Monday, October 1, 2012

Orioles Fans: Savor the Moment

It's been forever and a day since I last posted on my blog. Today, as I sit here 3,000 miles from home in San Diego on business, I feel compelled to make this post.  Today, the Baltimore Orioles clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 15 years.  First off, congrats to Buck Showalter, the coaches and a team who all the experts wrote off a long time ago.

Forever etched in my mind is the image of Cal Ripken Jr. making the final out in the 1983 World Series when the Orioles defeated the Phillies 4-1.  As a naive, young teenager at the time, I always expected we would win all the time. But it took 13 long years, including the disastrous 0-21 start in 1988, for us to make the postseason again.  And we did it two years in a row led by former Oriole Davey Johnson, who now manages the Nats. In 1997, we lost a strange, crazy ALCS series to the Cleveland Indians -- everyone remember that awful three run homer (if memory serves) off Armando Benitez in Game 2? Or how about the brilliant Mike Mussina-pitched gem in Game 6 I believe -- only for us to lose the series.

I remember thinking in 1997 that this was the start of a dynasty. Unfortunately, we know all too well what happened after the 1997 season. The same day Davey Johnson was named AL Manager of the Year, he was fired. Shortly thereafter, the best modern play-by-play announcer, Jon Miller, was let go.  And don't get me started on the Albert Belle deal.  I said to myself at the time -- this could be a curse.  Unfortunately, I was right.

But this post is not about all the water under the bridge decisions that led to 15 miserable seasons.  This post is about learning how to savor the moment and celebrate.  O's fans, we don't know how long this feeling will last.  So savor every last minute of it.  Sure, we don't have the folklore of the Red Sox nor the Cubs, but we have 15 long years of pain and suffering.  I hope for the best -- a long post season and more years of great success.  But today at this moment, savor this moment and keep it etched in your minds forever.

I make this post in honor of my Pop Pop Nat (may he continue to rest in peace). He took me to my first O's game in 1979.  A game where Benny Ayala hit two consecutive home runs.

Friday, August 5, 2011

To Tweet or Not to Tweet: A Media Perspective

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Aspen Security Forum, a terrific and insightful event full of panel discussions about the all important topics of homeland security and terrorism. Among the many notable panels was "The Media's Role in Covering Terrorism."

My question to the panel -- about 49 minutes into the video -- involved the impact of social media on the media's ability in getting the story right vs. getting the story first. I recalled the situation when former Rep. "Gabby" Giffords was shot in Tucson, Ariz., this past January. In the immediate aftermath, some news outlets mistakenly reported via twitter that she had died.

Journalists from both The New York Times and 60 Minutes shared their perspectives.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Where was Burson's and Facebook's Moral Compass?

The blind eye toward ethics illustrated by both Burson and Facebook as part of a PR campaign directed at Google really gets under my skin. This is not about the antitrust and privacy concerns that are raising the eye brows of federal regulators and policy-makers (I get to this later in the post).

For those of you who may have missed it, Facebook retained Burson-Marsteller for a campaign that seemed to be aimed primarily at Google. Two former journalists from Burson pitched editorials to the media without disclosing the name of their client. The content was about Google's supposed anti-competitive behavior. I first read about it in USA Today last week. 

This is about PR people showing poor judgement that is detrimental to our field. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) clearly spells out that we should be transparent when dealing with the media or any third party for that matter. The thing is, the former journalists at Burson and the Facebook PR people are smart and know this. So it begs the question: why do it especially given the risk of any digital communication with journalists coming out was so high? That's a question that both Facebook and Google need to answer.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Vote Your Conscience; Not Your Party

 I submitted this draft op/ed to the Washington Post for the America's Next Great Pundit Contest.  Since my submission was not chosen for online voting, I decided to share here with everyone. 

More than 200 years ago, George Washington warned Americans about the rise of political parties in his farewell address.  "It serves to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration....agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one....against opens the door to foreign influence and corruption...thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another."

In 2002, Democrats saw an opportunity to unseat a popular incumbent in the House.  Connie Morella had held the 8th Congressional seat in Maryland since 1986.  Despite being a Republican in a heavily Democratic state, she was widely popular among her constituents.  Democrats gerrymandered her district, which led to her loss to Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) -- a prime example of partisan politics that continues to plague our country.  Here was a legislator who not only had the best interests of her constituents and country, but also sided with Democrats on many issues. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caps Fans: We Must Move On

A kick in the gut.  Devastating.  A loss for words.  Or as Capitals forward Jason Chimera said, "If someone came to your work and stepped on your desk or punched you in the head, that's how it feels."

