Sick of same old song, Orioles fan changes tune

July 07, 2006|By RICK MAESE

Sick of same old song, O's fan changes tune

Baseball breaks for its annual All-Star Game next week, and no doubt, many teams deserve a breather.

Not the Orioles, though, and not their fans. What in the world could they possibly be tired from?

I'm not talking about the players. They can take the whole week off - what's the difference?

No, I'm referring to the organization and those fans who used to live and die by the team. The running theme has become one of inaction - a franchise that can't correct its ways and a fan base that sits helpless and silent.

Thinking about the Orioles, I scrolled through my iPod:

Woody Guthrie, "This Land is Your Land."

Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

Green Day, "American Idiot."

Nena, "99 Luftballons."

You know what they all have in common? They're protest songs. They're songs of action, written by people who were fed up, who didn't want to sit still and couldn't tolerate injustice.

"As a songwriter, it's how you vent," says Randy Lotz. "You turn to writing as a way to release."

Finally, I'm hearing something. Lotz is a lifelong Orioles fan. He grew up going to Memorial Stadium and can't believe how far the organization has fallen. He also refuses to believe that fans simply stopped caring.

He's hardly alone in his opinion. But while most seem content to grumble from their living room couch or grouse on message boards, that wasn't enough for Lotz.

So he sat down with a pen, a pad and a guitar and wrote a song called "Let Go of Them O's (Peter Angelos)." The first verse goes like this:

Way back in 1993, there was this little man

who shrugged his tiny shoulders and said

"I'll do as best as I can

but there's gonna be some things I don't like, such as managers of the year

and I don't mind selling my tickets to the Yankee and Red Sox fan

that keeps comin' here"

I'm not a music critic, but I think I've deciphered the hidden meaning of the song: Peter Angelos = bad.

The song won't win a Grammy. It might not even win a free bar tab at open-mike night. But it's still worth a listen because at least this fan is doing something.

Too many are content to whine and complain and wait for something to happen.

"I thought maybe this is something that can be used as a catalyst to organize a more formal protest and put some pressure on this owner," said Lotz, 51. "I look at it as an organizing tool and a way to protest. In my opinion - and I know it's not shared by everyone - unless you try, you don't know what you can accomplish."

Lotz is a professional musician and is selling the song for 99 cents on his Web site, randylotz.net. He's also hawking shirts urging Angelos to sell the team. Lotz hopes to use proceeds to fund a campaign directed at condemning the Orioles' owner, each download, each shirt and each live performance amping up the pressure.

Right now, you might be shrugging your shoulders. "What's the use?" you're saying to yourself. "It's not like he's going to sell the team."

Right now, much of the region is in the midst of an unorganized silent protest against Angelos (attendance has dropped more than 6,000 fans a night from last season). I've met too many fans who have a love story to share, who once shook Brooks Robinson's hand or who can recall every play of a World Series game more than three decades later. I can't believe that devotion and disinterest are really that closely related.

Is mumbling under your breath really the best course of action?

"A protest? Come on. This is the same way the East Germans felt when the wall was up all those years. `What are we going to do about it?' You just walk past it, go to work and go about your day."

Those are the words of Nestor Aparicio, the tough-to-love owner of WNST-AM. (Two of the station's talk-show hosts have played Lotz's song this week). Aparicio has been an outspoken critic of Angelos for several years, having founded selltheorioles.com, which he's since shut down. You don't have to like Aparicio to realize that he's no longer a minority voice.

"If I could go down to the stadium every day for the next six months and be the guy ... bang the drum and think it'd really make a difference, I'd do it," he says. "If I felt like a protest would make him sell the team, believe me, I'd be the first guy there. But he doesn't [care] what anybody thinks."

But Angelos also can't avoid the growing dissent. As cheers at the stadium become softer, the silence grows louder. No grass-roots effort has ever embraced this philosophy.

Lotz doesn't want to give up. "I look at the franchise as an old rundown home in a beautiful neighborhood that's waiting to be restored and brought back to life," he says.

He is going to keep singing his song, whether people download it or not. He can close his eyes and envision 40,000 fans at Camden Yards, all wearing T-shirts urging Angelos to sell the team. And every one of them is singing the same words.

Let go of them O's, Mr. Angelos

We don't wanna do this again

'cause we really, really, really

we really wanna win!

rick.maese@baltsun.com

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