Angelos Marches On
And still he fights on, the cocky, feisty owner of the Baltimore Orioles, determined to undermine the new competition down the road. Again, fans of the Washington Nationals lose out: This season, the Nats, already probably the least televised team in all of professional baseball, will put half as many games on broadcast TV as they did last year.
Channels 20 and 5 will carry all of 43 games this year, down from 81 last season. Most of the other games will appear on the phantom cable network controlled by Angelos, MASN, which still has no deal to be carried on the major cable systems in the area.
Only those lucky few of us who get Starpower or DirectTV or a couple of other tiny services will see those telecasts. Why no deal with Comcast, Cox Communications or Adelphia? It's easy to blame those cable companies, which, after all, have sued Angelos' operation.
But the ultimate fault lies with Angelos, who is determined to use his control of the Nationals TV rights to establish his own network as a big player in the local cable business, thereby shoving aside giants like Comcast. There's not much incentive for Comcast and its ilk to sign on to their own diminution in the sports TV world.
Angelos, of course, is loving the fact that the Nats, largely blacked out, will be unable to build a relationship with Washington area fans who would drop in on baseball telecasts night after night. Yes, Angelos loses money with this strategy, but only in the short term. By "wasting" the $21 million he pays for the Nats TV rights each year, he figures he's really saving his O's buckets of cash in the long run, still hoping that he can prevent the Washington team from setting down roots among fans, especially in Maryland and the District.
If we're learned anything over the past two years, it is that the lords of baseball play hardball, and that their greed far exceeds their concern for the health and appeal of the sport they preside over.
Will fans raise a fuss? Would that make a difference? All of this will likely improve only if the Nationals get an owner, and that seems a distant fantasy right now, as Major League Baseball makes increasingly strong noises about rejecting the stadium lease deal that the D.C. Council signed earlier this month. The deadline for baseball's response to the city is coming up in just more than a week, and around the Wilson Building, council staffers say they are not optimistic that baseball will sign the deal.
Spring does eventually arrive, so all is not lost. The question is, will it be on TV?
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Posted by: JF in Arlington | February 24, 2006 9:06 AM
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