- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 8, 2001

Bud Selig the man who will repeat, over and over again, the story of the pain he felt when the beloved Milwaukee Braves left for Atlanta in 1965 led the charge to do away with not just one but two franchises in a matter of hours at a Chicago meeting Tuesday.
It must have been tough for Bud to sleep that night, with all of the pain he felt for the people of Montreal and Minnesota because they are on the verge of losing their teams, plus the pain he probably feels every night for the people of the Washington and Northern Virginia who have not had a baseball team for 30 years and counting. God, he must have been crying into his pillow all night.
Then again, maybe the money that he sorry, his daughter (his share of the club was placed in a blind trust when he became commissioner) will make from the boost in advertising and box office revenue for his old franchise, the Milwaukee Brewers from folding the Twins eased his pain a little bit.
Somebody in Congress should investigate this little aside to this whole contraction fiasco. The owners haven't identified which two franchises they plan on contracting, but everyone knows it's the Twins and the Expos. Now the Brewers have no competition to the west, and no more television competition on the Fox Sport Net channel they shared with the Twins. A baseball source familiar with the market told me it could likely result in a tidy increase in revenue for the Brewers.
I guess this falls under the Best Interests of Bud clause in baseball's constitution.
His own personal stake in all of this will likely be brought to the forefront by somebody, as there will be no lack of ammunition to use in the fight against contraction and no shortage of people willing to do battle.
That's one of the remarkably stupid things about the owners using contraction as a bargaining hammer against the players union. The union doesn't even have to lift a finger to oppose it, at least not for a while. There will be plenty of people lining up to do the dirty work for them.
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission has already enlisted in the union army. It filed suit to force the Twins to honor their lease to play in the Metrodome next season. Minnesota attorney general Mike Hatch is carrying the union flag as well. He is exploring the state's legal options against contraction.
There will be others. There are minor league franchises facing uncertainty, spring training facilities with long-term leases (the Expos have 16 years left on a 20-year lease in their Jupiter complex), deals with television, radio, vendors. All of them are figuring out whom to sue and for how much.
Then there are the political ramifications. Minnesota legislators are now ripe to join any attack the Virginia Congressional delegation may be willing to mount against baseball's antitrust exemption.
And, when you think about it, even though the common belief is that the Twins and Expos are the two teams targeted for extinction, the owners have left the future of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Florida Marlins baseball's other two most troubled financial franchises in limbo as well. So baseball has no political friends in Florida either.
Then there is the president himself. George W. Bush has made it clear to Selig that he likes the idea of a baseball team in the Washington-Northern Virginia area very much so.
All of these parties and entities are wearing the union label all for different reasons but united in their opposition against the owners' contraction plans as revealed. Players union boss Don Fehr may not have to break a sweat to fight the owners on this one.
Ultimately, what does this mean for the chances of baseball returning to the Washington area? Nobody knows for sure, because right now it is a matter of interpreting and predicting the intentions of one of the most foolhardy groups of businessmen in the country.
But here's something or someone to keep your eye on: Larry Lucchino.
Lucchino is everywhere these days. He resigned as president of the San Diego Padres last month, but his name has surfaced in all sorts of deals. One Padres official said Lucchino was trying to buy the Anaheim Angels from Disney. Another Boston source said Lucchino was the point man for one of the groups looking to buy the Boston Red Sox.
But what is most curious is his role as an adviser to major league baseball down in Florida. He was officially sent there last month by baseball to help the Marlins get a new ballpark, but who knows what the future of the Marlins is? One of the many scenarios being floated around the industry is the one where the Marlins are relocated to the Washington-Northern Virginia area.
Those who know Lucchino, a former Baltimore Orioles president, Washington Redskins board member and protege of Edward Bennett Williams (Lucchino is still a partner in the law firm of Williams and Connelly), believe there is nothing he would love more than to come back to Washington as the conquering hero, bringing baseball with him.
There is a lot of confusion right now, but keep your eye on the bouncing Larry.


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