Team headquarters for now is a humble hotel room in downtown D.C., but the new Washington baseball franchise -- technically still known as the Expos until a new name is chosen -- is officially up and running in the District, team president Tony Tavares said Wednesday.That's fine by me. Brian Cashman could be available if the Yankees blow the ALCS and incur the wrath of Steinbrenner, but it's not something we should bank on.
Tavares and Kevin Uhlich, who was Tavares's chief operating officer when both worked for the Anaheim Angels and who is serving as an outside consultant for the Expos, arrived in Washington on Tuesday night, and on Wednesday began getting the team's business operations up and running.
Former Baltimore Orioles GM Pat Gillick has emerged as a leading candidate for the Washington team's GM job, but Tavares said he has not yet spoken to any potential candidates. Gillick has expressed public interest in the position, even if it is on an interim basis while MLB sells the franchise.
Meanwhile, Marion Barry is under the delusion that he can stop this thing.
Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry said he plans to block construction contracts and legislation for building a baseball stadium in Southeast, even if the city seals a deal with Major League Baseball before he likely joins the D.C. Council in January. "I'm going to do all I can to stop it at the council level and at other levels," Mr. Barry said during an interview with The Washington Times. "We have a lot of opportunities to stop this." He then delighted the reporters present with his trademark catchphrase. "In conclusion, I want to assure you all that the bitch set me up! Thanks, you've been great. Tip your waitress."I made some of that up. Can you guess what? Anyway, Barry shows a remarkable grasp of not knowing what the hell he's talking about. "I'm going to stop this baseball stadium and take the money and spend it on housing and schools," Mr. Barry said. What money? You think Anthony Williams has a money bin he dives into every day after work? That he's just going to fill a couple of sacks with dollar signs on them and buy a stadium? One is tempted to believe that this is mere demagoguery and not a serious argument at all.
Though his intended efforts could spoil the deal to return Major League Baseball to the city after a 33-year absence, Mr. Barry said he supports baseball in the city. He said baseball officials would move the team to the District without the "sweetheart" deal offered by Mr. Williams. "He didn't just give away the store, he gave away the city," Mr. Barry said of Mr. Williams' agreement to publicly finance the cost of a $435.2 million ballpark. "That bitch set us up!"It's reassuring that Marion Barry knows more about what MLB will do than the people who have been dealing them for years do. Maybe crack is like the spice in Dune - it lets you see into the future or something. No stadium, no team.
So, can he stop it? The financing is almost certainly going to pass. They have the seven votes they need on the current council. The problem is that Marion Barry, Kwame Brown, and Vincent Gray join it in January, and they're all anti-stadium. Could they repeal the business tax and leave the District unable to finance a new stadium? I doubt it. Imagine this: it's January, the financing has been enacted, and the Expos have moved and been given their new name. The schedule's out, the papers are counting down the days until spring training, and Jose Vidro is already doing Senate Auto Insurance commercials. Jerseys, hats, and season tickets were the most sought-after Christmas presents in two states and a district. What politician is going to have the stones to get up and tell everyone "Sorry for the false alarm, but it's off. You can get your tickets refunded, though"? I don't care if they're complaining about the money now, only a fanatic would be willing to put himself in that position. So why is Barry bothering with this? Hey, any publicity that doesn't come from a hidden police camera is good publicity, as they say.