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Draw your own conclusions on what's keeping Orioles from hosting All-Star Game

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig meets with the media during the owners' meetings in Baltimore in August.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig meets with the media during the owners' meetings in Baltimore in August. (Kevin Richardson, Baltimore Sun)

It certainly would have been nice to host Major League Baseball's All-Star Game at Camden Yards in July 2016, but Baltimore has reportedly fallen out of contention for the Midsummer Classic and all the economic benefits that make it a highly coveted civic event.

No one is saying exactly why the city has gone from being called a "very, very viable candidate" by baseball commissioner Bud Selig in May to being all-but-officially out of the picture, but you can draw your own conclusions.

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The Orioles are embroiled in what has become a nasty legal battle with MLB over its involvement in the rights fee dispute between the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and the Washington Nationals, so it's not hard to connect the dots and reach the conclusion that Selig and MLB aren't in the mood to reward the Orioles and principal owner Peter G. Angelos.

If that's the case, it would be a disturbing postscript to Selig's successful tenure as commissioner, since withholding the All-Star Game would punish Baltimore baseball fans and local businesses far more than the Orioles.

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Selig has insisted that there's no connection between the decision to award the 2016 game and the MASN dispute, and the Orioles have made no public comments to the contrary, but Baltimore was the most logical choice to host the game under the criteria that has generally been used to locate the game in the past.

This year's All-Star Game will be held in Cincinnati and MLB has — with very few exceptions over the past 82 years — scheduled the game at American League and National League stadiums on an alternating basis.

So, it's curious that San Diego's Petco Park now appears to be the most likely 2016 All-Star host and Camden Yards is being overlooked.

What other explanation could there be? The Orioles last hosted the game in 1993. If you exclude the stadium-challenged Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, the only other viable AL team that hasn't hosted it since then is the Toronto Blue Jays.

There's no way to prove any motivation on the part of Selig, incoming commissioner Rob Manfred or the selection committee to snub Baltimore. But they can't be happy with the way the Orioles have rebuffed their attempts to renegotiate the one-sided MASN deal that compensated the club for dropping its opposition to locating a second team in the area.

The rift caused by the long-running dispute has only gotten wider as the Orioles have sought to portray MLB as acting in a clear conflict of interest by siding with the Nationals in trying to overturn a contract that all sides approved in 2005.

If that has contributed to the soon-to-be announced decision to locate the All-Star Game elsewhere, it's important to note that the event is not a major revenue-producer for the host team. The revenues generated by the All-Star Game, the Home Run Derby and the Futures Game go into MLB's central fund.

The Orioles would have realized only a marginal marketing benefit from the game, since they would have been able to use the ability to reserve All-Star Game tickets as an inducement to sell more season ticket plans.

No doubt, the team recognizes the economic benefits such an event would bestow on the downtown area — and they would be substantial — but there is no way to compare that with the amount of money that hangs in the balance in the MASN dispute. The Orioles are challenging a decision by an MLB arbitration panel that would force them to pay the Nationals about $20 million per year more in rights fees than they believe is appropriate based on the methodology mandated by the original television rights agreement.

That might explain why a source told The Baltimore Sun this week that the team expressed interest in hosting the game in 2016, but has placed greater importance on its dealings with MLB as they relate to the rights dispute.

Maybe the Orioles could have tried harder, but there is no actual bidding process for the All-Star Game, and there does not appear to be any compelling reason to choose San Diego over Baltimore other than what seems to be obvious.

Whether MLB is being vindictive or just arbitrary, one thing is certain. Baltimore baseball fans don't deserve to be treated like this.

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Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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