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Media Meltdowns

Orioles Eat Mountains Of Shit After Suspending Broadcaster For Congratulating Improved Team

The Baltimore Orioles and their regional sports network, the comprehensively shitty Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), apparently suspended popular television play-by-play announcer Kevin Brown for a perfectly innocuous statement of fact made during a broadcast on July 23. The suspension, which was first reported by Baltimore sports blogger and podcaster Matt Jergensen and then verified by multiple outlets, is punishment for Brown reading information from game notes provided by the team's own public relations staff expressly for the purpose of informing media coverage.

The Orioles are very good. In the time since they were last any good—arguably 2016, more realistically 2014—a new front office regime steered the team about as aggressively as possible into and through a condition of abject worthlessness, including a four-year stretch starting in 2018 when the Orioles lost more than two-thirds of their games. Needless to say, when you suck shit on that scale, you are going to compile some losing records against some division foes. From 2020 through the end of the 2022 season, for example, the Orioles lost 21 of 24 games played at the gloomy domed hellhole home of the Tampa Bay Rays. But this is a new era of Orioles baseball: Entering their July 23 road game against the Rays, the 2023 Orioles had won three of their first five in St. Petersburg. Brown's crime, for which he was indefinitely suspended, was to note this recent change in fortune:

Brown vanished from Orioles television broadcasts following this game. He worked the subsequent series in Philadelphia doing play-by-play on the team's radio broadcast, which led to speculation among fans that the Orioles were rotating him around in various roles due to his versatility. Not so: According to multiple reports, the Orioles only gave the suspended Brown those temporary radio duties because they'd suspended yet another broadcaster, reportedly for violating a new policy that requires broadcasters to wear only team-branded polos when on-air. According to a report from the Baltimore Banner, on-air commentators are required to purchase these Orioles polos. Amazingly, according to Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic, the team's objection to Brown's pregame comments on July 23 is that they made the team "sound cheap."

The Orioles and sleazy failson controlling owner John Angelos have not yet publicly owned up to Brown's suspension, but they are certainly eating plenty of shit for it. On Monday night, broadcasters around MLB went in on the decision. SNY Mets play-by-play commentator Gary Cohen cut into the fourth inning to say that Orioles management had "draped [themselves] in humiliation," and called the suspension "a horrendous decision" by the team. NESN Red Sox play-by-play man Dave O'Brien called the situation "a fiasco" and "an absolute joke" during the eighth inning of what was at the time a tied ballgame in Boston. Jason Benetti, White Sox play-by-play announcer for NBC Sports Chicago, cracked a joke during the second inning of a home game against the Yankees about the Orioles suspending him for noting the visitors' 2023 record against AL East-leading Baltimore. Yankees play-by-play guy Michael Kay of New York's YES Network ripped the Orioles during a studio show Monday night, and pointed out that the information Brown shared in his pregame monologue was also highlighted in a MASN-produced graphic that ran during the broadcast. Yankees radio announcer John Sterling called Brown's suspension "among the nuttiest" things he's witnessed in half a century in the broadcasting business. The news made it all the way to a Tuesday morning news roundup on CNN. Clearly this has worked out amazingly for whatever Orioles cretin decided it is actionable professional dereliction for a franchise-employed broadcaster to congratulate his team for improving upon past performance.

The Angelos family has something of a track record of mistreating beloved Orioles broadcasters. In 1996 Peter Angelos infamously cut loose longtime radio and television play-by-play announcer Jon Miller because he believed Miller wasn't positive enough in his commentary, following a 12-year stretch when the Orioles made the playoffs not one single time. John Angelos, who formally took over stewardship of the Orioles in 2020, has already established himself as hostile to all but the most fawning coverage of his team: In January he scolded a reporter for asking him to lay out a vision for a team that his hand-picked front office had guided directly into the league's toilet; in March, when pressed to follow through on a promise to publicly share his team's financials, he used sleazy misdirection to paint the Baltimore Sun—a daily newspaper that has covered the city for more than 180 years—as an outside agitator.

The Orioles confirmed Monday night that Brown will "soon" rejoin their live broadcasts. But the message has been sent: If you note aloud that the team is better now than it was before, or dare to wear an article of clothing that is not a team-branded polo shirt paid for out of your own pocket while participating in a radio broadcast, the Orioles will not hesitate to unload a fresh cart of manure on their already wildly beshitted reputation. Let that be a lesson!

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