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Contract High
2005-12-19 21:47
by Mike Carminati

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 abound—you get the idea.

But while we you have visions of sugar plums foxtrotting in your brain—and I ponder whose brilliant idea it was to have Christmas and Hanukah on the same friggin' day—Major 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.

2005-12-19 22:23:32
1.   Xeifrank
Ah, the heat-miser... that has to be one of my favorite all time songs. Can we all sing in chorus, "I'm Mr Heat miser, I'm Mr 101". But as a little kid I did find the heat-miser a little scarier than the cold-miser. The cold-miser seemed like the guy you'd like to hang out with. Just bring a jacket.
vr, Xei
2005-12-20 08:05:47
2.   Mike Carminati
It's not the Heat-Miser so much as the Humidity-Miser.
2005-12-20 10:23:39
3.   joejoejoe
I hope MLB overplays their hand with the Nationals and ends up destroying their anti-trust exemption. The Nats drew 2,692,123 fans last year. Let a franchise owner pay for the stadium with the profits from those fans ala Peter Magowan. Tax dollars should go for police, fire, and roads, not boondoggle stadiums.
2005-12-20 12:11:05
4.   rbj
I won't shed a tear for the Nats and Marlins getting axed. But then I guess the Pirates get shoved to the East -- still no worry for the Phils.

And in two years MLB will expand with two new franchises!

2005-12-20 15:23:59
5.   TFD
Mike: "Hanukah"...? Hanukkah!
2005-12-21 15:11:47
6.   maynard8
That first paragraph sets a new Internet record (though these things only go back to 1995 or so) for cynicism. What's next, proposing shooting Santa for sport on Christmas Eve? I bet you prefer the pre-redemption Scrooge. "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Is there no Pro Player Stadium? We'll contract and that'll reduce the surplus population-of ballplayers."

Baseball will always be run by idiots-it's God's way of keeping the NFL more popular-but on this one Selig and company seem to have the DC City Council (featuring among others the winsome Marion Barry) by the baseballs.

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