Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Boswell: Selig could be right, or Selig could be stupid

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Boswell: Selig could be right, or Selig could be stupid

    Here is Boz' latest column

    That silence you hear, day after day, is baseball trying to decide whether to do something stupid.

    The sport has until Monday to make up its mind whether to accept the District's latest $611-million proposal to build a publicly financed ballpark for the Washington Nationals.

    The dumbest thing that MLB can do is to call the bluff of the D.C. City Council and refuse the amended lease proposal that is on the table. With that one miscalculation, baseball could squander a deal worth more than a billion dollars.

    The smartest thing baseball can do is realize that it took a midnight miracle last month to get a 9-4 vote out of the rebellious council for a stadium lease of any kind. Baseball should think: Let's nail this down before that crazy council votes again.

    With one word ("yes"), baseball can lock up a $450-million sale of the Nats, set the new ballpark in motion, name a new owner for the team and, in short order, erase every iota of the vast ill will that the game has earned for itself in this town.

    Or the game can say "no," and walk down a dark alley where public hostility and political intransigence are sure to lurk. The local media will likely join the baseball bashing party. (I'll bring an old Louisville slugger.) My guess is that baseball will do what it usually does: choose the worst available option. And say, "Not good enough."

    For 30 years, when baseball has been in a showdown with big money, lawyers and huge egos in play, the sport has made the wrong decision almost every time. The lone exception was when MLB finally avoided a strike in its last labor negotiation. Time after time, Bud Selig and Jerry Reinsdorf were near the center of the negotiations that ended in stubborn expensive stalemates.

    Once again, Selig, who'll make the final call, and Reinsdorf, who was the main negotiator with D.C., are at the core of the process. Baseball can scream, "Washington signed a contract for a new park so that we'd give them the Expos and face down Peter Angelos. And by Jove they're going to build it for us." And, technically, baseball would be right. Also, many of the city's current cost overruns are the result of the council's half-year public-relations pursuit of "private funding."

    Sometimes, however, it's better to learn from painful experience (like 1994), grit your teeth and compromise. Baseball's negotiations of September 2004 are no longer the realities on the ground in Washington in March 2006. Politics is the art of the possible. And, politically, it isn't possible for D.C. to eat all $200 million in extra construction costs while the public knows that baseball will get $200 million more for the Nats than it bargained.

    I wish I could tell you that I am optimistic. I'm not.

    Based on decades of observation of the central characters, not on inside information, I suspect that baseball will turn down the council lease on the flawed assumption that it can get a better deal if it punishes Washington and the Nats for a few more months. "Go sit in your room, Washington, and think about what a bad child you have been for talking back to your parents."

    If baseball plays hardball next week, the council will follow its infallible instincts for political self-preservation -- and throw the ballpark idea into the Anacostia River to see if it will float. If enough voters yell, "Save the park," they'll respond.

    But what happened last month when the council voted down the lease? Did the public storm city hall? No. There was stunned silence, not anger. The only sound was the ringing of cell phones as real estate developers demanded, "What happened?" Pressure, presumably from big shots, got the council to revote once. Will it work again? That bullet's used up.

    If baseball turns down the lease next week, Washington's response will probably dumbfound the sport. Many residents and politicians will say, "What's wrong with RFK Stadium? Play there. If you want a fancy park, then pay your fair share out of the $200 million in found money that fell in your lap."

    Of course, baseball will immediately threaten to move the Nats out of town "someday." In the suburbs, there will be weeping. But relatively few D.C. voters will cry. And almost every city council member will sigh, "It's over! We made them an offer that we can sell to the public as being fair. And the fools, they turned it down. Now I can worry about being reelected."

    In the metropolitan area of 5.5 million people, there is overwhelming support for the Nationals. However, in the District itself, with only a 10th that many people, there has never been more than tepid political support for an expensive park that would be used by crowds that were 75-percent suburbanite. The idea that D.C. could tax Nats tickets to create a commuter tax was never successfully sold to the public by Mayor Tony Williams. It's too late to win that PR battle now.

    Major League Baseball now holds a 9-4 council vote for a new $611-million stadium in its hand. The sport needs to grasp how precious, precarious and politically unpopular that document is.

    If baseball tears up that lease next week, the odds are no better than a coin flip that it will ever get another one.
    20 20

    Finally---something Nats and Birds fans can agree on!

