- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Things to think about while waiting for Eddie Jordan to get the Wizards to the NBA Finals:

Take a hike, MLB — Let’s hear it for District Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who yesterday in effect told Major League Baseball to get lost unless and until it’s ready to offer the city a commitment to move the Montreal Expos here.

A commitment from Major League Baseball? We might as well expect commissioner Bud Selig and his lapdogs to outlaw designated hitters, 31/2-hour games and turf.

Officials of Northern Virginia’s effort to land a club have uttered similar sentiments. Why should either jurisdiction pass legislation authorizing construction of a ballpark for $350 million to $400 million without at least a conditional thumbs-up from MLB? The people involved in efforts to land a team are not fools. Neither are Williams and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner. The same cannot be said for the people who run — if that’s the word — baseball.

Do you get the feeling that people (and perhaps divinities?) in high places don’t want us to have a ballclub to call our own? Are you beginning to wonder if it’s worth the struggle? Given the state of baseball and its economics these days, maybe we’re better off without a team. I’m tired of waiting and hoping, and I bet you are, too.

And, again, why doesn’t President Bush — once a baseball man himself — do some rantin’ and ravin’ over the absence of a team in his adopted hometown? Could it be nobody has told him the only senators in these parts are on Capitol Hill?

Regularly scheduled idiocy — The Montreal farce is only one of many reasons to suspect that Major League Baseball has lost its corporate mind. Another is the idiotic kind of scheduling that results in the Orioles and Yankees not meeting this season until five hours short of July.

By the time the Birds and Bombers get it on Monday night at Camden Yards, the Orioles will have played something like 80 games — nearly half a season. Baltimore will meet 15 teams before facing its biggest rival this season, including such outfits as the Phillies, Astros and Cubs. And if you think this complaint reflects the artificial, asinine nature of interleague play, so be it.

Not everything was better in the old days, but baseball scheduling certainly was. East opened the season against East and West against West back then. After several weeks, East went West in one league and West went East in the other — then they reversed directions.

Expansion and interleague play has made scheduling highly haphazard in recent years, but there has to be a better way than this. Next thing you know, September call-ups will be in the dugouts when the O’s and Yanks tangle for the first time.

And allow me to get in one final word about interleague play, just in case I haven’t made my point: Begone.

Strawberries and vinegar — Men’s champion Lleyton Hewitt disappears in the first round, Serena Williams is slumping and Andre Agassi is fading.

This time around, should we even care about Wimbledon? Instead, maybe tennis buffs hereabouts should look ahead to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic starting July 26.

Those superstar follies — The Washington Capitals are trying, so far unsuccessfully, to peddle Jaromir Jagr, the NHL’s highest-paid player, as teams begin to position themselves for a likely and lengthy lockout at the scheduled start of the 2004-05 season.

When are team owners in these parts and elsewhere gonna learn that you can’t create chicken salad out of, er, chicken feathers by bringing in one or more declining superstars? Cases in point: Jagr, Michael Jordan, Albert Belle, Deion Sanders.

All you accomplish in such cases is deplete your financial reserves, create animosity among lesser-salaried players and destroy whatever team unity exists. Unless, that is, you’re George Steinbrenner.

So long, Jagr, it’s been pointless to know ya.

Looking ahead — But don’t despair, folks. After all, the almighty Redskins go to camp in less than a month, and this time you won’t have to pay for the privilege of watching them brush off autograph requests.

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