'SAY IT AINT SO'
The Minnesota Twins finished the 2001 season with an 85-77 record, good for second place in the American League Central. They finished the season having brought life back into the baseball scene in Minneapolis. They finished the season with a bright outlook for 2002. They finished the season knowing they are only a player or two away from contending for the pennant. Now they may be finished.
The fact that major league baseball is even considering this contraction proposal is ludicrous. It shows that baseball owners still haven't the faintest idea about how to solve the problems that have plagued the sport for over a decade. Remember, these are the same guys that canceled the World Series back in 1994.
What would be solved by eliminating the Minnesota Twins - let's see: Are the Twins in financial trouble? No, they turned a profit in 2000 and broke even in 2001. Are their franchises in worse shape than the Twins? Yes, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that our beloved owners added to the league just four years ago barely have enough money to stay afloat. Rumors circulated that the D-Rays had difficulty meeting payroll. They have no identity or history in Tampa. Why not contract the D-Rays - well the have more time left on their stadium lease - they would cost more to buy out. Once again our beloved owners look at the big picture.
Would baseball's biggest problem, the economic disparity from big to small markets, be helped by contraction? Not in any way - would mass genocide of the homeless solve the poverty problem? Would contracting the Twins helped baseball's tarnished image? Of course not. Does Bud Selig think a few years of inflated home run statistics really cured all that went wrong during the lockout/strike in 1994? I would like to think that the commissioner has better sense than that - if the Twins or any other team are contracted he clearly does not have baseball's best interest in mind.
The fans of Minnesota have shown they will support a team if management shows a commitment to winning - that is all you can expect from the fans.
The main reason the Twins have been dragged into this mess is because the owners want to sweep the embarrassing situation created in Montreal under the rug (the Expos, ironically, had baseball's best record at the work stoppage in 1994). In order to get rid of the Expos they must get rid of another to team to balance out the schedule. Well, the Twins have encountered a lot of resistance in their efforts to get a new stadium built to replace the outdated, inadequate Metrodome. The $250 million buyout being offered by major league baseball is far more than Twins owner Carl Pohlad would receive on the open market.
Pohlad has given up the fight for a stadium and might just take the money and run. Back to the Expos though, MLB is so embarrassed by the situation in Montreal. The Expos are not competitive & haven't been for awhile. Their attendance often dips below 5,000 and they have also have had no luck in their stadium efforts. They have no chance to win consistently in baseball's economic environment, but neither do Tampa Bay, Florida, Pittsburgh, or Kansas City among others. Baseball's powers must see this - they must look at the big picture. That is my plea.
There are some hard working people that dedicate many hours of their life to making the Minnesota Twins operations run. I know some of them very well and can imagine the feeling of betrayal that is going through their minds. These people love baseball and love their jobs, but could be tossed aside like garbage by baseball's dysfunctional, greed-driven machine.
I hope that Bud Selig and his cronies realize the implication of their plans and realize more damage will be created, and nothing will be solved by these shortsighted actions. I hope they learned from the work stoppage in 1994, but I am not counting on it.