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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 4): Sue, sue, sue for the home team – Angelos v. Everyone

Posted on 22 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“If we hadn’t reached a resolution with him, there is no doubt in my mind he would have sued,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s former president and chief operating officer. “He told my people he would sue and his professional background suggested that he was willing to sue.”

Bob DuPuy

Former MLB Chief Operating Officer

The New York Times

Aug. 19, 2011

 

 

Over the past decade, it’s clear that the script of “How to win the war with Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals over $298 million” reads directly from the Peter G. Angelos law firm playbook.

There’s not one step in this process where litigation wasn’t threatened or, inevitably, enacted. The money – as we’ve outlined in the previous three chapters of this “MASN Money For Dummies” series – per this unique arrangement with Bud Selig and the MLB owners, has all been designed from the outset to funnel into his pockets.

And anyone not named Angelos who believes they’re entitled to it can line up with their lawyers and watch his legal team dance – all while dangling the hundreds of millions of dollars that’s currently sitting in his coffers. Later in this series, I’ll examine the world from Angelos’ point of view and what it’s meant to the baseball operation of the Baltimore Orioles, but it’s very clear to anyone watching this epic legal struggle that there’s an astonishing amount of money at stake.

Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals are circling like buzzards to see what they can get – knowing they made a vague deal with a megalomaniac who has no intentions of ever giving any of them a nickel of the now billions in real money and value they’ve funneled his way since 2005.

If you want the money, you can deal with all of the aggravation, testimony, documents, discovery and lawyering up that Peter G. Angelos can muster and try to come and get it. Bud Selig left his throne without getting any closer than his successor Rob Manfred is getting. The dispute is now into its fifth year of absolute acrimony.

It was a fascinating admission on the part of Bob DuPuy, who was the foil in the Angelos-MLB negotiation at every turn in 2004 and 2005, that Angelos might be litigious. Some joked that DuPuy kept Amtrak in business, back and forth to Baltimore from New York to get a deal done for “Buddy,” who somehow thought he could strike up a reasonable agreement with Angelos after he crossed him by bringing a team to Washington.

Many make the mistake in believing that Angelos only likes asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits.

Au, contraire.

Angelos stormed about legal action against Albert Belle and voiding his contract after he gave a fan the middle finger at Camden Yards, and eventually saved $30 million with an insurance claim that the team went to great lengths to enact.

He got the city to threaten to sue MLB back in 1994, after he walked away from his fellow owners in the labor stoppage in 1995 when they wanted to field replacement players.

He threatened the NFL when he tried to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and even drew the attention of Art Modell before the Ravens came to Baltimore.

He’s fought with Ed Hale over billboards, aesthetics and advertising revenue at the then-First Mariner Arena.

He famously brought Russell Smouse, his lead lawyer, into the Orioles front office to keep things in order.

He threatened litigation and breach of contract with Dan Duquette in 2014, which is why the guy who’s currently running the team is still “running the team.”

Angelos wound up in a dispute with former GM Frank Wren over $400,000 after doing everything possible to publicly humiliate him with “causes” for his firing in the media. And that was 17 years ago.

And then, of course, the Angelos standby in contract negotiations with baseball players is the “player physical,” which has become something …

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MASN Money For Dummies (Part 2): Understanding MASN, Orioles history and big money for Chris Davis

Posted on 07 January 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

“When we bought this team we paid $173 million for it and we owe approximately $75 or $80 million on it. In other words, we put up about $90 million in cash and the rest of it was mortgaged – like you get a mortgage on a business or a home or property you might own. We have to pay roughly $9 or $10 million a year in principal and interest on this franchise. And that hasn’t stopped us from being one of the top-spending clubs in the American League or for that matter Major League Baseball. The reason we are is because, basically, it’s the support of the fans that come to see the Orioles. Now in a way, it’s self-perpetuating. If you give the fans, particularly Orioles fans, a winning team, a team that’s competitive you’re going to get supported completely. I believe in that. Along with that ballpark that’s the gem of all ballparks, I believe that if we put a potential winner on that field every year, which is what we intend to do, we will be successful. And eventually we’ll make some money, and also we’ll pay off the mortgage which is also an important proposition.”

Peter G. Angelos

The Barn

March 1997

 

 

SOMETIMES, THE MISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA that Peter G. Angelos and his minions at the Baltimore Orioles spin regarding money, affordability and profit seems inconceivable to anyone who has been paying attention for almost a quarter of a century and doing the math.

It’s been a generation of mostly awful baseball and an extremely poor commitment to a winning product on the field for the fans of the Orioles.

Meanwhile, it’s been an absolute goldmine of riches for the Angelos family.

The results, the actions, the promises, the facts, the lies – it all speaks for itself.

The team’s record on the field since 1994 is 1665-1829. That’s four playoff appearances in 22 seasons. The team spent the first decade of the century finishing more than 20 games out of first place in the AL East race every season – and more than 30 games back in five of those 10.

Peter G. Angelos contributed $29 million toward the purchase of the Baltimore Orioles in the summer of 1993. Now, almost 23 years later, the empire has totaled up nearly $3 billion in total value – recent earnings totaling nearly $1 billion plus the current value of the properties.

But it’s almost like following the Donald Trump campaign with a fact checker. For many with a clear view, the “truths” are self-evident. But in the local media, no amount of promises or lies is ever held to accountability. The sports journalism done here is softer than the bottom of the current Orioles 2016 rotation – or maybe even the batting order, for that matter.

In this six-part series, “MASN Money For Dummies,” I’m here to fact check for Orioles and Nationals fans. This is Chapter 2 outlining the history of the local television network and its purpose and links to creating revenue for the local baseball franchises.

Chapter 1 outlines the goal of the series and is available here.

Last month at the team’s Fan Fest, former 50-home run king and current high-ranking Orioles executive Brady Anderson continued to spread the fallacy through the local media that the franchise is a “small to mid-market” team.

That is – very simply – a lie. It’s a myth from another era.

All of the numbers and profits will bear that out.

And if you judge the history of spending, winning, litigating and profiteering – it’s very clear the owner isn’t sincerely committed to winning and competing with other Major League Baseball teams for the best talent available and putting the best players possible into an Orioles uniform each spring.

And why should Angelos spend money or raise the payroll when the real money arrives via the MASN television network long before any commitment to winning is necessary?

In the old days, MLB teams needed to sell tickets and put asses in the seats to make money. Winning and having star players doing it was the formula to making money – or at least the prayer of turning an annual profit on a baseball team.

Angelos is now making between $75 and $100 million in profit per year with the current system of a low baseball payroll for the Orioles and a quiet, widely misunderstood cable television annuity that last year grossed MASN – and Angelos currently owns 83% of that entity – over $200 million from your living room according to SNL Kagan.

It guarantees this to be – by far – the most profitable investment in local sports franchise history.

I’ve done the math. Per Forbes, the Orioles made $197 million in profit between 2005 and 2014. The Angelos portion of MASN has made $397 million in profit since 2009. There was another undocumented chunk between 2005 and 2008 that was at least $100 million in total profit plus the $75 million in cash that MLB gifted him in two payments at the start of the deal.

His initial $29 million personal investment in the Orioles during the summer of …

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