Sports Outside the Beltway

Jon Miller’s Revenge

Well the Orioles are at it again. According to Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun.

The Orioles wanted creative control of all pre- and post-game programming on WBAL Radio (1090 AM), and the station’s objection to that was a major reason its 19-year relationship with the club ended, said WBAL vice president and station manager Jeff Beauchamp.

The Orioles counter that between a clearer FM signal on WHFS (105.7), the ability to promote the club on five different stations, a strong investment in high-definition radio and creative ideas for pre- and post-game content, CBS Radio offered too good a package to turn down.

WBAL the most powerful radio station in the Baltimore area hasn’t always been a good host to Orioles baseball. When we first came to Baltimore in 1968 they carried every game but didn’t really do a whole lot more than that. Finally in 1979 WFBR took over the broadcast and used all the station’s resources to promote baseball. About 10 years later and a couple of stations later, the Orioles again landed with WBAL. The second time around WBAL was a much better host and devoted a lot more of its resources to promoting the Orioles.

However, after the 1996 season, the Orioles let Jon Miller, one of the top announcers in the game, walk. Apparently Peter Angelos was somewhat put off by Miller’s candor. While the Orioles have brought back Miller’s one time partner, Joe Angel, the announcing can’t match the best of the days with Miller. (Angel is excellent. The other guys leave a little and a lot to be desired.)

What’s interesting here is that apparently WBAL offered more money to host a poorly performing team than CBS did, but the Orioles took less to go with CBS. While the Orioles’ claim that CBS offers more opportunities (FM and HD radio), it undermines Angelos’s claims of poverty. (He dropped his objections to having the Washington Nationals when he was bribed with his own cable network.

The perception of MASN as an Angelos tool arose when the owner negotiated with Major League Baseball for the TV rights to Nationals games before the club’s arrival in Washington before the 2005 season. Angelos had long argued that the region couldn’t support two baseball teams. He says that winning TV rights to both the Orioles and Nationals was critical to ensuring the long-term viability of his club.

“That was the driving force – to save this franchise from competition introduced immediately in its backyard,” Angelos said. Under the deal, MASN pays an annual fee – it will be $25 million in 2007 – to the Orioles and Nationals for the games.

Also keep in mind, this isn’t the first time the Orioles went to a less popular outlet. In recent years, the Orioles were dropped by WTOP in Washington to WTEM to WTNT. The reasong fans don’t listen to the Orioles is because they’re not very interesting not because the hosts or callers criticize the team.

Though expressing some cynicism about the move, Oriole Post thinks that it will turn out well.

I’m sure the change will be good in the long run, for fans and the team, but I will miss Orioles’ coverage on WBAL.

Oriole Magic though is much more negative

Let’s cut through the bull here and get right down to the meat and potatoes of this change. The Orioles are tired of having Steve Davis on WBAL host a post game show where he dares to point out the flaws in the franchise and allows callers (meaning actual Oriole fans who still give a damn) to express their frustration over continued losing.

The Orioles would prefer to filter out any bit of negativity about the franchise and present a nice neat clean propaganda package about how great the team is during it’s latest 75-87 season.

No doubt Jon Miller is smiling as he splits his time between San Francisco and Bristol.

Angelos made it clear that he did not want total objectivity from the team’s radio personalities when Jon Miller left town after the 1996 season.

“You have the detached observer, but that’s the role of the journalist,” Angelos said the day before Miller announced his departure. “I don’t think that’s the status of a team broadcaster. They should be an advocate for the team. They’ve got to bleed a little bit for the Orioles.”

Well then Peter, put a team on the field that’s worth bleeding for.

via BallBug.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.

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