What Would W Do?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 12, 2003 | Go to article overview

What Would W Do?


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The self-anointed Grand Poohbahs of Major League Baseball (MLB) have deigned to grant local elected officials an audience sometime next month to measure just how desperate D.C. politicians are to attract a big-league baseball franchise. The poohbahs' unit of measurement, as it has been in every other city, is the dollar bill. Specifically, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and his fellow extortionists want to know how many hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds D.C. officials are willing to provide his multibillion-dollar industry in order to build a state-of-the-art stadium where players earning nearly $2.5 million per year will ply their trade.

Make no mistake. As baseball once again plays its all-too-familiar hard-to-get game for D.C. officials, the erstwhile national pastime is playing hardball. So, it's time to fight fire with fire. It's time for Washington's powerbrokers to play hardball as well.

We're not talking about the mayor and a few council committee chairmen. We're talking about the Big Boys who can wield the Big Stick. We're talking Congress. Specifically, we're talking about repealing baseball's cherished antitrust exemption insofar as it relates to the league's total veto authority over franchise relocation.

It's time for the Washington region to reverse positions with big-league baseball. Instead of having various area ownership groups (aligned with their respective governmental jurisdictions) competing among themselves by offering baseball gigantic taxpayer-financed stadium subsidies, why not encourage the numerous struggling MLB franchises to compete among themselves for the right to relocate to the Washington area, the world's greatest untapped baseball market? Take away baseball's total control over franchise relocation, and - faster than Bud can say, "How much willya gimme for this used car?" - the Washington region will be in the driver's seat.

When you want to get a male donkey's attention, you wallop the jackass alongside its head with a 2-by-4. Nothing would get Selig's attention faster than congressional action to delete the relocation provision from baseball's antitrust exemption.

No other professional sport's antitrust exemption has such a provision. Meanwhile, causing little, if any, damage to their leagues, dozens of franchise relocations have occurred in other major sports since the Senators left Washington after the 1971 season, baseball's last relocation. …

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