Good morning, it’s Friday, July 30, 2021, the day of the week when I reprise quotations intended to be uplifting or educational. Today’s, which is only a slight variation on a famous poem, is a sad one: It references the sordid business side of professional baseball.
Our nation’s capital city was the home of a major league team for seven decades beginning in 1901. Historically, the Washington Senators weren’t very good, a record of futility captured in a puckish riff off the old eulogy of George Washington: “Washington: first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League.”
Then in 1971, it got worse for local baseball fans. A greedy owner moved the Senators to Texas. For 33 years, the nation’s capital was without the national pastime. That’s how long it took MLB’s half-witted overseers to bring it back.
I’ll return to this topic in a moment. First, I’d point you to RCP’s front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. Today’s lineup includes Donna Brazile (USA Today) and Glenn Reynolds (New York Post) on opposite sides of the new mask mandates; David Axelrod on infrastructure politics (CNN); and Susan Glasser on the Trumpiness of House Republicans (The New Yorker). We also offer original material from our own reporters, columnists, and contributors, including the following:
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Republicans Walk Out as Biden Talks Masking. Phil Wegmann has the story from both Capitol Hill and the White House.
Evaluating Blue State Election Bills. At RealClearPolicy, Todd Carney has this roundup.
Curb Conservatorship Abuse to Protect Grandma, Not Just Britney. Kimberly Guilfoyle hails the FREE Act, introduced this week in Congress, which would provide safeguards against guardians who overstep their bounds.
Bezos Is Today’s Howard Hughes -- Only Better. At RealClearScience, Richard Protzmann offers his take on the billionaire/astronaut.
Use Debt Ceiling Deadline to Stop Inflationary Borrowing Spree. Steve Cortes urges Republicans not to raise the ceiling unless Democrats rein in their spending ambitions.
When Did the Supreme Court Do Better? Carrie Severino answers conservatives critical of the recently ended court term.
The Inverse of “Fedspeak” Is on Display. At RealClearMarkets, Jeffrey Snider has a bone to pick with characterizations of the Federal Reserve’s 2020 response to pandemic shutdowns.
Biden’s Strategic Trade Nominee. At RealClearDefense, Roslyn Layton assesses whether the prospective head of the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security is up to the task of managing U.S.-China tensions.
To Advance Climate Agenda, Never Waste Bad Weather. In RealClearEnergy, Steve Milloy explains the strategy behind net-zero advocates’ messaging.
#DoublePell Costs Three Times as Much. At RealClearEducation, Steven Taylor argues that doubling Pell Grants would pump more taxpayer dollars into a federal subsidy that benefits the bottom line of colleges and does little to control costs.
Academic Integrity and Frederick Douglass's Famous Speech. At RealClear’s American Civics portal, Michael DiMatteo explores the arguments of the great antislavery leader.
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When baseball finally returned to Washington in 2005, the new team was named the Nationals, placed in the National League and awarded to a wealthy local real estate family headed by Ted Lerner, who was born in 1925 -- the year after the Senators won their only World Series.
At first, the team was as lousy as the old Senators. But aided by General Manager Mike Rizzo, the Lerners soon put a good product on the field, and in 2019 -- after a terrible start to the season -- the Nats improbably won the National League pennant and the World Series. But modern baseball economics are challenging to the loyal fans of any team. The only trait seemingly shared by players, agents, and owners in MLB is greed. In every town except maybe New York and Los Angeles, the fans’ favorite players frequently skip off to ply their trade in greener pastures, and by that I don’t mean the grass is greener in another ballpark. It’s the money.
And so Bryce Harper departs for Philadelphia. Anthony Rendon relocates to Southern California.
It’s not a new story, just as franchises skipping town isn’t new. But that hardly makes it easier to take. It’s even worse when owners send perfectly good, perfectly content players packing. Stars, even, which is what happened last night when Washington traded two of the team’s three most beloved players to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers are the defending World Series champs and in pitching ace Max Scherzer and All-Star shortstop Trea Turner, they are getting two of the best players in the league -- for minor leaguers. Other well-liked players were traded, too. What’s left is a shell of a team, one that will be staffed mostly by journeymen and marginal prospects trying to stick. Once upon a time, baseball’s commissioner would have blocked such a trade. But MLB doesn’t really have a commissioner anymore, although some suit does hold that title.
Somewhere in this favored land of ours, the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere (Dodger Stadium, I reckon) and somewhere hearts are light. And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout. But there is no joy in Mudville -- the mighty Lerners have struck out.
And that’s our quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics