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Thursday, December 16, 2004

More on the DC No-tionals: As expected, Major League Baseball rejected the DC Council's modified stadium financing proposal, putting the Expos/Nationals back into the realm of uncertainty. In the comments to yesterday's post, Mike correctly wonders how such an important vote could have come so late in the process. In DC, Mike Wilbon echoes this sentiment, while also noting that despite all of the political rhetoric, the nation's capital is still baseball-crazy. Thomas Boswell continues his sharp criticism of the DC Council and poses a good hypothetical: what if it were baseball trying to change the terms of the deal at the last minute? One expects that people in DC and elsewhere would not be too happy with this type of negotiation. But Prof. Sauer thinks that when this is all over, Mayor Williams and Commissioner Selig may wind up being the villains anyway. He also links to Off Wing, which has some excellent coverage of this issue.

Baseball is often the villain, but it seems to me that it was handed a raw deal in this case. The league really was not that interested in bringing a team back to the capital, due to the multiple failures in the past and the intense opposition from Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles. However, MLB agreed to bring the team there because it would receive something it found beneficial: a publicly-financed stadium that would help the team find an owner (something that has been missing for two years). If DC had been upfront about not financing the stadium, then the Washington Nationals would never have come to be in the first place. You can blame Mayor Williams for not securing political support, or the DC Council for holding back its intense opposition until the 11th hour, but it seems unfair to blame baseball. After all, Selig was not negotiating with an unintelligent party with no resources. The deal was struck with a city and a mayor that should have known what they were getting into.


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