Orioles-Nationals MASN Dispute: The case that Major League Baseball has cheated the Orioles

By MARK BROWN | August 8, 2014 | Camden Chat

When MLB and the Orioles hammered out the settlement that would allow the then-Expos, owned by MLB, to move into what was previously the sole territory of the Orioles, the Orioles were explicitly given certain sweet financial perks in order to compensate for the lost revenue anticipated. One of those perks was the ability to take in the lion’s share of the region’s television revenues. Both parties agreed to this.

Yet MLB never planned for this deal to last for long. They communicated to prospective buyers of the Nationals franchise that the television revenue would be redistributed in spite of the prior agreement with the Orioles. Major League Baseball has been planning for years to go back on this sweetheart deal now that it’s no longer convenient for them.

At least, that’s what MASN has to say about it, charging in a petition to a New York Supreme Court that baseball engaged in a scheme that “knowingly and intentionally deprives MASN and the Orioles of their promised compensation, assets, and rights.” This petition was filed despite the threats of baseball commissioner Bud Selig to levy the “strongest sanctions available” should a franchise take this dispute to court.

The intent of the petition is for the court to vacate a recent arbitration decision that decreed that MASN should pay between $60-90 million in additional rights fees to the Nationals per year. In essence, Selig is playing the part of Darth Vader in saying to the Orioles, “I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.”

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