- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is heightening his role in ongoing compensation talks with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, seeking to bring a swift end to the festering dispute.

Selig met with Angelos and other Orioles officials here for 90 minutes yesterday, marking his first face-to-face talks with Angelos in more than a month on providing Baltimore financial protection from the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington. The Orioles’ leadership will travel early next week to Selig’s office in Milwaukee for another negotiating session

“There’s no question Bud’s role has increased,” said a source familiar with the discussions. “We’re all running out of time.”

The birth of the Washington Nationals already has been a source of frustration for Angelos, most clearly noted by his solo opposition to the relocation in an owners’ vote last month. But the lagging talks have reached a critical stage because without a signed agreement with the Orioles, MLB is unable to sell the Nationals or establish long-term local TV distribution for the club.

The two sides have talked for weeks about an unprecedented package of benefits for Angelos that include guarantees to the Orioles’ annual local revenue, future resale value for the franchise and a majority stake in a new regional sports network. But divisions remain on several fundamental areas, including how long the benefits will last and measures to ensure competitive impetus for the Orioles.

Selig and MLB president Bob DuPuy, baseball’s lead negotiator in the Angelos matter, described yesterday’s talks as open and friendly, though the meeting ended without resolution.

“This was definitely worth my time,” Selig said. “As I’ve said many times, I have great affection for Peter Angelos, and I believe he does for me as well.”

Said Angelos: “It was a very cordial meeting. This was very constructive … hopefully.”

If the two sides cannot reach an agreement soon, MLB likely will begin exploring alternate, short-term local TV distribution options for the Nationals.

Conversely, sources close to Angelos have suggested he may file a lawsuit against baseball if the issue reaches an impasse.

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