SELIG, UNABLE TO DO ANY MORE DAMAGE, SELLS TEAM TO LERNERS
[May 3rd] -- Bud Selig made a phone call from his Milwaukee office this morning and instantly changed the fortunes of the Washington Nationals. That's the good news. The bad news is that the announcement should have been made sixteen months ago, and the team will be paying for Selig's indecision for years.
The Lerner family has always been my first choice, but Fred Malek's group was a very close second. Having a Washingtonian has the team's owner was an absolute must. Had Jeff Smulyan been awarded the team, I would have had to take a number and get in line to use one of the area bridges to end the pain.
The Lerner's will hit the ground running, probably in late May or early June. Unlike the new owner in Cincinnati, who said he would "just watch" for a few months until he got a feel for owning a major league baseball team, the Lerner's will have to immediately begin the process of making amends for the damage caused by Bud Selig and the D.C. City Council.
Were I an advisor to the Lerners, I would tell them to begin the process of rebuilding that bridge between fans and team right now by announcing:
- That Stan Kasten, whose Braves won twelve consecutive division championships under his stewardship, would begin the process of evaluating both on-field and off-field personnel immediately.
- That while Kasten appreciates Jim Bowden's "hard work" during the past sixteen months, the team is going to "go in a different direction" and will begin looking for a new general manager immediately.
- That the Nationals will begin negotiating with "several" of it's young stars in an attempt to sign them to long-term deals. It doesn't matter who or how many -- but the fans need to know that Lerner is willing to spend money to retain his young talent.
- That the team recognizes that the problems that have forced the sale of the Nationals to be postponed multiple times has injured the fan base, and that they are working on ways to "thank" the fans for sticking with the team during the hard times
For the time being, every decision made by the new ownership must be public. Hold a press conference when the team goes to Staples and buys some paper clips. Journalists, especially those who have been yipping at the team's feet, need to have something positive to write about.
I know that Marion Barry and friends are going to threaten to subvert every move made by the Lerners because, as he has said, they aren't "black" enough. Who cares? Linda Cropp has publicly recognized the good works Lerner and his family have done for the city of Washington. Sooner or later, the press will stop paying attention to him.
It's a great day for baseball in Washington. The honeymoon has begun. Let's hope it lasts for a long, long while.