- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 19, 2003

To determine what might happen with the Montreal Expos and the future prospects of baseball in the Washington area, one might be best served by seeking out a psychic, particularly since Major League Baseball president Bob DuPuy seems to fancy himself as some sort of mystic.

“When the moon, the stars, the sun and the dollars are all aligned, we’ll do this [relocation],” DuPuy said.

This is known as the Aquarius strategy.

But not even a psychic can predict what baseball will do these days. The mentality of the powers running the game has changed dramatically the past nine years, from guarding the traditions of the game like Vatican cardinals to a willingness to make changes that not even a Madison Avenue marketeer would consider.

Baseball commissioner Cadillac Bud Selig emphasized one particular point in speaking with reporters over the All-Star break, and it is this: Anything and everything is on the table for the national pastime.

“In the past, we have been accused of being dinosaurs, that we weren’t willing to change,” Cadillac Bud said.

And if you didn’t hear him the first time, he repeated it. You could tell he liked saying it. A lot. “We were criticized for years for being this big, slow-moving dinosaur,” Cadillac Bud said.

Not anymore. Inside the inner circles of baseball these days, if you can think it, it can happen. If someone tells the owners, “You can’t do that,” the mentality is, “Why not?”

When discussing awarding home field advantage in the World Series to the All-Star Game winner, Cadillac Bud said, “It wasn’t like we were disturbing Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.”

No, just the World Series, the most precious jewel of the game. When the owners were willing to call off the Series during the 1994 strike — and the game survived — it seemed to open the eyes of owners (or perhaps blind them, depending on your perspective) that if they can cancel the World Series, they can do anything.

Look what has come down the pike since then: interleague play, threats of contracting teams, changing the All-Star Game and the Expos’ situation — the unprecedented three-franchise transfer when the owners bought the Expos from Jeffrey Loria, allowing Loria to purchase the Florida Marlins from John Henry, who in turn bought the Boston Red Sox.

At one time, this would have been an unthinkable transaction. The concept of all 29 major league owners sharing one franchise seemed ludicrous, because, of course, how could that possibly happen?

I mean, look at the pitfalls. What happens when that team wants to make a trade? How do they deal with one owner and not another? Last year, when the Expos obtained Bartolo Colon during the season, that meant that owners who were also trying to get him were beaten out by a team of which they also own a piece.

And as long as Major League Baseball dictates the terms of the Expos’ payroll limit, it sets the stage for the selling off or departure of the team’s talented players, such as Vladimir Guerrero, to the highest bidders amongst themselves.

So what? We’re not dinosaurs anymore, baby. We’re George Jetson, riding into the future in the Spacemobile.

There have been critics who say that the Expos playing 22 home games in Puerto Rico this year has been tough on the team and puts them at a disadvantage behind teams who get to play a full home schedule.

So what? Heck, 22 games, why not 44? Or all 81 games in a minor league ballpark in an area in which the median annual household income is about $9,000?

“The Puerto Rican experiment has been a wonderful experiment,” Cadillac Bud said in his online town hall chat earlier this week. “[Expos manager] Frank Robinson has told me the players enjoyed it and he’s enjoyed it. I feel really good about that experiment.”

But why just Puerto Rico? Why not a take the act on the road? “What about a Caribbean team?” one high-ranking baseball official wondered aloud in Chicago. “Why not some games in Puerto Rico, some more in the Dominican Republic and the rest in Mexico?”

He didn’t say why not Washington.

If they ever do, it will be when the moon is in the seventh house.

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