Monday, December 24, 2001

Last summer, the Major League Baseball ownership was looking into what was wrong with their public profile, and after much study, figured out their problem: they just weren't loathsome enough.

That's the only explanation I can come up with for their recent activities. Their "contraction" proposal to buy out two teams came in for immediate, utterly scathing reviews. Commissioner Bud's defense of the plan before Congress was a display of contempt for the Congress more than anything else. The numbers presented to justify it don't pass the smell test. But the behavior of the teams seems to show that they never expected the buyouts to happen, anyway. They just needed the plan to make them look greedy, shortsighted, and incompetent.

All well and good from the loathsomeness perspective. But now, in Boston, they've scored a real coup --- the District Attorney is looking into whether, in the sale of the Red Sox, they defrauded a charitable trust, by arranging the sale of the team (including the trust's majority stake) to a collection of baseball insiders who are widely rumored to have not had the high bid, as the trust rules required. And amazingly, the mostly-reliable Will McDonough's take on the sale makes it sound even worse than that --- spinning a tale replete with secret deals, last-minute rules changes, and backroom interference with the commissioner's office.

Only in Boston --- and only in Major League Baseball!


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