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April 9, 2009

Phelps wins over General Assembly, hopes Preakness stays in Maryland

An Annapolis Dispatch from the Baltimore Sun's Gadi Dechter and Julie Bykowicz:

Michael Phelps transformed lawmakers in the House of Delegates into a salivating swarm of paparazzi this morning when the Olympic swimmer and Baltimore bad boy visited the Maryland General Assembly.

Politicians took pictures on their cell phones, whistled and gaped as House Speaker Michael E. Busch introduced the “very special guest” to the legislators, whom he described as “not many great swimmers … but they all know how to tread water very well.”

Addressing the House, a somewhat nervous-seeming Phelps smiled and said it “feels good to be back home” in Baltimore, causing the Baltimore delegation to leap to its feet.

After posing for photos with delegates in the House lounge (at least that’s what we were told, since press was forbidden from entering that inner sanctum while Phelps was there), the grey-suited swimmer walked across the lobby for more squeals – this time from senators.

On the way between the chambers, Phelps opined on the issue of the day: fear that the Preakness Stakes could be sold out of state under a bankruptcy auction.

Phelps, who has been known to enjoy a party, told The Baltimore Sun that he has never been to the second jewel of the Triple Crown at Pimlico and hopes to attend this year.

“To have it leave Baltimore, I can’t really see that happening,” he said, adding that such a turn of events “would be devastating.”

While Phelps was being lauded on the Senate floor by Sen. Jim Brochin for his generosity to his fans, a group of admirers -- mostly women, many gussied up -- stood in the lobby waiting for a sliver of that generosity.

They were upset to learn from security moments later, that Phelps had exited the State House through a side door. One state worker told Sun photographer Monica Lopossay: "Great, now I have to go home and tell my son .. that Michael Phelps can't be his hero anymore.

Posted by David Nitkin at 11:16 AM | | Comments (19)


Did he and Currie share a bong in the back room?

Are you kidding? Why is this news-worthy? Who cares what Michael Phelps thinks about the Preakness?? He is a nice guy but I fail to find how his opinion is relevant at all.

Dear Break:

Of course, not particularly "newsworthy." Just a little scene of what went on in Annapolis today. Posting items on the blog is often a quick and dirty way to get an image, quip or tidbit from Annapolis in front of the eyes of those who may be interested.

-- David

Can the Sun get an official comment from Tobey MacGuire about the goings on at Pimlico? He was in Seabiscuit, after all. No rush - but as long as "newsworthiness" isn't an issue.

If Toby were in the Assembly today, we'd have asked him. Phelps was there. Reporters threw a question at him. We reported the answer -- on the politics blog, a decent outlet for that. Are you saying you don't want to see light items on the blog? Only very serious stuff about taxes and death penalty and the weighty issues of the day? I would argue there's room for both. But let's put it up for a vote.

-- David

The old media has been silent on Joe Bidens daughter snorting cocaine in video. Why the double standard?

this is not news worthy....BTW, is it really a surprise that a POT SMOKING party boy like Phelps would endorse keeping the DRUNKFEST preakness in Baltimore? if Phelps would say anything else?

Your website is not playing it as "just a little scene." Go to and it's one of the top stories. It appears to be front-page news. Your web team really needs to write better headlines and place things better. The website seems to see no difference between a little blurb and a huge story. Very frustrating.



In this instance, I totally agree. Now I see the issue. This is not "breaking news" worthy. Thanks for the comment.

-- David

I echo the first comment. I can't believe that this is "Breaking News" and I think that The Sun needs to re-evaluate what it truly considers "Breaking News". Case in point, did anyone really care about yesterday's "Breaking News" regarding a Towson bar owner's squabbles with his ex-girlfriend??? Enough already....


Now I see the problem: some Sun folks on the Web site made it a "breaking news" item. Which it probably should not have been. It's blog-worthy, but not news-worthy. Making it "breaking news" gives the comments way more validity than they are worth. I agree with the comments of you and others, given this context.

-- David

Michael Phelps IS NOT a nice guy.

Legalize it! Phelps rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He seemed nerves because he wasent high. Michale Phellps should get a pass, he's the greatest Oylmpic Athlete ever! Dude can walk around sandtown and not a fly would touch him! He's the golden boy

Actually, I got a big laugh envisioning our incompetent legislature "gooing" and "gussing" over Michael's appearance. Michael is much more mature than the clowns in the GA.

Actually, I got a big laugh envisioning our incompetent legislature "gooing" and "gussing" over Michael's appearance. Michael is much more mature than the clowns in the GA.

Seems crazy to me---why would the GA have him come in after all that mess went down with him----he is no role model and I think its disgusting

Actually perhaps either Currie or Phelps could hook me up with some smoke.
Man it is dry out there!

It wasn't only placed under Breaking News. It was in the top box of news. The equivalent of front page. I've been frustrated by this kind of thing in The Sun a lot. Since you have more room and play on the website, why not use it?



I assume you mean "use it" for more news and features (national, international) that we don't have room for in the print edition? If so, I agree. I do think we are all increasingly using the web site to get breaking news posted earlier in the day. It's a goal of ours.

-- David

Actually, what I meant was, why not use the web for clearer headlines? Instead of just saying something like, "Restaurant held up" why not say, "Dundalk restaurant held up" or "Roland Park restaurant held up"? Why not use the space you have here to be more clear, give more info, etc? With a headline in the paper, I can simply scan down to learn more. On the web, I have to actually click on the story to see more; why not make it more clear at the outset? It's frustrating to see newspapers not utilizing the web as they should/could, especially given their economic conditions.
Interesting points. I think you may be on to something. Most story links on the newspaper homepage are entered and designed with headlines very similar to what appears in print. They're kept short so that more items can fit on the homepage. But, I think we all should consider putting more information there -- making the homepage more scannable by readers. Interesting thought.

-- David

Oh, please, I'm sure Phelps is a nice enough fellow.

But, honestly, who cares what his ideas on dead racing fetishism are? I always work with the assumption that all the members of the General Assembly are idiots, but I thought at least they were venal idiots. Where's the paycheck in this for them?

A World Champion's oppinon about a world class event. O lets save the Preakness and Old Hilltop.A great part of Baltimore / Maryland history.

Thanks have my vote.

I wouldn't criticize Mike for speaking about this. Phelps is probably just as qualified as many of the legislators to comment (on a variety of issues, btw, not just Preakness)

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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