Nats-Orioles MASN dispute headed to arbitrator

NEW YORK -- A New York judge has denied the Nationals' attempt to block the Orioles from having an arbitrator determine whether baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred can decide yet another dispute between the teams over broadcast money from the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Washington's petition to stop Baltimore from taking the matter to arbitration was turned down Wednesday by Justice Barry R. Ostrager of New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, who ruled the American Arbitration Association can determine whether Manfred can decide the case, which involves a claim MASN failed to distribute cash to the Nationals last year.

The 2005 MASN partnership agreement between the Orioles and Nationals empowered the baseball commissioner to decide disputes between the network's owners, but only if Major League Baseball did not have an ownership or financial interest in the two teams or the network at the time of the disagreement.

Washington said in its petition to stay the arbitration that MASN, which is controlled by the Orioles, made cash flow distributions from 2009-17 but did not in 2018, and the Nationals invoked the dispute resolution procedure on Sept. 20. The Nationals told Manfred on March 22 that mediation had failed, and the Orioles started an arbitration case with the AAA later that day. The Nationals said the Orioles had not objected previously to Manfred deciding the matter, and sued Monday to block the AAA.