Selig Announces Sale "Not Close"
[November 8th] -- So it has come to this. Just a few days ago, Bud Selig announced that the on again, off again sale of the Washington Nationals would finally, mercifully, be completed by the end of the Milwaukee owners meetings the middle of this month.
Wednesday, Selig announced at the general managers meeting in Indian Wells that the sale wasn't "close," and that he was still personally interviewing the ownership groups vying for the team. As of Wednesday, he still needed to talk to three of the groups. Selig now says that their isn't even a "timetable" regarding the team's sale. He hints that the uncertainty of the stadium agreement is holding up the sale. If he still has three groups to interview, I don't think it has anything to do with the D.C. City Council.
Major League Baseball is dragging its feet because it benefits Major League Baseball to do so. With the team's general manager interviewing for other jobs, with the coaching staff holding letters of recommendation from the Nationals to help them persue other positions, with Tony Taveres out of the country on vacation, with Major League Baseball yet to provide the team with a firm salary structure, the house of cards is about to collapse. Why would Esteban Loiaza and Hector Carrasco want to come back in 2006, and why would any free agent in their right mind want to "come on board" next season? The entire coaching staff is now without a contract for next year, and are scurrying for jobs anywhere they can find them. General Jim Bowden in interviewing with any team not the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And Major League Baseball says they have no time table and are in no hurry to finalize the sale.
Baseball turned its back on the city of Washington in 1960 when they allowed the Senators to move to Minnesota. They did it again eleven years later, letting Bob Short take the expansion Senators to Texas. In the proceding 34 years, other cities received expansion franchises while Washington was left out in the cold. Who in their right mind could believe that Tampa Bay was a better baseball city than D.C.?
Bud and the boys are holding on to the "title" until the other 29 clubs finish picking the Nationals' carcass clean, giving their teams first choice of free agents, administrators, players and players worth trading for. Once the dust settles, once the meetings are over, once every other roster and front office is set, Bud Selig will announce the team's new owner. The next day, the team will head to Vierra for the beginning of spring training.
The team will be worse in 2006, and the team's fan base, angry at the way they have been treated by MLB, will stay away from RFK in droves. The future of the team, once a given, is now a little more uncertain.
But Bud doesn't care. They earned $30 million on the Nationals in 2005, and will be getting a check for $450 million when they decide they want to get it. They bought the team for $190 milliion. In 2002.
No wonder Bud's not in a hurry. There's still money to be made. I guess he hasn't checked for change under the sofa cushions yet.