The Washington city council's decision to not let Major League Baseball suck off the public tit and get a new stadium built gratis for the transplanted Montreal Expos was met with a mix of amusement, bemusement, outrage and downright resignation by local columnists.
The Post's Thomas Boswell laid into the council, never one of the more distinguished governing bodies, for trying at the last minute to force half of the stadium tab to be privately financed.
When you make a deal with baseball, they honor it. If you break a deal with them, you're out. Which is as it should be. But then baseball is big league, unlike the D.C. Council, which is bush league and just damaged the city's reputation coast-to-coast.
Thom Loverro at the Washington Times minced fewer words, who found "there are enough clowns in this relocation circus to fill a fleet of Shriners cars in a parade." http://www.washingtontimes.com/sports/20041216-120556-3729r.htm. But his colleague Dan Daly said the Lords of Baseball need only look in the mirror to figure out how something so right could turn out so wrong.
These are the guys who let the Montreal franchise wither away, treated it like a junior member of the National League, while they took their sweet time shopping around for the club's next home. These are the guys who — whoops! — allowed their All-Star Game to end in a tie and their players to bulk up to the size of the Incredibles before they started testing for steroids.
Maybe so, says the Post's Michael Wilbon, but don't lay all the blame on the council if the league takes its bats and balls elsewhere come April. Washington's already lost a baseball teams to other cities twice, which may contribute to the council's less-than-charitable mood. But if the vote Wednesday is a negotiating ploy, Wilbon warns it could backfire in a hurry.
And while Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos may be doing a jig over these developments, David Steele at The Sun says it's bad news for Orioles fans if the team doesn't feel any pressure from a neighbor to the south to improve its sorry fortunes.
Now that baseball's Big Tease is virtually over in D.C., Orioles fans have a right to feel as betrayed as those still hoarding their souvenirs from Bat Day at RFK in '68. They were waiting for their chance to ask Angelos, "What are you gonna do for me?" instead of being asked that by him.
The most handsome suitor they'd had in a long time is being chased out of town. Orioles fans are all alone again, and they shouldn't be very happy about it.