Thursday, September 30, 2004

A Year of Treading Water

Part I is over; we're getting a team. You can worry about RICO or the finance plan passing or whatever, but I'm not. These are the kind of things everyone will have forgotten about in a year. I'm moving on.

The Montreal Expos
have been a franchise in disarray for years now. One would think that the promise of permanent home and dedicated ownership would alleviate this state of affairs, but it's actually getting worse. Expos general manager Omar Minaya is gettin' while the gettin's good, accepting a job with the Mets. I'd wish him well, but the Mets are a divisional rival and a team I hated to begin with, so I hope he fails miserably. David Wright for Tony Batista straight up, Omar - you know you want to.

"Well, no big deal," you may be saying to yourself. "The owners will hire someone. Hey, maybe that Cal Ripken fella would be a good GM." If you are saying that to yourself, you could hardly be wronger. First, Cal Ripken: GM springs from the same logic that gave us John Thompson: radio personality and Madonna: Jewish mystic. Second, we're not going to have an owner. Jayson Stark has a useful overview of the impending chaos:
We surveyed several people familiar with team sales in general and this situation in particular. They estimated that MLB could be stuck with this club anywhere from another six months to (better grab the smelling salts) two years.
If everything goes perfectly smoothly, we might have ownership in place around Opening Day. This means we miss out on a very interesting crop of free agents (it's not every year a power-hitting 3B comes on the market at age 25), and without some of those guys, the Washingtons aren't going to compete. What we have in the Expos is a good skeleton around which to build a team. The current squad is pretty cheap, pretty young, and possessed of reasonably good potential. It's not Cleveland or Texas, but it's not Arizona, either. The NL East is not the strongest division in the game, and there would be nothing to stop the current Expos + $40 million from competing, or at least whipping the hell out of the Mets. With MLB continuing to own the team, we can't expect any big name free agents or, perhaps worse, the reorganization and replenishment of the farm system. Even as I rejoice at our good fortune, I lament our lost opportunities.

The good news is that, new ownership or not, the team won't be the Expos next year. The safe choice is Senators, and I don't think Rangers owner Tom Hicks will make getting the name a problem. I'm glad to see some buzz buzzing around Grays. Michael Wilbon wrote a column about it, and Dan Patrick favors it as well, not to mention notorious badass Anthony Williams. It certainly has some advantages. I, for one, don't like that damn cursive W the City Council was sporting yesterday. It looks like the logo of a dude ranch. A team called the Senators would probably have to wear red, white, and blue, and scientists have determined that it's almost impossible to do that and not look stupid. I can't say that I prefer Grays, but that and Senators are the only names that don't annoy me. And after all, shouldn't that be the overriding consideration?

In other news, I've been hearing something about a presidential election going on. I can't believe they're doing this again already. It's like making a sequel to Resident Evil - wasn't the last one bad enough? I decided to take a look at the candidates and tell you who to vote for.

George W. Bush (R)
  • Pros: a baseball guy. Used to own the Rangers. Threw out first pitch at Cards game.
  • Cons: traded Sammy Sosa.
John F. Kerry (D)
Well, neither of these guys is satisfactory. We're looking for leadership, for men who can do the impossible and look good doing it. We're looking for men who aren't afraid to insult Loudoun County, men who will shake William Yurasko's hand. Distinguished Senators hereby endores Anthony Williams for president and Jack "The Ripper" Evans for vice president. Write 'em in, people!

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Too Bad I Couldn't Score a Free Hat

Quick update here, then off to bed. The press conference was great and included the greatest moment of my life to date: I shook Jack Evans' hand. I could feel his power flow through me, and now I don't take crap from nobody.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun. I met William Yurasko of the eponymous News, and Chris Rehling of Remember the Grays was there with a squad of his Gray-remembering henchmen. I'll have more tomorrow. There's a lot to talk about; this is only the end of part I.

Press Conference

Five o'clock today at the City Museum. Directions, courtesy of the WBC:
The City Museum is located on K Street, NW between 7th and 9th streets, NW at Mt. Vernon Square directly across the street from the new Convention Center.
We recommend taking the Metro.
The City Museum is 2 blocks south of the Mount Vernon Sq/7th St-Convention Center Metro Station (yellow and green lines) and 2 blocks north of the Gallery Pl-Chinatown Metro station (red, yellow, and green lines).
I should be there - look for the guy in the red, white, and blue Senators hat and the brown Hawaiian shirt - and I hope to meet some of ya'll there. Remember the Grays will be out in force, as well.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

IT'S OFFICIAL!

