Good news: MASN airing six Orioles spring training games. Bad news: They play 33 of them.

March 04, 2013 | Drew Forrester

It would be hard to debate that perhaps the greatest invention in sports over the last 50 years has been the “regional sports network”.

Some folks would refer it to more has “highway robbery”.  They’d have a valid point.

The concept is so elementary, a caveman could figure it out:  Start your own TV network, show a “demand” for it, run the network through your local cable operator and then, in the best scam of the last 200 years, have your monthly “fee” be paid by the consumers — even those who don’t ever use your product.

And if you start the network and the government doesn’t agree with your stipulation that demand warrants the inclusion of the fee in monthly cable bill, you just sue the government.  They won’t want to fight you and within 12-18 months, you’ll be milking your very own cash cow.

The list of teams that have pulled this stunt is growing by the year.  The Yankees and Red Sox were the first to perfect it.  The various Los Angeles teams in basketball and hockey have been raking in TV money as far back as a thing called “Prime Ticket” out west, but only now are they starting to see the benefits of owning the network yourself.  The Texas Rangers will be pulling in upwards of $100 million via their RSN in the next couple of years.  So will the Angels.

And, then, of course, we have our beloved Birds.

The Orioles’ owner, Peter Angelos, started the Middle Atlantic Sports Network back in 2006, with the promise of his own RSN establishing enough of a consistent revenue base to do battle with those rat finks in New York and Boston.

This, what I’m writing today, isn’t about the years of money that Peter collected and then didn’t spend on the team.  We’ve all seen that movie and reviewed it a dozen or two times.  We know the club’s roster has been shortchanged over the years as it relates to quality players.  No need to travel there today.

No — what I’m puzzled by is yet another botched marketing and PR opportunity from both MASN and the Orioles.  OK, let’s just admit they’re one and the same and I’ll keep calling them “the Orioles” for purposes of this piece.  Anyway, the Orioles have thirty three “official” spring training games in February and March.  Guess how many the team will air on its own TV network?  Six. That’s it.  Six.  Oh, by the way, three of the six are taped delayed, not live.

Six of thirty-three games will be on TV and they own the network that airs the games.


At least air all of the home games, right?  I can at least almost understand not airing a game from Ft. Myers or Dunedin.  But you have 16 home games in Ed Smith Stadium.  Put all of them on MASN.  And, for sure, you can do some split-feed stuff with the Yankees and Pirates and Phillies when you face them in Tampa or Bradenton or Clearwater througout March.

Last year’s magical season and dramatic 5-game series loss to the Yankees actually left the community as a whole longing for March 2013 and spring training baseball.

For years – about fourteen to be exact – only 149 people in Baltimore even cared about spring training when it rolled around every February.  Grapefruit League games were met with yawns and the fans had little interest in who was doing well, who wasn’t, who was making the team and who needed to go 2-for-3 today to have a chance of sticking around.

Spring training baesball, though, has an allure to it that reaches far past sports.  It’s called spring training for a reason.  It marks the beginning of s-p-r-i-n-g.  People love spring.  It dawns a new year, essentially.  Warm weather is on the way.  Sunshine.  Summer days beckon.  When baseballs are thrown, the days seem brighter and longer.

And after a whopper of a season in 2012, you would think the Orioles would go completely out of their way to capitalize on that energy by airing spring training baseball in March of 2013.

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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Christian Says:

    I don’t get it, this is the most excitement before a season in 10 years, show some games, people will watch, I will watch

  2. BudIce Says:

    MASN Sucks, I get is as part of my Direct TV Sports Package living in the Philly-Lehigh Valley Area and thinking I would get alot of O’s Coverage. The only good program I see onis O’s Classics but DT blacks this out (I get the MLB Package why black out?). Most of the days are ESPN news reruns or out of Mid-Atlantic Market college games (NESN,YES,CSNPhilly are 10 times better for their local coverage, including ROOT Sports-Pittsburgh). For a market the size of Baltimore-Washington, VA, and NC its pretty pathetic and they actually charge for this crap?

  3. calvin@jhh Says:

    I thought it was some deal with MLB network and MLB radio? I could have sworn I read that somewhere.. Btw, the Nats don’t show that many games at all

  4. Steve From Sandpoint Says:

    It’s always and only about the money Drew, you know this. Cable subscribers pay the monthly fee, Angelos laughs all the way to the bank. Until someone brings a lawsuit against Comcast and or MASN about the fee, things will not change. And remember, what’s good for the O’s is good for the National’s.

  5. The Armchair QB Says:

    I’ll play “devil’s advocate” on this one, Drew, and opine that MAYBE this is a bit of a ploy to evoke more enthusiasm for the regular season and avoid unnecessary over exposure of games that are relatively meaningless that could create alot of false impressions. Speaking for myself, I just don’t get all that excited about exhibition games, but I am looking forward to the coming season with great enthusiasm! Of course, that’s just one fan’s opinion……

  6. charlie Says:

    thanks for pointing this out, drew. it’s a drag. it’s also important that we don’t forget that no matter how great last season was, there are still plenty of short-sighted jerks in the warehouse.

  7. Justafan Says:

    Suppose the Orioles televised all of their Spring Training games and played poorly, as even some of the top teams do in March. The over exposure may certainly put a damper on the enthusiam of the fans. Of course, they are only exhibition games, but the fans want to see a winner, whether it be March or September. Besides many Orioles fans also are fans of other sports teams. With March Madness taking center stage, how many people would watch an Orioles exhibition game that conflict with some top NCAA Basketball matchups? As for the fee that MASN charges to bring Orioles baseball to our homes, it sure beats paying top dollar to attend the games at Camden Yards in person.

  8. unitastoberry Says:

    They are who we thought they were! And we let them get away with it!

  9. Ken Says:

    MASN is a joke. Half the year they simply show ESPN News. And we pay extra for this?

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