ORIOLES: What? No. It’s not for sale.
BUD: Come on. Sell it to that guy over there. He needs a ride.
ORIOLES: No. But thanks anyway.
BUD: OK. Awesome. I’ll call my bank and see if they can set it up for you and that guy over there. Thanks dude.
ORIOLES: What? Leave me alone! I’m not selling my car!
BUD: Right. Cool. Listen, the bank should call you in a day or two and we can get this done.
The Baltimore Orioles own the MidAtlantic Sports Network, or MASN, which is the cable channel home to the O’s and their neighbors at the other end of the BW Parkway, the Nationals. And the Nationals are restless for a new television deal.
Tough nuts, Nats.
Bud Selig’s calling bankers and they’re setting up meetings with Fox and Comcast and anybody else who has the zillions to pony up for a regional sports network. But a deal ain’t happened and it ain’t gonna.
Back in 2005, the Players Association blocked Bud from stuffing the Expos and Twins in a burlap sack with a cinder block and throwing the teams into the Hudson River. Minnesota crawled out of the bag and proved it was worthy by overpaying for a few guys and building a new stadium.
That wasn’t going to happen in Montreal. While Les Expos were a ward of the state and spent half of their final season playing home games in Puerto Rico, Bud Selig tried mightily to get Orioles owner Peter Angelos to give away his team’s territorial rights to the Washington D.C. area.
After DC lost its second big-league team in the early 1970s, baseball declared everything from North Carolina to Washington to be OrioleLand. Kind of like New England belongs to the Red Sox, the entire Mid Atlantic region of the United States was orange and black. When baseball decided DC finally needed another team of its own, Angelos – no fool in the legal department – held out for a deal that would pay the Orioles two thirds of every dollar earned … on the Nationals’ television broadcasts!
ANGELOS: Um … sure, DC. I’ll give you my territory. How’s a 90/10 split sound to you?
For the first few years of the history of the Washington Nationals, this arrangement didn’t much matter. Fans were either indifferent or just glad to have baseball back in Washington. But now, the Nats are hot stuff on the banks of the Anacostia. They’re good and fans want to watch them.
And now, the Lerners, the family that bought the Nationals from MLB in 2006, want a new TV deal. They can’t imagine anyone would sign such a stinkbomb of an agreement. But somebody did. And that somebody was Bud Selig.
The “commissioner” wanted a deal done in the worst way. And that’s exactly how he got the deal done. The O’s own the lion’s share of MASN and they always will. At the most, the Nats will own a third of it. And that won’t be for another 20 years or so.
Listen, everybody hates Peter Angelos. It’s easy. But give the guy credit; when he’s got you by the hoo-haws, he knows how to close the deal. And close it he did. It’ll pay off for Baltimore for years to come.
Bud’s back in the game now, trying to convince Baltimore to sell the network and let the Nats have their own thing. Fat chance.
Selig made a lousy deal and the Lerners knew all about it when they bought the team from MLB.
A deal’s a deal. You can’t renegotiate just because you got had.