Tag Archives: Peter Angelos

Peter Angelos is the cowardly owner of the Baltimore Orioles and cable channel MASN. He voted against the Washington Nationals and was given 90% of their TV rights.

Nats: Angelos/Orioles delay MASN trial into 2015

The Washington Nationals grievances against Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles will have to wait until March to get addressed in court, according to a report from The PostMASN hearing pushed to March after discovery dispute entangles Commissioner Rob Manfred

The legal saga between the Nationals and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network will drag for months longer than previously expected after a skirmish over discovery bumped a pivotal trial date from December to March and entangled incoming commissioner Rob Manfred. The delay ensures the Nationals will not receive a potential financial windfall until after this offseason.

We won’t know until March at the earliest whether there is anything to this and if there is, whether it was deliberate incompetence by MLB or just the standard variety. Nonetheless, it’s bad news for the Nats, who will continue to be low-balled on television revenue.

It’s probably also a loss for the Orioles franchise and their fans.

The corrupt bargain MLB imposed on the Nats and their fans states that both franchises receive the same broadcast fees, so the business side of the Baltimore franchise is also being short-changed. Angelos owns roughly 80% of MASN, so he pockets most of the profits personally. Now, perhaps there is some trickle-down from him, but that seems rather unlikely. Avarice and spite are his ethos, though I cannot say which is stronger.

Should the Nats ultimately prevail in this round, it will not be much of a victory. To summarize, here is how the arrangement has worked using the bully in the cafeteria model.

In 2004, the Orioles were the bully who wasn’t even letting the Nats into the school cafeteria. In 2005, the bully grudgingly acquiesced to let the Nats in, but they weren’t allowed to sit at a table. At the end of 2006, the bully let the Nats have some table scraps and a chair and acted like he was doing the Nats a favor. The principal went along with it and told the Nats they should be thankful. In 2012, the principal thought that maybe the Nats deserved a seat and some more lunch, but wouldn’t say so directly, appointing three other students to make the decision. The bully did not accept the decision and was willing to have a smaller lunch, just so that the Nats would have a smaller lunch too. The principal retired, leaving behind the vice principal who may have not followed school policy.

It’s a mess and it puts the Nats in a tougher spot moving forward, as illustrated in last week’s WTOP story The Nationals’ financial dilemma. The author, sports editor Noah Frank, formerly worked for the Nats and thus has more of an insider understanding and hometown bias which I welcome given the Baltimore bias much of the DC sports media.

Overall, the Nats are losing this war and the Lerner family is just battling to improve the terms of the occupation.

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nats-onesies

Nats: MASN, Werth, Harper, the dearly departed centerfield bat

No, I don’t blog much about the Washington Nationals anymore. I will let you figure out why.

When I last checked in on the MASN dispute, I noted that “I am uncharacteristically happy about this news, I’m so used to it being bad for the Nats. However, it could still blow up because Selig’s track record is coddling Angelos and to a lesser extent the Orioles.”

According to the most recent report from The Post the Orioles owe Nationals $55 million-$60 million in fees from MASN, MLB panel ruled. The Nats “big victory” over the forces of evil was about half of what they had sought out, so the of course Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles are still refusing to pay up, hence the dispute. In the end this whole saga will probably end with a whimper and not a bang. The hopes of the Nats being released from the corrupt bargain of outgoing MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s coddling of his friend Angelos seems to be a false one, a figurative towering fly ball caught just before the warning track.

By the way, since the Nats and Orioles are entitled to the same amount of money, Angelos want to keep it low so he can pocket more for himself. He’s even hurting the Orioles with this bargain. Also, the MASN camp is leaking more stuff to DC media. The Nats tend to keep tight-lipped which is letting others set the agenda.

Over at The Fingerman, Eric Fingerhut wonders why The Post, the most serious outlet left (cough, The Wash. Times, CSN) hasn’t dedicated more resources to this issue. I wonder too, particularly in light of some topics that are covered ad nausem. Not enough interest? Fear of offending Baltimore fan? Lack of interest in Nats fans? Are they Orioles fans themselves? It’s no secret that several people in the DC sports MCM are Baltimore fanboys. It isn’t even necessarily that they are covering for their favorite baseball team, just that they don’t recognize the problems that were foisted upon Nats fans by the cowardice and villainy of Angelos and the Orioles with Bud Selig’s support.

