What more can we expect from a sport run by fools?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 1, 2001

Major League Baseball is run by idiots.

Saturday, December 01, 2001

Major League Baseball is run by idiots.

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I suppose that statement wouldn’t win many votes as the league’s new slogan, but it’s more accurate than anything else they could think up.

That should be amended, actually. The team owners and commissioner who operate the league are either major-league morons or desperate, scheming cheats and liars. If I had the choice, I guess I’d prefer to be an idiot; at least that’s unintentional.

I’m not just saying this as a Twins fan threatened by the owners’ contraction plot, which would eliminate two teams – one of them likely being the Twins. Although I am a huge Twins fan, I feel confident that my opinion is not borne totally of my despair at the thought of the team being destroyed. After all, my take on the situation is shared by economists from around the country, as well as sportswriters and other fans throughout the league.

I have yet to see any defense of this idea that explains how it will help solve baseball’s problems.

The owners have been overpaying their players more and more for the last 15 years. For example, the Houston Astros Friday signed Jose Vizcaino to a one-year, $1.7 million contract. He hit .277 with one home run and 14 RBI in 2001. Wow.

Because of this, the only way teams can make money is to build lavish stadiums with luxury boxes and jacked-up ticket prices. Some of these parks even have swimming pools, shopping centers and hotels.

The owners claimed last week that 25 of the 30 major-league teams lost money in 2001. Apparently, in some twisted way, this was being used as justification for dumping the Twins and the Montreal Expos, two teams that have failed to build new stadiums.

Whatever kind of creative accounting was used to show that 25 teams lost money, it’s got to be an illusion worthy of David Copperfield. These people are honestly telling us that out of teams like the Yankees, Mets, Braves, Mariners, Red Sox, Indians, Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, Giants, Astros and Phillies – all of whom either have new parks, contending teams or very good attendance numbers – at least seven actually lost money? How dumb do they think we are?

Ironically, the Twins were one of the profitable teams last year. So, if the owners’ accounting methods are honest (doubtful, but that’s their story), their solution to the league’s financial problems is … cutting one of the five teams that is actually making money?


Can somebody explain to me how cutting two bottom-feeding teams is going to help the rest of the teams make a profit? They’ll pay less in revenue sharing, but there will still be plenty of poor teams left to suck up the money. And if two teams go, there will be a higher proportion of quality players, who will demand the same pay they’re getting now.

The ringmaster in this circus of idiocy is Bud Selig, the commissioner. If you need any more proof of the owners’ lack of brain power, see Exhibit A: They gave Selig a three-year extension.

When asked whether contraction would constitute a sad day for baseball, he acted offended. Why would it be a sad day? It certainly wasn’t a sad day for owners with an eye on padding their pockets.

When confronted about the reality that the team his family owns, the Milwaukee Brewers, stands to gain from the elimination of the Twins, he wrote it off. &uot;St. Louis is closer to Minneapolis than Milwaukee,&uot; he said. Nice try, genius, but St. Louis is more than 200 miles farther from Minneapolis than Milwaukee, and there are plenty of baseball fans in western Wisconsin who would end up going to Milwaukee instead of the Twin Cities to see baseball if the Twins were killed.

The players themselves are no better. They are too busy sending their vicious agents to negotiate $100 million contracts to realize they’re pricing themselves out of existence. Their refusal to consider a salary cap – like the NFL and NBA already have – is jeopardizing the very existence of the sport, at least in any recognizable form.

To top it all off, the owners and players hate each other so much that there’s little chance of them agreeing on a compromise to shape up the league.

The owners are at least smart enough to know that – and that’s why they are pushing this contraction scheme. A fake solution, they figure, is better than no solution at all.

That’s idiot thinking for you.

Apology in order

Do you ever make a mistake so dumb you want to kick yourself? My sincere apologies to Gary Johnson for mixing him up with fellow scuba diver Greg Bird in Friday’s paper. I’ll understand if you revoke my honorary membership in the Xcalac Dive Team. I’ll turn in my hat if you want.

Dylan Belden is the Tribune’s managing editor.