Baseball and Politics

Al Hunt, who’s been covering politics for the Wall Street Journal since the 1960’s, has written a column about baseball’s potential move to the Washington area. A subscription is required, but I don’t think I’m giving much away if I tell you he’s in favor of a move by the Expos to Washington, but not Northern Virginia.

According to Hunt, it’s expected that baseball’s relocation committee privately will recommend Washington. But Peter Angelos, the owner of the Orioles, is concerned about the impact a Washington team may have on his revenues. Hunt makes the point that Angelos can be compensated for the decline in his franchise value, but placing a team in Northern Virginia would be a mistake. “Other than to appease Mr. Angelos, the Northern Virginia location makes no sense.”

I’ve got to admit that I particularly like this point by Hunt:

As a citizen and taxpayer in Washington, I know that the economic benefits of a new team and stadium always are exaggerated. Since he took over, Mr. Selig has helped major league teams get over $3 billion of public subsidies for more than a dozen new or refurbished ballparks. That money would have been better spent on schools or health-care services. The fabulously rich owners of baseball teams should pick up the tab. But baseball is a cartel and it calls the shots.

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