KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Though he could offer no details about the Nationals' ongoing television rights fee conflict with the Orioles, baseball commissioner Bud Selig expressed some frustration today that there has been no resolution to a dispute that should have been settled months ago.
"We are in the midst of very intense discussions," Selig said during his annual All-Star Q&A lunch with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "That's all I can tell you. Very intense."
Asked if there's a timetable for the issue to be resolved, the commissioner cracked: "Yeah, about a month ago. But we'll keep moving that ahead until we get a resolution, as quickly as possible."
The ongoing dispute stems from a provision in the Nationals' contract with MASN (the majority of which is owned by the Orioles) that allows them to renegotiate their annual rights fee every five years. The Nationals, who last year earned 29 million from the network, are asking for about three times as much in rights fees; the Orioles are offering tens of millions of dollars less.
Unable to resolve the dispute on their own, the two clubs are now at the mercy of a three-person committee from the commissioner's office. Selig's office initially set a June 1 deadline for a resolution, which was later pushed back to July 1. A deal still has not been struck.
Selig was influential in the original negotiation of a deal that was designed to placate owner Peter Angelos in exchange for allowing the Montreal Expos to move to what had been classified as the Orioles' market in late 2004. The deal stipulated that the Orioles owned 90 percent of the newly formed TV network, with the Nationals' share slowly rising to as much as 33 percent over decades.
Selig was asked today whether he's troubled at all by the fact a Nationals franchise that is growing in popularity has its television rights controlled by a rival club.
"No, that was part of a process that was really complicated," he said. "You can second-guess anything in history ... but I can't second-guess that. We just have to work our way through this. And disputes between clubs are not uncommon. That's frankly why you have a commissioner. So I wouldn't say that. That was a deal that had to be worked out."
The Nationals have plenty of questions facing their starting rotation as they enter the 2016 postseason, but they now know exactly what the Dodgers will be rolling out for their NL Division Series.
Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts announced the Dodgers' rotation on Tuesday with Clayton Kershaw set for Game 1, Rich Hill for Game 2 and Kenta Maeda for Game 3. Julio Urias is a possibility for Game 4, though Kershaw could always go on short rest.
That's three lefties, with Maeda the only exception. That's also two rookies in Maeda and Urias.
Kershaw getting Game 1 is no surprise, of course. The three-time Cy Young winner and former MVP is the best pitcher in baseball. He's 12-3 with a 1.65 ERA in 20 starts this season and has 168 strikeouts to just 10 walks.
Hill has also been very good with a 2.05 ERA in 19 starts this season. The Dodgers acquired him in a trade with the Athletics on Aug. 1. Hill actually spent part of the 2015 season as part of the Nationals' minor league system.
Maeda has been one of the best rookies this season with a 16-9 record and 3.20 ERA. Urias is not far behind him with a 3.53 ERA through 17 appearances.
The Nationals are likely to pitch Max Scherzer in Game 1 and Tanner Roark in Game 2. Who pitches Game 3 is less clear, though it will be a choice between Joe Ross and Gio Gonzalez. The other could pitch Game 4, unless the Nats decide to start Scherzer again on short rest.
Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch in the series at all, the Nationals revealed on Tuesday. He remains out with a right flexor mass strain.
[Via the Los Angeles Times]
Nationals starter A.J. Cole has been suspended five games and issued an undisclosed fine by Major League Baseball for his role in the benches-clearing altercation between the Nats and Pirates on Sunday in Pittsburgh. The rookie has already decided to appeal the ban.
Cole is in line to pitch for the Nationals on Friday against the Marlins. That start is in jeopardy if the suspension is upheld, or he decides to drop it.
Cole, 24, threw behind Pirates first baseman Jung Ho Kang in the third inning of the Nationals' win over the Pirates. It was after Kang faked a tag at third base on a triple by Bryce Harper, a move that led to Harper jamming his left thumb on the play.
Harper has since missed two games with the injury, but X-rays showed no broken bones. He is expected to return to the Nats soon, possibly on Wednesday.
Cole is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA this season. He has allowed 12 earned runs in his last 16 2/3 innings pitched. Friday would be his final chance to prove himself before the Nats decide their playoff roster, but he may not get it.
[RELATED: X-ray on Bryce Harper's left thumb brings good news]
SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE NATIONALS STORIES