- The Washington Times - Friday, April 7, 2006

Apparently eight straight losing seasons (combined with widespread distaste for Peter Angelos’s hardball negotiating tactics over the Nationals’ move to Washington) have taken their toll on the Baltimore Orioles’ fortunes in the D.C. area. Last year, virtually every one of the Orioles’ 162 games was televised in this area — either on ESPN, Fox, Comcast Sports Network or Channel 66. This year, the number will be less than 125 games — 87 on CSN, 30 on Channel 50, plus a handful of telecasts on ESPN and Fox.

And the missing games won’t only be the meaningless mid-September, already-eliminated-from-the playoffs sort the team plays year after year. Monday, April 3, was Opening Day at Camden Yards. But the only station broadcasting the game was Channel 13 in Baltimore — a station that is not carried on cable systems anywhere in the Washington area, or for that matter on a major satellite provider like DIRECTV. So, unless you managed to fish the old “rabbit ears” antenna and that old television set out of the closet, you would have to settle for listening to the Orioles opener on the radio.

Make no mistake about it: If you are an Orioles fan living in Montgomery or Prince George’s County (to say nothing of viewers in the District or Northern Virginia), you will need to resort to rabbit ears if you want to watch your team: 34 more Orioles games will be televised on either Channel 13 or Channel 54 in Baltimore but not on stations in Washington.

Adding insult to injury was the fact that because of a technical error, the game was blacked out on DIRECTV. As a result, on Monday, viewers in Montgomery County who receive DIRECTV’s Major League Baseball Extra Innings package, for example, could not even watch the Tampa Bay Devil Rays broadcast — which was available to subscribers in well over 90 percent of the country. But even if DIRECTV viewers are able to watch some of the 34 games they can’t watch on the Orioles network, this does not solve the problem for the overwhelming majority of local viewers who do not get satellite television. That means that if you are an Oriole fan in the Washington area, you are basically out of luck.

The bottom line is that local fans have a lot to thank Peter Angelos for: If they root for the Nationals, they can thank him for the shameful television deal and the legal wrangling it spurred between CSN and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network. If they root for the Orioles, they can thank him and his front-office people for the ill-considered moves that chased quality people like Jon Miller out of town and squandered money on the likes of Sidney Ponson and Sammy Sosa. The team’s poor on-the-field performance bears most of the biame for the fact that a growing number of its games will not be broadcast in the Washington area.

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