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.


  • There's so much rubbish in here, I hardly even know where to begin.

    The Council tried to set a hard cap on stadium construction costs, and they couldn't even get that done. In the end, they got just five votes!

    Let's just face the facts: the Council doesn't want to spend public money to build a stadium for baseball, period. The idea was never all that popular to begin with among the residents, and this is an election year. The Council is well within their rights to do this, but it's ridiculous that they strung out this soap opera this long when they never really intended to do it.

    And the idea that baseball is going to sell the team to Lerner or anyone else now is nothing short of flat-out delusional. They're going to hold onto the team as long as they're making a profit on it, and when they're not making a profit on it anymore they're going to restart the process of relocation/contraction.

    And the idea that MLB is going to go back to the negotiating table with Linda Cropp is nothing but more delusion. MLB will never negotiate with this body again, ever. It's going to arbitration now, the stadium is never going to get built, and the city had better hope they get a really sympathetic arbitrator, otherwise they could end up paying a boatload of money down the line with no team to show for it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/07/2006 9:53 PM  

  • Thanks, Vince Morris! ;)

    --You don't know how many votes the hard cap got. It never came up for a vote. It probably didn't have 9, otherwise it could've came to a vote. With a hard cap, I'm pretty sure they would've had seven.

    --The council doesn't want to spend public money? Have you followed the debate? Even Catania was willing to spend $535 million. They just didn't want to give a blank check.

    --I didn't really suggest that MLB would just dump the team on someone -- just threw that out as one of a million possibilities. Where would they relocate? Will they really contract if it's going to COST them money, especially when you consider the $1 BILLION they'd have turned away in DC?

    --Even if it goes to arbitration, they probably can't force the lease down the council's throat. Damages are capped in the $20 million range (i can't remember the exact figure)

    MLB has a lot to lose in this deal. It's in their interest to get it done. And DC Council has a lot in the deal, too. There's too much money in play for this not to get done.

    The vote today had no cost control. If they put a meaningful cap on costs, the legislation can get through with seven votes.

    But MLB is going to have to make a meaningful contribution to the city to make it work. Even if they do, they'll still come out better than any of the other options you present: contraction or relocation.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 2/07/2006 10:03 PM  

  • Here here!

    Hear hear!

    By Blogger Basil, at 2/07/2006 10:05 PM  

  • There is still some hope in my eye. Hopefully Selig will just come to his senses and sell the team just to get it off MLB's hands to an owner who will work with the city and get the job Adam Dunn.

    By Blogger King, at 2/07/2006 10:09 PM  

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