- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

If Cadillac Bud Selig, commissioner of Major Bankrupt Baseball, wants to take some of the heat off himself today when he appears before the House Judiciary Committee to testify on the proposed bill to repeal baseball's antitrust exemption, he should come bearing gifts.

Here's one that might do the trick: make an announcement declaring that Major Bankrupt Baseball will conduct an in-depth study on how and when to put a franchise in the Washington area not if.

The word among baseball insiders is that the question of baseball coming to the Washington-Northern Virginia area is no longer whether it will happen. It's going to happen, they say. It's just a matter of when and how.

If that's true, then it is time for Cadillac Bud to play that card now. It doesn't diminish his ploy to use contraction as a bargaining chip against the players association, because there are more than the two teams in trouble. He can still threaten to fold the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins and still have the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays to relocate maybe even the Anaheim Angels, if Oakland takes over that market, which is one of the scenarios under consideration.

Cadillac Bud is feeling the heat nationwide for his contraction plan, even more than the fallout from canceling the 1994 postseason. At least back then, there were enough villains around to share the criticism. After all, it was the players who were on strike.

This time, though, Cadillac Bud stands alone, the only salesman in the showroom trying to unload this lemon. And so he has been the lone target of a barrage of criticism pointing out the foolishness and deceit of his plan to fold two teams.

He has managed to unite a host of different interests against him. There are many factions against contraction, but for different reasons.

Legislators in Minnesota as well Florida fear losing their franchises.

Lawmakers in Virginia are upset about contraction because there is no relocation, and they, along with District officials, have been lobbying other members of Congress most of whom live here much of the year and would like to see a baseball team in Washington to join their cause to pressure Major Bankrupt Baseball to put a team here.

Then there is the players association, which is against contraction for fear it would result in the loss of jobs and also negatively affect the free agent market.

All of these factions are united against Cadillac Bud and his fellow 20 paupers who own the worst investment in the land baseball teams. (I guess that's why there is a Wild West shootout going on in Boston to buy the Red Sox, with the price $400million and rising. I think the European Union is about the join one of the six groups bidding there.)

But Cadillac Bud could take some of the steam out of the contraction foes if he would make some sort of offer today to embrace the reality of the situation for a change. It would have to be some sort of study that would have a definite goal of putting a team here. We don't need another study to determine whether or not it would be successful, or the impact it would have on the Orioles. You could fill a small library with all of the studies already done covering those issues.

And we don't need another vacation road trip by Corey Busch, Cadillac Bud's appointed man to study relocation. That endeavor Busch, a former San Francisco Giants executive, visiting possible relocation sites (I think they dedicated a suite to Busch in Virginia Beach for all his trips there) to study the possibility of Major Bankrupt Baseball coming to Hampton Roads, baseball's version of a mini-market) went nowhere, except to Boston, where Busch is now working with one of the groups there to buy the Red Sox (who are going to wind up on EBay before it's all over).

Cadillac Bud could go a long way to deflect much of the criticism and steal spotlight today with such a proposal for the Washington area. I suspect no such offer will come, though. Cadillac Bud will likely go on with his plan to show how 30 baseball teams lost more than $500million this year. He will likely get his chance to present this charade, with a friend in the chair James Sensenbrenner, Bud's congressman from back in Milwaukee.

But maybe Jesse can save the day. Today could wind up being the Jesse Ventura show, as the wrestler turned Minnesota governor is also scheduled to testify, and will likely land a few atomic elbows on Cadillac Bud's head before the day ends. Jesse could turn the hearing into a Budroast, the last thing the commissioner of Major Bankrupt Baseball needs.

Cadillac Bud can get the upper hand, though, if he enters the ring with a foreign object hidden in his trunks in this case, a plan for baseball in Washington.

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