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-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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Nats-Orioles “relationship” is “complicated” because the Orioles are subsidized cowards

On common ground, Orioles and Nationals have complicated relationshipThe Sun
Oh, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have a complicated relationship? That’s the fault of MLB commissioner Bud Selig, Peter Angelos and his franchise. Selig coddled Angelos when he didn’t have to:

When the Nationals, after 36 seasons as the Montreal Expos, arrived in Washington for the 2005 season, MLB said the team’s operating territory would be defined in the Major League Baseball Constitution, the occasionally amended governing agreement among the 30 clubs. At the time of the Nationals’ move, the document defined the Orioles’ territory as the city of Baltimore and the counties of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Howard and Harford. It did not include Washington, even though the Orioles then had a retail store there.

That’s right — I can’t get a Sun at a local newspaper box cluster or watch Baltimore television stations. D.C. and Baltimore simply aren’t the same market.

Selig handed over the supermajority of the Nats TV rights to Angelos, who doesn’t believe Baltimore fans are good enough to support a team. Two cowards, one fearing a lawsuit, the other regional competition, punished Washington fans and the District of Columbia who made a significant investment in Nationals Park. Most Washingtonians couldn’t even watch every Nats game until September 2006. MASN’s coverage is still not very good. Angelos and the Orioles are still fighting MLB and the Nats over TV rights compensation for the next 5 year cycle. Since the Orioles are contractually bound to receive the same amount of MASN revenue, Angelos is actually fighting reinvesting into the team. Don’t the Oriole-fanboys and Angelos apologists (is there a difference?) realize that the owner doesn’t want to invest into his own team?

If Angelos hadn’t been such a crybaby, there could a better situation for all involved, but his desire to hurt Washington more than help Baltimore prevented that from happening. I’d be completely indifferent to the Orioles for the most part if he had not kept me from watching my team and demanded a subsidy from it. Otherwise, I’d be going to see the Nats and New York Yankees in Baltimore annually. This is why I have called on all Washingtoinans to boycott the Orioles for years and will continue to do so.

There is no timetable for this bad situation getting resolved, but Selig and Angelos won’t be in power forever, right? I think the 2018 battle is going to be the most important battle.

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Nats TV rights: MLB trying to fix the Angelos problem

MLB seeks creative solution to MASN rights fees dispute between Nationals, OriolesThe Post
After a long period of no news on the Washington Nationals television rights compensation some new information has come out:

Hoping to find a solution to the dispute between the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles over the value of the Nationals’ television rights, Major League Baseball has asked a private investment bank to seek potential new owners for the rights that are now held by the regional sports network controlled by Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

Allen & Co., a New York-based investment bank, is seeking buyers to acquire the two franchises’ broadcast rights from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A new owner would essentially separate MASN and Angelos from the Nationals by creating a new regional sports network.

Fox Sports and Comcast are candidates to purchase the rights, according to one of the individuals. Both companies, Fox Sports in particular, have delved heavily into the regional sports network market.

Frankly, I’m kind of surprised MLB is being this aggressive. On one front, Bud Selig is never aggressive about anything, though coddling Angelos and the Orioles is a core competency. Cowardly Selig won’t use the “best interest of baseball” power to do right by Washingtonians, Nats fans, the District of Columbia (which made an enormous investment in a new ballpark) or baseball overall. Instead, Selig uses his power to coddle cowardly Angelos, who doesn’t believe that Baltimore will sufficiently support his baseball team. So, Selig gave Angelos 90% of the Nats television rights to Angelos. The Nats franchise picks up a 1% stake in MASN annually, but the deal as currently constructed limits them to owning no more than 66% about 25 years from now. Angelos still has to pay the Nats a rights fee annually (the same amount goes to the Orioles), but he’s trying to lowball it. While some huge market teams are getting close to $100 million annually, Angelos wants to limit both teams to around $35 million. Even Orioles fans see through this as nothing but Angelos trying to enrich himself (WNST) instead of building a successful franchise.

