- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

BALTIMORE Undaunted by the previous night's 10-0 bashing, the Minnesota Twins turned up at Camden Yards again yesterday for the ungrand finale of Major League Baseball's No-Name Series against the ersatz Orioles. Now if the Twins would move 40 miles or so south, we would have the greatest comeback in the history of rounders.
Most of the never-ending talk about bringing a team to Washington centers around the Expos, who should be lame ducks in Montreal if they aren't already. Yet the Twins might be a better bet. There's a feeling that MLB might let them move before the Expos because owner Carl Pohlad has been losing money for most of 16 years, compared with one for Montreal owner Jeffrey Loria.
This supposition won't exactly inspire dancing in the streets from Frederick to Fredericksburg, but even the merest suggestion that the Twins could move to the District leaves the mind thoroughly boggled.
For those of you under 50, or with short memories, the Twins once were the original Washington Senators, a charter member of the American League in 1901. Owner Calvin Griffith, whose family had been involved with an American League franchise in the District since 1912, moved them to the Twin Cities on one very gloomy day in September 1960. This prompted an immortal lead from the dean of Washington sportswriters, Shirley Povich: "Calvin Griffith, who had promised that the Senators would never leave Washington in his lifetime, yesterday moved his ballclub to Minnesota posthumously."
That was two generations ago, and it's hard to imagine a more dramatic return.
Richard Nixon? Douglas MacArthur? Frank Sinatra? Nelson Mandela? Michael Jordan? The swallows to Capistrano?
Forget it. This would be the comeback, at least for those of us who find the Orioles particularly Peter Angelos' Orioles a poor substitute for our own team in Washington.
And make no mistake, baseball should be in the District proper. I mean, Northern Virginia is a nice place to visit or live, but a team called the Virginia Fury representing Washington? Sorry, Bill Collins, but it doesn't fly. And the trend is to downtown stadiums anyway, thanks ironically to the Orioles' jewel-like Camden Yards hard by the Inner Harbor.
Any move of the Twins assumes that they won't get their own new ballpark in Minnesota to replace Baggie Stadium, alias the Metrodome. In a recent report on baseball economics, a so-called Blue Ribbon panel does that mean everybody drank Pabst during meetings? recommended the relocation of troubled franchises. After seven straight losing seasons, the Twins are about as popular in the Twin Cities as frostbite. Home attendance hasn't reached 1.5 million since 1993 in an area where too many folks would rather go fishing than watch lousy ballclubs in a lousy facility.
By way of keeping the team in its adopted home, the Twins have asked 118 civic leaders to suggest ways of doing so. This smacks of desperation, even if former Twins stars Harmon Killebrew and Kent Hrbek are members of the panel. And privately, according to reports, Pohlad has told local officials to build a ballpark or lose the team.
If the state and Twin Cities refuse to spend the necessary taxpayers' money to do so, the only way the Twins might remain is if Gov. Jesse Ventura applies a headlock to Pohlad. Which, of course, is a possibility.
Meanwhile, at least one guy in a Twins uniform was saying kind things about Washington yesterday in the Minnesota dugout.
"Would I like to be with a club in the nation's capital? Who wouldn't?" asked pitching coach Dick Such, who had a sip of coffee with the expansion Senators in 1970, fashioning an unsnappy 1-5 record that hastened his wise decision to become a coach. "There was a sense of pride in playing there. I remember meeting [President Nixon] on Opening Day at RFK and finding out he was a baseball fan. That was the highlight of my career and my life.
"I grew up in North Carolina, and I remember going to the old park [Griffith Stadium] when I was a Little Leaguer, 11 or 12 years old, and going all around the stadium trying to get autographs. I was in awe of the atmosphere. And there was a great rivalry between Washington and Baltimore then. I never understood why the two clubs left.
That's easy to answer: greedy Cal Griffith and carpetbagging Bob Short. But thousands of others in our town never understood why either Washington team was allowed to leave.
One day, perhaps sooner rather than later, Major League Baseball may be in a position to rectify those wrongs and the resulting 29-year absence of the national pastime in the nation's capital. The game is facing certain realignment, and presumably a new edition of the Senators would play in the National League. All the better.
Having any club here would be sweet. Getting the Twins back would be sweetest of all.
So c'mon home, Twinkies the light's still in the window.

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