Give that fan a web site Love: Orioles supporters use personal pages to show their devotion to the team and its players.

July 20, 1998|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

Nothing sells like controversy, and Adam Meister discovered that the best way to get people to find him is stir the pot a little.

Meister, 21, of Reisterstown, operates a Web site that is devoted to his love of all things Oriole. But while he is passionate about his team, a lot of site visitors aren't.

"The Orioles are not a hated team out there," said Meister, a recent graduate of Washington University in St. Louis.

So, Meister loaded his home page with this inflammatory statement: "Of all the teams in professional sports today, there are no others that are as great as the Baltimore Orioles. Not even the Great Baltimore Ravens can rival the Orioles. No team has such a history or a worldwide recognition like the Orioles."

Meister, who actually considers himself a bigger Ravens fan than Oriole supporter, lauds Cal Ripken Jr. as "by far the greatest all-around player in baseball history" and his teammate, Roberto Alomar, "of course, the greatest second baseman in the history of the sport."

A bit of hyperbole? Sure, but how else do you make yourself stand above a crowd of thousands of sports fanatics who set up pages for their teams and players?

"Obviously, I know Cal Ripken isn't the greatest player of all time, but you've got to get people's attention," said Meister, whose site has been up for two years.

Most fan Web sites are filled with unabashed, unrestricted love - in the Orioles' case, for the black and orange and all who wear them.

Consider Denise Farmer. Her Brady Anderson site - one of at least eight on the Web - is filled with Anderson trivia: what he would do if his house caught fire, whom he considers the most beautiful actresses ever. and the best and worst things about being a big-leaguer. The site has been up since March and has been visited by 3,200 presumably like-minded fans.

"I think he's got a lot of class, and I like his work ethic. During baseball season, he doesn't do anything but baseball," said Farmer, 37, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. "And, obviously, he's good-looking."

Monica Reid, a Bowie native and junior at North Carolina State, is a bit more circumspect in her 3-year-old Mike Mussina site. Reid, a chemistry major, says her appreciation of Mussina is strictly related to his performance on the mound, not the way he looks in a uniform.

"I just got the nastiest e-mail from someone who he snubbed for an autograph. They wrote, 'This guy's such a jerk,'" said Reid. "I don't know him [Mussina], and I don't know what he's like. But he's a really good ballplayer and that's all that's important."

More than most fan site producers, Reid flashes her own humor and observations. After a recent trip to Yankee Stadium to root for the Orioles and observe her 21st birthday, she noted, "Of course it was "cap day," so I had to sit with 50,000 people who were all wearing brand new Yankee hats. It was like a nightmare: the O's lost 1-0 and every girl under the age of 14 was sporting a [Yankee shortstop Derek] Jeter tee-shirt. Thank God I could drink!"

Not surprisingly, some sites reflect the fans' disappointment with this year's sub-.500 record. David Nieporent and his brother Jeremy update their site daily and often criticize the Orioles' direction before an audience of 100 visitors a day.

For example, when the Orioles beat Boston 3-2 on July 9 - the first game after the All-Star break - the site's opening page read: "While we always want the Orioles to win, if beating the Red Sox means the Orioles will think they can contend this season and cause them to postpone the rebuilding process, then we'd just as soon have them lose."

"We just see it as an old team and the farm system is fairly burned out and needs to be replenished. The sooner the better." said Jeremy, 20, a Duke junior.

Despite their willingness to criticize, the Nieporent brothers are, at heart, unshakable Orioles fans. David, 27, a Columbia native and a third-year law student at St. John's University in New York, said he listens to as many games as he can on the World Wide Web in a city where it's admittedly tough to be an Orioles fan - particularly this year.

"I'm sort of known as the resident pessimist, but we wanted it [the site] to be fair. We don't want it to be, 'Fire everyone and string them up and put them six feet under.' Although sometimes, after a close loss, you really want to string everyone up."

Spoken like a fan with a modem and a mission.

Fan sites

Here are the addresses of the Web sites in this story, plus a few other Orioles links.

Ed Meister's Orioles Page

Denise Farmer's Brady Anderson Site

Monica Reid's Mike Mussina Site

David and Jeremy's Orioles Site nieporen/oriole.html

Orioles Official Site

Oriole Fan Links

Pub Date: 7/20/98

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