What I am kind of surprised by here, other than the delay in getting something figured out, is that MLB is trying to solve the problem now. That’s not Selig’s style first of all, but secondly Angelos is in his 80s. Ted Lerner, the principle owner of the Nats, is even older. I thought a figure for the next five seasons would be determined , everyone would grumble and the decision would be deferred five years from now when the players are likely going to be different. I wasn’t even opposed to that strategy necessarily, because I think it would favor the Nats since a new commissioner probably wouldn’t have pay so much deference to the Orioles ownership.

Overall, I’m glad to see more discussion about the situation of late. I was kind of out here on an island pointing out the bad faith out of Baltimore — fans used to be resigned to it and the D.C. media wasn’t doing anything about it. The latter may be due to the Orioles fanboys that seem still linger, but thankfully, this problem is finally getting some traction. I think it’ll be ugly and I hope that the longer it goes the better it works out for the Nats.

More:

THOMAS BOSWELL: Dodgers’ spending spree means it’s time to get MASN deal doneThe Post

Then again, Angelos may be going even harder:

So Peter Angelos is digging in his heels over Nationals TV rights… – Nats Enquirer

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Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles are still trying to lowball the Nats on TV rights

Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles split over MASN cable TV rights feeThe Post
Another overview about how Peter Angelos is trying to screw the Washington Nationals and their fans over the television rights he was wrongly granted in 2005. It is a decent article, but omits that Angelos kept Nats games off of most D.C. area cable systems until September 2006.

The Nationals are asking the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), which is controlled by the Orioles and broadcasts both teams’ games, for between $100 million and $120 million per year, at least three times the $29 million they received last season, according to one person familiar with the proceedings. MASN proposed paying $34 million this season, according to another individual, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Good for the Nats going so high, because Angelos is just low-balling the hell out of the Nats here. Not surprisingly, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig has passed on making a decision. His committee which includes representatives from the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets has not reached a conclusion that Selig is comfortable with yet. That’s probably because their findings don’t favor Angelos. In practice, Selig has shown that he values Angelos, the Orioles and the Baltimore market more than the D.C. one. A commissioner should be neutral, but falling short of that, probably ought to look for the good of the sport overall. Is significantly stunting the economic potential of the D.C. team to protect the Baltimore one in the best interest of the sport? Selig would rather reward the bad behavior of Angelos than due what is in the best interest of the Nats and the league in general.

If and when the figure is reached (don’t count on it before the end of the World Series, Selig is as indecisive as a Yankees-Red Sox game is long) I expect it to be somewhere lower than the mid-range between what the Nats want and what Angelos wants. Technically, it’ll be a win for Angelos which will make Selig feel better. Angelos though, will probably still cry loudly about how “unfair” he’s been treated, as most coddled children do when they don’t get something exactly their way. I fully expect Angelos to wrap himself around the Baltimore and Maryland flag as some sort of champion of the city and state’s baseball fans. Of course, it’ll just be more duplicity from someone who is really saying “I don’t believe in these people” to support the team. Maybe he’s got a point — attendance in Baltimore isn’t exactly high right now. Either way though, his cowardice will shine through as always.

The interesting thing though is that the next round, five years from now, is the critical round. There may be new people in charge of both of the teams and the sport. The next commissioner might not believe in protectionism for Angelos. Let’s hope not.

BY THE WAY…

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Nats: Will Bud Selig send a future MLB All-Star game to Baltimore instead of D.C.?

THOM LOVERRO: In this area, battle is to be host with mostThe Wash. Examiner
The Washington Nationals are expected to bid for the 2015 All-Star game, the next one available to a National League team. The Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins, who began playing in their ballparks in 2003 and this season, respectively, are also expected to put in bids. However, Loverro points out that the Baltimore Orioles are looking at the 2016 All-Star game as well, which could complicate matters since MLB doesn’t like to have All-Star games in the same region too often. Given that Bud Selig has coddled the Orioles and their owner, Peter Angelos over the years, an all-star game in Baltimore instead of Washington is probably even money.

I’m mostly interested in the events that come with the All-Star Game, rather than going to the game itself or even watching it. By 2015, my son will be at an age where the All-Star festivities would be most enjoyable. Waiting until 2017 is probably even better. That’s if he decides to like baseball of course.

