So are you surprised that Linda Cropp is my new personal hero?
It's true. I'm in love with this woman. She put her foot down, and said, "I'm not willing to suck Bud Selig's dick in order to get a baseball team" (I'm paraphrasing). With a masterstroke of legislative manuevering, she's painted baseball, and Mayor "You Will Respect The Bowtie" Williams, into a corner.
"Nobody puts Tony in a corner!" the mayor was heard to say as he stormed out. "Now where's my dancing posse?"
OK, not really. Actually, it was even more hilarious than that:
Williams left the John A. Wilson Building without commenting on Cropp's actions and before the council voted on the legislation. A half-dozen police officers formed a cordon to shield him from reporters as he left the council chamber. The officers scuffled briefly with reporters as they tried to follow the mayor into a public hallway leading to his offices.OK, everybody put on your best Lil John voices... "YEAAAA-UHHHHH! What you gon' do, Bowtie? SHIT!"
Reporters ultimately cornered the mayor in an elevator and demanded to know why he had taken the unusual step of enlisting the police as reporters tried to question him.
"I don't want to talk to anybody, okay?" Williams said.
I love it. I really do. This really makes me way too happy.
OK, yeah, so maybe, no baseball team for Washington in the long run. But consider:
1. It's partially baseball's fault for delaying so long. This whole "maybe we'll move the Expos to Washington", lest we forget, has been going on since the end of the 2001 season when baseball failed in its efforts to contract two teams. They could have moved the team here two or three years ago, but kept delaying and delaying and delaying some more. The deadline kept getting pushed back; meanwhile, baseball has been consistently losing money in Montreal and San Juan, waiting around for some sucker to come along and promise full public financing for a new stadium. And that sucker came along in the form of... the Bowtie. But all the delaying didn't leave much time to do any actual negotiating. The Council was expected to kowtow to a financially irresponsible plan in the space of a couple months, and it just didn't happen.
2. But... we had an agreement! I love how everytime someone interviewed the Bowtie over the last few weeks, he'd be all: "But... but... we have an agreement!" OK, see, the thing is: D.C. is not a dictatorship. You can make a hundred agreements with the Bud, if you want; it won't actually mean anything. They could have agreed to replace the Lincoln Memorial with the Bud Memorial... Doesn't matter! Wearing the bowtie doesn't give you absolute power over the city and its finances. And, as you might expect...
3. The agreement suxored. This. City. Should. Not. Be. Fully funding. A baseball stadium. Period. We're talking about D.C. here, people. Does anybody remember last year, when they had to fire 422 people from the school system and cancel raises and sports programs due to budget cuts? How can a city that can't pay for its fucking schools agree to spend potentially $600 million on a baseball stadium, the financial benefits of which are going to go almost completely to the team's owners? (And yeah, there are residual business and gentrification effects on the local economy, but it sure as hell isn't going to be $500-$600 million worth.)
Consider San Francisco. They play in a ballpark that was constructed using private funds only. The team leases the land from the city at fair market value. And, by all accounts, it's the best park in baseball, at no cost to the city.
The consider what went down in Milwaukee with Miller Park, where the attendance for Bud Selig's Brewers has dropped to half capacity and the team remains uncompetitive, despite promising that a new park would lead to better teams.
And yeah, there's no owner in place yet for the Nationals to help secure the private funding, but again, that's baseball's fault. Right now the other 29 owners own the team; they're the ones losing money in Montreal; they're the ones who voted to move to Washington. They're also the ones who will profit when they sell the team, and so they should help come up with funding for the kind of park they want. Otherwise, this deal is just a tax revenue giveaway to baseball owners.
4. This whole situation has generated some of the best local news photos, ever.
You'll have to check out the Post for more. Clip and save. Put 'em on the fridge. You won't get more entertaining photos the rest of the decade.
5. D.C., for the first time, actually has some leverage. I actually feel like this is a good time to be playing chicken with the Bud. The team has to play in RFK next year; they don't have a choice. It's too late to go back to Montreal, and that would be a futile low-attendance money-losing proposition anyway, compared to what's likely going to be high attendance at RFK. Plus, none of the other cities (Vegas, Dulles, Monterrey, etc.) previously in the running for the team have a major-league-level stadium currently available. Which means that the Nationals, whether baseball likes it or not, are stuck at RFK for the next three years anyway. We're holding them prisoner! Or, at the very least, we've got a captive team and can still negotiate with them in the meantime. Yeah, it might not work out and they might move after two or three years. But who cares? D.C. gets baseball right now, and some other stupid city can spend $600-whatever million on a ballpark if they want.
In conclusion, this is great and I love it. And there is one more person who deserves our praise:
Adam Eidinger, the guy who jumped up on stage at the Nationals unveiling press conference and managed to say into the microphone, "This is a bad deal, people!" before being pulled off-stage. Adam, you did it; somebody finally, really, listened. To those about to dork... we salute you.