Business of Baseball Report

Congress Set to Act

I know that statement might seem like an oxymoron to most, but two steroid bills are set to be considered by Congress. Tom Davis, the chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, and past presidential hopeful John McCain plan to introduce bills in their respective chambers. Florida Representative Cliff Stearns has already introduced a House Resolution (1862) calling for the Commerce Secretary to introduce standards of uniformity amongst MLB, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and MLS.

Both bills call for a two-year ban for first-time offenders and a lifetime ban for second-time offenders. You’d think Congress would have more important things to consider, like running the country, but I guess not. There isn’t a clear indication as to whether or not the bills will pass, so we’ll just have to wait and see.

All Talk, No Action

You’d figure this would be a better subtitle for something involving Congress, but it has to do with the stadium situation in New York. Talks regarding new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees have gone on for years, but to date, little real action has taken place. The Mets’ retro Ebbets Field design and a new Yankee Stadium have been discussed for a while, but neither seems to have made any progress towards completion.

I wrote back in April about rumors that there would be an official announcement about Yankee Stadium by May 1. That date has come and gone, and now the current rumors have the stadium being unveiled “within weeks.”

Whether or not George Steinbrenner gets his new revenue sharing write-off is still up in the air. Someone obviously wants it to happen, or it wouldn’t be making the news like it currently is.

Bud Selig’s New Hammer

Las Vegas, despite not having even a temporary site for a baseball team, has become Bud Selig’s replacement as the “big threat” to relocate a given team if they’re not given the stadium deal they desire. While it looks like Vegas is close to landing an NBA All-Star team, it’s hard to believe this relatively small media market is on everyone’s short list as a relocation option.

The Florida Marlins are first on the courtship list, but Oakland will probably soon be using the “Vegas Threat” to extort money from the city and county. What’s ironic is that the largest media market that currently doesn’t have a team and that can offer a temporary place to play isn’t on anybody’s short list. That’s Montreal.

Baltimore Fires Back in Comcast Lawsuit Saga

The Baltimore Orioles are seeking a protective order as they fend off legal accusations from Comcast SportsNet. The order would put the case on hold until a hearing for a motion from the club to dismiss the lawsuit. The Orioles are arguing that the negotiation with the newly created and Peter Angelos-owned Mid-Atlantic Sports Network doesn’t make the network a third party in the case. They’re saying that it’s basically a reiteration of TCR, Inc., which is the Orioles’ subsidiary that signed the TV deal with Comcast’s predecessor, Home Team Sports.

The next chapter of this story will happen on June 7 when MLB and the Orioles must formally file their response to the lawsuit. It also looks like the Orioles are set to countersue Comcast unless Comcast backs off. What they’ll be countersuing for is unclear.

Bob DuPuy Backs Down…A Little

After his “or else” letter to Miami-Dade County drew criticism from the county’s commissioners, Bob DuPuy is now backing down from the ominous tone in the letter by saying it wasn’t an ultimatum. He said that he included a date because he felt no action would take place if there wasn’t some sort of deadline.

Whether Governor Jeb Bush will call a special session to consider the $60 million in sales tax rebates is still up in the air. They still have a couple of weeks to meet DuPuy’s deadline, so as usual this will drag out even longer.

Twins Stadium Bill Goes Into Extra Innings

The Minnesota legislature’s regular session ended Monday without passage of the sales tax bill that’s pivotal to the Twins’ proposed downtown stadium. It looks like the wheels of government, however, will move on as a special session is set to be called. The Senate State and Local Government Operations Committee will consider the bill on Wednesday whether or not a special session is called.

In the meantime, some Minneapolis City Council members must have just woken up from a multi-week nap as some of them now appear set to lodge a formal complaint against the sales tax increase. Of course they really have nobody to complain to because by the time they can vote on this, the state legislative session will be long over. The city does have a hammer (I like that word today) of sorts because it has the final say over land use issues surrounding the stadium.

It’s been a slow process, but government rarely works quickly. Twins owner Carl Pohlad has waited several years for this, so I’m sure another week or two won’t cause him to fret too much.

Owning a Piece of History

Prior to playing at Candlestick Park, the San Francisco Giants played their home games at Seals Stadium. The ballpark closed in 1959 and the seats, which were part of the stadium when it opened in 1931, were installed in Cheney Stadium, home to the Tacoma Rainiers. The Rainiers are a Mariners affiliate and part of the Pacific Coast League.

To help pay for new seats, the Rainiers are selling the vintage ones. For the rock-bottom price of $75, plus $25 in shipping, you can own a piece of history.

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