Angelos has not given money to Kohl, records show, and Angelos said he had met the Wisconsin senator just three times. Angelos said Kohl was merely "kidding him on the level" two weeks ago when he made the remark at the dinner. He disputed that Kohl or anyone else could influence the decision.
"Bud Selig is not going to consider what Herb Kohl said to him when the ultimate decision is made," Angelos said. "I wish you were right, but I want to tell you, that isn't going to happen. Bud Selig answers to the 29 owners and Bud Selig has a mission and a vision for baseball."
The Major League Constitution was rewritten to give Allan H. "Bud" Selig increased authority over economic issues.
(Morry Gash -- AP)
The District has been without major league baseball for more than 30 years. Look back at a visual history of the Washington Senators.
Kohl declined to be interviewed. His spokesman, Zach Goldberg, said the senator had made "a lighthearted remark" and had no opinion on a Washington area team. Kohl is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee. He said he recuses himself from sports-related matters, including legislation related to baseball's exemption from antitrust laws, which gives Selig unrestricted power over relocation.
Selig named Angelos to baseball's legislative affairs/government relations committee in the late 1990s. The committee of 10 owners lobbied Congress, primarily on the preservation of the antitrust exemption. Angelos, Boston Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry and Atlanta Braves Chairman Emeritus William C. Bartholomay were the only Democrats on the committee, according to William H. Schweitzer, one of Major League Baseball's lobbyists.
The combined federal donations of the other nine members of the Legislative Committee from 2000 to '04 was $1,153,618 -- or roughly one-third of what Angelos and his family contributed.
Angelos's presence in Major League Baseball, whose owners were mostly Republican, gave the sport's lobbying efforts an added dimension.
Schweitzer, a partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP, said Angelos was helpful with Democratic lawmakers previously hostile to baseball. "Some of the places that had been unfriendly to baseball in the past, at least we had a door to help us go through," he said.
Schweitzer and Lucy J. Calautti, a Democrat who also lobbies for Major League Baseball, maintained four season tickets to Orioles games that they sold, at cost, to lawmakers, aides, White House employees, the media and others who do business with baseball.
Angelos's greatest contribution to Selig came in 2001, when the collective-bargaining agreement between the owners and players was about to expire. The negotiations loomed as the most important in the game's tortured labor history. Both sides feared another work stoppage. Yet Selig, armed with his new powers, had united the owners in pushing for dramatic economic changes.
Selig persuaded Angelos to work on the negotiating committee along with one other club executive, Cubs President and CEO Andrew B. MacPhail. Selig said he chose Angelos because he was a proven negotiator and "knew the business. He understood how the economics of the business had changed . . . This was not something he volunteered to do. I had to be pretty persuasive."
"It was the most important job anyone could take on, and he did it," said Peter A. Magowan, the managing general partner of the San Francisco Giants. "To be asked by the commissioner to participate on a matter of that importance, it's almost like the president of the United States asking you. It's an honor."
Angelos is said to have played a central role in getting the players' association to agree to unprecedented concessions. He also helped define the owners' newfound tenacity against the players' union. During one negotiating session on steroid testing, which the union resisted, Angelos engaged in a heated exchange with associate general counsel Gene Orza in a scene two senior MLB officials described as "ugly."
Selig said, "I don't think we would have ended up where we are without Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail."
The new labor agreement already has saved the owners millions of dollars. In 2001, just 8 percent of all free agents signed for $1 million or less. This past winter, more than one-quarter did.
Last year, Selig named Angelos to the Executive Council. Giles described that committee as "the group that runs baseball. Bud is the leader of that council and usually whatever the Executive Council decides gets done. I don't think in the last five years there's been any disagreement."
Selig said Angelos "certainly earned the appointment." But he denied that his relationship with Angelos would color his decision on whether to put a team in Washington.
"Do I have a great deal of respect and affection for Peter Angelos? You bet I do," Selig said. But he said "all decisions on the future of the game have to be made in the best interests of baseball."
Technically, Angelos has no control over another team moving into the Washington market. The Major League Constitution defined Baltimore's "operating territory" as the city of Baltimore, and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, Carroll and Harford counties in Maryland.
But Angelos argues that the Orioles' broadcast revenue would be gutted. The team's games are televised in the District, Maryland, Virginia, four counties in south-central Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, Pa., Delaware, two counties in West Virginia, and the central and eastern regions of North Carolina, according to the Orioles. Angelos said a 2001 Deloitte & Touche study concluded that the Orioles' broadcast revenue would diminish by 60 percent with a team in Washington or Northern Virginia.
"Clearly, in either jurisdiction you have the same problem," said Angelos.
Angelos declined to say what action he might take if Major League Baseball tried to move the Expos into the Washington area. Clark C. Griffith, a Minneapolis antitrust attorney and former Twins executive whose father moved the club from Washington in 1960, said he believed "it's actually very clear that [the Orioles] don't" have legal standing to block the move.
"But that does not mean that the Orioles would not file lawsuits under a number of theories claiming they've somehow been harmed; we lawyers can think of those things pretty fast," Griffith said. "Whether or not it will have merit or staying power is subject very often to the judge who is hearing the case."
Baseball officials concede that to move the Expos to the Washington area they will likely have to make a large cash payment to Angelos to compensate him and head off a potential lawsuit that could, at minimum, slow the process.