Friday, May 7, 2010

Nestor Smells Blood, Looks to Capitialize...Again

Nestor Aparicio is dusting off one of his old ideas..."Free the Birds". God help us all.

People have been asking me all week, “What’s the problem with the Orioles?” This is a recurring civic question that I’ve known the correct answer to for about a decade. It’s the only “variable” that has remained consistent in Baltimore baseball since 1993. The problem with the Orioles has been, is and will be — until he dies or sells the team – Peter G. Angelos.

Yeah, sure. Angelos is the only problem.

I didn’t need a 1-11 start and the first sniff of a simmering feud with Cal Ripken to know the gospel truth about the Orioles or any business in America in 2010. It starts at the top.

You absolutely needed this. That's why you're trolling for Free the Birds now.

In 2009, when the team got off to a good start and there was a general sense of optimism surrounding the young guys, there was no Free the Birds talk. There was no demand and no traction. Now, 2-14 has given you a little panic, a little anger and a way for you to get some attention.

I run a business. I spend all day, every day talking to fellow business owners. Peter Angelos has been very, very consistent in how he’s run not only the Orioles, but his law firm as well.

Yes. You run your businesses in similar manners.

Anyone who even implies that Andy MacPhail is “in charge” is just stupid and hasn’t been paying attention.

Wow, what a persuasive argument.

As far as I can tell, Andy MacPhail is fully in charge of baseball operations in Baltimore. Why do I say that? Because I saw how things were run before MacPhail got here.

The biggest crime Peter Angelos has committed against the Oriole fan base was to let the farm system die. Sure, it was on its way down before he got here but Angelos delivered the killing blows. (It wasn't his meddling or not putting "Baltimore" on the away jerseys or not being "sensitive to the fans".)

As soon as MacPhail took over, player development became a huge focus. I haven't seen the farm system look this good in 20 years. Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis and Brad Bergesen are already here and Josh Bell, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brandon Snyder and more are still behind them. There is hope from within for the first time in decades and MacPhail deserves some credit.

Oh wait, I'm just stupid and not paying attention.

Lots of facts backing up that assertion, Nestor. Angelos is the bogeyman.

But at some point the people who are Angelos’ customers – current, former and future (and we’re ALL customers when you consider the MASN cable television revenue he’s siphoning from every household in the state) will rise up and speak up. We did this back in 2006 and, trust me, he heard our message. We called it “Free The Birds” – and it was designed to create awareness of the plight of the downtown business district more than it was a “protest.”

Not really a protest? From a WNST press release in 2007:

Aparicio and his staff led more than 2,000 fans into and out of Oriole Park at Camden Yards last September 21st, a “Free The Birds” protest rally designed to bring to light the plight of Orioles fans everywhere...

This is a fact: the Orioles are making more money than they’ve ever made — upward of $40 million MORE in profit in 2010 — while the stadium and the city sit empty every night and the team loses 100 games per year.

Ironically, this is the kind of panic thinking that Angelos has been guilty of in the past. The team's losing? Quick, throw a bunch of money at a collection of aging mediocrities to help sell tickets!

Ironically, this is just another piece of evidence that Angelos is not meddling in what MacPhail is building.

Andy MacPhail knew this team needed to be blown up, veterans traded, payroll cut and the farm system replenished. So he did it.

There is a cost in the short term to build the team for the long term.

While the money has been flooding in on the MASN television side — money that was earmarked to be re-invested in the payroll — the team continues to pocket it, lose games and Angelos has zero accountability and takes no responsibility for the bush-league tactics of his franchise – on and off the field, year after year.

The team took on $33 million worth of talent this offseason. I don't agree with all those moves but they did spend some money. They could have (and maybe should have, in my opinion) gone cheap and left Mike Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada alone and gone with AAA guys.

They took that MASN money and spent it. You can argue whether is was spent wisely.

So where to lay the “blame” or “accountability” for a franchise that for 13 years can’t get out of its own way? To my mind, it’s certainly not Andy MacPhail, who told me two summers: “I just do what I’m told.”

I love when professional guys make typos.

MacPhail, who I’ll write about later in the week, is a MLB-approved corporate puppet who is surrounded by co-workers dressed as media members who defend him and deflect criticism elsewhere when things go wrong on the field. why are you worried about MacPhail at all? You've already asserted that he's not in charge. If he actually WAS a "MLB-approved corporate puppet", what difference would it make? Peter Angelos is running every aspect of this show. You said so yourself.

Trembley’s getting fired at some point soon – we all know that – it’s just a matter of when and what poor S.O.B. will replace him.

I'm not about to claim that Dave Trembley will remain the skipper for Baltimore until the season is over but it's been 18 days since this post was written and Trembley still has his job and the Orioles have won 6 of their last 11.

So, today, in reigniting the Free The Birds 2010 movement, we’re trying to find the other disgruntled baseball fans who still care enough about the Orioles and Baltimore to speak up and have their voices heard on the future of baseball here and in the downtown area.

That’s all “Free The Birds” was ever designed to do – create awareness that all of those empty green seats are angry “invisible” former Orioles fans who would gladly come back if the franchise and its ownership had a true commitment to winning and a partnership with the community.
No, all "Free the Birds" was ever designed to do is to create cheap publicity for your radio station and help you settle petty personal grudges. Let's not kid ourselves.

