis

Posted on 07 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

“When we bought this team we paid $173 million for it and we owe approximately $75 or $80 million on it. In other words, we put up about $90 million in cash and the rest of it was mortgaged – like you get a mortgage on a business or a home or property you might own. We have to pay roughly $9 or $10 million a year in principal and interest on this franchise. And that hasn’t stopped us from being one of the top-spending clubs in the American League or for that matter Major League Baseball. The reason we are is because, basically, it’s the support of the fans that come to see the Orioles. Now in a way, it’s self-perpetuating. If you give the fans, particularly Orioles fans, a winning team, a team that’s competitive you’re going to get supported completely. I believe in that. Along with that ballpark that’s the gem of all ballparks, I believe that if we put a potential winner on that field every year, which is what we intend to do, we will be successful. And eventually we’ll make some money, and also we’ll pay off the mortgage which is also an important proposition.”

Peter G. Angelos

The Barn

March 1997

 

 

SOMETIMES, THE MISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA that Peter G. Angelos and his minions at the Baltimore Orioles spin regarding money, affordability and profit seems inconceivable to anyone who has been paying attention for almost a quarter of a century and doing the math.

It’s been a generation of mostly awful baseball and an extremely poor commitment to a winning product on the field for the fans of the Orioles.

Meanwhile, it’s been an absolute goldmine of riches for the Angelos family.

The results, the actions, the promises, the facts, the lies – it all speaks for itself.

The team’s record on the field since 1994 is 1665-1829. That’s four playoff appearances in 22 seasons. The team spent the first decade of the century finishing more than 20 games out of first place in the AL East race every season – and more than 30 games back in five of those 10.

Peter G. Angelos contributed $29 million toward the purchase of the Baltimore Orioles in the summer of 1993. Now, almost 23 years later, the empire has totaled up nearly $3 billion in total value – recent earnings totaling nearly $1 billion plus the current value of the properties.

But it’s almost like following the Donald Trump campaign with a fact checker. For many with a clear view, the “truths” are self-evident. But in the local media, no amount of promises or lies is ever held to accountability. The sports journalism done here is softer than the bottom of the current Orioles 2016 rotation – or maybe even the batting order, for that matter.

In this six-part series, “MASN Money For Dummies,” I’m here to fact check for Orioles and Nationals fans. This is Chapter 2 outlining the history of the local television network and its purpose and links to creating revenue for the local baseball franchises.

Chapter 1 outlines the goal of the series and is available here.

Last month at the team’s Fan Fest, former 50-home run king and current high-ranking Orioles executive Brady Anderson continued to spread the fallacy through the local media that the franchise is a “small to mid-market” team.

That is – very simply – a lie. It’s a myth from another era.

All of the numbers and profits will bear that out.

And if you judge the history of spending, winning, litigating and profiteering – it’s very clear the owner isn’t sincerely committed to winning and competing with other Major League Baseball teams for the best talent available and putting the best players possible into an Orioles uniform each spring.

And why should Angelos spend money or raise the payroll when the real money arrives via the MASN television network long before any commitment to winning is necessary?

In the old days, MLB teams needed to sell tickets and put asses in the seats to make money. Winning and having star players doing it was the formula to making money – or at least the prayer of turning an annual profit on a baseball team.

Angelos is now making between $75 and $100 million in profit per year with the current system of a low baseball payroll for the Orioles and a quiet, widely misunderstood cable television annuity that last year grossed MASN – and Angelos currently owns 83% of that entity – over $200 million from your living room according to SNL Kagan.

It guarantees this to be – by far – the most profitable investment in local sports franchise history.

I’ve done the math. Per Forbes, the Orioles made $197 million in profit between 2005 and 2014. The Angelos portion of MASN has made $397 million in profit since 2009. There was another undocumented chunk between 2005 and 2008 that was at least $100 million in total profit plus the $75 million in cash that MLB gifted him in two payments at the start of the deal.

