January 3, 2006
In an op-ed column in today's Washington Post, MLB president Bob DuPuy explains "Why the Stadium Deal Isn't Done." Far from being an appeal to reason and compromise, in hopes of persuading one or two fence-sitting council members, it was a brass-knuckled derision of Washington area fans and the city's government. He took pains to argue that MLB had other good choices in the relocation decision last year (yeah, right), an obvious hint that relocation is still an option (well, anything's possible). He certainly has a point that the cost overruns are a reflection of the absence of accountability in the D.C. government, which exposes the hideous scam that modern stadium construction has become under the terms set by MLB: By insisting on public ownership and management of new ballparks, MLB has made cost overruns and inefficiency almost inevitable! Any business person ought to know better than having the government take charge of such a big, complex project. Why not try private enterpise? Just a thought. Of course, such concepts are foreign to privileged monopolies who are used to getting their demands met by pliable city and state governments. It is likewise true that the D.C. Council is not living up to the terms set in the agreement reached one year ago, but DuPuy is being absurdly naive on the political realities of Washington.
Indeed, the negative political atmosphere is the result of MLB's own past decisions on relocating the former Montreal Expos. In the July 15, 2003 Washington Post, DuPuy was quoted as saying the MLB decision would come "when the moons and the sun and the stars and the dollars are aligned correctly. We'll get there." Well, two can play that stalling game. Maybe that's how long he'll have to wait until the D.C. Council passes a satisfactory stadium financing bill! The sad truth is, Mr. DuPuy, Selig, and the rest of the bigwigs at MLB took the risk of waiting too long before committing to relocation, and now they -- and all baseball fans -- are paying the price.
MLB.com poses the "Top 20 questions for 2006," including the second-base quandary for the Washington Nationals (Jose Vidro or Alfonso Soriano). It omits, however, the even bigger question of whether a new stadium bill will be approved, and if not whether MLB will excercise the theoretical prerogative to pull the franchise out of Washington in spiteful retribution.