Quite a bit has been happening “Between the Yards,” this week. Both the Nationals and Orioles (for the first time this offseason) have been active in the free agent market and MASN is a mess, on both sides.
The MASN situation just flat out stinks. Some really great on air personalities who have become staples on the network have been let go. In addition to that, the network has cut pre and post game programming. Both teams lost good people and it was a one-sided decision by the network. A lot has been made of the move, especially the timing, which has come right before Spring Training is set to begin.
I’ll be honest, it stinks, but also, you had to see it coming. NBC just announced that they’re discontinuing NBCSports Network, where hockey lives most of the year. The Red Sox announced that NESN was making cuts too. This is the world we’re in people. Over 60% of the baseball season was eliminated, aka 60%+ of revenue, probably. Cuts had to be made, whether we like it or not.
Which got me thinking, MASN seems like it has been more of a thorn in the side of both teams rather than what it should be, a money maker. Both teams are tied up in a lawsuit over the original network deal because Major League Baseball made the revenue splits extremely favorable for the Orioles. They wanted to bring a team to DC and had to keep Peter Angelos happy, since the Nats were coming into the market. It clearly hasn’t aged well. The legal battle has just been a headache and a rift between the two teams. Here’s my solution: come to terms, figure out the legal stuff, and sell the network. Sell the Orioles’ portion to Fox Sports, who has a ton of regional sports networks already and sell the Nats’ portion to NBCSports Washington. They get the support of the monster network affiliates, they separate themselves since they can’t get along and they cut a ton of expenses in the process. This is easier said than done, but I say both teams should at least kick the tires on the idea. MASN is a mess and I don’t see it getting better. One team is going to feel screwed after the legal ruling. Just go your separate ways and let’s be civil.
New Guys in Town
This week, the Nats got better and the Orioles signed a shortstop. The Nats signed lefty Brad Hand to shore up the back of the bullpen to add to their moves from earlier this offseason. So far, the Nats have added Josh Bell, Kyle Schwarber, Jon Lester and now Brad Hand. The Nats went backwards last year, but they’re showing that they absolutely want to compete in the NL East and for a World Series again. On paper, the division is going to be a gauntlet. The Braves are one of the best teams in baseball and Steve Cohen has the Mets looking like a force. The Phillies will still struggle with pitching, but their lineup can cause issues. Good on the Nats for trying to keep pace with the big boys.
On the other hand, the Orioles just made their first and possibly last, Major League free agent acquisition of the offseason. Freddy Galvis. Cool I guess, he can play shortstop, pretty good defensively. He hit 23 homers in ’19, also cool. Personally, I hope he RAKES early and the O’s deal him at the deadline. Last year, Elias shipped a bunch of guys out of town for some legit prospects. Mountcastle, Kremer, Akin and Zimmermann made their debuts as the first “wave” of prospects, if you will. We’re finally bringing the young guys into the fold and it feels great. I’m thinking for now, Galvis and Sanchez will be the middle infield and then they’ll work in the likes of Rylan Bannon, Adam Hall and/or Cadyn Grenier as they see fit. Either way, don’t think that Orioles are going to have a flurry of late offseason moves. We’re in the weird in between stages of the rebuild now, can’t sign big names until the young guys find their way to the Show and find how they fit. Maybe in a year or two we’ll do what the Blue Jays did this year. Be patient Orioles fans. The time is near, but it is not now.
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Photos via Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, the Athletic