His initial $29 million personal investment in the Orioles during the summer of …

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Orioles, Nats and MASN Money for Dummies: A complete primer on how Peter Angelos has lied and pocketed your dough

Posted on 03 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

“What you can expect, though, that those that comment – putting aside the fellow you mentioned (Nestor Aparicio), who you know is not even worthy of getting into that (chuckles), it really makes no sense to respond to him – the responsible people, who know baseball and who are baseball fans – the writers like you (Stan Charles) – if they want to criticize, they better look at the economics. They owe it to the public to explain to whoever is interested that the problem is disparity in revenues. Now, I have heard some of them mention that this MASN development might really generate some real funds, which would permit the Orioles to spend more money. That’s a pretty strong acknowledgment that the key to all this, to get off the losing years and so on, is more money invested on the field. And obviously, with that becoming available, that’s exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to do that because we are hometown and we are sensitive to what the public is thinking. I know a lot of Baltimore fans, and, just personally, I want them to feel like I am responding to their wishes.”

Peter G. Angelos, May 2006

(as told to PressBox via Q&A)

PETER G. ANGELOS DOESN’T WANT YOU to know about the billions of dollars he has collected, dispensed and quietly usurped from local sports fans from six states via your cable television bill. It’s time for someone who is “responsible” to do the math on where all of that money has gone over the last 10 years as the Orioles. and its spinoff cable TV partner the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), have become a virtual annuity for the owner here in Baltimore.

Clearly, given the dozen years that he’s fought with his Major League Baseball partners, Bud Selig, Rob Manfred and now Ted Lerner and the Washington Nationals over this incredible sum of “found” money, surely there must some large pot of gold somewhere? The Washington Post wrote that it was $298 million in dispute from 2011 to 2015 after the New York Supreme Court hearing in early November. But that’s just the tip of the financial iceberg – a small number compared to all of the money that’s been flushed through MASN since it was berthed as a olive branch to Angelos by then-commissioner Bud Selig for allowing baseball back into the nation’s capital in 2005.

Over the last decade, I’ve been portrayed as a liar or a heretic by Peter G. Angelos and his media partners. After 21 years with a Baltimore Orioles media credential, my access was taken away by the club in 2007.

However, my track record still stands as unblemished heading into 2016.

I always tell the truth and write the truth. (That’s why you’re here.)

As you’ll see, I’ve put in all of the work for you – a little “term paper” for you oldtimers who spent time with microfiche in a lonely library – so you can learn about this history and realities of how the Nationals came into existence and what it’s meant for Baltimore and Washington baseball and the fans.

This series of facts is presented with two educational goals:

  • Track everything that was said – and very openly in the “mainstream” media – a decade ago when Angelos began this power struggle for the future money of Washington, D.C. and what he considered his market
  • Document everything that has happened since he began this trail of lies in search of all of the money that was designed and originally earmarked to improve the Baltimore Orioles

Everything presented in this series will be linked to major media entities like Forbes, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The New York Times, ESPN/Grantland, Sports Illustrated, USA Today and various reports with financial annotations. I’ve always been accountable in my work. Meanwhile, accountability is always completely absent from the mind and spirit of Angelos and his …

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Philip Bump

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Philip Bump weighs in on the race saga on the campus of Missouri

Posted on 10 November 2015 by WNST Staff

Philip Bump

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shingler named to Towson hoops staff

Posted on 01 June 2012 by WNST Staff

BRUCE SHINGLER NAMED ASSISTANT MEN’S BASKETBALL COACH AT TOWSON UNIVERSITY
Shingler Joins Tiger Coaching Staff From Morgan State

TOWSON, Md. – Towson University men’s basketball coach Pat Skerry has announced the hiring of Bruce Shingler as an assistant coach for the Tigers. He replaces Kenny Johnson who was recently named assistant coach at Indiana University.

Shingler, who served as an AAU head coach of the DC Assault 17-and-Under team, spent last season as an assistant coach on the Morgan State University staff.

