- The Washington Times - Monday, May 20, 2002

There was major league baseball yesterday at RFK Stadium, and it was a beautiful sight to see.
There was Ferguson Jenkins in his windup and Harold Baines swinging a bat. There was the Washington Senators' Chuck Hinton roaming the outfield and another old Senator, pitcher Jim Hannan, tossing the ball.
It was a glorious afternoon, 65 degrees and sunny, with a group of former major league ballplayers putting on a clinic for about 100 kids at RFK.
"Isn't it a beautiful day?" asked Mayor Anthony Williams, who stopped by to talk to the kids. "It's great to see all these ballplayers at RFK on such a beautiful day. We should see more ballplayers at RFK on beautiful days," referring to Washington's quest to bring major league baseball back to the District.
When you think about it, though, it was more than just a beautiful day, this clinic put on by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and sponsored by the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, the Freddie Mac Foundation and the Washington Baseball Club, the group seeking to bring a major league franchise to the District.
It was a miracle, really. It was miracle to find 100 kids in and around Washington who even care enough about baseball to want to spend their Sunday afternoon learning about it. It was remarkable the night before when about 100 people showed up at Grill 88 in the District to bid on baseball memorabilia in a fund-raiser for the Midtown Youth Academy. In fact, it's a miracle to find anyone in Washington who cares about baseball, period. But people do care about the game. Remarkably, they still love the game.
"There is a passion for baseball in this city and region," said Bobby Goldwater, executive director of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, which was overseeing the last sporting event on the field at RFK this season before the HFStival hits the stadium and the field is destroyed. "People miss it, and people will support it, and that's what I tell the people in Major League Baseball whenever I can."
That is why Washington is proof positive that you can't kill baseball, no matter how hard you try, and Cadillac Bud Selig and the players union seem to be trying very hard to do just that destroy baseball.
Cadillac Bud's lastest promotional campaign consisted of claiming that six to eight teams are in trouble and can't exist for another year, which, of course, is total rubbish. He says this is based on his plan to implement a contract provision that prevents clubs from having a certain amount of debt in relation to the value of the team. He says he will now enforce this provision. That, in turn, will put these teams in jeopardy.
Which begs the question, if Cadillac Bud has the authority to limit how much teams can spend, why does he want a salary cap? Doesn't he have one in place already with this debt limit provision? And if he suddenly decides to enforce it arbitrarily, will it yet be one more tactic that will put damages money in the union's pocket?
Also, you know what you have when you have eight teams fold? A new league, baby, and the last thing Cadillac Bud wants to see is another showroom across the street. So you can dismiss his threats. Store it with all of the other Cadillac Bud fibs (they may have to designate a state as a dumping site for all of the lies that the commissioner of baseball has foisted upon a nation).
Then there are the strike threats now being floated by the union, which sets the stage for yet another work stoppage that could end this season early and close down the postseason for the second time.
All of this gloom and doom about a strike has resulted in predictions of the death of baseball. But baseball is either immortal or the undead, depending on your point of view. It can't be killed, because if it could, the love of the game would have died in Washington a long time ago.
Think about it. We haven't had major league baseball in Washington since the Senators left after the 1971 season and moved to Arlington, Texas. And since then, we have been used and abused numerous times by baseball, seeking to get ballparks built in another cities. We have been jilted and teased enough times that you would think at some point people would say no more and put their jerseys, caps and other baseball belongings in a giant pile at RFK Stadium and start a bonfire.
But no, here we are more pumped up than ever about the prospects of getting a team. You have the commissioner of baseball declaring that the game is on the verge of bankruptcy and the players union threatening yet another strike. And yet today, before the Washington Board of Trade, two groups of people with a lot of money and a lot of brains Washington Baseball Club and Virginia Baseball Inc. will tell business leaders their plans to bring baseball back to the region.
Why? Why would anyone be willing to invest so much money, time and energy in this game that has done nothing but dump on Washington? Why would 100 kids who have never seen a major league baseball game in Washington come to the ballpark to learn the game?
Because on a sunny May afternoon there was nothing better than to be at RFK Stadium, watching baseball even if it was instructional baseball in a clinic and neither the absence of the game for so many years nor the dire predictions of its demise could diminish the moment. It felt so right.


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