From ESPN:
Major League Baseball will announce Wednesday that Washington will be the new home of the Montreal Expos, The Associated Press has learned.
A city official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington has been notified by Major League Baseball of the impending announcement that will return the national pastime to the nation's capital for the first time in 33 years.
The city is planning its own news conference at a downtown location Wednesday afternoon, the official said.
There you have it. It's been a long, harrowing haul, but the right thing is finally happening. Now I want some input from you. Let's use the comments section to memorialize this moment. Go Senators!

Ex Lion Tamer

Negotiations with Peter Angelos are continuing. Jayson Stark has a run-down of what he's supposedly being offered.
  • Baseball is willing to guarantee that the Orioles will earn a still-to-be-negotiated minimum in annual revenues. If their revenues fall below that figure, MLB would make up the difference.
  • Baseball also is willing to guarantee a minimum franchise value for the Orioles. So if Angelos attempts to sell the team and can't find a buyer willing to pay that amount, MLB also would make up that difference.

    Beyond those measures, baseball will help establish a new regional sports network in the Baltimore-Washington area that would enable the Orioles to continue to televise games in Washington and its Virginia suburbs.

  • Let's go backwards:

    I love the regional sports network idea. I wouldn't call myself an Orioles fan, but I would call myself a baseball fan. The more games I have to choose from, the better. Plus, I wouldn't want to lose the pleasure of hearing Buck Martinez; he sounds like the noise I'd imagine a gut-punched drunk clown would make.

    Minimum franchise value?
    Hey, if Angelos sells, we all win. Washingtonians, Baltimoreans, mammals, everyone.

    Minimum annual revenues - there's a bad idea. I always figured that there were two ways Angelos could respond to baseball in the capital. He could recognize that there was some competition and actually try to make the Orioles competitive, or he could grab an excuse to cry poor and stop trying. It sounds like MLB is trying to give him an incentive to do the latter. He could field an O's team starring a washed-up catcher with bad knees and one last shot at glory, a wild pitcher just out of the California Penal League, and a superstitious slugger with concerns that his bats are afraid of curveballs. They could lose 100 games, and he'd still turn a tidy profit. It'd be 2001 all over again ("Come see CAL RIPKEN and a bunch of AAA no-hopers! Orioles Magic!").

    Anyway, it seems like a very sweet deal for a very undeserving man. Reports are that the announcement is made Thursday (33 years to the day after the last Nats game), so he'd better take it while it's still there.

    A couple other things you should check out:
    • Neil deMause of Field of Schemes takes a look at DC's finance plan over on Baseball Prospectus. 80% public, 20% private.
    • The mayor has started making the case. I like that he's making a big deal out of free tickets for inner-city children. The next time you hear someone complain about the plan, just say "Why do you hate inner-city children?!" Say it loud.
    • The Brewers got sold. You don't care, of course, and neither do I, except that the article points out that approval of a new owner usually takes 6-12 months. That ain't good news.
    • The William World News has a whole lot more.
    We should start hearing leaks and whatnot tomorrow. If we don't hear that Angelos has caved, I might start to get a little worried. If I may quote Wire, stay glued to your TV sets.

    UPDATE: Cub reporter Hal Bodley files a report confirming the Thursday (or Wednesday!) announcement and containing this tidbit:
    Two baseball executives told USA TODAY on Tuesday that Selig will make his announcement even if an agreement with Angelos isn't complete.
    It's up to you, Pete. You can come out of this a rich(er) man or you can hope some BS nuisance lawsuits achieve the impossible.

    Saturday, September 25, 2004

    Reassurance, If You Needed It

    Look, we're getting the Expos. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Thursday, when the MLB Executive Committee met and did not announce a new home for the 'Spos, was not a setback - Bob DuPuy said beforehand we wouldn't hear anything definitive, and we didn't. It doesn't matter. Consider all this:

    The memorandum of understanding between MLB and the DC Sports 'n' Entertainment Commission has been formally approved. "The unanimous vote . . . represents the final step from city officials before Major League Baseball executives announce the Expos' new home next week."

    Didn't Bob DuPuy say no one's been eliminated? Someone tell Portland.