“I’ve gotten to know Bruce the last few years and we’re excited to get him here on our staff,” said Skerry. “He’s young, a great communicator and extremely energetic. He provides us with a really strong recruiting presence in the Maryland, DC and northern Virginia areas. We’re excited to have him on board.”

Prior to his year at Morgan State, Shingler was the head coach at Bladensburg (Md.) High School. While at Bladensburg, he led the Mustangs to an 18-5 record and a No. 12 ranking in the Washington Post final poll.

With DC Assault, Shingler coached several prominent players, including McDonald’s All-Americans Michael Beasley (Kansas State/Minnesota Timberwolves), Wally Judge (Rutgers), Quinn Cook (Duke) and approximately 40 other Division I players.

Prior to his years at the AAU and high school levels, Shingler spent a season as an administrative assistant at Kansas State University under Coach Frank Martin.

“Bruce is one of the bright young stars in this business,” said Martin. “He is a former high school teacher and coach who has a tremendous rapport with kids.”

Shingler was a four-year starter and Academic All-American point guard at St. Augustine’s College from 2001-to-2005. He averaged six points and more than seven assists per game. Shingler earned his Bachelors of Science Degree in Communications in 2005.

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State of Baltimore Sports Media: Where do you get your info & whom do you trust?

Posted on 27 January 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

This blog was originally published two years ago. We’ll be revisiting this with a three-part series and updating these thoughts with a new WNST “State of Baltimore Sports Media” survey next week while we broadcast live from Indianapolis all week. This is Part 1 of 5: The State of Baltimore Sports Media (circa 2010).

The world has changed a lot since I was born in 1968 and when I first starting reading The Sun in 1972. I was one of those kids who read early and have vivid memories of reading the sports section scores to the class in kindergarten in 1973. I learned to read by reading the newspaper every day. News, information and current events were a huge part of my household in Colgate. And sports was part gospel.

 

Expose

Every day at my house in Dundalk, The Sun came in the morning and The News American came at night. (Even though both of my parents insisted on calling it “The News Post” – its earlier name from the 1950s.) I read the sports section, the news section, TV listings, played Wishing Well and read the goofy horoscope. I was — and still am at heart — a newspaper freak. I clipped mastheads when my family traveled in 1978 to Myrtle Beach, S.C. from every newspaper at every rest stop. They were easy-to-get 10-cent souvenirs at every Stuckey’s along the way!

My Pop subscribed to the Baseball Digest (we’d always get the almanac and stats books at the end of every year, which were like bibles in my house) and The Sporting News.

As a kid in the 1970’s, we were under almost communistic rule in regard to the flow of real information to the public in regard to sports or the business of sports. If the baseball owners – who were the kings of American sports, in that they owned the most valuable & well-marketed sports properties – didn’t want players to have free agency for 50 years, do you think they were interested in sports writers having free speech? (Just think about it…lol)

My flow of information was relegated to a few annual digests, The Sporting News and bubble gum cards. (One day I’ll write a book solely devoted to baseball cards, which have been a lifelong passion for me.)

Back to the basics: when you’re a kid from Dundalk in the 1970s you think “I read it in the newspaper – it MUST be true!” Or at least that’s what I thought before I had given any thought to the business aspects of the sports media world.

I’ve later come to realize that until Howard Cosell came along during my childhood and began to expose all of the nonsense in the sports world and the backrubs that the alleged “media” were giving the “jockocracy,” it was a world of marketing, hero-worship and ticket selling with very little regard for the facts about athletes or how the world works. It was pretty much like the World Wide Wrestling Federation – a land of make believe. You make up a story in the public relations department, get the writers to write about it, make your broadcasters talk about it during the games – and voila, Fruit Loops becomes part of the Mickey Tettleton legend!

I’m now 41 and I’ve spent every moment since I was 15 years old learning about, living in and adjusting to the world of Baltimore sports media. And with all of the knowledge and school-of-hard-knocks life lessons I’ve been taught, I’ve never read anyone who was more on-point, accurate and candid than Cosell.

