DC’s Deal With the Devil – With apologies to former Traffic frontman Dave Mason, a little paraprhase of his classic song “We Just Disagree” is in order: “There ain’t no good guy/There’s only bad guys.”
Since Washington D.C. performed an act of grovelling that would make Monica Lewinsky’s activities with former President Bill Clinton look like child’s play, the process of actually moving the Montreal Expos to the nation’s capital to become the Washington Nationals has been a mess, to say the least.
Mayor Anthony Williams (D) allowed a sport that really didn’t want Washington to return to essentially rape the city with a deal that would force the city to come up with a monetary figure that most objective budgetary analysts say is well over half a billion dollars.
This from a city that stripped former Mayor Marion Barry (D) of most of his real authority and was in a finacial crisis.
When a city is in dire need of improved schools, better public transportation and less crime, baseball is the last thing it should be finding money to spend it on.
Williams essentially acted without the say-so of the City Council and the Council has made him look foolish by postponing votes and then pushing for an amendment to its deal that could now send baseball looking for another city to give the itinerant Expos to.
Williams was a willing participant in the steamrolling of his city by the sport.
As for City Council Chairman Linda Cropp, the seamheads in the nation’s capital would want to render her as the Grinch that stole their expensive gift by pushing for an amendment to the financing bill that would require the city to find private financing for 50 percent of the cost of building a brand new stadium in Southeast.
However, Cropp may be trying to salvage something tolerable out of a terrible deal that bilks the city she and Williams were both elected to represent.
If the financing amendment she pushed for weren’t in place, she would have cast the deciding vote that would have killed the deal. And she’s the crook?
Let’s be realistic. If baseball really wanted Washington, it would have found a way to ensure that the city didn’t wait 33 years to get a team.
Oakland and Baltimore spent 11 years on the outside looking in before the NFL returned teams to those cities.
Cleveland only had to wait four years. Houston wasn’t long without NFL football. Currently, the NFL doesn’t have a team in Los Angeles, but it won’t stand in the way of moving a team there.
For baseball to allow a tradition to become part of long term memory is a clear signal they just don’t care about Washington.
I had conflicted feelings about baseball coming to Washington.
Number one, I didn’t think baseball had a good track record with the two previous baseball teams that called the city home.
Both moved to greener pastures elsewhere and both were consistently at or near the bottom of the standings.
Neither one generated much support or attendance, so their leaving town shouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
Number two, the Nationals would have to play at RFK Stadium for up to three years while the new white elephant of a baseball stadium gets built, thus displacing the one Washington area professional sports team that has won more than one championship in the last decade.
Because of the seamheads’ appetite for baseball, Major League Soccer’s D.C. United will be forced to play on a pitch that will be substandard because of the baseball configuration that will also displace the team’s hardiest fans.
When it became a fait accompli that baseball would be coming to Washington, I decided to go against my better judgment and switch allegiances from the Baltimore Orioles to the Nationals because of Peter Angelos’s attempts to prevent baseball from coming to Washington.
If the Nationals had been an American League team, Angelos could have blocked the move according to the sport’s bylaws, but he had no such power since the Nationals are in the National League.
If baseball were so determined to put a team in Washington, it could have told Angelos to shove his objection where the sun doesn’t shine and put the team there without making a deal with him.
Besides that, Angelos has in nearly a dozen years of ownership singlehandedly rid the team of its old reputation for being a class organization that did right by its former players, its coaches, and by other people in the sport.
He also rid the team of people who did great jobs in favor of people who would tout the party line and never criticize the team when it should be their job to do so.
In so doing, he seriously damaged good will that took years to develop.
There is still a long way to go before the story finishes unfolding when it comes to the saga of the vagabond Expos turned Nationals.
But the story isn’t about good versus evil. It’s about how many shades of evil can exist in one story.
Mike Sarzo, Washington, DC – Mike Sarzo graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in August 2000 with a degree in English.
Even though he has not worked for any candidates, he would consider working for a candidate who espouses a philosophy similar to his centrist views.
He can be reached at email@example.com . Visit his web-site at: http://www.geocities.com/msarzo
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