    Oregon Stadium Campaign leader David Kahn said he has been in contact with a relocation committee member this week.

    "Our conversation was consistent with what has been evolving over the last several weeks," Kahn said. "That is, it appears as if they have been pointing toward a conclusion to the Expos franchise that resides in Washington, D.C."
    Someone tell Vegas, too.
    [Vegas mayor "Diamond" Oscar] Goodman said he is prepared to concede the Expos race to the Washington, D.C. group, but said it was a "positive" for Las Vegas that Selig gave the city serious consideration.

    Those District businesses are eager to buy me baseball.
    Many of the D.C. businesses that would be taxed to help pay for a new baseball stadium said yesterday that they support the preliminary details of the proposal, which as currently envisioned would cost the city's largest companies up to $28,000 a year.
    The Potomac Cannons have just signed on as an A-Ball affiliate of the Expos. No big deal? Maybe, except that they've been trying to do this for two years in hopes that the Expos would move down here, but were denied permission. This time they got it.

    Of course, there's Angelos trouble. There's always Angelos trouble. It'll pass. He's one man standing against almost everyone else in MLB, not to mention the country, and his choice is to get a big fat payday and a team in DC or to get nothing and a team in DC. He may be evil, but he's not stupid. Expect an announcement next week.

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    10 Minutes to the New Year

    I'll have something a little more substantive tomorrow. I've said it before, but Professor Yurasko is absolutely priceless on a day like today, so go there. Also dig how Field of Schemes is as much as conceding that we get the Expos a day after crowing about the lack of announcement. His odds still have DC even with Montreal, but that's still less insane than they were before.

    See you tomorrow, and a happy new year to any Jewish readers out there.
    שתהיה לכם שנה טובה ומתוקה
    (Hebrew stolen from this guy)

    Thursday, September 23, 2004

    I'm Still Waiting

    Well, that was disappointing. I can't say that I was expecting an announcement, but it would have been nice. Perhaps the Post-alanche of relocation coverage this morning got my hopes up. Here's what we learned from this meeting:

    1) Peter Angelos is really pissed
    2) Bud Selig doesn't have the stones to stand up to him

    Check this out from ESPN:
    "Bud hasn't come close to finding a way to satisfy him," the official said. "I'm not saying he won't find a way. But if he does, it won't be with money. He's saying there's no number in the world that would be acceptable. You wouldn't believe the (dollars) that have been thrown around, as recently as this week. And he's had absolutely no interest."
    My previous offer stands: one dollar and a picture of my ass.

    Et Tu, Bud?

    Buy the Post today; it's overflowing with baseball stuff. Boswell thinks Angelos is about to get stabbed four hundred times by his friends, Caesar-style. Go have a look at the William World News for a round-up of the ninety or so articles out today. I'll have more tonight, unless I get too distracted by Rome: Total War.

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Endgame: We Have a Site

    From the front page of the Post:

    District officials disclosed plans yesterday to build a publicly financed stadium costing more than $400 million on the Anacostia waterfront near South Capitol Street, amid growing signs that Major League Baseball will attempt to move the Montreal Expos to Washington.

    Two high-level baseball sources said the owners' relocation committee is leaning toward recommending at an executive council meeting tomorrow in Milwaukee that the Expos be moved to Washington. That would trigger what figure to be delicate negotiations with Baltimore Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos.

    Here's the Times report (no registration). This is happening, and we could have the announcement tomorrow.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2004

    When Bodley Comes Marching Home Again

    Almost exactly a month after he waved the white flag, USA Today columnist Hal Bodley has shoveled the last bit of dirt on the Loudoun Cabal and hoisted ours.
    The commissioner now must make another difficult decision. He has no other option this time either. He must move the Montreal Expos to Washington, D.C., and not linger in making the announcement.
    When baseball's executive council meets Thursday in Milwaukee, it will be told what just about every owner now knows. Downtown Washington, temporarily at RFK Stadium, is really the only location the Expos can be placed.
    Bodley was once a vocal supporter of that farcical Loudoun County plan you may have heard of. Now, just in time, he's on our side. Welcome home, Hal.

