Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mayor Baseball Blows The Save

The Council voted down the lease solely because there wasn't a true cap on the construction costs. There was enough speechifying and explanation that it's clear that they would have had the seven votes had they been able to contain the costs.

Moving, contraction, whatever, are all possibilities.

But before we get hung up on the doom and gloom (ala Marc Fisher), remember that MLB stands to lose the most in all of this.

DC WANTS to give them $1 billion in assets. They're willing to give them AT LEAST $550 million for a stadium, and MLB has people willing to pay $450 million for the farkin' team. How can MLB possibly turn $1 billion in assets down?

Recall, too, that teams such as the Blue Jays and Royals have upped their payroll. It's probably safe to assume that some of that is because they were expecting a fat $15 million check from the league for the sale of the team. There's going to be a lot of internal pressure from other owners to just get the damn deal done.

Who knows? Maybe they'll just dump the team on the Lerners for $350 million and tell them to just get the farkin' deal done.

Ripping on the Council is far too easy. Let's not forget that they have a job to do. There weren't too many appeals to women and children today, just reasoned talk about what kinds of cost certainty the city had. When it became clear that there wasn't any, the city voted it down. Would YOU give Bud Selig a blank check?

It's easy to rip the Council, but to me, the real culprit is Tony Williams. His incompetent handling of this process is the sole reason we didn't get a lease tonight.

If he had enacted a lease that actually capped costs, like he thought he had, then the Council would have approved it.

If he had mounted a proper PR campaign (and slapping some peppy slogans on a farkin' website doesn't count), and he had actually used his 'charm' to negotiate internally with the members of the council, things might have gone differently.

If he had negotiated a better deal with MLB two years ago, things would be different today. Let's not forget that it was he (and Jack Evans) who negotiated the original baseball stadium agreement with MLB. That's the document that served as the framework for the lease. It's the document that set the precedent for giving away the farm for seemingly limitless money.

Yes, MLB should share some of the blame. Their greed hasn't helped things. But we shouldn't expect better of MLB.

We should, however, expect more from our elected leaders. And even though I'm one of those carpetbagging bastards who don't actually live in the District, it still applies.

Had Tony Williams demonstrated strong, meaningful leadership, we probably wouldn't be where we are today.

Still, there's hope. This might not be the death sentence it seems. And in many ways, I'm optimistic. Perhaps the Council's flaming bag of poo on Selig's doorstep will serve as a wakeup call, and MLB will start negotiating as a true partner with the city, not just as an party to the negotiations.


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