D.C. has held All-Star games in 1937 and 1956 at Griffith Stadium and 1962 (one of two) and 1969 at D.C./RFK Stadium. Baltimore held one in 1958 and 1993. The latter provided this interesting theory:

Of course, as long as Bud Selig is commissioner, Camden Yards may never host another All-Star Game. He thinks the fallout from 1993, when Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina warmed up and American League manager Cito Gaston failed to put him into a 9-3 win, led to managers feeling they had to use all of their players. That directly resulted in the 2002 debacle in which both teams ran out of pitchers in an 11-inning game that ended in a 7-7 tie.

Like I said, interesting, but Selig has protected Angelos to a fault and rewarded Angelos with 90% of the Nats TV rights in an 11-hour corrupt bargain just before the 2005 season.

Speaking of the Nats TV rights, no word on when Selig will decide what Angelos has to pay the Nats, starting next year. I expect it in the offseason, even though it was supposed to be done by June 1.

UPDATED 07.10.2012:
Here is a Nationals Journal (The Post) take on it – Nationals making push to host All-Star Game in near future

The thinking within baseball is that Nationals Park will get the game soon, possibly within five years. There are some obstacles and other teams that could step in front. Petco Park in San Diego and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia still have yet to host the game. Wrigley Field, which turns 100 in 2014, could get the game. As the 25th anniversary of Camden Yards creeps up, the Orioles could make a case.

The bottom line is, an All-Star Game in Washington is a good bet. The Nationals absolutely want to host the game and Commissioner Bud Selig cares about a thriving Washington market.

I’ll believe when I see it.

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Not shocking news: Nats vs. MASN/Angelos decision delayed at least another month

MLB extends deliberations as MASN, Nationals said to be $70M apart on new rights dealSports Business Daily
Another delay in the “agreement” between the Washington Nationals and MASN, the cable channel primarily owned by Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles? I haven’t been that surprised since the sun came up today.

The Nats shot for the moon, asking for $108 million in annual compensation. Good for them. MASN suggested a mere $35 million or so in compensation. The Orioles will get whatever the Nats get as part of the corrupt bargain.

It is certainly wishful thinking that this thing blow up in Angelos’ face, but that’s probably all it is. He’ll get paid one way or another. Still, the longer it goes, the better it may be for the Nats. The ratings are likely going up as the wins keep coming. I suspect MLB commissioner Bud Selig will grudgingly meet about half-way (a little lower since Selig values Angelos more than the overall baseball good) sometime in the fall. He drags things out which will be to the detriment of all involved.

In terms of really wishful thinking, I’d love to see some unsolicited (high) bids for the Nats TV rights start coming in. Obviously, Comcast SportsNet Washington would make sense. Since Angelos sent precedent for one team controlling another’s TV rights, how about a bid from the YES Network (owned by the New York Yankees) or NESN (owned by the Boston Red Sox)? That’d be fun, but I don’t see them going against Selig that way. A younger George Steinbrenner might have, but he’s gone.

I don’t think this round will go the Nats way as much as we’d like, but in five years, their could be different cast of characters and a lot more leverage for the team on South Capitol Street.

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In theory the Nats vs. MASN/Angelos dispute will be closer to being settled tomorrow

THOMAS BOSWELL: Washington Nationals are due a bigger check from MASN for TV rightsThe Post
The column linked above is almost two weeks old, but still an important read.

Tomorrow is apparently a big day that the Washington Nationals-MASN/Baltimore Orioles stalemate. A panel of three representatives from the Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets will give MLB commissioner Bud Selig a recommendation “$60 million or $100 million or likely a number in between” on what the Nats annual rights fee should be. Either way, the Nats stand to make much more revenue from the MASN deal that was forced on them by Peter Angelos, but I think Boswell was being naive thinking that Selig will merely rubber stamp the recommendation unless the Nats get low-balled. As Boswell pointed out in the column, this should have been figured out in November, but Selig does not move swiftly when he has to make a major decision even when the solution is self-evident (see Expos and Athletics relocations). Selig is also friends with Angelos which is how this corrupt bargain was created in the first place.