The biggest winner of course in all of this is probably Ted Leonsis whose Capitals and Wizards won’t be on CSN Mid-Atlantic forever. Without his teams, there is little point to having CSN Mid-Atlantic, so that channel’s willingness to make a sweet offer is high. MASN may also want to get Leonsis on board too as it could crush CSN Mid-Atlantic and monopolize all . For all of Leonsis talk of Monumental Network, getting a favorable deal with an existing RSN may be his ultimate goal.


Elsewhere in the world of Nats baseball, Jayson Werth was driving way too fast and is a danger to himself and others. We know this because natsenquirer.com scooped everybody else on it. It seems like the next story the MSM breaks on the Nats will be the first.


Matt Williams hasn’t upset me lately with a acute bad decision, but batting Bryce Harper sixth remains to be baffling. Speaking of Harper, good job by DC Sports Bog pointing out that the Braves reaction to walking through a letter in the dirt is…hypocritical. Oh and because it was awesome and I don’t tire of it, here’s Harper’s walkoff last week:

Oh and former Montreal writer — he’s not a bust, he’s recovering from thumb surgery.


Michael Taylor’s debut was what’s wonderful about baseball. Maybe the Nats will be okay when Werth is suspended for few games next year for reckless driving.


Theory on Stephen Strasburg: he felt he was getting squeezed on the strikezone by the umps, so he starting throwing his fastball over the plate more. Decreased velocity made it more hittable.


miss you bat

The windows-less building behind centerfield that was torn down had few months of glory, specifically, the mural of a bat. It’s going if not gone by now

The mural made the backdrop of Nationals Park much more interesting and let’s face it, a good backdrop is 50% of what makes a ballpark.

More later, maybe even a Nats vs. Pirates Q&A.

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flickr photo by above Joshua Bousel used under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

Nats apparently win arbitration with MASN, Angelos, Orioles

Major League Baseball Embroiled in Explosive Legal War Over TV Deals (Exclusive)The Hollywood Reporter
Over MLB Commissioner Bud Selig’s stern warning, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles hurl accusations at each other and have stepped into open court spilling secrets.

Break out the popcorn! The corrupt bargain that gave Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles the Washington Nationals television rights may be unraveling.

What’s been kept under wraps until now is that on June 30, the MLB committee adjudicating the dispute issued its decision, which favored the Nationals. That prompted attorneys to swing into high gear and Commissioner Selig to attempt to get out in front of the situation.

“I am deeply saddened by the fact that you have not been able to resolve amicably the pending broadcast rights dispute,” wrote Selig in a letter to Angelos and Nationals owner Ted Lerner, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.

Selig doesn’t think either side is working in the best interest of the game, but c’mon Bud, if the Nats won they are entitled to the spoils of victory, so there is this:

I want there to be no doubt that, if any party initiates any lawsuit, or fails to act in strict compliance with the procedures set forth in the Agreement concerning the [Revenue Sharing
Definitions Committee of Major League Baseball]‘s decision, I will not hesitate to impose the strongest sanctions available to me under the Major League Constitution.”

The Nats can’t initiate a lawsuit to rightfully claim what is theirs?

On July 1, Stephen Neuwirth, an attorney at Quinn Emanuel representing the Nationals, responded by telling MASN that thanks to the decision, the club was owed an additional $10 million for rights-fee payments due on April 1 and June 1 and warning of an impending deadline of default.

Two days later, Neuwirth provided formal notice of defaults and warned MASN to cure the defaults lest the team “seek all appropriate remedies for nonpayment, including (without limitation) termination of MASN’s license to telecast Nationals games.”

His threats didn’t achieve the desired result, so on July 7, the Nationals petitioned the MLB Commissioner’s Office to confirm and enforce the June 30 decision.

I am uncharacteristically happy about this news, I’m so used to it being bad for the Nats. However, it could still blow up because Selig’s track record is coddling Angelos and to a lesser extent the Orioles.

What would victory mean for Nats fans?

