Boswell Loses It
"In the coming days, Washington and its infuriating, disingenuous D.C. Council must make a simple, straightforward decision. Do they want to accept the deal for a new stadium that was struck between the sport and Mayor Anthony A. Williams? Or don't they?
That's it. Yes. Or no.
Either answer is acceptable. City councils decide such things. It's their job.
What is utterly and absolutely not acceptable is the current behavior of Council Chairman Linda Cropp and nine of her colleagues who want to bait-and-switch baseball into a radically altered deal than the one which Williams negotiated exhaustively -- as his city's official representative -- over a two-year period. "
AYFKM? Setting up a choice as a valid one...and then condemning one of the choices as unacceptable. "It's their job...to vote for a publicly-funded stadium." Boz...
"When you make a deal with baseball, they honor it. If you break a deal with them, you're out. Which is as it should be. But then baseball is big league, unlike the D.C. Council, which is bush league and just damaged the city's reputation coast-to-coast."Whoa, WHOA! Do you even read your own fucking columns? I seem to remember some pretty premium-blend rants against the disingenuousness of the owners in, well, every labour negotiation ever.
Also - "damaged the city's reputation coast-to-coast"? Boz, I don't think you're quite familiar with just how little regard D.C. and pretty much every one of its institutions is held already.
"What if Selig had changed his demands at least a half-dozen times, always upping the ante and using brinksmanship to get his way?Yeah, that sounds pretty much exactly like a typical negotiation with the players' union.
What if Selig had canceled votes within baseball ownership or delayed approvals to try to muscle Washington into concessions? And what if, most outrageously, he had signed off on the deal in private, then reneged?"
"The Council claims to be fighting for the poor of the District when it is far more likely that it is in the process of killing a development deal, with baseball as its centerpiece, that would bring significant benefits, not costs, to those very constituents."This, after a column a couple of weeks ago which said in very qualified terms that the POTENTIAL but not certain development benefits were good enough to "take a chance" on baseball:
Does Washington want to take the risk of building a ballpark that will cost $530 million to $600 million, and may have overruns beyond that, just so it can bring major league baseball back to the nation's capital after 33 years?
These are serious questions without easy answers but with powerful long-term implications for the city. Washington has a once-in-a-lifetime chance. But it is not an opportunity that should be grabbed at any cost."
Hmmm..."...not an opportunity that should be grabbed at any cost." Much less certain this one month ago, eh? A little more:
"For the last 12 years, ever since Camden Yards was opened in Baltimore, expensive ballparks have been built all over America. The evidence is in. No matter how well you plan, no matter how good your civic intentions, it's risky business.""Risky business" sounds a lot less certain than "...significant benefits, not costs...", doesn't it?
"Cropp and others on the council, like Adrian Fenty and David Catania, realize [there will be no real raising of public money for the stadium]. They just don't want the public to figure it out. They prefer to round up cheap votes for themselves by bashing baseball rather than bringing a team back to Washington, bringing urban development to a blighted area and adding millions of dollars to the city's tax base."Oh, Tom, now you're just LYING. Fenty has always been against the stadium being publicly funded. And "cheap votes"? Boy, you really don't seem to pay much attention to D.C. politics. Jeez, losing respect by the graf...
"The Council should be reminded that baseball doesn't care how Washington funds its stadium."Um, yes, they DO, actually. There would never have been a deal - ever - if the stadium wasn't publicly-funded, because the greedy-ass owners don't want to set a precedent of teams actually paying for their own stadiums - the free-house-for-a-billionaire paradigm is nice work, if
you can get it.
This is really just an amazing piece of hackery, Boswell totally abandoning his principles and previous view of the owners in the pursuit of, well, a team that he can get to on the Metro.
For shame, Tom, for shame.
Wilbon, on the other hand, gets it just about right:
"It's a great idea that private money finance at least 50 percent of the cost of a new riverfront baseball stadium. It's a smart idea to protect the District from millions of dollars in penalties resulting from some phony stadium construction deadline that is unlikely to be met. It's common sense and good business to challenge a bunch of fat-cat Major League Baseball owners on every clause and every dollar asked for when spending $500 million or more on anything non-essential that includes a playpen for multi-millionaires.
But the time to do that was before agreeing to a deal. The time to say no was before, not after. The time for Linda Cropp to ask for amendments and show the city how tough (not to mention ambitious) she is was before Mayor Anthony A. Williams and other city officials agreed to do it baseball's way. If you're that tough, that smart and so creative as to come up with these measures now, why wasn't that done two months ago? Why not 10 months ago?"
Indeed. He focuses - rightly so - on Cropp and Williams the entire column, including a really good description of Williams:
"While Williams clearly wants this stadium and the urban renewal that would flow from it to be a huge part of his legacy as mayor, he's not a win-at-any-cost, backroom-dealing, vote-swapping cat. Maybe that's what's needed in this case, somebody who is willing to put blood on the floor to get a deal, and Williams doesn't strike me as that vicious. I like and respect the mayor and his conciliatory, consensus-building demeanor. But maybe he doesn't have the stomach for this kind of fight."
Yup. Yup, yup, yup. Now, I don't like Williams, but Wilbon gets him pretty much right there. Read both columns, but listen to what Wilbon says - he's pretty much on target, and his indictment of Cropp is well-warranted - why is it that she waited so long? Hasn't she been paying attention to the last 30 years of baseball really, really, really not wanting to put a team here? Just asking.
UPDATE: King Kaufman, with the benefit of outside perspective and his razor-sharp analysis, REALLY hits the nail on the head with regard to the whole situation:
"Last month Washington voters booted out three councilmembers who were in favor of a taxpayer-financed stadium deal and voted in three candidates who opposed it, including former Mayor Marion Barry. As usual the people, who have to actually pay the freight on ballpark boondoggles, were squarely against the deal struck by the politicians, who get credit for securing the sparkling new toys and are long gone by the time the bills come due."He also makes a point that I haven't heard yet, but that I think isn't quite on target:
[Major League Baseball spokesman Bob] DuPuy wasn't just cutting off his nose to spite his face when he suspended promotional operations for the Nationals, who had already sold a reported 18,000 season tickets and $100,000 worth of merchandise in just a few weeks. DuPuy said refunds would be offered to ticket-buyers. If a sweetheart deal can't be reached elsewhere, it would make the contraction argument a lot stronger to have the Nationals spend the next two years playing at RFK in front of Montreal-esque crowds in the mid-four figures.
IF there is a team here, they will have very good attendence. Period. Wilbon makes a similar point in his article. The, Kaufman hits on what is becoming a more-likely - and, I would add, not-entirely-undesirable - solution:
But we can't forget about contraction. Weirdly under-discussed when the last collective bargaining agreement was reached in 2002 was the fact that the players union gave up the right to contest if baseball decided to eliminate two teams in 2006.
In the long run, the 29 owners would probably make more money from contraction than they would from selling the Where Nextpos. The other contracted owner could cash out on what would likely be friendly teams. The remaining 28 would save money on revenue sharing to those two weak teams, and would divide those teams' share of revenues from broadcast contracts, merchandising, etc....
If I thought Major League Baseball were capable of devilishly brilliant strategic moves, I'd suspect that the late monkey wrench thrown into the D.C. deal had been devised by Selig and company. Instead I think it's going to work out for them one way or another as a sort of happy accident."
As long as the other team that's contracted is the Devil Rays, I am totally fine with this. They are a real embarrassment - and the Expos, though a once-proud franchise, are the same these days.