    Here's something that really sticks in my craw, wherever that is:
    There must be a creative financial solution to projected losses for the Orioles caused by a team in D.C.
    My guess is much of Thursday's meeting will center around ways to eliminate the impact on the Orioles.
    I've got a creative financial solution for you: Angelos gets one (1) American dollar and a framed, autographed picture of my ass. Peter Angelos has done absolutely everything he could to stop Washington from getting a team, and now he gets paid when it happens? Yeah, yeah - he loses his broadcast monopoly and all, but he knew full well when he bought the Orioles (and subsequently ran them into the ground) that DC was not part of his territory. It's a shame that the ability to kiss up and threaten lawsuits should be rewarded. If I tell Bud that haircut looks great, flirt with his daughter and nominal Brewers owner Cruella, and then tell the Baltimore Sun I'm going to sue both of them, can I get a couple million?

    There's still the RICO suit. Eric Fisher has a run-down in the Times today, if you're interested. I admit that everything I know about legal matters I picked up from Law and Order, but look at it this way: what are the chances a judge is going to order the Expos to stay in Montreal? That's the only way they're not coming to DC, and that seems pretty unlikely.

    I'm eagerly anticipating any news that comes out of the Executive Council meeting on Thursday. Maybe we'll get a full-on announcement and maybe not, but we'll get something.

    Monday, September 20, 2004

    Arn Anderson Day

    First, a new link you all need to check out. Daily. First thing. The William World News will greet you every morning with links to all the DC baseball stories you need to see. And Penn State football, if that's your thing. Check out the Senators logo!

    My faith in the news media continues to dwindle. I know I shouldn't expect the Baltimore Sun to run the kind of rah-rah yay DC pap you get from, say, here, but I expect at least something more than rank dipshittery. It's like USA Today without the pretty graphs. From Peter Schmuck:
    There is a chance Major League Baseball's relocation committee will make its long-awaited recommendation to commissioner Bud Selig on the next permanent home of the Montreal Expos, and it doesn't look like the team will be landing in the District.

    Baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said last week the troublesome outcome of the D.C. City Council primary would not necessarily affect Washington's offer to build a publicly financed stadium, but no one in baseball's central office really knows for sure.

    That means baseball will either have to delay the decision (which wouldn't be a major shock to me, of course) or opt for the safest deal, which is in Northern Virginia.

    It has already been demonstrated here and elsewhere that the results of the Council primary are probably not as damaging as first reported. That's okay, though; nobody seems interested in reporting anything but "Marion Barry's sticking it to the Man." The real problem is that last paragraph (what is it with sports writers and one-sentence paragraphs?). Somebody explain to me how Northern Virginia is "the safest deal." Here's a stadium "effort" that flat-out lied about the land it owned and its local government support. The governor of Virginia has abandoned them, and they're desperately trying to make it sound like they can still pay for this. Where the hell does Schmuck get off saying that these 50 acres in the middle of nowhere are "the safest deal"? This guy is like the Hal Bodley of sportswriters.

    The Sun isn't the only paper I'm mad at. My last post, as you may recall, concerned a fascinating conversation Jack Evans had with a couple newbie city councilmen on WTOP. Evans neatly pointed out the flaws in the new guys' objections to his financing plan and made a strong, well-reasoned case for it. How does the Washington Times cover it?

    Jack Evans, the D.C. Council's outspoken finance chairman, lashed out yesterday at Major League Baseball, which has delayed a relocation decision on the Montreal Expos for nearly three years.
    That was the least important part of the whole thing and has no bearing on what happens to the Expos, which the article itself admits. Eric Fisher deserves credit for his coverage of this endless story, but here he seems a bit too interested in portraying Jack the Ripper as a bile-spewing loose cannon rather than as an savvy and effective civil servant.

    And the Post? The only people over there who care about this are a Metro columnist and a semi-retired sportswriter. Let us all take a moment to give thanks for the glorious internet, without which we would know nothing.


