Sunday, December 19, 2004

Hal Bodley offbase on MLB's D.C. fiasco 

Noted MLB management apologist Hal Bodley of the USA Today has a column out where he rips the Washington D.C. City Council for failing to approve a stadium deal for the former Montreal Expos.

As I've noted earlier, this is a black eye for Selig, and a blow to his attempts to bully any and every public entity interested in having a major league team into paying for 100% of any stadium.

Bodley, however, is levying the blame on the D.C. City Council, and in particular chairman Linda Cropp, calling her behavior "ruthless and disgraceful".

And what is it that Cropp has done that is so awful? According to Bodley, not rubber-stamp D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams' deal with Selig, whereby D.C. would pay the full cost of building a new stadium.

Bodley sneers that MLB "will have the last laugh", that they'll "find a new home for the Expos where politicians honor agreements and appreciate what a big-league team will do for them."

Nevermind that MLB knew beforehand that Williams didn't have the authority to make a deal, that it had to be approved by the D.C. City Council -- according to Bodley:

"The council had every right to reject this deal if it felt it did not serve the citizens of Washington. Maybe the money could have been spent for more meaningful projects. But an agreement should be an agreement."

Bodley simply glosses over or ignores the fact that MLB had been dragging its feet on this issue for years now, had delayed dealing with Peter Angelos on how the Baltimore Orioles would be compensated for having a new neighbor right next door, had jumped the gun by announcing this as a done deal and moving the Expos' offices to Washington before the deal was ever approved by City Council. He fixates on the fact that the mayor cut a deal with MLB, even though he didn't have ultimate authority to make such a deal, and now wishes to demonize Cropp and Co. for not automatically approving it.

Bodley parrots management's line, declaring that there should be "no compromise", that the D.C. City Council should either accept the deal that Williams and Selig cut or suffer the consequences, which apparently consist of spending tax dollars on things like education and police rather than a baseball stadium.

Unfortunately, Bodley, busy playing the role of management stooge, appears to be in denial about the impact on MLB if this deal collapses. The Expos fiasco has already been a huge embarrassment for Selig, and if the team has nowhere to play in 2005, it will only make it that much worse. Selig has dug in his heels on the issue of public financing, insisting that whatever municipality ends up with the Expos tote 100% of the note. He's rightfully afraid that, should the new Expo owners have to pony up any of the money themselves, it will embolden other cities to stand up to MLB blackmail...after all, they'll say, if the team that was owned by MLB had to pay for some of the stadium construction costs for its new park, why shouldn't the Florida Marlins or the Oakland A's?

I'm hoping that this issue gets resolved before the December 31 deadline, although I'm not real hopeful. And I hope that sportswriters will start taking a little more critical view of how Selig is running MLB...although, once again, I'm not real hopeful.

Selig Sucks
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