Daze of My Life/Expose the Truth
by Kenneth B. Lourie
Is it really possible that after 33 years without having Major League Baseball nearby (the expansion Washington Senators left for Texas after the 1971 season), Washington, D.C. or Northern Virginia calling itself Washington, D.C., will finally get to hear the two most famous words in sports - “Play Ball!” - when the 2005 baseball season begins? If you believe a former used car salesman and the former principal owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, and now commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig, then a decision on selling and in turn relocating the Montreal Expos is closer than ever before: Aug. 18. That is when the owners of the 30 Major League teams will next assemble for yet another owners’ meeting to discuss the whys and wherefore of their sport and how best to make it a perfect game.
Perhaps at that meeting, Commissioner Selig will finally act in the best interest of baseball and select/approve, along with a majority of the League’s owners, a new home for the Montreal Expos - Washington, D.C. - and right a wrong that occurred when, in 1971, Washington D.C. was Short-changed (for the second time in 10 years). The relocation of a franchise to our nation’s capital would continue a tradition that dates back to 1901, when the first Washington Senators team joined the American League for its inaugural season.
As you might imagine, there’s money involved now, lots of money, and power and politics and potentially indemnification to Peter Angelos and his Baltimore Orioles to consider. Not exactly a neat little package to be enjoyed upon opening. But the continual attendance and stadium problems that plague the Expos have convinced the powers that be finally that the future of baseball in Montreal is bleak. Moreover, the experiment of having the Expos play some of their home games away, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has likewise proved not to be the long-term solution. So after two years of this home-and-home fiasco, it has become apparent that for the Montreal Expos and the Commissioner’s Office, the future is now, for baseball in general and the Expos in particular, to make their move.
And if indeed the future is now, what better city to award a franchise to than Washington, D.C., a city where that identical refrain was so often heard back in the early ’70s? That is when George Allen, the former head football coach of the Los Angeles Rams, accepted the head coaching position for the Washington Redskins and proceeded to change the face and look of football in Washington, D.C., and arrived with his “Over the Hill Gang” to proclaim that the “future is now.”
So more than most cities, Washington, D.C., understands and appreciates and is uniquely and historically familiar with the passion and prose of such pronouncements. And so we wait, with anticipation, with excitement and with fear, and loathing, if once again we are left at the altar and shunned by the capitalists who monopolize Major League Baseball. Walter Johnson a.k.a. “The Big Train,” as he was known in his day? Washington Senators, 1907-27 the second winningest pitcher in Major League history with 417 wins, and a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee, deserves better than to be part of a footnote; he deserves to be part of a franchise, one that once again calls Washington, D.C., home.
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.