Back in 2019, the Baltimore Orioles reportedly urged the state of Maryland to sue Major League Baseball, claiming “the league was misusing its antitrust exemption” during the legal wrangling between the Washington Nationals, the Orioles, and the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network over rights fees due to the Nationals.
Per the Baltimore Sun, meetings took place in 2019 between team chairman John Angelos, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, and others.
The prospect of such a lawsuit — which would have fractured the club’s already-tense relationship with the league — went far enough in 2019 that Attorney General Brian Frosh attended two meetings with a representative of Gov. Larry Hogan, Maryland Stadium Authority chairman Tom Kelso, Angelos and others to consider it, according to participants.
The meetings were confirmed to The Baltimore Sun by Kelso, a Hogan appointee who chaired the stadium authority from 2015 until March. Frosh, a Democrat who left office in January, declined to discuss the sessions, saying they were confidential. Two other people with direct knowledge also confirmed the meetings to The Sun. They requested anonymity, saying the talks were private.
Nothing came of the discussions.
Tom Kelso, the former chairman of the Maryland Stadium Authority, said that the meetings about the lawsuit were discussing “a valid claim under Maryland’s antitrust law and, if so, to pursue it to a victory or at least a good settlement for the Orioles.”
The idea behind the state suing in 2019, Kelso said, was to determine if there was a valid claim under Maryland’s antitrust law and, if so, to pursue it to a victory or at least a good settlement for the Orioles.
But he said no legal action was taken by the state after Angelos contacted Kelso following a second meeting with the attorney general — several months after the first — and said, according to Kelso: “‘I’ve developed a good relationship with Rob Manfred, and I think we’ve got an opportunity to settle this.’” Manfred has been the league’s commissioner since 2015.
That didn’t happen, either. The case ended up in New York’s highest court, and the Orioles lost an appeal in April. MASN was held liable in June for $99.2 million in broadcast fees to the Nationals.
After numerous appeals, the Orioles were ordered to pay out nearly $100 million in back rights fees from 2012-16 to the Nationals earlier this year. A ruling about rights fees from 2017-present has yet to be made.