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Arbitrate THIS!

I am the kind of guy who forever associates words and phrases with impressions imprinted in my mind long ago. For instance, whenever I wear out a pair of sneakers, I think of Rick Schu; whenever I think of Iron Mike Tyson, I recall a scrawny middle infielder (who would probably be a better boxer at this point). You get the drift. Sometimes the associations are more bizarre, like linking E.T. with a childhood friend's grandma, who looked kind of like he/she/it. I do the same thing with legal terms: res judicata has always struck me as a great album title for an "intellectual metal" band like Queensryche; I've long suspected I went to fifth grade with a girl named Lis Pendens. And so forth.

Similarly---though not nearly as inexplicably---I've always linked the concepts of right and remedy. Why? Well, why not? There's the alliteration, for one. For another, you can't enforce a right without a remedy, and you can't seek a particular remedy unless you have a right to do so.

The foregoing was all an introduction---a long-winded one, of course!---of saying something Needham said an hour or two ago: this one poster from the Ballpark Guys DC forum, "Brian," is one smart cookie; the guy knows his rights and he knows his remedies. And, if Brian's reading of the District/MLB baseball stadium agreement is to be trusted, then Bud, Bob, and Jerry don't have much in the way of a remedy should this so-called lease impassed become an actual impasse---i.e., it makes it to arbitration.

Chris has excerpted the relevant portions of Brian's analysis, the thrust of which is:

  • Should the DC City Council play hardball on the lease (and subsequently is in breach of the agreement), then
  • MLB could exercise its right to arbitrate the matter, but should it prevail
  • It would be left with only two possible remedies---
Keep the team in DC and sue DC for compensatory damages for any lost revenues beginning in 2008, or move the team [and waive the right to compensatory damages after its termination date]. However, there would appear to be no other claim for damages available under to the BSA.

Ultimately, if the District were so inclined and committed to press the matter, it would essentially leave the Seligulans with a choice, as Brian notes:

  • Renegotiate; or,
  • Take the bats and balls and go home---wherever that would be.
And, to be bitterly honest, if MLB chooses the latter, then it is---to borrow a Bob Dupuy term---patently obvious that it is not worthy of the District's interest and, quite more importantly, its financial investment.

Really, I mean that.

Of course, I'll put my cards on the table. I'm not a District resident; I haven't been for five-and-a-half years. (Cost me one year of in-state tuition when I moved back to the Commonwealth, though!) But let's be honest: many of you reading this entry aren't, either. Many of the loudest voices on the issue aren't, as well. If you are, God bless you. If you aren't, well, you might or might not have the District's best interests at heart, but you might as well fold your hand, too: at the end of the day, what you care about most is returning baseball to DC and---whether out of nostalgia or pragmatism---you believe, and reasonably so, that the best way to see this through is literally to put the baseball park in DC proper.

I don't mean to rant, but let's face some things:

  • A DC baseball park is arguably supported by the District itself---in the sense that, yes, it is by the representative government (presumably/hopefully still), but, no, it's not really by the District's residents, as evidenced by last fall's elections (and, yes, I'm aware of how the thing will be funded and how misinformed the public is about it);
  • It's frustrating and annoying and JACK EVANS SMASH, but the City Council---though of course motivated by good old political appearances and expediency in many respects---is doing its due diligence here.
Really, I mean that, too.

So, sit tight. Baseball will stay in DC, now and for a very long time. I also mean that. And the Seligulans are getting one plum deal, no matter what.

But it's time to demonstrate that MLB is not a super-legislature, it's not entitled to unlimited remedies (even if the contribution it receives is essentially unlimited), and it's not an impervious force.

Thus, I say sit back, pop the popcorn, and wait-and-see if the District wins (as Chris notes) a couple of largely ceremonial victories. If it comes to it, let MLB achieve its little victory in arbitration. Dare it to move.

You know why? Because when I think of the Seligulans, I think of a pre-Ralphie-whupping Scott Farkus. They look tough now, but if they're pinned in the snow, they might just cave. And, if they recover and go right back to Farkusing, then the District can know that it restored a bit of its dignity in this whole thing.

At any rate, Go Nats!