- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2000

For baseball fans in this forsaken area, there is a very good reason to applaud George W. Bush's election. As president, perhaps he can, and will, try to end our 28-year drought without a major league team.

After all, Bush was a minority owner and big boss of the Rangers a few years ago before he decided he could fry Texas Gov. Ann Richards and even bigger political fish down the road.

As president, Bush's interest in baseball will go far deeper than throwing out the first ball on Opening Day. He used to love being around and working out with his Rangers, and he has pretty good baseball bloodlines. Don't forget that his Daddy played first base for Yale and kept a glove in his desk in the Oval Office.

In fact, Bush Sr. might have beaten Bill Clinton in 1992 if he had talked more about baseball and less about staying the course during his reelection campaign. If Clinton has any love for the game, it has been well hidden during his eight years as president. What's more, he throws like a girl as you know if you've ever seen him at Camden Yards on the first Monday in April.

It is not known how Bush stands on the issue of restoring a team to the Washington area, but we may assume he's not a big fan of Peter Angelos, the Orioles' dictatorial owner and a staunch Democrat. After he settles in and settles down at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the new president just might knock a few baseball fatheads together the ones belonging to people who say we don't need a team because the Orioles are a "regional franchise."

Who dreamed up that piece of fiction, former Charm City mayor and Maryland governor Willie Don Schaefer? Or maybe King Peter I himself?

I've wondered for years what would happen if the president of the United States convened baseball's movers and shakers at the White House, banged his fist on the desk a few times and said, "It's idiotic for baseball not to have a team in Washington. I want a team here, and I want it now."

Obviously, a president cannot order this to happen but he can put the power of his office behind such a demand and at least get a respectful hearing. Besides, Fred Malek, who heads the group trying to get a team for the District, is a power broker in Republican circles. Together he and Bush just might get it done.

After Bush enters the White House on Jan. 20, he'll enjoy the traditional, and traditionally brief, honeymoon period during which most Americans and lawmakers wish a new president well and pledge to put aside partisan feelings. I know he'll have about 50,000 other things to deal with after all, he'll have to learn the names of all those foreign leaders but this might be an ideal time to lean on baseball people about Washington. Something like this …

W: "Hello, Commissioner Selig, this is George Bush no, no, not the former president, the current president, the one who exposed Al Gore's fuzzy mathematics. That's right, I did used to be with the Rangers. You have a good memory."

BUD: "It's good to hear from you, George. I always wondered what became of you when you left the ballclub. Remember how we used to get together and stick pins in Yankee dolls when I owned the Brewers?"

W: "Of course. Now, Bud, I need your help. I want Washington to get a team, and I want you to see that it happens before the midterm elections."

BUD: "Gee, I don't know, Mr. President. Some of those owners have minds of their own. I can't exactly tell George Steinbrenner and Peter Angelos what to do both of them could buy and sell me 10 times over."

W: "Bud, I won't take no for an answer, and I'm holding you responsible. If you can't make it happen, owners or no owners, I'll have to do something so ugly I don't want to think about it."

BUD: "Is that a threat, Mr. President? What could you do?"

W: "I'll sic Dick Cheney on you. And if that doesn't work, there's always Colin Powell."

BUD: "OK, Mr. President, you win. Do you want your club to be called the Senators or Nats?"

W: "Both, Bud just like in the good old days."

Baseball has been allowed to treat Washington with gross negligence ever since carpetbag owner Robert Short who moonlighted as a Democratic politician, by the way created the Rangers by moving the expansion Senators to Texas in 1972. It would be wonderfully proper, and wonderfully ironic, if a former Rangers owner should help us regain our baseball birthright three decades later.

When it comes to matters of horsehide, Bush is the most qualified president ever. I know he signed off on the Rangers trading Sammy Sosa to the Cubs in 1989, but everybody's entitled to one mistake. Just ask Slick Willie.

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