Baltimore Orioles or Washington can succeed – that how it is?
Is there only one team between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington that can succeed?
Earlier this week Baltimore Orioles fans had the opportunity to read this article in the Washington Post. Personnel from the Washington Nationals basically admitted that they felt constrained by the MASN deal and the results of the recent court case (won by MASN) in terms of bettering their team. Interesting to say the least.
I’m not going to get into the details of the actual case for the most part. That’s been covered here ad hoc, and the fact is that there’s nothing new in terms of news. On one had however, it’s interesting that the Orioles HAVE spent this offseason, but Washington HAS NOT. Is there perhaps an ugly endgame built into the contract which gives MLB the last laugh?
The contract itself is nebulously cut-and-dry; both teams get fair market value for their TV rights, and that is reset every five years. The issue is how they go about getting to fair market value, and who sees what as “fair.” The impression was that Washington tried to bankrupt MASN with their demands, while on the flip side Washington’s impression was that MASN was trying to keep their payments as low as possible.
In the middle is MLB, which signed the MASN deal on behalf of Washington’s franchise – as the owners of the team at the time of relocation. So for starters, anyone who doesn’t like the deal (on either side) should blame Bud Selig (and by extension Rob Manfred) and the league. However did baseball learn something during the time there was no team in Washington?
From 1972-2004, the Orioles were the sole team in the mid-Atlantic region. And win or lose, the team thrived at the turnstiles. Of course they played in venerable old Memorial Stadium, which for all intents and purposes wasn’t the nicest park in the league. But the fans made it an awesome place to see a game, again whether the team was good or bad. Eventually of course that gave way to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and the rest is history.
Is it not possible that the league never truly wanted two teams in this region? The idea of course would be that fans from the city that doesn’t have a team would support the lone team left in the area. So if the Orioles left town, Baltimoreans would root for Washington – and vice-versa.
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Obviously Washingtonians supported the Orioles (in a de facto manner perhaps) for years, so there’s precedent there. Baltimore also seems to support the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals fairly well. But how could MASN lead to only one team in the region?
If somehow the deal is voided or Washington finds a way to buy out of it, the Orioles’ television rights wouldn’t be worth as much without the Washington markets being included. In effect, the network itself would thus lose value – and the Orioles’ fortunes are very much tied to MASN. Obviously if Washington wins the case and ends up bankrupting MASN, that brings up a whole other issue.
Could scenarios like that end up with the Orioles moving? It’s tough to say, but you can’t rule anything out. Consequently, if Washington claims they can’t compete in terms of free agents with the deal as it is, how long are they slated to be around if MASN wins the case? This is a bit of a fringe conspiracy theory, I’ll certainly grant you that. However did the league set up an ultimate showdown between the two sides in a battle royale of survival of the fittest?
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I suspect not. I think they just wanted to make sure that Montreal relocated to Washington and Peter Angelos didn’t sue them. But it’s an interesting point none the less. Ask yourself, can the two teams really survive long term? If not, would the lone surviving side in theory not have a mega fanbase left to it?