Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Moral Obligation: A Tragedy in Two Parts

It's a good thing that everyone's acknowledging that DC/Northern Virginia are the overwhelming favorites, because both bids are looking pretty shoddy right now. One at a time:

There are three handy summaries of the relocation honchos' meeting with DC officials yesterday: the Times, MLB.com, and the Post. They all say pretty much the same thing, with one important exception. This here's from the Post's Thomas Heath:

League officials and some owners, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said baseball would prefer to move the Expos to Loudoun County, which would allow the league to take advantage of the Washington market at minimum injury to the Orioles . . .

Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who briefly attended yesterday's meeting, said the District has backing among some in baseball, but he said league officials are still looking at Northern Virginia in hopes of avoiding a confrontation with Angelos.

I don't know what to think of this. Just yesterday we were informed by Neil deMause (whose name I've been misspelling. Sorry) that it wasn't about Angelos. This says it is. Furthermore, regular readers of this blog are well aware that Angelos doesn't want Loudoun County any more than he wants DC. Both cut into his broadcast range, and that's where the scrilla is.

Who's wrong, then? No doubt the committee is split at the moment; we've heard that from several different sources. I'm skeptical of deMause's theory and all others that attribute a Master Plan to MLB's actions. I think that simple incompetence and indecisiveness are stronger factors in this process than many realize. What I don't understand is why MLB officials who are concerned about facing off with Angelos think that Dulles is going to make him happy. Putting the Expos in Loudoun County guarantees a poorer team than you would have in DC while keeping Angelos pissed off. Excepting a relative handful of Virginians, nobody wins.

HOWEVER, all this is now perfectly academic. Moral obligation has killed the Loudoun bid. Even as MLB officials met with the Cabal at Appomattox Courthouse, what little chance those clowns had of getting funding ran out the back door. From WTOP.com:

Senate Finance Chairman John Chichester (R-Stafford) said a private business like a baseball club should not benefit from the state's moral obligation bonds, which have traditionally been used for local water quality projects and other public works.
The article details how all this bond stuff works; I have only the flimsiest understanding, so I won't insult you by trying to explain it. The result is that Loudoun is seriously damaged while Norfolk is actually strengthened. This could be bad news for DC and good news for Angelos, but I still think that the Norfolk bid, while adorable, has little to no chance to succeed.

Here's where we stand now: Major League Baseball came into this week with two theoretical bids to choose from, nice plans without actual legislation behind them. This is obviously a situation they don't like, but spending another year in Montreal is a situation they like even less (I hope). Now one of those theoretical bids has been downgraded to delusional, probably terminal. DC's theoretical offer is the best thing they have going, but we'll see if it's good enough.

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