- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 30, 2005

Washington Nationals president Tony Tavares bristled at the notion that his team needed to get permission from Major League Baseball to sign outfielder Jose Guillen to a $4 million club option yesterday.

“There is this huge misconception about how this team is operated,” Tavares said. “[General manager] Jim [Bowden] never goes to anybody in baseball asking if a trade should be made. [Manager] Frank [Robinson] doesn’t have to ask anybody who is playing on the field. We run our business like a normal business.”

A normal business that just happens to be paying its competitor $75 million for the right to be controlled by that competitor.

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“There is the misconception that the 29 other major league owners are calling [commissioner] Bud [Selig]” to discuss Nationals business, Tavares said.

Well, maybe one is — the owner of the Washington Nationals, Peter Angelos.

If Angelos doesn’t own the Nationals, he sure is their “daddy.” If you need any more proof, just look at the latest revelation of the television deal Angelos has made with MLB to partner with whatever sap winds up thinking he actually owns this team.

As first reported in The Washington Times yesterday, Angelos will be due a $37.5 million payment come June 30, and another $37.5 million by June 30, 2006. Baseball will be picking up the first payment only because the team isn’t likely to be sold by June 30, but you can be sure it will be tacked on to the sales price.

For this, the prospective marks who will wind up pretending to own this baseball team will have a 10 percent piece of the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).

What does that mean?

Angelos will get $75 million and also own 90 percent of a network that baseball believes will be worth $750 million.

The fools who will be the winning bidders for the Nationals will be the ones paying Angelos that $75 million for a mouse’s portion of this projected lucrative television network.

Just like a normal business, all right — if it were on a Sunday night HBO show where such business practices make great scripts.

Now, you will hear howls from the B&O; Warehouse and from MASN (Mr. Angelos’ Sports Network) people that the money is not going to Angelos — that it is simply a business transaction involving a network, as they try to hide behind the corporate name. They are turning themselves inside out trying to keep Angelos from being the villain in this dysfunctional deal.

Can anyone say RICO now?

Saying MASN (My Arrogant Scam Network) is not Peter Angelos is like saying the Orioles are not Peter Angelos. And, unfortunately for Orioles fans, they know very well that he is the Orioles. And now, unfortunately for Nationals fans, they are realizing that he is the Nationals, too.

This is how baseball has covered up the payment to Angelos — through the television deal, in addition to the guaranteed resale value of $365 million.

What baseball owner wouldn’t want this deal? Heck, most of them would probably say you could put another team in their ballpark if they could reap the same rewards that Angelos will get. There is a financial impact on the Orioles, all right, but not the one the owner cried about for so many years. We should all be so lucky to be impacted like this.

What this illustrates is how frightened Cadillac Bud and his cronies were about being dragged into court by Angelos. It was never a case of winning or losing a lawsuit, but a real fear about the business practices of baseball being revealed during the process. And Angelos — a member of baseball’s Executive Council — knows where the bodies are buried, as they say in this kind of normal business.

At the press conference yesterday to announce the Nationals picking up Guillen’s contract option for next year, the outfielder talked about how much he feels at home here when asked what he likes about being with the Nationals.

“What do I like?” he said. “My teammates, the coaching staff the manager and front-office people. … They’re my family here.”

Well, Jose, your family may not be here next year, whenever the patsies who buy into the illusion they will own this team take over. But Daddy Angelos and his MASN (Most Autocratic Smug Network) will still likely be around, in a business that is run as normal as any Northern New Jersey waste management company might be.

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