- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2000

We're dead.
Oops, sorry, I mean, we're still dead. And guess what it might be a permanent condition.
The issue, of course, is nabbing or grabbing a major league baseball team for the Washington area. Why bother to even hope?
How long now have we been literally disenfranchised, 29 years? Or is that 129? I've lost track.
A lot of folks I know snort and snicker whenever the possibility is raised of restoring the national pastime to the nation's capital. Small wonder. We might as well cross our fingers, spin around three times and wish that all politicians hereabouts would drift out to sea.
This week's news that the two groups seeking baseball for the area would rather die than merge, or almost, was the biggest blow in a long time. Until then, it had been looking pretty good at least compared with past efforts that the Montreal Expos or the Florida Marlins might relocate here. But now forget it. The chances are about the same as those of Dan Snyder giving Norv Turner a lifetime contract.
I understand that Fred Malek's group is committed to putting a team in the District and William Collins' people are equally prejudiced in favor of Northern Virginia. I understand that all sorts of political, sociological and economic factors come into play here. And you know what? It doesn't matter at all. Not really.
We desperately need a team to call our own. Now that Cal Ripken's career is nearly over, what possible reason is there to drive 35 miles or more to watch the overpaid, underachieving Orioles? And wouldn't it be a hoot to tell Peter Angelos where he could go and what he could do, financially speaking anyway?
But it's not going to happen unless the Washington area is united behind one ownership group and one location for a ballpark. Commissioner Bud Selig can yak and yammer out of both sides of his mouth from now until 2100 about how much Washington deserves a team and it will mean nothing until we can offer a united front.
You don't have to be terribly smart to realize that Major League Baseball, despite its lip service to the contrary, is leery of Washington. First, there is concern that a team here would negatively affect the cash cow at Camden Yards. Secondly, our old Murder Capital reputation scares off some owners. And thirdly, the departure of two previous ballclubs prompts the unjustified conclusion in some quarters that we can't or won't support baseball.
In that regard, it's necessary to reiterate that the Washington area of today bears no resemblance to that of 1960, when the original Senators left for Minnesota, or 1971, when the expansion outfit defected to Texas. We also should mention that the relatively impecunious Griffith family foisted off mostly mediocre teams on us while failing to win a pennant for the last 27 years of its residence.
And the expansion club was owned and mismanaged by, in order, a government administrator with an ego as big as all outdoors (Elwood "Pete" Quesada); two financiers who knew nothing about baseball (James Johnston and James Lemon); and a political hack to whom loyalty meant nothing (the unspeakable Bob Short). Some people in baseball want to blame us for not breaking down the turnstiles? Heck, most of those teams drew more fans than they deserved.
Nonetheless, all these factors add up to one thing: Baseball isn't going to put a team in the Washington area unless it is confronted by a stable, united ownership gang with plenty of money, strong political connections, and completed plans for a ballpark with public and private financing in place.
The trend toward downtown parks suggests that the D.C. group might have an edge. Then again, a team in Northern Virginia theoretically would hurt the Orioles less. I don't really care. I just want a team somewhere, even in Dumfries if need be.
We can only hope that, sooner or later, Malek and Collins will agree to join forces for the common good. Both have spent untold amounts of time and money in their highly honorable pursuits, but unless one or the other capitulates, they both lose.
Until then, we're dead.
And what else is new?

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