As for the three representatives, I would imagine the Mets would argue for lower compensation since the Nats are a division rival. The Rays on the other hand would have motivation to encourage a higher rights fee since it could potentially weaken their division rival, the Orioles. The Pirates are the wild card, since they are a small market in the same league as the Nats. While higher rights fees could help “raise all boats” including theirs, they could also fear that another power team in the NL is worse for business.

On the Nats side is Chris Bevilacqua, who has been successful with team deals and RSNs before. I can’t imagine he’s had a tougher one.

Most likely, the Nats’ deal will fall in the $70 million-$90 million range, though all such MLB debates are state secrets. One hidden factor is key: The interests of almost everyone in baseball (except MASN and Angelos) are aligned with the Nats’ getting a rational price. Why? Each new monster regional sports network deal (some contracts now top $1.5 billion) set “comparable” prices for the next team’s negotiation with its TV providers.

If the Nats got shafted, many owners would scream. What’s the point of having a legal monopoly if you don’t band together to drive up prices for your product?

This entire MASN-Nats tussle is about “when” and “how much,” not “if.” A deal has to get finished to set 2013’s MASN price. But you can bet that Angelos and MASN want to string out the Nats as long as possible in hopes of extracting a better deal. The Lerners tend to be phobic about imprecise budget projections, and uncertainty could set them dithering about whether or not to make a July 31 deadline trade that would increase payroll.

My expectation is that Selig will continue to reward Angelos’ bad behavior, first by delaying a decision until the offseason and then selecting a low rights fee. Regardless of that outcome, I fully expect Angelos to go to war with the cable providers over carriage fees of MASN/MASN2, scapegoating the Nats in the process. This could get ugly and don’t be shocked if MASN isn’t on some local cable systems on Opening Day of next year.

UPDATE:
There is an interesting thread on MASN on Federal Baseball

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Nats drop 2 of 3 to Baltimore

Sincen 2004, the bad behavior of the Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos has been rewarded constantly by MLB, bad Washingtonians and a significant chunk of the D.C. sports media. As a Washington Nationals fan and native Washingtonian, it is pretty frustrating. That adds the significance to the interleague series the two teams play in annually. The deck is stacked against the Nats in so many ways — the field is the only place they get a fair shot.

FRIDAY

Edwin Jackson gave up a run in the 1st inning and then keep the ledger clear. On the other side, Jake Arrieta was doing the same. A late home run by Ian Desmond tied it, but in the 11th, Nick Markakis homered off of Ryan Mattheus (firework, indeed) to put the bad guys ahead. The Nat responded in the bottom of the inning, but rather than taking advantage of Desmond hot bat, he bunted on pitches outside the strike zone. The Nats did not help themselves that night or throughout most of the series.

SATURDAY

Blogger Night! I’ll have a few posts about Blogger Night, but for now, here’s what you need to know about the game. Ross Detwiler was terrible. Detwiler got to two strikes on most of the early batters, but he couldn’t get them out. He gave up 6 runs in 5 innings, including two homers. It was ugly. The Nats fought back though. Several times late in the game, they had the tying run at the plate. Ryan Zimmerman homered with the Nats down to their last strike to get within one, but that was all they could muster. The near comeback helped take away some of the bitterness.

SUNDAY

Stephen Strasburg went down in a 3-0 hole after a Bryce Harper error allowed two earned runs. The Nats fought back though and took the lead on an opposite field homer by Jesus Flores. Strasburg then came up, swinging for the fences with 2 outs and no runners on. He put the third pitch he saw into the visiting bullpen for his first career home run. Having seen him in batting practice on Saturday, I knew it was a matter of when, not if he would homer this year. He was hitting well in BP. He also singled in his first at bat and scored on Harper’s triple off of Markakis’ glove. Then Strasburg settled down and started blowing Baltimore hitters away, but left after 5 innings with biceps tightness which sounds scary. The Nats kept their spikes on the O’s throats and run away with a 9-3 win.

More to come.

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