MLB's Lack of Credibility Fanned Orioles-to-Vegas Rumors

The internet blew up over the weekend with the rumor that the Orioles were somehow leaving town, possibly for Las Vegas. You've almost certainly heard about it by now; several friends from around the country reached out to me on Facebook about it, the rumor was so pervasive. But it was in fact just a rumor, something that 105.7 The Fan apologized for on Sunday.

The rumor itself is not the thing that's most important about this story. The idea of the Orioles potentially leaving Baltimore has been broached in the past; even Peter Schmuck wrote a column about it last summer.

No, what's striking about the rumored move and the reaction to it was how believable it all was.

We've all seen the years-long drama play out in the courts and in arbitration between the Orioles and the Nationals. That Major League Baseball has sided with the Nationals repeatedly in this dispute certainly has not gone unnoticed. That MLB has negotiated the arrangement between the Orioles, Nationals, and MASN and has worked to constantly undermine the deal is certainly peculiar. That MLB has a financial interest to recoup from the Nationals that would be helped by the Nationals finding a windfall of MASN money certainly erodes their credibility in this matter.

MLB's punishment of the Orioles continues to go on in this way too, presumably to punish the Orioles for not acquiescing to their obscene financial demands. Don't forget how many times the All-Star Game has skipped over Baltimore the last few years, only to be awarded to other less desirable locations.

Let's put it this way; has Major League Baseball's actions toward the Orioles and their interference in the Orioles/Nationals/MLB dispute given you any reason to find a theory of MLB lining up a buyer to pony up $3 billion to move the team to Las Vegas not credible?

Now, of course, it was highly irresponsible for the lawyer and the station to run with this idea, especially due to the lack of any evidence whatsoever that a deal is on the table. But fans reacted the way they did because MLB has unapologetically jerked the Orioles around for nearly a decade.

I have no doubts in my mind that the Angelos Family will do their best to keep the team in Baltimore. Peter Angelos, for all of his faults, brought the team back under local control in the first place. I also have no doubt that a civically minded guy like Steve Bisciotti may be willing and able to take the team off of the hands of the Angelos Family if they were ever inclined to sell.

That, of course, is not to say that MLB won't press the issue.

Now fans and Marylanders need to react calmly to what's going on. Governor Larry Hogan wisely wrote a letter last summer urging MLB Commission Rob Manfred to end this dispute amicably. What we don't need is politicians to get in the middle of this and make things worse, as they did in forcing the hand of Bob Irsay to move the Colts in 1984 and like they're doing now trying to force the hand of the Stronach Group in moving the Preakness.

Fans should probably get out to a game. Go to as many games as possible. Just to make a point.

But what Major League Baseball, and specifically Commissioner Rob Manfred, owes the Orioles, owes state and city leaders, and owes fans are some answers. Answer to questions such as:
  • Do you see the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area as a two-team market?
  • Have you had any conversations with anybody anywhere about the Orioles moving to another market?
  • Why does Major League Baseball continue to interfere in support of one franchise at the expense of another?
  • After Major League Baseball's punitive actions directed at the Orioles, why should fans think MLB and the Commissioner's Office have any credibility on these issues?
Yes, the "Orioles to Las Vegas" weekend bonanza was nothing but a rumor. But it did a lot of damage and shows how little credibility MLB has in dealing fairly with the Orioles. The fans deserve answers.

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