Baltimore Orioles and Peter Angelos vs. the world


Earlier this year it looked as if the Baltimore Orioles were poised to be awarded the 2016 MLB all-star game at Camden Yards. Now, according to this article, it appears that the game is instead going to San Diego.However I would ask you to carefully read that article (linked here again) and honestly tell me which side appears to be coming out…go ahead, do it!

Much of the media coverage in any given situation is slanted in the other direction when it comes to the Orioles and Peter Angelos. This article and many others like it even goes to the trouble of linking a MASN article to back up it’s point – a MASN article by Roch Kubatko, which incidentally didn’t have nary a mention of Angelos.

Basically the point that’s being made by various league mouthpieces is that Baltimore lost the all-star game as a punitive measure. Which would indicate that the Orioles and owner Peter Angelos are in the wrong. But…if you look at the facts, they actually aren’t.

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Some of this has been discussed here already, so I’ll try to truncate it as best I can. MLB wanted to move the Montreal Expos to DC circa 2004. It was happening, we all knew it was happening, and that was the end of it. However Peter Angelos felt (justly, in my view) that a team in Washington would cut into his market size. While it was and still is unclear as to whether or not Angelos had a leg on which to stand in this regard, the threat of going to court against him made MLB decide to cut him a deal. And a heck of a deal it was; Angelos’ upstart MASN network would own Washington’s TV rights in perpetuity (which means not subject to termination).

Not only that, but both the Orioles’ and Nationals’ would get the same amount each year from MASN in terms of rights fees. (Washington would also own a minority stake in the network.) The fees would re-set every five years, using the accepted methodology used in MLB to determine TV rights fees. The first such re-set was to be in 2011, and that’s what’s currently still in court. The Nationals wanted in the neighborhood of $120 million, whereas MASN wanted somewhere in the range of $60 million.

Bear in mind again that both teams have to get the same amount in rights fees. So the case went to arbitration, and MASN still didn’t like the outcome. According to MASN, neither the Nationals or the arbitration committee (comprised of the owners of the Rays, Pirates, and Mets) used the Bortz Forumula, which is the accepted methodology in MLB to determine TV rights fees. Again according to MASN,  when you plug in the Bortz Forumula you get the number that they originally provided.

So now MASN/Angelos/the Orioles is going to court against the Washington Nationals and MLB. The point of contention is that not only was the contract not followed using the specified methodology, but that the arbitration panel itself had a stake in seeing the rights fees higher. Both Tampa and Pittsburgh are smaller markets, so having a market like Baltimore have such high rights fees would bear well as an example for them to use against their own cable providers. That combined with the fact that the Mets play in a shared market also means in effect that the panel that was supposed to be independent was in fact harboring a conflict of interest.

I’m not a lawyer, although I’d like to think I have a basic knowledge of how the law works based on some courses I took in college as part of my minor. However given all of that, one can kind of see how Peter Angelos, MASN, and the Orioles are kind of being railroaded. MLB cut a deal with Angelos, which admittedly was a bad deal for them and the Washington Nationals. However they still cut the deal, and Angelos is a man that expects people to honor their agreements.

There are some who will say that the greed of Peter Angelos is costing Baltimore the all-star game. And you might well consider that point. However I can tell you that I view the world in a similar manner; I try to always honor my commitments. I also expect those around me to do the same. So is it really fair to blame Angelos for going after every penny that he was promised in writing?

In effect, MLB, Bud Selig, and the Lerner Family (ownes of the Nationals) are trying to reneg on a horrible deal from their perspective. Howeer regardless of how one-sided the deal was, it was still a signed agreement. (MLB owned the Nationals at the time and the Lerner family had to sign off on the agreement when they bought the team.) Therefore the fact is that Angelos is well within his right to expect what’s due to him.

Is this costing the city itself the all-star game? It might well be. However I would submit that yanking the all-star game out of Baltimore is more reflective on the pettiness of MLB than anything else. However much of what you hear in the national media is simply going to state that Angelos is being petty and that the city’s losing the game as a result. It may well be  petty matter; but it’s a petty matter in which he’s also in the right. Now in all honesty, who among us is willing to in essence stand down when we’re right?