As Orioles fans, we celebrated the uneven split and touted it as only fair given that Baltimore was giving up a substantial amount of their territory and surrendering a large number of potential fans. Unfortunately the revenue split was drawn up in such a way that it becomes in the best interest of the Orioles side of MASN ownership to keep as much money as possible under the umbrella of the network where the uneven split benefits O’s ownership much more.
Here’s the kicker. Knowing what we do, and having learned what we have about Angelos in general during his tenure as Orioles owner, it’s inconceivable that he’d ever take money from the MASN side of the operation in order to run the franchise. In other words the $35 million that Angelos is fighting to rob the Nats with is the same amount of TV revenue that the Orioles get. The Orioles are in business to turn a profit. They’ll never spend every bit of their revenue and use the ludicrous amount of MASN profit as a subsidy. So as the Orioles fight to keep the Nationals take as low as possible they also fight to keep their own revenues down.
Spin it any way you want, but the $35 million that Angelos and company have “conspired” to pay the Orioles for TV rights aren’t anywhere close to delivering the promised financial wherewithal to compete with the top earners in the AL East; and the $120 million or so that Angelos earns on the MASN side of the split will never find its way into the Orioles budget.
Maybe Orioles fans should hope to see the nationals get what they’re looking for in court. While moving another $40 million or more from the MASN side of the equation to the Orioles side doesn’t by any means guarantee that the Orioles would spend it, it would at least technically move it into the Orioles coffers where they could (and if they had any real honor) would put it to use. Also let’s not overlook that Angelos and company could, at some point, sell the Orioles and keep the network. That arrangement would put the new Orioles ownership group likely in the same types of annual battles with the notoriously litigious Angelos that Nats ownership finds itself in currently.
Of course the one outcome we can rest assured of is that Angelos and company will avoid at all costs any battle that would require them to open their books in court and allow fans even the slightest insight into just how gaudy their numbers really are. You can also bet that MLB and the commissioner’s office, through their own system of mediation, will help to avoid that too.