    Sunday, September 19, 2004

    Jack Evans SMASH

    Jack Evans, the Babe Ruth of city counciling, is on the warpath. He's heard all the talk about the new DC councilmen stopping ballpark financing, and he's not going to stand for it. Thanks to message board denizen "Not" for this transcript of an interview on WTOP, where councilmen-more-or-less-elect Vincent Gray and Kwame Brown suffer the wrath of 100% Jack (I'm skipping around, and you should read the whole thing).
    Jack Evans: It’s not going to be rushed through. It’s going to go through the normal legislative process. But the other thing is, it’s a privately financed stadium. And to the extent that this public finance got carried away in the campaign, there’s not a tax dollar that is currently being raised for anything – capital projects, operating dollars – that’s going to be spent on a baseball stadium. So the question for the two gentlemen you have there is: “Would you support a privately financed baseball stadium?” It just comes down to that. The concessions, the taxes on the concessions. The rent of the stadium. The proposed Gross Receipts Tax that doesn’t currently exist. That’s what’s used to finance the stadium. So that’s what it comes down to. And it’s been done everywhere. And it’s the kind of way you get these things built.
    Now watch as the demagoguery of the new kids withers under Jack's assault:
    And Vince, when you’re talking about education, I mean, we’re spending right now $1.3 Billion in our public school system. And you tell me: if I spend another $500 million in that system, would they have gotten Eastern High School open on time? I mean, c’mon. And you want to go out and borrow another $300 million, with no financing mechanism to pay it back, and use it on our school system.
    Let's see what the new guys have to say now.
    Vincent Gray: I just want to say one thing to Jack, and that is, I don’t think the case that he’s making now has been effectively made on a widespread basis. I think those who are proponents of baseball and a publicly financed baseball stadium, if that’s an appropriate way to put it, need to do a better job of getting the message out to the residents of the District of Columbia. Because I can tell you, there are lots of people who don’t have a clear understanding of this. There are lots of people who do not want to spend any public dollars on a baseball stadium.

    Jack Evans: To respond to Vince, I think you’re absolutely right. I think the case has not been made. And secondly, I do not want to spend any public dollars on a baseball stadium. I’ve said it repeatedly. And to the extent that this term “public financing” has gotten legs in the media, it’s a fallacy.
    So you see, Gray's already softening his stance. It's not that he's against it, it's that case hasn't been effectively made. There's a lot of hooting among stadium opponents and the half-informed that the results of the recent election constitutes a black eye for Evans and a roadblock to the return of baseball. But when Marion Barry calls for contruction of a stadium and the two other supposedly anti-stadium councilmen soften their stace within minutes of a talking-to from Evans, the return of the Senators just looks surer and surer.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    I Got Pixies Tickets!

    Hell yeah!
    Also, Jack Evans is awesome. More later.

    Friday, September 17, 2004

    This Is It

    The Expos are coming to Washington, DC. Period. I don't base this statement on wild speculation or wishful thinking. "It hasn't happened yet, why would it now?" is no longer a viable argument, if it ever was. DC officials and the Relocation Committee have produced a "30-page memorandum of understanding." Baseball has given formal notice that they're moving the Expos. There are reports that the team has been giving a moving date - November 30. Even Will Carroll, who has made being dead-ass wrong something of a trademark, has come around, after laughably declaring the DC bid "dead" in June. There is no more question of Northern Virginia or Montreal or anywhere else. From this point on, the only conflicts will come from within the District.

    I guess there's still RICO. Look, I know nothing about the merits of this case, but I would be beyond shocked if a judge says the Expos have to stay in Montreal. The dearth of RICO-talk in the media is telling. Anti-stadium zealots and desperate Quebecois are leaning on it pretty hard, but I find it really hard to believe that MLB would have done all this work if they didn't think it would lead to anything.

    About those new councilmen. It's conventional wisdom at this point to say that DC needs to get stadium funding passed while the lame duck City Council is still in power. Marion Barry's going to put the kibosh on this boondoggle, they may be heard to say. I'm not so sure.
    The former "mayor for life" says he then plans to push for, among other things, building a major-league baseball park on the site of RFK Stadium on East Capitol Street . . .
    That doesn't sound like something a staunch opponent of a publicly-financed ball park would say.

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    It's On Like Donkey Kong!

    Thanks to Maury at the message board for this:
    Major League Baseball has talked for years about relocating the Montreal Expos. Now the game has taken a formal first step--most likely toward either Northern Virginia or the District of Columbia.
    Rich Levin, baseball's senior vice president for public relations, confirmed that it has given written notice to Miami U.S. District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages of its intention to move the team.
    "Yes, we did--that's the requirement," Levin said yesterday in a telephone interview from New York.
    Somebody go tell Field of Schemes to redo their relocation odds.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    William Howard Taft Day

    It's three hundred-plus pounds of relocation, baby! Stuck in your bathtub!

    So, that election. It could have gone better. Three pro-stadium incumbents were knocked out by three anti-stadium challengers in yesterday's DC Democratic primary. What's this mean? Well, the current pro-stadium majority remains in office through the end of the year. Will that force MLB to speed things up? Apparently not.
    Changes in the makeup of the D.C. Council won't force a quick vote on the District's baseball proposal.

