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Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Nationals fiasco 

MLB has shut down operations for the Washington Nationals, in the wake of a D.C. city council vote that approved a stadium deal requiring one-half of the cost of building a stadium to come from private financing.

Selig is throwing a tantrum in response, apparently hoping to scare the D.C. City Council into caving on this issue, so that public funds will be spent on a baseball field rather than on more pressing needs in our national's capitol.

This is just one more in a series of fiascos stemming from MLB's ridiculous agreement to let Jeffrey Loria, who ran the Expos into the ground, sell the team to the league so that he could buy the Florida Marlins in 2002.

The Expos were supposed to be playing elsewhere in 2003, then 2004, and have split time between Montreal and San Juan the past two years under an asinine plan to try to build interest in Puerto Rico.

This latest problem is all Selig's doing...he is the person who insisted that the Expos would only move somewhere where governments paid 100% of the costs for a new stadium. He wasn't going to let his comrades down by letting the Expos go to a municipality that would require private financing, lest other cities get that idea and quit footing 100% of the bill. Things like steroids and labor relations may not be Selig's strong suit, but when it comes to making sure his fellow owners get a stadium for free, that's where he draws the line.

So we'll see what happens. Either way, this is a black eye for Selig and baseball. Season tickets have been sold, team offices have been relocated, schedules have been printed...and now, Selig is apparently threatening to uproot the team again and send them to parts unknown for 2005. Steve Wilstein's acidly funny column suggests that the Expos will barnstorm next season, roaming from town to town playing games before whomever will show up.

Better that, than having Selig lose face in Washington, right?


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