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The straight dope

I noted yesterday that I was tiring of discussing the ownership delay/lease posturing, etc. And I still am. I've got little else to say (NATIONAL DISGRACE), and nothing new to report (NATIONAL DISGRACE). I mean, there are some things that go without saying (NATIONAL DISGRACE), but as far as adding to the discussion (NATIONAL DISGRACE), my cup runneth over. (NATIONAL DISGRACE)

So here's a big, Natty thank you to Murray Chass of the New York Times, who spends half of his Sunday notes column commenting on the national disgrace that is Major League Baseball's handling of the Nationals' ownership situation.

Chass gives the Seligulan double-speak an ol' slobber-knocker---on several fronts, at that:

  1. Chass opines, reasonably enough, that Bob Dupuy's disingenuous notion---that the delay in selecting an owner is harmless---is horse-hockey.
  2. Chass slices through the ridiculous requirement that MLB itself, rather than the winning ownership team, must negotiate the lease terms:
Why does baseball have to negotiate the stadium lease? In cities with established owners, the owners negotiate stadium leases. The Nationals' new owner could have negotiated the lease. He will be the one, after all, who benefits or suffers from the lease.

But baseball officials say they know what District of Columbia officials promised during stadium negotiations, and they are concerned that once a new owner is in place, D.C. officials will have no incentive to live up to their commitments.

But Selig could name an owner and let him proceed with his plans while baseball officials completed lease negotiations.

3. Chass also mocks MLB's second rationale in its two-pronged nonsense for delaying the ownership announcement---that not all of the prospective ownership teams have been interviewed:

How many months does the commissioner need to interview eight groups or individuals? Selig has taken months to interview five groups. Surely he could have squeezed in three more. Some people have said he was busy negotiating the new steroids plan with the union, but Rob Manfred, his chief labor executive, handled that task.

Ultimately, Chass predicts the Lerners, buttressed by Stan Kasten, will be awarded the team. As District of Baseball notes, Chass confusingly refers to this as "the Kasten group," but I think from the context that Chass is referring to a Lerner/Kasten group---and perhaps Chass is relating that Kasten would be the public face. Who knows?

By the way, on the ballpark front:

* Reacting to the lease situation and reports concerning cost underestimations, the D.C. City Council will be home to a joint oversight hearing
on Monday. The Ballpark Guys say the two committees involved will be Finance and Revenue, chaired by Jack Evans, and Economic Development, chaired by Sharon Ambrose. Both chairs have been pro-stadium (Evans passionately so), although Ambrose is showing definite signs of annoyance. Ah, whatever; something will get done sometime.

* The Man on the Street wants the Nats, doesn't want to be too beholden to MLB for the ballpark. Film at eleven . . .

Finally, guess which Nationals/Expos' farmhand "intrigues" Ozzie Guillen? Why, that's Jerry Owens---who, Phil Rogers comments, was "stolen" from the Nats by the White Sox back in February.