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March 21, 2005 [LINK]

Open Letter from Orioles

One of the items I meant to talk about last week was the unusual full-page ad in the sports section of the Washington Post from two Sundays ago: "An Open Letter to All Fans of Baseball from the Orioles." It took sharp issue with news reports and editorials in the Post, claiming that for the last 30 years their franchise has had exlusive rights to territory "as far south as Charlotte, North Carolina." (Huh? Do those folks know that?) It also claimed that the above assumption was figured into the sales price when Mr. Angelos bought the team for $173 million in 1993. That was a gamble that Mr. Angelos took, and under normal business practices he should bear the risk. (Of course, as we all know, baseball is not a "normal business," it is a curious cartel whose dubious dealings are kept from the public eye by all the goodwill and nostalgia that the sport built up over the decades. Like Mr. Potter in A Wonderful Life, Peter Angelos is simply trumpeting to the world the universal arrogance exhibited by all monopolists.) It is as though Washington was never even considered for an expansion franchise or a relocation deal (Astros?) in the 1990s. Most outrageous, perhaps, is the demand that the Nationals games be broadcast exclusively by the television network controlled by the Orioles. That network was created in 2001, however, by which time it was becoming very clear that the Expos might relocate to Washington at any time. Recouping the millions of dollars in sunk costs for that enterprise is his responsibility, and cannot be forced upon Washington. I've always felt that some reasonable compensation to the Orioles would be appropriate, but Angelos has infuriated other franchise owners by his no-compromise position, forfeiting millions of dollars in lost revenues. He has created his own mess, and his old pal Commissioner Selig has too many other things to worry about right now to try to placate or woo Angelos. As usual, Thomas Boswell aptly dissects the perverse logic behind Angelos's arguments. Suffice it to say that he is not winning the hearts and minds of many potential fans in Washington. I was really looking forward to finally seeing a game at Camden Yards this spring, but it looks like I'll have to prolong my boycott a little longer...

The Dodger Stadium page has a new dynamic diagram that reflects the nearly-complete renovations, which will radically change its character.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 21 Mar 2005, 11: 51 PM

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