Friday, November 11, 2005


Tom Boswell nails the lack of ownership issue in his column today. Boswell has just the right amount of outrage and indignation aimed at baseball and Bud Selig for its refusal to name an owner of the Natonals. He also summarizes nicely the resulting harm to the team:

Every person in the Nats' organization and every Washington fan is being penalized every day that Selig delays. As open season on free agents began yesterday, that penalty immediately became more severe. Will the Nats lose two of their best pitchers, Esteban Loaiza and Hector Carrasco? Both would like to stay in Washington but how can they if they have no idea who will own, operate or manage the team, much less what salary they will be offered? For that matter, what free agent of real quality will seriously consider a team in such flux? Will native New Englander Jim Bowden, whom Selig says "did a very good job" as general manager, be hired away by the Red Sox, who have already interviewed him?

Bowden has already told all the Nats' coaches to look for jobs because the team can't promise anybody anything. No owner means no job security. It's every man for himself. "It's really just not fair for the coaching staff, to hang them out there," said a disgusted Frank Robinson. "That's worse than saying, 'You're fired.' Because then they know they have to go look for a job."

For the last 15 months, baseball has treated Washington disgracefully, whether the issue was the availability to TV broadcasts to the general public, the quality of the team's faint radio signal or the misappropriation of parts of Washington's TV rights to Baltimore's owner. But such neglect and disrespect eventually has its cost.

Boswell then goes on to read the tea leaves and conclude that baseball may name an owner soon. We hope that's true, but we've been told that before...


El Gran Color Naranja said...

I said from Spring Training that it would be after the WS. (Of course I thought they'd find one before ST.) I assumed they would have a good idea of who they favored and just hold off until WS end to confront each of the leading ownership groups one last time. According to MLB though, they still haven't finished interviewing. When will that be? Christmas? Valentine's Day? I'm a week or two away for saying it won't happen until next November. Seriously, what is the incentive for MLB to naming an owner in January? Is it a tax write-off?

mlbabuse said...

Tom Boswell has argued so eloquently and persuasively re the need for MLB to name ownership. Why haven't Tom Davis or Henry Waxman convened a committee to examine why MLB has not yet named Nationals ownership? Certainly it isn't because the district and prospective ownership groups have refused to ante up, not with approximately, as Austin Powers would note "ONE BILLION DOLLARS" for the team and stadium? Perhaps some not-so-subtle threat to baseball's priveleged tax-exemption status might force MLB to realize that they're risking awakening a sleeping giant. Steroids are not baseball's only scandal. In fact steroids are perhaps more a window dressing than even Smulyan's local ownership tag-on partners. MLB's corrupt and endless unilateral demands at the expense of DC city council, taxpayers, businesses (not to mention prospective buyers), is insulting, outrageous and corrupt. One can easily imagine MLB's strategy to force resolution of all outstading stadium-related issues (all of which could be better resolved with local ownership input)immediately followed by naming of an out-of-town ownership group. Here is the recourse DC will have in such circumstances: None. What are Jack Evans and Linda Cropp and the other jockeying candidates for next year's Mayoral run doing, other than complaining? Nothing that I can see.
Unless someone "steps up to the plate" and protests MLB's treatment of DC as a second class citizen and effects immediate resolution, we will have absolutely no justification to wine, complain or dispute the treatment we have come to expect. Like an abused spouse, it seems that no one in DC is willing to stand up to such inappropriate treatment. Maybe this isn't surprising as those most capable of being heard are likely participants in the many ownership groups, and therefore in a conflictig and precarious position to rock the boat.
It is then left to the remaining disefranchised to speak out and demand resolution. But isn't there some role of Congress in representing the District in this flagrant and unending manipulation? What is MLB's motivation to even name a new group, since they will otherwise pad their pockets with another 25 million profit this next year, in addition to the approximate 300 million dollar profit windfall. Not to mention the ongoing unfair advantage to virtually every single other MLB club who do not have to worry about legitimate competition with the Nationals, who already again are disadvantaged in identifying, recruiting or retaining talent. Doesn't sound American, fair or competitive. MLB is (for a change) taking advantage of their unique exemption, and Congress is failing in their responsibility to ensure those given such unfair advantage (MLB) do not abuse such entitlement. Congress needs to represent DC citizens (who by the way do not have voting congressional representation despite the Boston Tea Party) and "help" MLB realize their resposbility and reach closure now.

Leiv & Erik said...

I've concluded, perhaps wrongly, that the delay is just baseball's attempt to get a better deal, even on things--like the $6 million guaranteed lease payments--that are rounding errors in the deal. I keep looking for a principled and substantial reason for the delay, but I can't find one. Anyone with a better idea?

Leiv & Erik said...

I agree with you, mlbabuse. The only very minor caveat is that DC officials are in a bit of a tough spot. They want to force baseball's hand, but they don't want to do anything that risks scuttling the deal. That said, I agree that they could and should do more to protest baseball's behavior.

mlbabuse said...

Levi and Erik:
Precisely! The dc council is in a predicament. You are correct that they are somewhat hamstrung in their ability to make any overt "demands". Thus the very reason that some congressional representative w/ DC oversight responsibilty explore the situation and capture the attention of ADHDMLB.