  • Switching to a new channel (which if it’s completely new, could mean higher fees and/or service interruption)
  • The satisfaction over beating Angelos & Orioles (though Angelos won the moment his channel aired a Nats game)
  • More team revenue so good players are easier to retain and obtain

The funny thing is, the impact on the Orioles is probably minor, since Angelos clearly isn’t investing the MASN money in the team.

Like I said in February, Ted Leonsis must be watching with great interest — he could be the biggest winner out of all.

I’ll may add to this as more comes out.

Angelos got control of the Nats TV rights, got his own network with two teams, but is getting burned because cable television rights have skyrocketed. His deal turned out to be a bad one which is a little bit of karma. He wanted to intrefere in the affairs of another team and it might burn him. It’d serve him right.

MSM STUFF

Nationals-Orioles MASN dispute goes public - WTOP

In debate over MASN rights, MLB rules for Washington Nationals, but fight continuesThe Post

flickr photo by above Joshua Bousel used under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

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anti-masn

Could MASN be a Pyrrhic victory for Peter Angelos? Let’s hope so.

Earlier this month, Grantland published a story by chronicler of Les Expos de Montréal, Jonah Keri on the Baltimore Orioles and their reluctance to spend. That’s nothing new or of even relevant to D.C. sports fans. What is relevant are details of Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) which is primarily owned by Angelos/Orioles.

In 2005, MLB and Angelos worked out a deal allowing the Nationals to operate in D.C. in exchange for a new local TV deal that overwhelmingly favored the Orioles. In July 2006, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network launched a full-time sports programming slate headlined by O’s and Nats games. The terms dictated that each franchise would receive the same amount in rights fees, but that Baltimore would control a 90 percent share of MASN and any MASN-owned spinoff networks at the start; the Nationals would pick up an additional 1 percent stake each year after an initial two-year wait, until eventually reaching a 33 percent cap. Angelos got his lopsided deal, while the Nationals, who play in the nation’s seventh-biggest market, got screwed.

While the Orioles are bringing in quite a bit more than the Nationals, neither team is profiting from MASN as much as it could be. According to SNL Kagan, a group that analyzes cable and broadcast network deals as well as regional sports networks (RSNs), MASN properties generated $167.8 million in total revenue in 2012. The bulk of that money came from advertising and subscriber fees, with 5.4 million consumers paying $2.14 a month. That’s well below the $2.47 industry average for 2012 and $2.69 projection for 2013, and several of the media experts and sports deal makers interviewed for this story said MASN should be getting much more. Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, which primarily airs Washington Capitals and Wizards regular-season games, got $4.02 per month in 2012, indicating the market would likely support a higher rate for MASN. It’s hard to know whether to blame the network’s low subscriber fee on inept management, the timing of the deal, or other factors, but whatever the reason, it’s clear MASN will be leaving tens of millions on the table until it renegotiates with local cable providers.

First off, I have to acknowledge that while the “low” subscriber fee is bad for the revenue of the franchises, it’s not a negative for cable subscribers whether they watch those channels or not. It won’t go as far to say that Angelos is “saving” cable subscribers by having the “low” rate because if not for him, CSN would probably have the Nats and we were already paying for that channel. Angelos was successful in keeping MASN off of most DC area cable systems well into 2006, the Nats second season.

There are more interesting details:

For now, the MASN status quo remains. The Nationals aren’t completely helpless, though: According to a source close to the Washington franchise, MLB has sent the team an undisclosed sum every year to help bridge the gap, and to prevent the Lerners from taking matters to court, until the deal becomes more balanced…

…when the Lerner family bought the Nationals in 2006, it was saddled with this lemon of a deal, in which neither it nor the team’s first president, Stan Kasten, had any say. The terms stipulated that the deal could be renegotiated after five full seasons, and the Nats took their first opportunity to challenge the terms after the 2011 season. When that challenge dragged into 2012, those terms looked even more unfair. After spending years rebuilding a franchise that had been decimated by penny-pinching and mismanagement in Montreal, the Nats finally made the playoffs for the first time, winning 98 games and the NL East title. That same year, the Orioles made the postseason for the first time in 15 seasons. MASN viewership skyrocketed, enhancing the network’s already rising economic profile, but the Nats saw just a fraction of the returns.

