Ah, the holidays. Endless checkout lines at the malls. "A Brady Family Christmas", Heat-Miser, and tender family classics about suicides and angels pepper our plasma screens. Pointless lists of stillborn thoughts aboundyou get the idea.
But while we you have visions of sugar plums foxtrotting in your brainand I ponder whose brilliant idea it was to have Christmas and Hanukah on the same friggin' dayMajor League Baseball seems to have visions of contraction pirouetting in their extremely limited gray matter.
The Marlins unloaded the last multi-million-dollar contract they had left on the roster, sending Ron Villone and his $2 M contract to the Yankees for, I believe, a personal appearance from Don Mattingly and Reggie Jackson, or maybe it was another minor-league arm, the umpteenth plus two-eth one that they have collected this offseason. Villone will be another drop in the bucket but in Miami he was the last player not getting league minimum (and last year his contract was eaten by Seattle), at least until Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera go through arbitration.
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball's version of Dick Cheney (with apologies to Cheney), Bob DuPuy, went on the offensive in DC. He said that Baseball and the D.C. area was "at a crossroads", and like Eric Clapton and Robert Johnson, DuPuy expects the entire city to fall down on their knees:
"We used our best efforts to reach closure with the Council to ensure the future of the Washington Nationals in the District of Columbia," DuPuy said in a letter addressed to Council Chairman Linda Cropp. "If the Council fails to approve the lease, we would be at a crossroads."
Hmm what could he mean by "crossroads"? Quoth DuPuy, "The Baseball Stadium Agreement (BSA) requires lease approval by the end of this month If the lease is not approved by then, the city will be in default on its contractual commitments and we will then have no choice but to prepare for arbitration."
Prepare for arbitration? What could that mean
"In arbitration, all prior concessions by MLB would be revisited." Oh, I see. Sayonara Nationals.
Not only that but DuPuy applied the screws to Washington's collective thumbs by setting them up for some sort of compensatory damages lawsuit or at least the threat thereof: "Although not required by the BSA, we agreed to do it [meet a number of demands from the DC council] and to bear the associated costs, which are substantial." The guy is the master of sleaze.
In 2002 baseball threatened to contract two teams, reportedly the Twins and then Expos, though they tried to scare as many fanbases as possible by not truly disclosing the specific teams targeted. At the end of 2006, baseball appears set to explore contracting the neo-Expos and apparently the Marlins out of existence. The Marlins are turning into the Cleveland Spiders Mach II, and the Spiders were one of the teams contracted the last time, 106 years ago--remember? The only plus I see is that the Phils can no longer finish lower than third in the revamped NL East in 2007. Though I'm being a bit selfish there.