    Councilwoman Linda Cropp says business leaders remain committed to baseball and appear ready to increase their own tax burden to make that happen. She also says they understand that may not preclude additional increases in business taxes for other purposes in the future.

    I'm glad to hear someone else spouting the Jack Evans line about how glad businesses are to buy me a baseball team. I wonder if they know that I don't patronize any of them except for the ones with Belgian beer. Speaking of Jack Evans, he got 100% of the vote! That guy is so rad.

    I'm going to put words in your mouth now. "Well, so much for baseball in DC, smartass!" I beg to differ. And unlike you, I shall remain civil, sir. First, Northern Virginia:

    A self-imposed ban on quoting Saturday Night Live jokes is the only thing standing between and me a "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead" crack. The point is that the Loudoun Cabal is still as dead as they were when I first put the tag on 'em. From the Post:

    Concerns of Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, as well as top state lawmakers, about putting the state's "moral obligation" on the line to finance a baseball stadium have complicated negotiations with Major League Baseball, backers of bringing a team to Northern Virginia said yesterday. (emphases mine)
    Even NoVa's backers are despairing. Publicly, I mean; they've been crying themselves to sleep every night for weeks.

    "But what about Montreal, merde-tete!" Hey, lay off, man. Anyway, I'm still convinced they aren't staying in the Great White North. Observe, RICO movement:

    Lawyers for the former limited partners of the Montreal Expos plan to ask a federal judge to block major league baseball from moving the team.
    The commissioner's office told the U.S. District Court in Miami on Tuesday that it intends to relocate the Expos for 2005 but did not specify to where. Washington and Northern Virginia are the leading contenders, and a decision could be announced this month. Baseball officials met with the Washington group Wednesday, one day after meeting with the Northern Virginia bidders.
    But what of the reports of MLB already negotiating to use Olympic Stadium next year? Buried in a fairly worthless story about Reinsdorf's visit to NoVa (except that he didn't go to NoVa at all - I guess Georgetown is easier on the eyes and the itinerary), we see this:
    Meanwhile, Expos president Tony Tavares denied recent press reports that the team was actively negotiating a lease to use Montreal's Olympic Stadium for the 2005 season. What happened, he said, is MLB requested potential dates to fill out a preliminary 2005 schedule. And without knowing where the team will be next year, Tavares submitted dates relative to Montreal and Olympic Stadium.
    The early 2005 slate now lists the Expos in Montreal, but the new city will need to inherit that schedule. Tavares said he "guessed there may be a chance" the team stays in Quebec next year, but he continues to operate on the assumption the team will be moved.
    "We're completely in the dark as to what's going to happen," Tavares said. "They needed dates, and I went with what I knew. But are we prepared to deal with last-minute changes? It's what we've been doing for the last three seasons."
    To conclude: I think Montreal has a better shot than Loudoun County at this point, in the same way a one-legged man would beat a corpse in the 100-yard dash. That said, I don't think the announcement will come before the playoffs. The Expos will be in DC next year, but it will be some time before we know for sure.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    Clayton Moore Day

    First off, let me point you to a dissenting opinion. Reader Olibou thinks the Expos are staying right where they are. He also thinks Livan Hernandez is a dead man walking. Or rather, he's attached to a dead arm throwing.

    Speaking of dead people, MLB has developed an interest in the paranormal that fits in nicely with their interest in putting the Expos in Washington.
    Major League Baseball's relocation committee will make another trip to the Washington area this week to meet with officials on both sides of the Potomac River to discuss their respective bids for the Montreal Expos.
    The panel will repeat a trip made Aug. 24-25 but this time will reverse the order. Northern Virginia will go first today, with the District following tomorrow. Like those sessions three weeks ago, the new meetings will delve deep into each jurisdiction's proposed plan to finance a new ballpark for the Expos and negotiate detailed lease terms for the use of that ballpark.
    First they get to go find some spooky ghosts in Loudoun, then they get down to business in the District. Hey, I see one now!

    Field of Schemes thinks they're stalling until RICO gets settled.

