The Nats claim their bad TV deal and dispute with the Orioles harms their ability to compete

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On one level I feel bad for the Nats with respect to their TV situation. They did have a deal with the Orioles and MASN that was to increase the amount they are paid by the Orioles-owned TV network over time. The Orioles and MASN have reneged on that and litigated it and have done everything they can not to pay the Nats more money under the deal. Finally, either their lawyers or Major League Baseball or someone messed up the legal strategy in such a way that this dispute has dragged on even longer than it should have and now there is no end in sight.

But on another level, they should not be allowed to use this as an excuse for failing to improve their club, and that sounds like exactly what they are doing. From the Washington Post, reporting on Nats’ ownership’s statements in a sworn affidavit in the ongoing legal saga:

“While the Nationals have a strong business, with access to revolving credit lines, and maintain adequate cash reserves, the Nationals nevertheless have various cash flow needs necessitated by payroll and other ongoing expenses,” Cohen said. “MASN’s underpayment of rights fees has already required the Nationals to fund payroll and other expenses from its own reserves, and further delay could require the Nationals to seek further financing.

“This is not only burdensome in its own right, but it places the Nationals at a competitive disadvantage to other baseball clubs, which typically receive fair market value from their regional sports networks for their telecast rights.”

The Nationals made a reported $200 million offer to Jason Heyward, a reported $100 million offer to Yoenis Cespedes and made efforts to get Darren O'Day, Brandon Phillips and others this offseason. In the past couple of years they have given MONSTROUS sums of money to Max Scherzer and several other free agents. They have one of the higher payrolls in all of baseball, sought to send it higher this winter and at no time have been reported to be insolvent or even particularly struggling. They draw well, have a favorable stadium deal and have owners who are freakin’ billionaires.

The Washington Nationals are not getting the money they deserve under a certain media deal and that needs to be addressed, but it is NOT keeping them from fielding a competitive team. To the extent free agents don’t want to come to Washington it’s either because the Nats’ pursuit of them has been somehow lacking or, possibly, the Nationals’ dysfunction over the past year or two is enough to scare them away.

All of which is to say that the Nats owners are either making excuses to their fans for their failures, trying to puff up their damages in litigation or, in all likelihood, both. Don’t buy it for a second.

Blue Jays hire Don Mattingly as bench coach

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — Don Mattingly is joining the Toronto Blue Jays as bench coach to manager John Schneider, the team announced.

The former New York Yankees slugger, a six-time All-Star, joins the Blue Jays after seven seasons as manager of the Florida Marlins, where he won NL Manager of the Year honors in 2020.

Mattingly previously spent five seasons as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning three division titles in that span. He also worked as hitting coach and bench coach for the Yankees, and as hitting coach of the Dodgers before his managerial stint in Los Angeles.

In Toronto, Mattingly replaces Casey Candaele, who was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to serve as Schneider’s bench coach after the Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo in July, replacing him with Schneider. The Blue Jays said Candaele will resume his job as manager of the Triple-A Bisons in 2023.

Mattingly spent his entire 14-year playing career with the Yankees, winning nine Gold Glove awards at first base, three Silver Slugger awards, the 1984 AL batting title and the 1985 AL MVP award.