  • #2
    I concur with everything you said.

    One other thing I'd add though. If MLB turns thumbs down, it will, in effect, bring contraction to the forefront, once again.

    Why is that?

    It took MLB 3 years to move the Expos to DC after that farce they called a selection process. You didn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out there was only one choice of where to re-locate. I seriously doubt any of the 29 owners of the Nats will want to go throught that process again, over, possibly, the next 3 years.

    To my way of thinking, each of the owners has probably paid out $10-12M, total, over the past 4 years to keep the team on the field. Although it didn't cost them much last year because of the attendance numbers. That amount of money is chump-change in today's economy. But it's plenty when the owners are looking at their bottom line and thinking 'I have better use for that money.' I'm thinking each owner will say 'enough, let's just pull the plug now.'

    There then becomes the problem of what other team will join the Nats on the contraction ballot. A number of teams are likely in the running, I don't need to go into who might be on that list, I'd guess most of us who follow MLB will have an opinion or two on that.

    A 'yes' by MLB will smooth the MLB waters for, at least, this season. But we know the CBA is up at the conclusion of this season, and then it'll be... Here we go again.

    BS is at the helm until 2009. There's been one crisis after another since he took over. Maybe it's time BS retired.
    CBk Oldtimer #16 now #29

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree...

      Do I hope that MLB accepts this lease? Of course. But if they dont, then as far as I am concerned, MLB might as well just pull the team out of here for good. I want the Nationals to stay, but I also understand the DC Council's first responsibility has to be to its own residents, not us suburbanites. I have always said that this thing should be built on terms that work well for the city.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Monarchs29
        Maybe it's time BS retired.
        what do you expect from a commissioner whose initials are BS?

        Comment


        • #5
          You cannot criticize Reinsdorf anymore as he has acquired the teflon of the owner of a world championship team (see the Steinbrenner amendment as regards owner bashing).

          As for Bud and the Boys, who knows. Had I been him after the 9-4 vote I would have yelled "Hallelujah", purchased a year's supply of hookers for the DC council, singed the lease and raced for the door for the door yelling "Free at Last!!!"

          Memo to MLB. Where the hell are you going to go if DC bails on you??
          Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

          Comment


          • #6
            As long as the DC Council is around we will have to put up with uncertainty until the first pitch is thrown in a new stadium. As far as I can tell the majority of DC's residents are against a stadium. If MLB forces any additional votes on a new stadium, the measures would never pass except for terminating the agreement with MLB. This will make great news for years, but you would think MLB is not that stupid.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by vasprtsfn
              Do I hope that MLB accepts this lease? Of course. But if they dont, then as far as I am concerned, MLB might as well just pull the team out of here for good. I want the Nationals to stay, but I also understand the DC Council's first responsibility has to be to its own residents, not us suburbanites. I have always said that this thing should be built on terms that work well for the city.
              I am a baseball fan and a suburbanite. I think a MLB team will be a great economic boon to the city as well as other intangible benefits. But I am not going to lobby the Council to take away the cap if MLB thumbs their nose at this lease. D.C. has agreed to pay over $600 million for a baseball stadium and that is not enough for you? At least three local owners are willing to pay for cost overruns, but you are determined to have Jeff Smulyan as an owner? Give me a friggin' break!

              If MLB is arrogant enough to think they should get their way all the time, and stupid enough to realize that this new lease is the best they are going to get and arbitration will NOT force the Council's hand, then they truly deserve to lose the billion dollars they are throwing away.

              Eddie Cunningham
              20 20

              Finally---something Nats and Birds fans can agree on!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by KCGHOST
                Memo to MLB. Where the hell are you going to go if DC bails on you??
                Portland, OR or Las Vegas, two cities that don't have an MLB stadium but do have a large fan base and want a new team.

                DC only got the team because they have a large stadium right now, the other cities don't. That won't stop the other cities from going all out to get the team when the DC lease is up. DC's loss is their gain.
                Best posts ever:
                Originally posted by nymdan
                Too... much... math... head... hurts...
                Originally posted by RuthMayBond
                I understand, I lost all my marbles years ago

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by eddiejc1
                  I think a MLB team will be a great economic boon to the city as well as other intangible benefits.
                  Eddie Cunningham
                  My problem with that oft repeated assertion is baseball like any other sports franchise will never add 3/4 of a billion dollars plus interest to the local economy over a century let alone in the short run and there has never been one credible shred of evidence to support such a notion.