    You civics buffs out there may be aware the today was the DC Democratic primary. Who gives a rat's ass, you say? Well, comedians have a stake in it. They're salivating at the prospect of having Marion Barry to kick around again. As to how this pertains to baseball, I'll let Marc Fisher do my talking for me.
    There is definitely a relationship between today's election and the rather sudden moves by major league baseball to get the Expos decision done fast. The reports I'm hearing are that Commissioner Bud Selig will announce sometime this week or next that the Expos will move to the Washington area, without specifying whether the team will be based in the District or northern Virginia. Under this scenario, Selig would then open the bidding on the Expos--meaning that the D.C. and Virginia ownership groups would be removed from the awarding of the franchise to Washington and would merely be two among however many other groups might want to own a baseball team. Then, whoever wins the bidding war would get to decide between DC and Va.
    But the time is short: The Virginia baseball authority's money and legal powers run out at the end of this year, and if incumbents lose today in the District, the majority supporting a ballpark could be gone when the new council is seated at the start of next year.
    This is the same idea Thom Loverro put forth last week. I do hope it's true, though I'm still skeptical. I'm hoping we'll hear more in the fallout of the elections tomorrow.

    Saturday, September 11, 2004

    About Last Week

    Yeah, I pretty much skipped last week. On the off chance that this is the only place you get your Expos relocation news, let me assure that you didn't miss anything. Oh sure, there was plenty of speculation and complaint, but nothing substantive. Here's some of it anyway:

    Jayson Stark lamented on Thursday how long this whole thing has already taken.
    And we hate to break it to our favorite, agonizing commissioner. But he has already waited too long. It's already too late to do this right -- even if he makes an announcement in the next 30 seconds. Bob DuPuy, Selig's right-hand man/COO, told Rumblings this week "it would be nice to get this done before the playoffs." But the truth is, it wouldn't just be "nice." It's the only hope to avoid a total relocation fiasco.
    You hear this a lot, and I don't care. It would have taken a remarkable confluence of good luck and smart leadership to prevent the 2005 Senators/Grays/whatever being a mess. Once the Expos get here, they're going to be here for a good long time. Years from now we'll be able to laugh at that wacky, hectic first year.

    Thom Loverro made some waves with this story from the Times.
    Some Major League Baseball club owners are pushing the sport's senior executives to scrap the current relocation process for the Montreal Expos because they want the team to be sold to the highest bidder, industry sources have told The Washington Times.
    I don't buy it. No doubt some owners are annoyed at the way this has turned out, but Selig has that free stadium fixation.
    "I think the committee has done an excellent job," said Gabe Paul Jr., Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority executive director. "They have been very thorough and I think the process is so far along, I don't see anything except this reaching its final conclusion through the commissioner."
    Mark Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, also doubted the current process could be halted at this stage.
    "It's getting down to the wire on a recommendation," he said. "I think the process is coming to a conclusion."
    Like maybe around Labor Day, you damn idiots?

    Loverro again, from Friday.
    The two local groups that have worked to secure a baseball team for the Washington area would not necessarily own the club should Major League Baseball award the Montreal Expos to the District or Northern Virginia.
    The article goes on to talk about a couple prospective ownership groups. I don't enough about any of these people to care one way or t'other. None of them has said anything about not going to DC, so that's good.

    Tracy "The Chapeau" Ringolsby had perhaps the most interesting article of the week.
    Commissioner Bud Selig isn't going to make a decision until he is confident he has a solid consensus, which means he still is trying to ensure he has enough support to place the team in Washington in what can be announced as a two- year trial.
    Such a scenario would give baseball a chance to see what type of legitimate ownership interest surfaces.
    This is not a new idea (check out StevenJB's comment to this post). At that time, I was all for it, but that was when I was still worried about the Loudoun Cabal. Since then, of course, the Cabal has passed on the land of wind and ghosts, taking with them my concerns. I'm not any more worried about Dulles than I am about Portland or Monterrey. Therefore, I now think this is a lousy idea. I want some owners, dammit. I want some free agents and a restocked farm system. Two more years of MLB ownership, even if they loosen the pursestrings a bit, would be a very bad thing.

    Fortunately, there are holes in this plan. For one thing, why do they need two years? Don't they already have "legitimate ownership interest"? Field of Schemes has further objections: it would trigger a RICO injunction, and it's all about the free stadium, of course. Neil of the Field still thinks they're staying in Montreal, which I think has almost no chance of happening.

