stoner steps

    Major League Baseball owners convened Tuesday to discuss two baseball teams.

    The owners agreed that there needed to be changes with two teams — most likely beginning next season. Neither of these two teams are named the Yankees or the Diamondbacks.

    The two teams under scrutiny aren’t the ones that bought the World Series this year, or the team that has bought it the past three years. The two teams the baseball owners talked about are the Montreal Expos and the Minnesota Twins.

    There has been much debate in the past year on eliminating two Major League Baseball teams, and last year the owners gave their official agreement to do so before the 2002 season. While no teams have officially been named, the consensus is that the Twins and the Expos will get the boot.

    I must admit I’m of two minds about this proposed execution of two franchises.

    As a fan, I’m naturally distrustful of any move the owners agree to. I believe they are only concerned with profit and that they would agree to something that wasn’t in the best interest of baseball if it would give them more money. This decision will do that.

    The revenue and broadcasting rights the two teams earn will go toward other teams to help them pay for new ballparks, new concessions and new players.

    The owners of the two baseball teams that get the ax will profit as well by being able to unload money-losing franchises for the nice sum of $250 million. To put this in perspective, the Expos generated about $16 million last season compared to the Yankees’ $200 million income. Tell me that the Yanks haven’t bought the World Series.

    Obviously, this decision would affect the players as well because they would have to be distributed to other teams — causing another debate on how to assign players fairly — which would subsequently force some of the players already on the team down to the minor leagues.

    But the benefit of this — assuming that the players can be distributed fairly — is that the talent level in the league will increase. If some sort of lottery system based on the worst record were installed, the teams at the bottom ranks of Major League Baseball would be able to gain some of the talent they sorely need in order to compete with the rest of the league.

    The overall benefits for the league would be that the gap between the league’s elite and the bottom-feeders would decrease, competition would get a little more intense and perhaps there would be fewer teams that are all but eliminated by the All-Star break.

    This is definitely a benefit to baseball. While I doubt the league will ever truly be equal when the Yankees bring in over 12 times the Expos’ revenue, this would be a big step toward equality.

    However, there is one reason I cannot support the decision: I do not believe it is fair to the fans of the Minnesota Twins for their team to get canned.

    The Twins have been around for years and, unlike the Montreal Expos, have built a definite fan base and history. Sure, no one went to their games this year, but their stadium was packed in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Twins were consistently in the playoffs. In the last 15 years, only the Yankees have won more World Championships than the Twins.

    There are also the legendary players of the Twins. Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew and Harmon Killebrew set incredible records in Minnesota. They brought throngs of fans to the stadium. They built legends there. All that could be gone with the stroke of a pen.

    The more changes that baseball commissioner Bud Selig and the owners make to this game, which prides itself on durability and tradition, the more fans they lose.

    I think I can speak for fans across the nation when I say to the owners and Bud Selig: Shut up and just let the players play.

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