The farce that is the ownerless Montreal cum San Juan Expos will apparently end tomorrow. According to reports Major League Baseball will announce Wednesday that Expos will be moved to Washington for next season.
The writing was on the wall when earlier today Baltimore owner Peter "Chaza" Angelos intimated that a deal could be done if baseball could slake his ego or some such conditions:
"I still stand by my original position, that there should not be a team in Washington," Angelos said.
However, he said he would consider an arrangement between Major League Baseball and the Orioles that meets two standards: "Does the deal protect the value of the franchise? Does it protect the state and the taxpayers' investment in Camden Yards?..."
"If those two goals can be accomplished, and I feel the franchise would be secure and the revenue stream is protected and the asset value is secure, it might be possible to make a deal."
"As far as my personal interests are concerned, as far as paying me $100 million or $150 million, all that would do is take care of Peter Angelos. That's not what it is about."
After the conversation with the Sun, Angelos had to be rushed away for an emergency nose-ectomy. You have to admire a man who can out-scum Bud Selig. Everyone knew that this deal had to be made. It was two years ago for crissake that it was leaked that the Expos proposed home schedule was labeled "Washington". Baseball never really had any other viable option or at least never considered one. Angelos was able to stave off their overtures until now and, I'm sure, will exact his ounce of flesh before the deal is done.
Anyway, finally the Bleeding Expos will have a real home and a real owner, whomever that might be. It is the first time in 33 years that a major-league franchise has been relocated (i.e., the Senators moving to Arlington). Baseball gets to tap into the rich baseball history in Washington. It is the third oldest baseball area after all (behind New York and Philly--check your NABBP history). Pictures of Walter Johnson and Clark Griffith will abound and expect plenty of ye olde tyme uniform appearances (unless the Twins own the rights to those). President John Kerry will get to throw out the first ball next year (if there is a god--I'm not optimistic). Hopefully, the season openers will return to Cincy and DC. And baseball gets to extort a new stadium from another community. It's win-win all around.
Meanwhile, as my friend Murray points out, the man behind the curtain has sold the Brewers to a Los Angeles investor for $180 M. Coincidence? "Read the book!" Of course, Bud Selig no longer has anything to do with the sale. His daughter is running the Brewers. Bud's 28% stake in the club is held in trust so he is completely disinterested in the clubs fate. (Should we mention that his and the other owners' partial ownership of the Expos makes their sale a conflict of interest? I guess it's bad manners.)
The Brewers end up being sold for just two million less than the large-market Angels went for last year even though they have had 12 straight losing seasons and were reportedly $133.2 M in arears at the end of last season. Of course, the Brewers have been at the fore at reducing team payroll. Last offseason they lost then-team president Ulice Payne over the decision to cut payroll from $40 to $30 M. Luckily for the Brewers, the Doamondbacks agreed to take one of the few players who had been paid a decent salary by the Brewers, Richie Sexson, for a slew of cheap, young, talented-enough players.
Anyway, in one day, Bud Selig may go from the owner of parts of two teams to an owner of none probably making more than a Halliburton government contract in the process. It's a good thing that Selig can no longer directly decimate a club. However, he is now free to step up his indirect havoc-wreaking of baseball as a whole, not a good thing. Expect wraparound ads on player uniforms, an extra round of playoffs, and homefield advantage in the league championship series determined by spring training games coming to a theater near you soon.