Nausea

First off: congrats to Twins fans in getting their ballpark. I think you might find it a mixed blessing, however. Please don’t take this as raining on your parade, because baseball fans in general deserve better treatment than what they’ve been getting.

However you might wish to hit the ‘backspace’ key now if you want to maintain your happy frame of mind, because I’m about to make a scene here. You’ve been warned. If you e-mail me to complain about the column, I’m just going to remind you that I told you to backspace.

(Are they gone yet?)

Okay, before we proceed any further I’d like you to read this.

Finished? Oh, you need a moment for some Gravol? It’s okay; we’ll wait.

Where to begin, I mean it’s like deciding which fly you want to kill on a manure pile—there are just so many.

Let’s start with Bud:

“I was nervous and we were coming close to the end … And if anybody thinks that was an idle threat, they were kidding themselves.”

On April 27, 1995 Twins president Jerry Bell begins to investigate the possibility of a retractable roof stadium for the Twins.

On September 11, 1995 Bell informs the Advisory Task Force on Professional Sports in Minnesota that the Metrodome is “economically obsolete.”

On April 18, 1996 governor/stadium booster Arne Carlson sets July as a ‘deadline’ for a stadium deal.

On January 1, 1997 the Twins propose donating 49% of the team to public ownership and a contribution of $82.5 million to receive $350 million in public money for the stadium. It was a sham, and it was later discovered that Twins Owner Carl Pohlad planned to loan the $82.5 million (plus interest)—not contribute it—and the donation itself would be a tax write-off.

On April 30, 1997 Selig addresses a joint hearing of the Senate and House tax committees and says, “if there isn’t anything on the horizon to change the economics, baseball will allow that club to move. We’ll have no alternative.

On May 5, 1997 Governor Carlson calls upon the legislature to pass a stadium bill by May 19 and adds that Pohlad has made it clear that the Twins would leave Minnesota if no stadium bill is passed.

On May , 1997 the legislature defeats all of the stadium funding proposals in the House and Senate tax committees, and Governor Carlson says the Twins will be “the Charlotte Twins in 1998,” while Jim Pohlad says the Twins could move to Mexico.

On May 20, 1997 Pohlad contacts Major League Baseball asking permission to move the franchise out of Minnesota. Shortly thereafter MLB owners tell Pohlad to sell or move the Twins if Minnesota does not build them a new stadium.

On October 4, 1997 Pohlad announces an agreement with North Carolina businessman Don Beaver to sell the team if the Minnesota legislature does not vote to build a new stadium by the end of November. Beaver signs a letter of intent to buy the team.

On March 17, 1998 Pohlad makes his second request to MLB to move the Twins.

In 1999 the first rumblings of contraction are heard—the Twins are one of the teams under consideration.

In 2000 Minneapolis Star Tribune sports writer Jay Weiner’s book, Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles, reports that then-governor Arne Carlson told the Minnesota Twins to blackmail the state to get a new stadium deal done. The governor’s chief of staff, Bernie Omann, told the writer that “we wanted some type of—I shouldn’t say ultimatum—but something that we could say, ‘Look, you’ve told us you have to move. You’ve said this is going to happen. We need you to do that.’ And they did.”

On November 6, 2001 MLB votes to contract two teams—the Twins are among the final four finalists.

In 2002 the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the Twins’ lease required that the team play there in 2002—therefore no contraction. It was here that Selig presented his brief, in which he said: “The Minnesota Twins are a private business; they are not owned by the people of Minnesota … they are not a ‘community asset’ but a business …”

On March 18, 2004 Governor Tim Pawlenty floated a proposal to have state and local governments pay for two-thirds of a new stadium for the Twins. Multi-billionaire Carl Pohlad said it wasn’t enough: “[Public money] is where it should come from.” (Read: from folks that aren’t multi-billionaires like me) …

Well you get the idea. Eleven years of bluster, threats of sales, relocation, contraction, sex, lies, videotape and God knows what else and the Twins stayed put throughout it all.

I wonder what Bud Selig would consider an ‘idle threat?’

Moving on …

“This is the end of a long and painful journey, I know Carl [Pohlad] has taken some hits and the Pohlad family, but there’s no family that wanted to stay there more in their hometown than they did. And Jerry Bell, who literally gave his life here and all the Twins people.”

Read the above timeline again. Isn’t this statement just freakin’ hilarious? Who writes his material anyway? David Samson?

“You look at the demographics, Minnesota, the Twin Cities are a great major league market. They’re not a good one, they’re a great one. And to have left there would have been a tragedy, and now it’s the moment of a lot of dreams.”

But Bud, you’ve been threatening to leave this “great major league market” for 11 friggin’ years!

We all know what this means don’t you? It means that having round-heeled politicians willing to offer the buxom teat that lactates the milk corporate welfare is more important in getting a team than being a great major league market! According to them they were willing to leave a great major league market for a lesser one if the inferior market’s politicians were easier than Paris Hilton!

Welcome to MLB—Selig style.

Don’t believe me? Multi-billionaire owner gets free money from state on the backs of hard-working taxpayers, and what is Bud’s reaction?

“Oh, this is a great day for baseball! Are you kidding? This is a great day for baseball!”

The column also noted that “Selig said the Twins stadium will be the 18th new stadium since he has become commissioner.”

So take note America: if you’re wondering why your schools are under-funded, why services are being slashed, why infrastructure is ignored or why there just doesn’t seem to be enough money in the budget for something your region desperately needs, well there’s one culprit. And he’s damned proud of it too. Probably on the average at least $300 million of public money went into each of these deals; that’s $5.4 billion of your tax dollars Selig has siphoned out of your pockets and into his multi-millionaire/billionaire cronies. Throw in maintenance, amortization, interest etc. and that cost is going to go up, up, up.

I’m going to go Nostradumbass here and make a few predictions on what will happen with the Twins over the next few years:

  • Once construction is underway, Pohlad will find something “wrong” with the deal and threaten to pull out. Ultimately concessions will be made his way since Pawlnety and Co. realize that a half-finished stadium and no team playing in it would be political suicide. Expect the retractable roof feature to be added before all is said and done.
  • According to Maury Brown’s analysis of the deal, the Twins are on the hook for the inevitable cost overruns—expect that to change.
  • After the stadium is opened, don’t expect big changes in the payroll. The Twins will keep the payroll modest to offset the ‘losses’ incurred during the years in the Metrodome.
  • Expect costs for everything from tickets to concessions to increase dramatically. The days of fans walking up to the gate and getting a cheap ticket will be a thing of the past. This pork park is being built for the economic nobility, not the serfs (although the serfs will foot most of the bill).

The sad thing about all of this is that the money of the good folks of Hennepin County has been pulled out of their pockets without their permission and given to a multi-billionaire in order to not only enrich him, but to lessen the expenses of Selig’s mega-wealthy cartel. But take heart folks:

“Oh, this is a great day for baseball! Are you kidding? This is a great day for baseball!”

The pigs are once again gorging at the troughs.

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