    So, in conclusion, we don't know any more today than we did a week ago. Are they coming? When will they tell us? After the DC primaries? After the playoffs? February? Why hasn't Jack Evans resumed insulting people for my amusement? Has anyone else noticed that Casey Blake looks just like John Kerry? I hope next week proves to be more informative.

    Tuesday, September 07, 2004

    Interpol and Deutsche Bank

    Fond happy birthday wishes to Queen Elizabeth I.

    Peter Gammons, who rather resembles Good Queen Bess (at least in her later years), talks a little bit about DC baseball in his ESPN column.
    The other sites have dropped out in the Expos sweepstakes, but there are still problems: 1) the D.C. politicians are playing hardball with MLB on the stadium financing, 2) MLB has overpriced the club because of promises made to the 29 owners paying the bills and 3) Peter Angelos believes that Bud Selig promised him that there'd never be a team in the Washington area.
    This is a rehash of what he said in his chat the other day, but it's just about the only thing we've had for days. I didn't not post over the long weekend because I was off doing stuff; there was just nothing to talk about.

    If Eric Fisher of the Washington Times is to be believed, Selig may already have the recommendation of the Relocation Committee. If Peter Gammons is to be believed, it's DC. So now we wait. And laugh at Norfolk.

    While you're waiting, check out Kraftwerk's website. I guess I shouldn't be suprised that a bunch of robots from Germany have a rad site, but that doesn't make my mind any less blown.

    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    Twiddling My Thumbs on Mark Harmon's Birthday

    Normally I like to do a little something on Mark Harmon's birthday. Get some beer, throw on a Hawaiian shirt, watch Summer School a few times. It really snuck up on me this year, though. Someone remind me next year, alright?

    As little as was going on yesterday, there's even less today. Last Friday was action-packed, so maybe we'll get some action tomorrow. I suppose I could point you to this:

    In recent weeks, the buzz in local baseball circles has focused on comments from prominent state legislators questioning the financing of the proposed ballpark just north of Dulles Airport and revisions to the development proposal for the new community that would rise up around it just across the county line in Loudoun.
    But Northern Virginia baseball officials say nothing has surfaced to diminish their chances of fielding a team.

    I'm still of the opinion that these are words that don't mean nuttin', like looptid. Think about it; who's admitted they're out of the Expos race? No one that I know of. Not even Puerto Rico. I think NoVa's dead, and so does Peter Gammons. He's got all the inside sources, I'm vaguely aware of where commas go. Together, we're unstoppable.

    Bijan Bayne looks at the DC baseball issue again and sticks it to Angelos.

    Angelos has stated that a Montreal Expos move to D.C. (or even Northern Virginia)would cut into “his” ticket sales and t.v. revenue. I’m sorry, the Orioles’ market is Baltimore, Owings Mills, Dundalk, Catonsville, Perry Hall, etc. It is not Laurel, McLean, Georgetown, Arlington and Bethesda. A Baltimore team has no unwritten right to out-of-town fans. The Orioles do not give ticket discounts to those that travel from D.C. to see their games, nor do they providevouchers for gasoline or the MARC train service between Chocolate City and Charm City. Baltimore and D.C. have separate city councils, separate television stations, and separate fire departments.

    Go read the rest of it. And if anybody knows Jack Evans' phone number, call him up and tell him to get something started for tomorrow. I'm bored.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    Conway Twitty Day

    It's Conway Twitty's birthday. Running out of titles for posts has really expanded my knowledge of minor celebrity birthdays.

    I know I say this a lot, but there's nothing going on. Peter Gammons had a chat on the ESPN site, where this exchange occured:

    Steve (DC): Obligatory Expos question: What are the chances that this is your last chat where we don't know next year's home? Does the past week of trouble for the N. Va. bid leave D.C. as the Last Bid Standing?

    Peter Gammons: D.C. is the last bid standing, but it still will take a long time. First, the politicians are hardballing baseball b/c they know they have no where else to go. Second, MLB still has too high a price for the D.C. group. Third, Orioles owner Peter Angelos claims Bud Selig promised him their wouldn't be a team in Washington and if there is one thing that Angelos is good at, it's threatening and executing legal action.

    Not that he has anything to sue about. Anyway, it's nice to hear Gammons say that DC is the only remaining option.

    That's about it. If you want to get mad, you can go look at this moronic op-ed in the Sun. You'll probably be happier if you don't, and you won't run the risk of being made stupider just by reading it. See you tomorrow.