Ignoring the age-old advice about picking fights with somebody who buys ink by the barrel, Orioles owner Peter Angelos took out a full-page advertisement in yesterday's Washington Post to correct what the ad called "misinformation and innuendo about our position - driven, in large part by news accounts and editorials in this newspaper."
Angelos, reached at home yesterday afternoon, stressed that he bought the ad to set the record straight on the Orioles' position regarding sharing the market with the Washington Nationals.
"The Washington Post persists in publishing false information to the Washington public," he said. "There is false information that is continually disseminated and completely supported by that newspaper."
Angelos, who declined to say how much he paid for the ad, was most recently upset by an editorial in Tuesday's editions of the Post, which blamed his "stubborn resistance" for the lack of a deal to locally televise the games of the Nationals.
"Mr. Angelos wants compensation for losses he believes his club will suffer from the presence of competition in Washington, and he seems to think that he can get much of what he wants from a favorable division of the region's baseball TV revenue," the editorial read.
"The situation is not simple, and the stakes are high," it went on. "Washington's team, the Nationals, is owned by Major League Baseball. ... Any team that has had its prospective TV money greatly reduced by an uneven revenue-sharing arrangement such as the one Mr. Angelos appears to be seeking ... would be worth a lot less at sale."
Angelos said the ad, which was an open letter addressed to "All Fans of Baseball from the Orioles," contained information that reporters and editors at the Post knew but never published.
"I thought it was important to lay it out for their readership," Angelos said.
Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the Post's assistant managing editor for sports, denied news reporters have withheld facts from their readers.
"We have repeatedly pointed out that the Orioles have television rights to the Washington area but not territorial rights," he said.
"There's a very good separation here between editorial and the newsroom. I didn't even know the editorial was going to appear. I didn't know the ad was appearing until one of my reporters told me about it [yesterday] morning."
Roger Caplan, owner of the Caplan Group, a Columbia-based advertising agency, said he thought placing the ad was a good move for Angelos.
"It showed the Washington market that he does care what they think," said Caplan, who estimated Angelos paid more than $35,000 for the ad.
But Caplan said he doesn't know how much impact the ad will have.
"D.C. fans want to see that team on TV 160 times," he said. "Angelos may very well be right in this, but he can't be right in the minds of a Washingtonian."
Angelos bitterly opposed the relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington, contending that the addition of a second team to the area would result in two mediocre franchises.
But since Major League Baseball announced in September that the Expos would be moving to the nation's capital, Angelos has been negotiating with MLB commissioner Bud Selig and chief operating officer Bob DuPuy over how the Orioles would be protected financially.
The negotiations now center on the resale value guarantee for the franchise and the rights fees payable to the Nationals by the Orioles Television Network. Open discussions remain on whether MLB or the Nationals will have any ownership of the Orioles network.
Angelos has steadfastly declined to comment on the negotiations.
The ad says the Orioles have had exclusive television rights to a territory that stretches from Pennsylvania to Charlotte, N.C., for more than 30 years, and Angelos' group bought those rights when it purchased the team for $173 million in 1993. The ad goes on to say the Orioles Television Network was started in 2001 as a foundation for a regional sports network to serve that territory, and MLB approved the creation of the network and understood its purpose.