This post is not about blame, bad calls, a dreadful power play or a brick wall-like goaltender.  Nor is it about what the Caps do off season to make any necessary changes.  I leave that up to the pundits, sports radio and sportswriters to debate in the coming weeks and months.

Over the last 12 hours or so, I've been thinking about how best the community of Caps Nation can move on from such a devastating defeat after a season where we had the best record in the league.  For inspiration, I sought out the insights of a former colleague, Andrew Cuneo, a Red Sox fan who until 2004 experienced gut-wrenching defeats almost year after year. He had this to say:

"It hurts.  Sure it hurts.  I still to this day say seeing Aaron Boone's homer in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS is the closest I've ever come to crying over a sporting event.  But I can say this. The greatest part about losing like this is knowing that once it does happen (and it will) winning will be that much sweeter.  The feeling in 2004 was so unreal I honestly STILL haven't come down from it.  '07 was nice, but that 2004 club will go down as the greatest sports moment of my life.  Losing hurts...and you feel [just awful].  But then you start to realize the day will come when we can all celebrate.  It has to."

Thank you Andy.  Your words are dead on. 

I am an Orioles fan too.  Just shy of my 10th birthday in 1979, I experienced my first "kick in the gut" sports moment. That year I attended my first post-season game in Game 2 of the ALCS when Jim Palmer pitched against Nolan Ryan -- one of my fondest childhood memories.  We went on to win that series to play the Pirates.  Like the Caps, the O's went up 3-1.  Then suddenly hall of a famer Willie Stargell led the charge and they came back to take the series.  To this day, the song "We are Family" makes me cringe.  Then in 1982, we were -- if memory serves -- three games behind the Brewers going into the last series of the season.  As fate would have it, we played the Brewers in a four game series at home.  We won a double header and then won the third game -- only to lose the AL East on the very last day of the season.  But then I experienced such joy in 1983 when the O's took the World Series.  The image of Cal Ripken catching that last out will always be in my memory.

I also am a Terps fan.  They were up 20 points on Duke in the 2001 Final Four only to lose.  But then they came back the next year to win the whole thing.  That win was sure sweet.

So Caps Nation, we too can learn to move on as the days turn to weeks and months.  Again, the team may change before October, but we can hope and have faith that we too one day will see Ovie and the boys lift that Stanley Cup.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Watching the 2010 O's Reminds me of Swingers

There's a scene in the film Swingers where the character Mike, played by Jon Favreau, decides to call the girl he just met at a bar that night.  It begins innocently enough, but then he's not sure if the answering machine cut him off or not before leaving all of his digits. So he calls back again, and again, and again. And just when you think it's over, he calls again.  And finally a last time when the girl picks up and says, "Mike, don't ever call me again!"  While hysterical, the scene is so painful to watch.  So are the 2010 Orioles.

Just when you believe they cannot possibly think of another way to lose, they surprise you.  Let's see... yesterday...17 hits, a lead and then two three-run homers by Boston in the seventh.  Friday, I believe the bullpen walked in the winning run.  Opening Day in Tampa, their closer can't hold a lead with one out in the ninth.  That's just three; there's probably at least a half dozen more losses like this in the O's dreadful 2-16 2010 season, the worst start since 1988 when they went 0-21.

I'm not sure what the problem is.  Sure, their bullpen is the primary culprit.  But there is a lot of talent on this team; and from what I understand some real solid young players in the farm system.  So what gives?

Prior to the start of this season, pundits in newspaper columns and radio shows said the O's were good, but would be better in another division.  That's a load of &^%%$$.  You play up to your competition.  Just look at all the teams that play Duke in college basketball. Every team plays their best against them.  So it should be true for the O's against the Red Sox and Yankees.  One only needs to look at Tampa, a team that almost won the World Series two years ago. 

I heard another pundit say that O's Skipper Dave Trembley needed to have at least a .500 season to keep his job.  .500!  Are you kidding me?!  What kind of goal is that?!  That kind of mentality has kept the O's in mediocrity and loserville since 1998.  I truly believe that their woes are primarily due to a lack of leadership from players, coaches and ownership.  Their mission and culture needs to be about winning as a team and nothing else.  If that means letting Trembley go to send a message or find a replacement who can light a fire in players' bellies, then so be it. They need someone like a Davey Johnson.  Oh wait...Peter Angeles fired him after the 1997 season when the O's were AL East wire-to-wire champs.

And apparently Angelos allegedly shunned Cal Ripken's offer to help the younger players.  A report that I believe is true because Angelos rarely talks to the press.  However, he made sure to come out and immediately deny the reports.  By the way, are we still paying Albert Belle's contract?