How Much is Enough?

added 11/9/2001 by Susan and Darrell Pittman

The MLB owners voted to disband two franchises, probably the Expos and the Twins. Reportedly, MLB would buy the two affected owners out at about $250M each.

Admittedly, little can be done for the Expos except moving them, even though their attendance was pretty good in the early 80's, when they were winning. Montreal is just not a baseball town.

In the case of the Twins, they were the first franchise to garner 3 million season attendance in all of MLB history, and won the World Series in 1987 and 1991. Commissioner Bud Selig's explanation for disbanding the Twins is that they can't get a new ballpark, and admittedly, the Metrodome is among baseball's worst venues. Minneapolis-Saint Paul voters have turned down public funding for a new Twins ballpark. Good for them.

Selig says that moving ballclubs merely moves the problems, but doesn't solve them. But Bud, weren't you the one who bought the Seattle Pilots in 1970 and whisked them in the middle of the night to Milwaukee, turning them into the Brewers? By your logic, the Brewers, having been moved, are therefore a problem, and need to be eliminated.

Haven't you said time and again that you anguished over Milwaukee's loss of the Braves to Atlanta in 1965? Then how do you justify the loss you propose to inflict on the fans of Minneapolis-Saint Paul and Montreal?

Selig's crying crocodile tears. MLB owners are willing to pay $250 million to Carl Pohlad to buy him out and disband the Twins. Enron Field cost roughly that same amount, $250 million.

The owners voted *unanimously* to contract two teams, and are willing to pony up the money to buy Pohlad and Montreal's Loria out at $250M each, why are they not willing to pony up the same money to build a new ballpark for the Twins for that same $250M, and keep the Twins going?

It is this that exposes the hypocrisy of the owners. They can afford to buy out an afflicted owner like Pohlad, but not to build a new ballpark for roughly the same amount of money in order to keep the Twins franchise operating. In other words, they protect the owner, not the fans that contributed to his riches, or the hundreds of organization and ballpark employees who are affected.

The current Twins franchise is the original Washington Senators, established in 1901. It is 100 years old, a charter member of the American League. The owners either don't realize it, or don't care, but there's a lot of history there.

Turning to the plight of the Expos, they could be relocated to DC/VA, or perhaps Portland, maybe even Sacramento or San Jose. DC has RFK Stadium waiting, and has been been clamoring for an MLB franchise since 1972 when the second Senators moved to Dallas and became the Rangers.

If MLB really wants to contract, they should jettison the franchises that truly are jokes: the Devil Rays and the Marlins. But this won't happen because Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida, is the brother of the President.

The reality is that it's millionaire players against billionaire owners, and all are out to grab all the money they can.

It's too bad that neither side respects the game, or the fans who make it all possible. In the end, it will be MLB's undoing.

Apparently, neither side has learned from 1994.

Until MLB and MLBPA adopt both real revenue sharing and real, hard salary caps, requiring concessions from both owners and players, the game of baseball will be ailing.

Contracting teams is analagous to treating ill patients by killing them: it doesn't solve the problem of why they are ill, it just eliminates the immediate problem of caring for them.

Sadly, neither the owners not the players seem to be listening, and the inevitable oncoming train-wreck seems closer than ever.

I ask both sides to consider, just how much money is enough, and what do you owe to the fans?

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