MASN has gobs of money but they don’t want to give any of it to the Nationals

June 12, 2012 | Drew Forrester

MASN has gobs of money but they don’t want to give any of it to the Nationals

Right now, the Orioles 2012 payroll of $81 million is offset somewhat by that $29 million check their owner essentially writes himself.  What happens when he’s forced to give the Nationals $75 million and, therefore, must also up his team’s take to $75 million?  Does he spend that “extra” money on players or does he keep the payroll near the $80-$90 million mark and simply pocket that additional TV money?

It will all be there for the public to see.

No fancy wordsmithing from the team’s Communications Director or the MASN PR chief will be able to disguise the reality of the situation.  The Orioles will either spend more money on players or they won’t.  And if they have MORE money to spend on players and don’t do it, how will the fan base react to that?

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL DODGES THEIR RESPONSIBILITY

Because the Nationals and MASN couldn’t agree on a new rights fee before the start of the 2012 campaign, Major League Baseball would become the arbiter in the dispute.  Both sides presented their “argument” to MLB in the spring and June 1 was set as the date that MLB would rule on the new rights fee for the Nationals.  So what happened?  Major League Baseball decided NOT to make a ruling. Instead, they did the same thing to the Nationals that they did to me four years ago.  When the Orioles stripped me of my season media credential prior to the 2008 campaign, I contacted MLB Public Relations and they asked me to forward them a formal written complaint.  A month or so after I did that, I hadn’t heard from the fine folks in New York, so I reached out to them for an update and they told me, “After reviewing your complaint and the situation with the Orioles, we believe the best solution would be for you and the Orioles to resolve this difference between yourselves.”

And that’s exactly what they did with the Nationals and MASN.  Rather than rule on the rights fee figure as they said they would do on June 1, MLB simply told the Nationals to try and figure out a solution with MASN.  Forget the fact that the Nationals tried to do that with MASN for the better of a year without a resolution.  MLB simply decided not to interfere with the argument.  That’s what you get when you’re dealing with Peter Angelos, I guess.  MLB is so afraid of him and his love for litigating – yes, even against them   – that they curled up in a ball when the moment of truth arrived and decided not to decide.  And that, of course, is exactly what they did to me a few years back.  Their decision in my media credential saga was to just act like it hadn’t happened.

There is a flip-side to all of this and MLB knows it’s coming.  If they don’t rule on the situation, the Nationals are likely going to sue them if, as expected, MASN drags their feet and doesn’t come up with a reasonable solution.

Anyone who has ever come in contact with Peter Angelos knows about his legendary love for “dragging things out”.  It’s the lawyer’s way.  ”Just leave it right there on the corner of my desk.  We’ll just wait those people out and when they finally cave in, we’ll get more money (or pay less) out of the deal.”

The next plan of attack for MASN will be, simply, “feet dragging”.  They already did it once when the rights fee deal with the Nationals expired.  They’ll do it again, for sure.  Now that MLB has chickened out and refused to resolve the situation, it’s up to MASN and the Nationals to reach an agreement.  That means both sides have to work hard to create a solution.  You can bet your orange-feathered rear end that MASN won’t be “working hard” to give away more money to the Nationals.

HOW IS A POTENTIAL SALE OF THE ORIOLES IMPACTED BY THIS?

For the better part of a year now, rumors around Baltimore have the Orioles available for purchase if you’re willing to write Peter and his shareholders a check for $400 million.  That figure represents about $35 million more than Angelos is guaranteed through Major League Baseball.  Through a deal he struck with MLB when the Nationals moved to DC, Peter is now guaranteed $365 million if he ever sells the team.  In other words, anything less than $365 million and MLB makes up the difference.  But MLB doesn’t share in the upside, meaning if Angelos and Co. get $400 million, it’s their $400 million and MLB gets none of it.

The problem, of course, is that no one is going to buy the ballclub without also getting the MASN network as part of the deal.  To have the TV network thrown in, folks are saying a starting offer in the $1 billion range would have to be made.

