Wednesday, January 14, 2015
The motion to vacate the arbitration ruling is largely premised on the role that Proskauer Rose played. The law firm represented the Nationals during the arbitration, but allegedly has conflicts — it has been involved in many MLB matters including the antitrust lawsuit over TV deals that is about to be presented to the 2nd Circuit. It represented the Mets in the Bernie Madoff affair, the Tampa Bay Rays in salary disputes with players, and much more.
In fact, on Monday, MASN told the judge that the law firm was “even more intertwined with MLB than was previously revealed,” counting 74 separate engagements, including 49 that occurred during the arbitration. These matters included representing the MLB in the Biogenesis investigation, in the dispute over the league’s one-year suspension of Alex Rodriguez and former MLB commissioner Bud Selig in the 2012 extension of his $22 million-per-year employment contract.
The Orioles and its broadcaster only threw up a number of soft objections to Proskauer’s involvement during the arbitration, but is now using its legal bat to drive home the point that MLB used the law firm to gain an illicit advantage over the arbitration process. The Nationals argue that MLB’s conflict of interest is “irrelevant” because the firm represented the league in unrelated matters, but the Orioles/MASN assert that MLB and Rob Manfred — who becomes the league’s new commissioner this month — “maintained almost complete control over the Arbitration and Award.”
And why exactly does the MLB care what MASN pays to the Nationals for the right to televise its games? If MLB used Proskauer to sway the arbitrators, what did MLB stand to gain from favoring one team over another?
As detailed in prior stories on this dispute, MLB privately paid $25 million to the Nationals to soothe team owner Ted Lerner’s own problems with being forced to license its games at a discount. Now, MASN tells the judge that the arbitration award must be vacated because “MLB had (and still has) a direct financial interest in the outcome.”
On Monday, Alan Rifkin, an attorney representing MASN, delivered an extraordinary sworn affidavit (read here in full) in the courtroom battle over TV money. It attempts to explain MLB’s stake.
Rifkin says he had discussions with Manfred — then the MLB’s chief operating officer — in August 2013. According to Rifkin, Manfred wrote that MLB had “resolved” the Nationals’ claim for additional telecast rights fees for 2012 and 2013 and that the league would “fund the entire cost of the resolution.”
At the time, Rifkin thought that MLB was going to pay the Nationals $7.5 million and believed this was a mistake because he says it “would only encourage the Nationals to believe that they were entitled to telecast rights fees in excess” of what the team deserved.
Only later, he says, did he learn that MLB had actually paid the Nationals $25 million. Manfred wanted to know if the Orioles would consider allowing the MLB to recoup the money through the proceeds of a sale of MASN, says Rifkin. The entreaty was allegedly rejected. ...
A spokesperson for MLB said the league had no comment about yesterday’s court filings. In prior papers filed by Manfred in the case, he wrote that MLB only plays a “support role” in the arbitration, that the process was well known by the Orioles, and that during the proceedings no party complained that it hadn’t been given an opportunity to present its case nor ever objected to the procedure.
Friday, January 02, 2015
It certainly would have been nice to host Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game at Camden Yards in July 2016, but Baltimore has reportedly fallen out of contention for the Midsummer Classic and all the economic benefits that make it a highly coveted civic event.
No one is saying exactly why the city has gone from being called a “very, very viable candidate” by baseball commissioner Bud Selig in May to being all-but-officially out of the picture, but you can draw your own conclusions…
This year’s All-Star Game will be held in Cincinnati and MLB has — with very few exceptions over the past 82 years — scheduled the game at American League and National League stadiums on an alternating basis.
So, it’s curious that San Diego’s Petco Park now appears to be the most likely 2016 All-Star host and Camden Yards is being overlooked.
Monday, December 29, 2014
We heard a couple of weeks ago that Petco Park in San Diego was likely to host the 2016 All-Star Game. This conflicted with an earlier report that Camden Yards in Baltimore would play host.
