O's credential denial doesn't pass muster

ON MEDIA

Commentary

April 13, 2007|By RAY FRAGER

This all could have been avoided so easily. One side wouldn't be in an uproar about it. Another side wouldn't be issuing explanations and justifications. The first side wouldn't be responding.

And I wouldn't be writing about the whole matter.

Here's the deal: The owner of WNST (1570 AM), one of Baltimore's two all-sports radio stations, was denied a media credential by the Orioles. Other employees of his station were credentialed.

The Orioles could argue that the owner, Nestor Aparicio, isn't really serving in a journalistic/commentary role that merits a press pass. He no longer has a show on the station or makes regularly scheduled appearances.

Aparicio could argue he is still very much a presence at the station, even if not a consistent on-air personality. He also writes a blog at WNST's Web site.

The Orioles could say he hadn't applied for a credential for the previous two seasons.

Aparicio could say he'd had an Orioles pass from 1986 through 2004 and had been credentialed to All-Star games and World Series from 1993 through 2005.

And yadda, yadda, yadda.

It's simple: The Orioles should have just given him a credential.

They can say it has nothing to do with the protest he led late last season, directing about 1,000 fans to walk out of the ballpark during a game to protest the direction of the team. And you can choose to believe them. But it's hard to believe he would have been denied if, instead, he had helped organize 1,000 fans to hold up "We love the O's" placards.

Some could draw a parallel to when former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. blocked members of his administration from speaking with two members of The Sun staff.

The Orioles might well be within their rights to deny credentials to anyone. But, in this instance, it makes them look vindictive. With or without a credential, Aparicio probably was going to continue being critical of the team. And, yes, he can be beyond shrill. Who knows, maybe he'll be organizing another protest.

But he's certainly a member of the media, and the Orioles shouldn't be singling him out because they don't like his message.

Sounding better

I can't vouch for every single inning, but it seems the sound problems on Orioles telecasts - when crowd noise would drown out the announcers - have been corrected by Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. ... Also, MASN has added radar-gun readings on pitches to its standing graphic.

Cast of thousands

If you want to discuss the Orioles - or even just vent - on the air, you need a little patience after the game, but then you get your chance. The Orioles' radio flagship, WHFS (105.7 FM), runs a one-hour post-game show, usually hosted by Tom Davis and joined by ex-pitcher Dave Johnson, which includes analysis of the game by the two, plus comments from manager Sam Perlozzo and Orioles players.

(I do like Johnson, a plain-talking, self-deprecating sort who explains the game in a reasoned fashion.)

After the post-game comes the post-post-game (double-post-game? post-game-squared? dub-post-game? this thing needs a name), featuring fans' calls. WHFS plans to use revolving hosts, which you would think would make them dizzy after a while. (Cue up Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round.") Davis, Steve Melewski, Jeremy Conn, Mark Zinno or Terry Ford will field calls for one to two hours.

So you can doze off to the strains of Kevin from Dundalk complaining about the lack of clutch hitting and Andy from Columbia proposing a complex 10-player, three-team trade.

Higher numbers

The story of Don Imus' offensively stupid characterization of the Rutgers women's basketball team and the fallout dominated the airwaves in a way his show never did and women's college basketball doesn't. Imus' now-discontinued MSNBC show drew an estimated 361,000 viewers per day nationally, a rating of about 0.1. (For comparison's sake, even the much-ignored NHL did better for NBC, averaging a 0.9 rating.) The Rutgers-Tennessee title game on ESPN was seen by an estimated 5 million viewers, a rating of about 1.8.

ray.frager@baltsun.com

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for April 4-10 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program Date Ch. Rating

Orioles-Tigers 4/9 13-a 9.8

Orioles-Yankees 4/8 MASN 5.9

Masters 4/8 13 5.5

Orioles-Yankees 4/7 MASN 5.5

Orioles-Tigers 4/10 MASN 4.5

Orioles-Twins 4/4 MASN 4.4

Masters 4--7 13 3.6

WWE Raw-b 4/9 USA 3.3

WWE Raw-c 4/9 USA 3.1

Poker 4/7 11 3.0

a-rating includes MASN; b-10 to 11 p.m.; c-9 to 10 p.m. [Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV]

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