The suggestion that the team or possibly, the Lerner family themselves, are getting payola under the table additional compensation is new to me. Whether that statement is accurate or not will certainly not be mentioned by the Lerners (see, publicly financed Nationals Park roof for reference) so we’ll have to take this cocktail party supposition with a grain of salt. An aside – several years ago I heard a rumor from a one-time employee that in addition to the $450 million purchase price, the Lerner ownership also assumed over $100 million in debt from when MLB operated the franchise. Of course, I’ve had mixed results from that source.

Given that the Lerner family is the richest in MLB, they may have the patience to wait this out a while and if they get a little good behavior money on the side, well, why not. There is risk in that as well, but TV deals have gone up so much across the league, they seem unlikely to regress all the way back.

The motivations of Angelos on the other hand, are not completely clear. As the rest of the article notes, he hasn’t not been a big spender for most of his tenure as Orioles owner (BREAKING: Since I finished writing this post, Baltimore signed Ubaldo Jimenez for four years to which Cleveland fan Vince Guerreri invoked Bill Veeck’s maxim about “the high cost of mediocrity“), this offseason being another example of that and doesn’t seem motivated by his team winning on the field. Seemingly, his motivation for being loved, liked or even respected by his fan base is not significant either — he has had a dozen years to bring Maryland’s favorite son Cal Ripken, Jr. into a meaningful role with the franchise and choose not to go that way. Hiring Ripken would be at minimum on par with bringing in Dan Duquette to take credit for Andy McPhail’s improvements. It seems as though Angelos, in addition to being duplicitous (2004: “There are no baseball fans in Washington, D.C., that’s a fiction.” 2010: What’s good for the Nationals is good for MASN) lacks business sense. Perhaps he is self-aware of that, but it isn’t a stretch to say he’s more motivated to be vindictive. What’s really weird is that he and the Orioles still enjoy relatively uncritical coverage in either his home market of Baltimore or the market he is envious of, Washington, even though he isn’t good at his job.

Another possibility is that the three main participants are quite old. Selig will be 80 in July and has pushed back his retirement date for years. Officially, he plans to step down at the beginning of 2015. Angelos will be 85 in July while Lerner is 88. The three of them could be punting or should I say, pitching around the hitter, to the next generation. That’s not necessarily bad for the Nats, the next commissioner may not have a friendship with Angelos. Of course, what the descendents of the principal owners want and are willing to do is an unknown, though Mark Lerner and his brothers-in-law seem to be in for the long haul. Whehther Angelos’ family is the same I cannot say.

Left unsaid in Keri’s piece is a wild card in all of this – Ted Leonsis. The owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, holding company of the Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics and Verizon Center, has won’t shut up been very vocal about his plans to create a new cable channel as soon as his broadcast deals with CSN expire, going as far to start an online channel. Obviously, CSN and unless Angelos is really oblivious, MASN, have to be quite interested in this development. For CSN, they are looking at extinction unless they reach a deal with Leonsis. Angelos and MASN probably realize that too and should they team up with Leonsis, that channel would be the dominant sports channel in multiple regional markets without any meaningful competition — i.e. what Angelos wanted from MLB and lost, yet on terms very favorable to him, even if he lacks the business-sense to make it work. Of course the question is whether split profits would be a deterrent to some or all sides. CSN is but one small part of the Comcast empire that includes, many other RSNs, cable/broadband systems and something called the National Broadcasting Company. Fighting over the DC & Baltimore markets might not be a big deal to the diagonally integrated corporate conglomerate.

These are but a few possible scenarios presented and I’ve looked at it more at a mostly local & regional level; FOX Sports or some other corporation may want to be a player too. Ultimately, I expect the endgame to be not terribly palatable to Washingtonians or the Nats franchise. The likeliest situation has Angelos and not necessarily the Baltimore American League ball club coming out far ahead of anybody else. The Lerners may ultimately buy him out, holding their noses as they do it. Regardless, it is worth pointing out that the demise of the Baltimore Orioles is an acceptable, albeit unlikely outcome, for the Washington National League ball club and their fans should it result in the restoration of television rights. Since in the Angelos and Orioles point of view, Washingtonians were acceptable as collateral damage, the same can be applied to Baltimoreans. Perhaps Mr. Keri’s city would be a suitable relocation site for Orioles, whose lease ends in 2021.

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