Today Roch Kubatko of MASN confirms that, no, Camden Yards will not be the site and cryptically adds that “Major League Baseball doesn’t seem to have much desire to do the Orioles any favors these days.”
It has to be cryptic, I assume, because Kubtako’s employer is at the center of the reason why MLB doesn’t want to do the Orioles any favors. As we’ve noted, MASN — which is owned and controlled by Orioles owner Peter Angelos — is in pitched litigation with MLB and the Washington Nationals over rights fees for Nats broadcasts on the network both teams share. Just a couple of weeks ago MASN won a discovery motion in the case, and you don’t have discovery disputes in cases where everyone is being all amicable with one another.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
NEW YORK — A New York Supreme Court granted partial discovery Monday to Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, forcing Major League Baseball to hand over documents relating to the long-standing dispute over the Washington Nationals’ regional television rights fees. MASN, which is majority controlled by the Baltimore Orioles, had been seeking documents detailing incoming MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s involvement with a arbitration panel that ruled this summer that MASN should pay the Nationals more in rights fees.
After three hours of arguments, Judge Lawrence Marks also approved MASN’s request that MLB turn over documents detailing the panel’s meetings, attendance and the details of the correspondence between Manfred and any MLB staff and the panel. MASN contends that Manfred, who has been serving as Commissioner Bud Selig’s right-hand man, and MLB had a vested interest in the panel’s ruling, which awarded the Nationals nearly $300 million in TV rights fees during the 2012-2016 “reset” period.
Posted: December 17, 2014 at 01:37 PM | 2 comment(s)
Friday, August 08, 2014
It’s not just conjecture by MASN that the RSDC ignored the Bortz methodology. The Managing Director of Bortz stated in an affidavit that the RSDC “improperly ignored facts and intentionally ignored other applicable reports that applied the established methodology” - all in order to find in favor of the Nationals, which, as far as MASN/the Orioles are concerned, it had planned to do for years, going back to when MLB was selling the Nationals franchise.
One way that the RSDC juked numbers to rule in the Nationals’ favor, MASN lays out in its petition, is that the RSDC considered as a baseline numbers from the 2007 season, which, as the first year of MASN’s existence, are not representative of how it has performed in any year since and particularly not in the present.
By shifting money from MASN profits to the rights fees, the Orioles suffer in two ways. One, they lose the 85% of money that they would have collected from what would be shifted to the Nationals rights fees. Two, they would lose 34% of money shifted to their own rights fees as part of the revenue sharing tax. If the result of the arbitration is that both the Orioles and Nationals make $60 million more in rights fees, that’s potentially $71 million annually that now goes to the Orioles that would be lost if this arbitration award is forced upon them.
Thursday, August 07, 2014
The upshot of the arguments, for those who do not wish to read: MASN is asking that the arbitration be set aside for conflict of interest for the most part.
Read the temporary restraining order at Craig’s link.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Move the Orioles to Montreal!
Major League Baseball’s arbitration panel ruled in favor of the Washington Nationals in their longstanding, contentious dispute with the Baltimore Orioles over television rights fees from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, a person familiar with the situation confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
The person would not reveal the terms of the June 30 ruling that might only begin a new, litigious chapter in the acrimonious, years-long squabble over profits from MASN. Last week in New York’s Supreme Court, the Nationals filed a motion against MASN, which is majority-owned by the Orioles; that case has been sealed. MLB, the Orioles and MASN acknowledged the dispute remains unsettled in official statements issued Tuesday….
The Orioles believe MLB stands to gain financially by the ruling in the Nationals’ favor. Rights fees and profits from television networks are viewed separately by MLB. Money earned from rights fees is subject to MLB’s revenue sharing agreement. Profit earned by a team-owned television network is not. If the Nationals received a larger rights fee, then, some of it would trickle back to MLB.
“The way things are now, MLB is the judge of a deal it created and has a vested interest in,” a person familiar with the Orioles’ thinking said. “As far as we’re concerned, this should be an independent, objective review of the facts.”
for his generous support.
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