Tuesday, November 09, 2004


And you wondered why, when prayers and bitches and moans were answered and Major League Baseball awarded the Expos to Washington, DC, we didn't get up and boogie down here at MLC. For those not following the saga of D.C. baseball too closely, the deal is now in jeopardy thanks to Linda "Flip-Flop" Cropp, the chairwoman of the DC Executive Council. After being rah-rah when the announcement was made and praising the plan, she's decided at the 11th hour to reject the accepted Anacostia site and push for a lot right next to RFK Stadium. This would save DC businesses and taxpayers millions, which, considering how much it's costing, is equivalent to saving them $5. Oh, and the RFK site was previously investigated and rejected by MLB. So she's basically voting for no baseball.

It appears Cropp really is the jellyfish that Mayor Anthony Williams, Michael Wilbon, and others are making her out to be. Of course there was going to be a backlash to the astronomical price tag associated with acquiring the team. You knew it was coming. To cave in now simply paints you as a waffling, ineffective buffoon. Did D.C. offer too much in this deal? Of course! Could the money be better spent on schools, hospitals, cops, firemen, and roads? Of course! If not for this massive expenditure, would those millions of dollars be going to schools, hospitals, cops, firemen, and roads? Of course not! This is the District of Columbia, for God's sake! This is where Marion Barry is still the preeminent voice of the people! This is where corruption and ineptitude are written into city by-laws! This is where the health codes stipulate you don't even need a new plate to go back up to the buffet!

I believe that the loudest protests are coming from those who simply oppose each and every measure that fosters the further gentrification of the town formerly known as Chocolate City. There are those who don't necessarily see "progress" as progress, and while sometimes there is a fine line between improving the living conditions of a neughborhood and forcing out loyal citizens, this is clearly not the case here. Southeast DC, specifically Anacostia, is the current heart of what DC was all over the place 15 years ago. It has the market cornered (despite a recent push by NE DC) on murder, drug crimes, and prostitution. For a while, there were more humans being pulled out of the Anacostia River than fish. And since the baseball plan was unveiled, it's been announced that this area is also the hub of the local gay porn industry. All of this character is being bulldozed away to be replaced by food courts, parking garages, and Pottery Barns, but also riverfront restaurants, businesses, and a state of the art stadium that represents the reclamation of a presence in the national pastime for the national capital. And yes, Mayor Williams went all in with this ballsy deal. He made MLB the offer they couldn't refuse -- because if he didn't, they would have refused. Bud Selig would've hemmed and hawed and sat on the fence for another year before deciding that Washington was too valuable an asset to have as leverage for owners to threaten their cities with a "Build me a publicly-funded stadium or we're moving to DC" edict. It'd be the Las Vegas Seigfrieds in the NL East in a year or two. But he didn't let that happen.

Instead, Tony Williams grabbed the reins, and said "This is it. We're taking the team. You cannot and will not say no to this." Yes, the terms of the deal are a little tough to swallow for District residents, especially small business owners. He's rolling the dice that this will turn out to be a worthy venture civically, financially, and aesthetically. It's easy for me to be for it -- I'm not even a DC resident any more. But I was up until last year, and I would've paid my share, plus that of my Dupont Circle, Anacostia-visiting, gay porn-loving neighbor, too.

The best line from Cropp came when the mayor insisted that her about-face would likely represent a cave-in that blocks out the light at the end of this long tunnel, since MLB's agreement specifically targets the Anacostia site. She simply replied, "I would hope that baseball would be extremely reasonable." Hilarious. Uproarious, even. There has never been a better indication that she is wholly unqualified to have even the slightest bit of clout in this matter than when she suggests that the brain trust . . . the think tank . . . the Mensa with bats . . . that is Major League Baseball's executive office might be "extremely reasonable" with DC's bait-and-switch. It'd be funnier, though, if it weren't another train wreck in the long and troublesome history of the District of Columbia's bumbling, fumbling, and stumbling.

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