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— Where BTF's Members Investigate the Grand Old Game
Tuesday, November 06, 2001
President of the Liars’ Club
Baseball considers a plan which will erode the owners’ credibility.
Somebody Stop Bud Selig Before He Destroys The Game He Says He Loves
Hi, it?s been awhile. There are a lot of stories behind my silence over the past two months, but most of them are similar to the news you?ve been living with during most of that period. Suffice it to say that it?s been a difficult period in many ways, one that I (like many of you) look to find ways to transcend.
But I can?t do that just yet, because Budzilla is loose again. You know, that guy from Milwaukee, the one who canceled the World Series in 1994, who lied to Congress about teams going bankrupt without a salary cap.
He?s at it again.
Evidently Budzilla doesn?t like being called a liar, because his new plan?contraction?would remove the lie in a lawyerly ex-post facto flanking maneuver. ?See?? he?ll croak. ?I TOLD you teams would go bankrupt!?
When you?re in charge of an organization as steeped in illusion as baseball (only Washington and Hollywood have it outgunned in that department?), you get to the point where you think that everything you say is real.
And so, in yet another example of the Peter Principle, Budzilla will make an attempt to implement the most hair-brained scheme baseball has concocted in a long history of hair-brained schemes.
As Keith Law of the Baseball Prospectus, writing at the ESPN.com site, noted: contraction doesn?t really solve anything. (There it is, guys?the sign that the apocalypse is here: I have officially agreed with someone at Baseball Prospectus. Please stifle your yawns and keep on reading.)
Actually, Keith didn?t go far enough. Contraction will make things worse. As I noted in this space some six months ago, removing two franchises from the game sends a loud signal that will echo for decades.
That signal: we are not a good risk. We are unstable, capricious, and unwilling to address the real issues involved within our own ranks.
This is, in effect, baseball?s Rubicon. Once you contract, the likelihood that you will ever be in a position to expand again?and all evidence points to the fact that additional markets exist to be tapped?is seriously compromised.
And all because you cut off one of your fingers just to make a lie look like it was the truth.
This is not reason at work, this is (threatened) self-mutilation taking control of your TV set. This is the Outer Limits, except instead of aliens we?ve got a bunch of suits running around like headless chickens crying wolf.
I?m not going to deny that economic problems exist in the game. But as Keith noted, lopping off two heads in a universe with dozens of other available options simply isn?t addressing those problems.
What Budzilla and his babbling brethren won?t talk about is the fact that they are playing a childish game with the fans and the players, based mostly on the fact that certain small-market teams have ?sandbagged? their way through the time frame covered by the current CBA, basically taking the (revenue-shared) money and running.
Let me tell you, the best thing that could happen to baseball at this very moment would be if ten owners just stood up and said, ?If you implement contraction, we?re out of here.?
And went out and started a new league with their teams.
(Of course, in such a classically reactionary institution such as baseball, the chances of ten owners volunteering to take such a huge step are virtually nil. Most of these guys probably think that contraction is a good idea, so long as it?s not them.)
That would be a helluva lot more interesting than the stupid, insulting pack of lies being peddled by MLB, or the stupid, insulting ?rotisserie?-based ?dispersion draft? drivel that Peter Gammons has served up to us in recent days.
Peter, the LAST thing we need is to have a draft where the Yankees get Vlad Guerrero.
One more thing while we?re at it, Peter. You claim that the last two expansions (in 1993 and 1998) have been ill-advised. How can this be the case, though, when three of the four expansion teams have made the playoffs, and two have played in the World Series?
If Gammons? sources are to be believed, most of this contraction stuff revolves around three problems:
The hilarious part of this is that Budzilla is apparently going to reward his pal Jeff Loria for overseeing the ongoing murder of the Expos by handing him a ?new? franchise (the Marlins, moved to Northern Virginia). John Henry, the Marlins? owner, will get bought off by getting the Anaheim franchise from the complaining corpse of Walt Disney.
To make all these dominoes fall, however, there has to be another team picked for sacrifice. Gammons intimates that MLB will pay off Carl Pohlad and extinguish the Twins, which would mean that for the first time in more than a hundred years, a team with a winning record would be broken up while the league it was in continued on.
That team, by the way, was the Baltimore Orioles, one of the more brilliant organizations in the 1890s National League. The Twins have no similar pedigree, but there are plenty of teams who haven?t been to a World Series over a longer span of time.
The historical argument, of course, is one that Budzilla will attempt to lean on?and lean on in as heavy-handed a way as possible. The NL contraction in 1900 will be cited as an example of baseball ?getting its house in order.?
Except that Budzilla, who is about as good a student of history as John Goodman is a ballroom dancer, will manage to overlook the fact that the 1900-03 time frame was, in fact, the period of baseball?s biggest-ever expansion, when the number of major league franchises doubled in size.
No such similar expansion looms on the horizon for baseball in the twenty-first century, of course. But adding two more teams in 2003, along with a reasonably deployed economic plan and CBA, would make a lot more sense that what the bozos at MLB are talking up now.
Since we?re all hatching semi-lurid schemes, let?s put one of our own in motion, with expansion as the driving force in the equation.
First, break up the key problem in the economic wars.
Put new franchises into New York and Los Angeles.
The primary inequity in the game is local television revenue. Break up the monopolies in these two super-population areas.
Second, if there are franchises that are in truly dire straits, move them to other locations.
Are the Lords of baseball telling us that there aren?t at least two other American markets that would like to have baseball teams? We?ve been hearing about ?northern Virginia? forever as a panacea for dying franchises. For God?s sake, bring on Northern Virginia! Quit using it as a bargaining chip already.
There?s also market for a team in North Carolina, where a complex of metropolitan areas could do just fine with a franchise.
And if you move out of Minnesota, Montreal or Miami, there?s no rational reason why those cities couldn?t eventually have teams again someday. Budzilla seems to forget that his own beloved Milwaukee was a city that went through just such an interregnum, and is thus an example of how a metro area can go quickly from hot to non-existent to back in business within a short span of time.
To sum up: even in this new age of terror, the future is a lot brighter than we think?or than we?re being led to believe. Budzilla and his not-so-merry band are selling out the game for short-term gain, just as many leaders in Washington have hopped on the ?super-patriot? bandwagon as a way to stage-manage the effects and aftermath of the New York tragedy.
The real threat to baseball, I fear, is sitting in the Commissioner?s office. Behind the befuddled double-talk is an extortionist manqu?, a lunatic put in charge of an increasingly aberrant asylum. He is so consistently and mind-bogglingly wrong-headed that one nearly fainted some weeks back when he actually made a correct decision (playing out the full season in the aftermath of WTC.)
But he is simply following in the wake of equally flawed and capricious men who have occupied his chair. If he follows through with this most catastrophic idea, however, we may well need to hold a wake for baseball. If ever there was a wrong man at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons, it?s Budzilla.
Someone?anyone?please stop him before it?s too late.
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