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Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles’ MASN dispute continues ... will never end

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Yes, the Orioles and Nationals’ MASN dispute is still ongoing, and no, it doesn’t seem like it will ever end...

masn production truck

We’re not going to recount the entire history of the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles’ years-long dispute over MASN money, because it requires the sort of recap that television shows have to do at the beginning of a new season to get viewers caught up, and we lost patience with this story years ago.

Hollywood Reporter writer Eriq Gardner does a good job of that in his latest story on the dispute anyway, so just read that to get up to speed before continuing...

The last we heard from this dispute, this past Fall, the Nats and Orioles went back before an MLB arbitration panel (comprised of three teams’ owners, with the teams changing on a regular basis) after the previous panel’s decision was challenged because of the fact that the Nationals’ lawyers, according to the Orioles’ lawyers, “... had a conflict of interest because the Nationals’ counsel at the time, Proskauer Rose, had represented MLB and the three owners’ clubs in other legal issues,” as Jon Meoli reported in the Baltimore Sun all the way back in November 2018.

A New York judge sent everyone back to MLB’s internal panel, but there was no new news from that point until last night, when the THR’s Gardner published the latest update in the never-ending dispute.

While the drama dragged on and on and on and on and on and on, “MASN has made cash flow payments to both teams every year early in the season,” Gardner wrote, but when the payment didn’t arrive last June, the Nationals asked about the missing money, which in turn led to, “... months of correspondence between the two clubs and the MLB Commissioner without resolution.”

The Nationals, apparently, asked for arbitration over the money, and the Orioles asked MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, “to determine arbitrability” which is, apparently, a word. That’s not where it ended, because, of course. Manfred wanted the two sides to mediate, but they, predictably, didn’t come to a resolution, and then...

“... on March 22, with the new season about to begin, the Orioles made a pretty bold move by making a demand to play this new game over TV money before the American Arbitration Association — an outside body.

According to the Nationals, the Orioles began ‘asserting for the first time that MLB purportedly had a financial interest in the Nationals because of a $25 million advance that MLB had made to the Nationals.’”

That $25M advance, was made, as Gardner reported previously (secretly) by Major League Baseball, “to soothe [Nationals’] team owner Ted Lerner’s own problems with being forced to license its games at a discount,” and the Orioles claimed that MLB had a, “... direct financial interest in the outcome,” of the dispute after the payment was made.

The Orioles, Gardner wrote, now are, “... evidently taking the position that this makes Major League Baseball a minority owner in the Nationals to the extent that any internal arbitration would be corrupted.”

“The Nationals are now seeking an emergency order to stop the arbitration before the AAA. The club contends it did not agree to arbitrate in this forum. The Nationals add, ‘Nor could MASN have made any legitimate argument that the advance created an interest in the Nationals themselves: the Nationals had no obligation to repay the advance, and MLB had no right to reach into the Nationals’ pocket to recover the money.’”

That’s it. We tap out. We give up. Just make it stop. Make it stop! Why won’t it stop!!!!!!!!!!