- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

The Washington metropolitan area usually scratches its head around Major League Baseball after crunching the demographic numbers.

Scratching goes with the sport, along with spitting and adjusting your most valuable body parts.

Washington apparently is Brownsville, Texas, with a couple of nice monuments and two rent-a-pandas from China.

Washington ponders the closed-door goings-on in baseball and wonders where it went wrong. Is it something we said? Is it our body odor or exploding manhole covers?

Washington often laughs after counting, by hand, the three or four spectators in the stands in Montreal.

That constitutes a crowd in French, the obsessive-compulsive language there. If it helps, one of the sports sections in town carries a Spanish-language page. We will consider a Latin-language page if a baseball team is planted in our vicinity.

Washington hears the word contraction from Bud Selig and assumes his water is about to break. Is that addition by contraction, or is George Steinbrenner's fat wallet merely hitting the fan?

In baseball, the rich get richer, and the poor don't do so badly, either.

Baseball is missing the joie de vivre. The French in Montreal are missing it, too, possibly because they are consumed with seceding from Canada.

Cubbie-for-life Ernie Banks said, "Let's play two."

Selig's mantra is: "Let's pare two."

Washington would like to think it is the alternative to contraction, either an option to Jeff Loria in Montreal or Carl Pohlad in Minnesota, the leading fraticide candidates.

The 30 owners are meeting Tuesday in Chicago, where they could vote to eliminate two from their fraternity or just enjoy the food and drink before the next strike.

Washington, meanwhile, remains on the bench, stuck there 30 years, after the second version of the Senators skipped town.

Washington has a particular interest in the Twins, the original Senators who won the AL pennant in 1965. That also was Washington's pennant, fashioned though it was in Bloomington, Minn., where the Mall of America now sits.

Pohlad, the billionaire owner who purchased the Twins for $38 million in 1984, wants a new stadium from the taxpayers of Minnesota. If not, he'll settle for a $250 million check from baseball. His dilemma qualifies as poverty in baseball.

Washington wrote the legislation on fleecing taxpayers, only the gasbags on Capitol Hill call it pork.

Regardless, baseball should know that Washington has feelings, too. It does not feel good to be the Cousin It of the baseball family.

Washington blames its predicament on Peter Angelos, followed by Bob Short and the Griffith family.

Angelos is the owner of the inept baseball team in Baltimore who claims 99 percent of his operating revenue comes from the Washington market. The way Angelos figures it, Baltimore is just another suburb of Washington, the same as Towson.

Perhaps you have to be a seamhead to understand the logistics, not to mention the box scores, replete with who hits what against ambidextrous pitchers under a full moon.

Baseball has expanded to a number of second-tier markets since Washington was first in war, first in peace and last in the American League, and now it has a headache. Even so, Selig still can't seem to locate Washington on the map.

Hint: It is between the mixing bowl in Springfield and Ralph Friedgen's soup bowl in College Park. You can't miss the latter.

Baseball is steeped in lore. Washington promises to take a refresher course, starting with the following: Joe DiMaggio married Marilyn Monroe before becoming Mr. Coffee, Willie Mays stumbled around in the outfield with the Mets and Roger Maris' hair fell out in 1961.

The Senators won the World Series in 1924, the Senators won the World Series in 1924, the Senators won the World Series in 1924.

Baseball moves at its own pace. Some call it slow.

Washington is inclined to call it something worse after 30 years on the outside.


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