To me, he’s the greatest sports journalist there ever was – and his credo of “telling it like it is” always resonates with me and while in some colleague circles it hasn’t made me popular, it has brought me the eternal gift of respect from those who know that I don’t need to sugarcoat the reality of a circumstance.

In Dundalk parlance, they know I’m not “bulls%^&*g” them…

If I’ve said it or written it over the years, it’s the truth. Like it or not, you’re getting what I really think and the background of facts and observations that justify my stance.

But, then again, I’m the only media member in the marketplace who doesn’t have a boss. I don’t answer to anybody and I don’t work for anybody else. No one can “fire” me. So, in many ways, I’m the only one who CAN tell you the truth. Sad, but true.

If you’re giving me the time to read this piece – or have ever tuned into any of my work since 1984 – I feel I owe you what I really think not just what “someone told me I should say.” And besides, it’s got my name on it. And the building and radio station and website all have WNST.net on them. So this week upon my departure from radio and into the fulltime world of social media and entrepreneurship, I’m going to set the record straight.

Since the 1980’s, I’ve gone on to work for all three daily newspapers as a kid, learning every nuance of the news, journalism, reporting, editing and protocol of the industry from the greatest cast of experts you could possibly imagine: John Steadman, Richard Justice, Ken Rosenthal, Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, plus dozens (if not hundreds) of other mentors, co-workers, colleagues and sports media personalities and business executives. I’ve been a sponge to all of their unending information, knowledge and advice. Much of this I’ll be using when I begin researching and writing my third book all this year on the history of Baltimore sports coaches and leadership and wisdom. I am hoping it will be the best piece of work I’ve ever done. I will pour my heart into it and hope that you buy it and share it. I’m hoping to have it available by Labor Day.

In the 1990’s I created a successful sports radio show that begat WNST-AM

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John Feinstein says the Randy Edsall era needs to end at Maryland

Posted on 29 November 2011 by WNST Audio

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Details Emerge For NBA Superstar Showdown in Baltimore Tuesday

Posted on 29 August 2011 by WNST Staff

A team of Baltimore NBA superstars and friends of Towson Catholic’s own Carmelo Anthony will face Kevin Durant and a team of Washington, DC superstars in a basketball battle Tuesday night at Morgan State University’s Hill Field House.

The details on the event have been sketchy, but the Washington Post’s Michael Lee was able to nail down some specifics from former Towson University star Kurk Lee, now the athletic director of the “Melo Center” here in Charm City.

The Baltimore team will feature Anthony (New York Knicks F), Miami Heat F LeBron James, New Orleans Hornets G Chris Paul, San Antonio Spurs G Gary Neal (Towson/Calvert Hall/Aberdeen), Sacremento Kings F Donte Green (Towson Catholic), Memphis Grizzlies G Josh Selby (Lake Clifton), Los Angeles Clippers G Eric Bledsoe and former Knicks F/C Eddy Curry.

The DC team will feature Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder F), Boston Celtics F Jeff Green, Sacramento Kings C DeMarcus Cousins, Milwaukee Bucks G Brandon Jennings, Denver Nuggets G Ty Lawson, Washington Wizards F Trevor Booker, Detroit Pistons F Austin Daye, Los Angeles Lakers C/F Ater Majok, former Syracuse C Arinze Onuaku and Goodman League players Anthony “Gumby” Williams & Omar Weaver.

Lee reports tickets will be available first-come-first-served at the door. Tickets $40 for general admission, $100 for reserved floor seats. Doors will open at 6pm with the game starting at 7pm. Ticket revenue will go to support various charities.

There will be no television/radio broadcast of the event. WNST plans to cover the event via Twitter (@WNST), WNST.net and WNSTv.

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Is the NFL a victim of it’s own success?

