Friday, April 01, 2005

Bud Selig's Magic Beans

Wow. Just wow.

If you’re going to let Angelos and his wicked band of thugs abuse you, why would you wait six months? Wouldn’t you want to get it over sooner? Just get it done and move on? And, isn’t the point of negotiations to bargain and extract something of value from the other side?

How did Bud Selig make it as a car dealer?
“I’ll sell you this nice new Buick for $1,500. It’s got the Tru-Coat.”
“I’ll give you $17 for it!”
“Nah, I’m going to need at least $1,000. Remember, it’s got the Tru-Coat!”
“I’ll give you $10 for it!”

The devil, as they say, is in the details. And as we’ve gotten more information, this deal was clearly Beelzebub’s handiwork.

--The Orioles own 90% of the network. Yes, ninety!
--My rapidly eroding math skills tell me that leaves 10% for the Nats.
--Good news! The Nats’ share of the network increases over the next twenty years!
--Bad news! It’s capped at 33%.
--My still-rapidly eroding math skills tell me that leaves 2/3 of the control with Angelos.
--The Nationals will get $21 million next year for their television rights.
--That’s right in the middle of the pack for a team that’s in the 8th largest market.
--The rights fees will be renegotiated every three years by a three-man committee.
--The Nationals share none of the risk *cough, sputter, chortle* of the network.

Even with the creation of the network, there are still carriage problems. As I mentioned yesterday, there’s no guarantee that Comcast, the dominant cable provider in the area, is going to clear room for the new network, especially because it would place the team in direct competition with the sports network they own, Comcast SportsNet.

I would hope that public pressure and a sense of civic duty (HA!) would win out, and that the network would be carried, at least on a per-game basis on one of the endless local access channels they seem to have, such as they do when the Wizards and Caps (remember them?) had games.

But, there’s no guarantee. And, if they don’t agree, we’re stuck with only the 76 or so over-the-air games on Channels 5 and 20, meaning we’ll miss more than half the team’s games because of this ridiculous settlement.

The other questions it leaves me with… Who’s going to be on that three-man panel that sets future rights levels? I’d imagine one Nat, one O, but who’s the third? Eric Fisher’s account says they retain the right to appeal to Selig, but he’s already proven what kind of man he is in this deal. Why should that right matter then?

How much additional money can the Nats expect as a result of their equity share in the network? Will that reduce their expected rights-fees revenue in some way?

How will this affect the selling price of the team? Is a lower price good or bad for the team? (Bad for the individual owners, no doubt, but maybe that’s good, giving the team more capital to invest in the team and the farm system?)

How much of the indemnification in the sale price of the team is going to come from the Nats? All along they’ve said that the Nats would be protected, but they also said their broadcasting rights would be protected in this deal, and it’s not apparent that they were in this case. Will the new owners be on the hook for a larger than equitable share of the potential $350 million payment to Angelos when the bastard sells? How will that affect the team’s accounting? Will that be in addition to the sale price?

Answers, damnit! I want answers!

And sadly, the agreement just creates a lot of more questions.

The black cloud that was hanging over the franchise has blown out to sea.

Only to be replaced by a dark grey one that’s full of rain.

The agreement won’t cripple the franchise. It will just prevent it from maximizing its full potential. And, as per his usual, when something gets effed up in baseball, we only need to look one place, Park Avenue in NY, for Mr. Allen H. “Bud” Selig.

Tom Boswell has a much more positive look at the deal and says it's much ado about nothing. Take it for what it's worth, but know that when he writes, he usually has his "Nats #1" Foam Finger inserted in his ass.


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