Well, well, well, according to the Washington Post, MLB has enlisted the help of a private investment bank to find new owners for Nats and O's TV rights that are currently held in the cold dead hands of demonic Orioles owner Peter Angelos and his evil Mid Atlantic Sports Network. OK, maybe we went too far with the "demonic" thing. But still, MLB is totally f*cked.
The names of two potential buyers have been floated: Fox Sports (currently making a full court press for local TV rights deals everywhere), and Comcast.
We chatted with a person who knows stuff about the negotiations (and is usually right about stuff) who says the chances of Comcast securing Nationals rights are slim and none, mostly because Angelos still has hurt feelings about how he was treated when he tried to launch MASN on Comcast systems in the DMV when the Nationals first moved to town. For that reason alone he's more likely to do a deal with Fox Sports: "He's a stubborn guy."
Apparently Angelos is in a position where he thinks he has contract law on his side, and probably thinks he is standing on some moral high ground. According to a person who knows stuff, strict interpretation of the contract favors Angelos, not the Nats; and people who have done business with Angelos say that this is the type of situation where he digs in his heels. Bad news for Ted Lerner.
It doesn't help that Rob Manfred (the guy MLB has in place trying to work this out) has negligible TV experience and no cable experience to speak of. And that's why Bud Selig has gone running to Steve Greenberg to clean up the mess -- think of it as a Hail Mary. As an aside, Greenberg helped Ted Leonsis buy the Wizards, and Selig sell the Brewers.
Essentially MLB can either honor the Angelos contract as it was written (advantage O's); or it can give a nod to the billions of dollars being collected and spent by the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, et al. It sounds like the two sides are entrenched, not close, and unwilling to compromise.
And who can blame them?
(Screencap of Peter Angelos via IBEWHourPower video.)