Posted on 20 September 2010 by WNST Interns

Let me preface this by saying that baseball is always going to be my favorite sport. There’s no other game that’s as storied and timeless in my mind. Football runs an extremely close second in my mind; however the fact remains that football is probably the perfect game for television (due in large part to the 1958 championship game won by the Colts). Let me re-phrase that…the NFL is the perfect game for television. No other league is able to market itself as effectively or with as much success over the past twenty years or so. However Mark Maskey wrote a great article in the September 19th edition of the Washington Post which really made me think. The gist is basically hat the NFL’s television success is affecting the league at the box office.

According to Maske’s article, approximately 20% of the league’s regular season games are expected to be blacked out this season. Whether or not that truly ends up being the case remains to be seen, however the NFL does expect attendance to be down for the third straight season. So how is there a correlation? In the past ten years or so, America’s satellite customers have fallen in love with NFL Sunday Ticket. For a nominal fee of $300 plus, you can watch every game in the league each week. (This has also grown with the advent of fantasy football, as people hae been able to kee track of each of their players.) So many people have come to the conclusion that it’s better to pay the money to get all of the games rather than go to their home team’s game. The past two seasons has also seen the NFL Redzone channel, which is sort of a junior or vanilla version of Sunday Ticket in that you can see any game where a team’s in the redzone.

So do these things (among others) affect attendance? Survey says: probably. While you’d have to survey people to see if they would truly rather sit at home and watch every game in the league rather than going to the stadium on a Sunday afternoon in order to know for sure. Speaking for myself, I’d still rather go out and see my favorite team (the Redskins) play than sit at home and watch every other game. However I think that you also have to look at where the blackouts occur. Neither Baltimre or Washington will have a game blacked out this year. You can also add cities such as Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Chicago to that list. Those places all support thei respective teams every week. However when was the last time Jacksonville sold out a game? (Probably the last time the Steelers played down there.) The owner of the Tampa Bay Bucs, along with a few local non-profits had to buy up the remainder of the Bucs’ tickets on opening weekend to avoid a blackout locally. Buffalo has always been a tough place to sell out, as has been St. Louis and Detroit of late.

With regard to the franchises I named that might have problems with blackouts, the one thing they all have in common is that they all struggle on the field. However the Redskins have struggled for years as well, along with the Cleveland Browns. Regardless of why anyone has blackouts, I would submit that none of those places have issues with selling tickets due to the fact that the NFL’s television product is so good. In fact, I’ve always thought of Buffalo as having very good fans; if one of those teams was to start winning, the fans would be there. However the other aspect that Maske mentions in his article is the recession. With unemployment at near 10%, it’s hard to justify some of the pricing that we see at NFL stadiums. And I’m not even talking about ticket prices; let’s remember that if you want an officially licensed NFL replica jersey, it’s going to run you $89.99 plus tax. Shirts and hats generally run in the $20-$30 range. The league was able to justify that kind of money a few years ago, however today might well be a different story with salaries down, raises on hold, and people out of work.

I’m not sure that I’m prepared to agree with the notion that NFL Sunday Ticket and the Redzone channel is detracting from NFL attendance. I’ve seen games in a few different stadiums, and the gameday experience at an NFL game is still unlike anything else in sports. Anyone that would rather sit at home and watch Sunday ticket rather than sit with thousands of their best friends at the stadium might want to question what they want out of the NFL. However I would say that it might benefit the league to think about how they’re treating their core customers. Can a construction worker that just lost his job afford a $90 jersey or an $80 game ticket? Probably not. The ticket and concessions prices of course are set by each team, however you catch my point I’m sure.

This brings me back to the blackout thing. I would strongly suggest that the league considered lifting the 72-hour rule. With a potential lockout looming, the NFL stands to face an image problem, so lifting the blackout rule for the remainder of this season would show good faith to the fans. Again, this doesn’t apply to teams in this region, as they’re always sold out. However I do feel badly for people in places such as Detroit (who’ve been hit hard by the recession) that truly can’t afford to get out to a game. And then to add insult to injury, the league blacks out the game on local television because they couldn’t sell out.

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