Those disgruntled fans? They're already making their voices silence. Those empty green seats that you refer to are far more persuasive than your publicity stunt will ever be. they're voting with their wallets...and money talks.

And I know what a bunch of cowards and frauds most of the politicians and “business leaders” are here in Baltimore.
I don't even understand this non sequitur. Nestor doesn't explain further...just calls them names and moves on. Inside joke between him and the "cowards"?

How in the world the Orioles could be this dreadful for this long and have NO ONE stand up and call “Bul&*%$t” on this ownership group is beyond belief?

See the above comment about the empty seats.

I LIVE HERE. I see it every single night and have for the seven years I’ve lived downtown.

Me me me me me.

My anger and disappointment of late has been directed more toward the people who defend these past 13 years of losing, somehow vilifying me and WNST for caring so much and having no idea of the harm it’s done our community – psychologically and economically, especially to the downtown area.

Nobody defends the 13 years of losing. Those are the voices in your head. This is the criticism I have for you Nestor; You can't tell the difference between 2003 and now.

By the way, are the Orioles responsible for the economic well-being of the entire downtown area? If they were winning, would downtown Baltimore be a recession free zone?

How many times will Angelos continue to lie to the community before someone realizes HE’S the problem?

I'm lost. With all the Angleos has done, what's he lying about? There is no further information.

I’ve never lost a game for the Orioles or caused them to lose. I haven’t chased away two million fans per year. I’ve simply said what’s happened is unacceptable and I’ve not been shy about using my platform to preach the truth. (Don’t expect to hear that today on the Scott Garceau Show, by the way…)

Me me me me me.

My beef and message remains consistent for Peter G. Angelos and the stewards of the Orioles: “Do right by the community, field a team we can be proud of and listen to your customers and fans. Be accountable and be community-oriented.”

I think if the team just wins, people will come back. The other stuff is extraneous.

The time has come for us to reunite as one and say “Enough is enough!”

Are you and your horde demanding that Peter Angelos sell the team or die? That is your self-described solution for the franchise.

This is a call-to-arms to all real Orioles fans who are nauseated by this consistent track of lying, losing and making obscene amounts of money off of the goodwill of the people of Baltimore and three generations of Orioles fans who are once again angry at a dismal start to the season.

I guess if you don't answer the call you're not a "real" fan. That's not too insulting.

Four years later nothing has changed about Peter Angelos and his Orioles.

So what good did the first protest do?

Given WNST's ratings, even if all their daily listeners showed up, they would only fill half the stadium.


Roar from 34 said...

Well done, Heath. I particularly appreciate that you called out the "not a protest" contradiction. They're changing the message to "you're hurting downtown businesses" to make the whole thing seem more benevolent.

With that said, I think the best thing to do with WNST is to ignore them. They're calling out everyone - bloggers included - to attract more attention to themselves. And they don't let facts get in the way, regularly taking things out of context to try and make others look foolish.

You can't have reasoned debate with someone whose arguments are based largely on insults and unfair generalizations.

Unknown said...

Oh, I largely have ignored them for the past 2+ years...but when Oriole bloggers (and other fans) I otherwise respect start giving him credibility...time to tear apart his arguments.

And I am not debating...just critiquing. :-)

Chris Stoner said...

Good piece, here is mine:

Unknown said...

It's a shame that this reminds me of the elections - tit for tat. I listen to multiple sports talk stations in the area. Your last statement about WNST ratings and the fans would only fill up half the stadium - think about it, that would be more fans (excluding NY and Boston games) they attract on any given night. I watch the games on TV, it's only 1/3 full for week night game - Pathetic.

Bill said...

Those two guys crushed you this morning on the WNST morning show. Admittedly you didn't do your homework with your cheeky response to Nestor's event on May 17. As Drew said today, "How the hell can anyone capitalize on a team that's 9-24 and no one is in the ballpark to watch them?" Hate to say it because I like your site and all, but you got pwned today big time.

Unknown said...

Bill - Didn't do my homework? That's the pot calling the kettle black.

You can capitalize on a 9-24 team when your listenership is so small. They killed me all morning on the air? I couldn't pay for that kind of advertising...but it barely made a blip in my daily traffic.

Don't listen to 'NST, don't care what they have to say. It's not a debate, I merely speak the truth as I see it. My commentary is not for them, it's for other Oriole fans.

Nasty Stunt said...

Heath, this is a fantastic piece. I am glad to see a passionate Orioles fan call BS on a publicity stunt by a local radio station.

I would love to ask Nestor a few questions.

- How do you think other local media personalities perceive your "protest" of a team covered in this area?
- Would "Free The Birds" have happened if the Orioles were off to even a .500 start this season?
- What do you say to people that tell you that you're making a profit on the Orioles losses?

It's a joke. Management knows WNST doesn't like them. This whole "event" would go away if the Orioles had a better season and he completely ignores the points you mention about MacPhail.

It's much easier to call people names and not to back anything up.

The upset fans don't show up and as you mentioned, that's much more effective than this publicity stunt.

You're linked in the Blog'O's'phere links on I'm glad to see someone call out WNST.

By the way, who cares if they blasted you on their air waves. It was just another way to promote their event, get more attention for their radio station and ultimately make more money. After all, that's what this event is all about right?