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Thanks to Tom Scocca for cutting through the corporate propaganda and being one of the first local writers to note that the Washington baseball emperor has no clothes (“Keep Off the Grass,” 8/23).
If further evidence is needed, just listen to WTEM, the local sports radio station. What do you get? Orioles games when the station deigns to carry them, rather than pre-empting them on the flimsiest of excuses and shunting them over to its low-wattage sister station; little or no coverage at all of any baseball playoff games; talk shows dominated by nothing but the Redskins and Michael Jordan all during the baseball playoffs and World Series.
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Oh, and the only reason the Orioles are even carried at all on this station is because the team pays the station to do it. This is not usually the case when there is actual baseball interest in a city. It is when the interest is so trivial that the only talk show hosted by anyone who knows the first thing about baseball is reduced to filling in for others on vacation. By the way, the last station to carry the O’s dropped them so it wouldn’t have to interrupt its traffic and weather reports. Its listener surveys backed the station’s decision by a large majority.
The only other question Scocca might have asked is this: Where are they going to put this still-hypothetical team? In Virginia? In what neighborhood? Have the residents of that neighborhood been consulted? Have they approved? Or are they just in for a nice, big, fait-accompli surprise? In the District? Same questions, plus this one: Who’s going to pay for the (very expensive) land? The taxpayers? And are residents going to have any prior say in this matter, or is it going to be just rammed down their throats in the signature Anthony Williams/Grand Prix style—decision first, consultations after the fact, and screw you?
There are a small handful of people who stand to profit immensely from this potential boondoggle: developers, speculators, and the sort of corporate “fan” so eloquently described by Scocca, cell phone and tax writeoff in hand. The well-off noncorporate fan who doesn’t live either too near or too far a drive from the stadium might also like the idea, at least until the team sinks into mediocrity and he deserts it, as he has all previous local teams.
You’ll undoubtedly get a lot of mail denouncing Scocca as some sort of un-American Washington-basher. I just want him to know that at least one long-standing baseball fan, who was going to Griffith Stadium when Tom Boswell was in nursery school, knows that he speaks the truth. That was an outstanding article, one of the few honest ones I ever expect to read on the subject in the local press.