No one in Baltimore has $400 million, let alone $1 billion.  So the team, for now, stays with Angelos.

But what if someone WOULD have $400 million and would take the team without getting MASN as well?  That’s where the current MASN rights fee deal could play a role — in the form of future guaranteed player salaries that might make the books look expense-heavy without the revenue to support those expenses.  Let’s pretend that MASN decides (or is told) to give the Nationals $70 million for their TV rights.  That means the Orioles would get $70 million.  Let’s also escape completely into fantasy land and make believe the Orioles decide to up their player payroll from $81 million to $120 million, with that $70 million from MASN playing a major role in that expenditure.  How attractive would it be to a new owner if he inherited a company that already had roughly $120 million in annual projected expenses on the ledger?  Wouldn’t it be easier to sell that company if, let’s say, those estimated annual player salaries were more in the $60-$80 million a year range?

Maybe that’s one of the reasons why Angelos doesn’t want the Nationals to cash in on this reconfigured TV rights deal.  He knows if the Nats win and he has to fork over $70 million or more to them that he has to then do the same with the Orioles.  And if he does that with his club, and spends that money on players as public pressure will demand, then perhaps the viability of selling the baseball team goes down because the expenses are going up.

In the end, this is all about one thing and one thing only.  It’s completely about money.  And profit.  Nothing more.  Sources say Angelos sunk nearly $80 million of his own money into the Orioles in the decade of 2000-2010 while the team was languishing on the field and drawing less and less paying customers.  At some point – and perhaps it’s been happening over the last few years – Angelos is going to repay himself, as nearly all of would do if we propped up a business with our own money.  Every dime Angelos hands over to the Nationals is one more dime he has to give the Orioles and one less dime he can use to pay himself back the money he handed out to his company a decade ago.

The Nationals are finding out the hard way what lots of others have found out over the years.  You’re better served to just not do business with Peter Angelos.  You’re probably always going to come out on the short end.  You’ll wind up frustrated.  Things won’t ever go smoothly.  And, in the end, if you do somehow getting the better of Angelos, he’s just going to wind up taking you to court.

Baseball fans in Baltimore know all too well what happens Peter Angelos gets involved.

We’ve seen it since 1997 in high-def.

It takes forever for anything to happen.

Like, for instance, winning.

Or giving the Nationals the money they deserve.

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15 Comments For This Post

  1. over40 DON Says:

    Kinda like the walk up fee for O’s games. Nobody hardly knows anything about all this. Imagine if Espn or CBS Sports took this story and ran with it.

  2. John West Says:

    MASN
    Mr.
    Angelos
    Screws
    Nationals

  3. Highlandtown Hank Says:

    Is this 100% truth? Your resentment and anger towards Pete is well documented. Nestor, your job is to provide both sides of the story. Please do so because you are sounding very whiny. Thank you. (DF: Nestor didn’t write this piece. Drew did. It’s all true. Thanks for checking in.)

  4. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    Drew, you watch and see, Angelos will try to pass a increase on to the Comcast viewers and other cable companies. So the fans will end up paying the freight as always, forget your 3 dollar a month fee it might go to 5 dollars, Angelos will find a way to get around this without costing him any money.

  5. john angelos Says:

    Mr. Angelos is a great man who has done so much for Baltimore. You all should be honored that he is our owner. Think about all the great he has done — taking the first 15 years of his ownership to find a spring training home, prior to which he told Disney to stuff it on the Orioles having spring training where the Braves are now in Disney World…. keeping Spring Training in sexy FT Lauderdale so his sons Johnny and Louie
    could be playboys all night, despite the aging facility, being 4 hours from the minor league complex, and 1 hour from the closest opposing team (so nothing but long bus rides). Makes total sense. And the, Mr Angelos has given you the last 14 years of greatness. Amazing players, amazing memories for these 14 years. We’ve fought the evil MD Stadium Authority, We’ve fought the evil Ravens, and we wouldnt let the the Super Bowel XXXV champs throw out the first pitch bc we hate them. We fought the evil Ravens again when their horrible owner Biscotti wouldnt meet with Mr Angelos to
    renew the MASN/Ravens deal LIKE A MAN. FACE TO FACE. Mr Angelos fought and continues to fight that evil owner of WNST radio with dellusions of grandeur and will work hard to keep him out of our stadium. Mr Angelos also will continue to fight you, the fans, doing his best to screw you unmercifully. Being shady with student night $6 tickets. Charging you MORE to come out on game night and buy tickets. And on and on. FIGHTS FIGHTS AND MORE FIGHTS. MR ANGELOS LOVES WHAT HE DOES. I gotta run. Have another BAR exam to fail
    continuesto fight that evil pipsqueek radio host Nestor, and we’ll continue to fight you the fans screwing you at every regard including

