Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Is the fix in?

The Post reports that Jeff Smulyan has added "several influential Washington figures" to the potential ownership group he heads. The new additions include former Redskins and local business executives. Although Smulyan says the locals will bring "a very, very significant amount of equity" to the party, he wouldn't be specific.

Tom Boswell opined recently that it would be a disaster if Major League Baseball selects the Smulyan group over the local groups who have at least as much money and strong ties to the community. It's not hard to conclude that Smulyan added these new partners for the purpose of blunting that argument. Linda Cropp certaintly seems to be wondering the same thing: "The key is to make sure we do not just have people's names on a list, but that they are actually controlling partners."

So, the lines of a potential conflict between MLB, which apparently favors the Smulyan group, and DC politicians, who want local entities to own the team, have been drawn. As Boswell said, if the potential becomes a real conflict, politicians like Cropp may not be so eager to go forward with plans for the new stadium. Hopefully some of baseball's decisionmakers will fall into a moment of sanity.

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