Tuesday, May 02, 2006

National Ownership Bid Is Rigged

In a story reminiscent of when Abe Polin held a bogus fan-voting contest in the Washington area to choose the new name of his basketball team after he decided he didn't like the Bullets name, and lo and behold, the winner was "Wizards," the name that happened to coincide with the very one he and his wife fancied, the latest story in the Washington Post about the Nationals debunks any myth of even-handedness in the ownership bidding process.

The Washington Post
reports this morning that the Lerner Group is almost assured of winning the right to purchase the lucrative baseball franchise. It seems the ultimate authority to dish out the winners is Bud Selig, who according to the article is angry, yes fuming, because local black leaders oppose the sale to the group.
D.C. Council members Marion Barry and Vincent B. Orange Sr. held a news conference yesterday to accuse Lerner's family of "renting blacks" in its effort to win the right to buy the team from Major League Baseball.
The charges are well founded. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to read between the lines and discern the bidding was rigged, especially since the Lerner group only “recently added several high-profile African American investors...solely to answer MLB's call for racial diversity.”

The Post confirms the Lerner group only added black investors two weeks ago, “after MLB officials urged the family” to do so. In the meantime, District taxpayers are contributing $611 million for the new stadium.

From Howling Latina's perch, if the Lerner boys didn’t have sufficient minority ownership when they made their official bid to the MLB for the Nationals, and minority ownership ranked as one of the qualifying factors, by nudging the Lerners to add black investors, MLB rigged the system.
And it's not like the other two groups in the ownership race were poor choices.

The Malek-Zients group includes such high-profile African Americans as former secretary of state Colin Powell and Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert.

Smulyan signed up more than a dozen District-based partners, including several African Americans such as former deputy U.S. attorney general Eric H. Holder. Smulyan has pledged to name a black team president.

The Smulyan group includes media mogul Jeffrey Smulyan who last week promised to hire an African American as president. However, the Post reported on April 24 that the bidding was down to the Lerner and Smulyan group.
One baseball official familiar with the sale process last week characterized it as a three-way race between the Lerners, Malek-Zients and Smulyan. MLB.com, the league's Web site, last week reported that the choice was down to the Lerners and Malek-Zients.
In fact, rumors of the imminent sale were rampant three weeks ago; and the Lerner Group was reported frantically trying to add minorities to their group. The group had been "jeopardizing their chances...because they had not moved quickly enough to add more minorities to their ranks."

Oh yes, the good ol' boys network is alive and well; the Nationals have been on the block for an eternity; but hold those bids folks...we've got a late entry!

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