                  Nor do I blame Mr. Cunningham for voicing it.

                  It gets trotted out every time a team thinks I owe them a stadium.

                  Taxpayer funded corporate welfare of privately owned entities that could pay off a stadium mortgage in a few years is egregiously outrageous.

                  Listen to them cry wolf as they snatch the money you work hard to earn right out of your pockets so they can buy one more yacht.

                  Boo-hoo.

                  DC City Council should simply say go ahead and move a Wal-Mart employes more full time tax paying workers than a baseball team and stadium.

                  Besides if they did move they'd risk Congress re-thinking MLB's antitrust exemption.

                  Even Selig knows that.
                  The Phillies Barstool Lives!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by ed hardiman
                    DC City Council should simply say go ahead and move a Wal-Mart employes more full time tax paying workers than a baseball team and stadium.
                    If the city was smart they would have just that going up, not a stadium.

                    Besides if they did move they'd risk Congress re-thinking MLB's antitrust exemption.

                    Even Selig knows that.
                    The antitrust law doesn't apply in this case since it's meant to prevent an owner from moving a team, not the league. Since the league owns the team, they can move the team. Removing the exemption actually allows moving teams to better markets should owners decide that is best for the team, they would simply need to show that they would be better off financially elsewhere and MLB would have to accept their relocation penalty payment. To not accept and block the move would be in violation of the law- inhibitting interstate commerce.

                    Remove the exemption, it's the 1950s all over again. Not likely with a large number of seats around the country at risk of losing a sports team and jobs.

                    Also do the math here for a second: 435 Congressmen vs. 1 delegate. Not bloody likely that they would overturn based on relocation out of DC, not with actual gain shown elsewhere. RFK stadium can save the Nationals for so long, eventually MLB will call the bluff and move the team to Portland or Las Vegas where they can get a better deal. It sucks but that will happen if DC plays hardball again.
                    Best posts ever:
                    Originally posted by nymdan
                    Too... much... math... head... hurts...
                    Originally posted by RuthMayBond
                    I understand, I lost all my marbles years ago

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by efin98
                      The antitrust law doesn't apply in this case since it's meant to prevent an owner from moving a team, not the league..(squished in the interest of preserving space no disrespect intended)....Portland or Las Vegas where they can get a better deal. It sucks but that will happen if DC plays hardball again.
                      Baseball is running headlong into a raft major problems.

                      The stadium and contraction extortion game is being played out all over the country and there's considerable backlash from voters sick and tired $600 million buys you but doesn't guarantee that your AAA-like franchise won't go bye-bye in a contraction or split for the next victim in the stadium shell game a decade or new owner later.
                      None of these cities will ever recoup their initial stadium expense.

                      The anti-trust exemption also allows baseball to exert ultimate authority on terms of minor league contracts, the reserve clause and the amateur draft.

                      Without which their restrictive economic and distributive headlock on new players and minor leaguers is effectively broken. Signing bonuses alone means Portland never sees a MLB team.

                      It's an economic certainty the largest market teams will generate the largest profits eventually squeezing smaller market teams to death or force them to move to the remaining large markets so the stadium extortion balloon would likely pop.

                      If I'm a city in one of the top 30 media markets what are you going to do for me Bud?
                      Sure go commit economic suicide in Columbus I'll see your new owners on the other side of receivership.

                      There's also the question of players as plaintiffs preventing the league from contracting teams, revenue sharing or acting in concert as restraint of trade issues.

                      In short absolute freakin' chaos.

                      Baseball owners should man up even if it means doing the unthinkable and chucking a couple of nickels around like manhole covers to put the Nats Stadium issue to bed.

                      Because like the Vegas mob in the movie "Casino" they had a sweet deal and they screwed it all up.
                      Last edited by ed hardiman; 03-04-2006, 06:08 PM.
                      The Phillies Barstool Lives!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Looks like somebody in baseball has had an attack of common sense!

                        YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                        Eddie Cunningham
                        20 20

                        Finally---something Nats and Birds fans can agree on!

                        Comment

                        Ad Widget

                        Collapse
                        Working...
                        X