  6. Gerald Says:

    Would have been a good story if you didn’t bring your personal squabble with the O’s into it. It take away your credability. (DF: It doesn’t take away anything since it’s all true. And it’s credibility, with an “i”, not an “a”. Not being able to spell credibility the right way takes away from yours.)

  7. bob Says:

    Highlandtown Hank… I would need to read the article again to see if Nestor made any mention of the recent Texas Rangers TV rights deal (among other recent big money deals). Angelos offering $35 million is at least 100% BELOW what the Nats rights are worth, when compared to these other recent deals. Perhaps Nestor needs to delve into these comparable deals more. But overall, there really isnt a side of the story that helps Peter at all.

  8. Unitastoberry Says:

    My guess is all your cable and satalite bills are going up folks ! Ah for the good old days with Chuck Thompson,Bill ODonnell,Charlie Eckman,and thirty or so free Os games on free TV!

  9. Eric Says:

    Very well written and provides the fan base, those intelligent enough to understand this, with a great understanding as to why the ownership isn’t willing to field a competitive team.

  10. T Nelson Says:

    Maybe Angelos should check the standings because the Nats are in first place without spending “extra money” on new players…i understand business is business but when your own greed gets in the way of your own greed thats just a little overboard

  11. Tom Says:

    Drew, do you really believe Angeloser cares whether or not the Nats spend their increased revenue on players? His only incentive is $$$$$$ so it really makes no difference to him. Playing second fiddle to the “little brother” shouldn’t matter. The diehard baseball fans will continue to go (as they have the last 14 years). He will only lose the win – starved fans who are just beginning to come back.

  12. Chuck Says:

    Just do what lawyers do and wait it out. The man will be 83 years old shortly so the clock is quickly ticking.

    By the way, it’s kind of childish to mock Gerald for making a spelling mistake. That’s a level of silly pettiness we expect from the team’s owner. (DF: Come on bro, you have to get mocked if you question someone’s credibility and can’t spell credibility right…)

  13. BmoreBobRob Says:

    What a racket. Even when Angelos loses, he wins. The sad part is that the Nats will put the money into their team and Angelos will put the money in his pocket. He is basically holding this team hostage. It is incredible how much he makes with MASN. Imagine if he had put his money behind You Pon? Whatever happened to You Pon? (DF: You keep asking what happened to You Pon. I don’t know what you’re talking about. What is You Pon? You keep referencing it over and over and over. Is it some sort of feminine product?)

  14. Chris Says:

    I have to say that this is one of the best articles i have read in a long time…not just on this site but nationally or locally. It is an absolute JOKE that the Nationals only get paid $29 Million a year for rights fees (or whatever they are called). I believe the Rangers and Dodgers (and Astros although I’m not 100% sure about them) just signed TV deals worth over $1 Billion over the course of the next decade. i had no idea this is how Angelos was able to cry the blues over not enough revenue coming into the Orioles by keeping their rights fees so low. This is DISGUSTING. Once again, a great article with outstanding facts backing up your strong opinions. would it be possible to interview your source or sources on your radio show? i would love to hear more on this.

  15. aaron manfra Says:

    hey drew, quick question. could the nats just say screw masn and start thier own network that would focus on just d.c. teams (caps,wiz,g-town,etc.) or is there some sort of clause built in by angelos when the expos were moved here? just wondering.

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