Why Bud Selig will save the Expos

By Dan Arnold

Montreal is a great baseball town.

Jacques Menard was on the SRC yesterday and he basically said that the sale of the Expos to Loria was on Bud Selig's desk awaiting approval and Selig had three courses of action he could take regarding the team:

1) Approve the sale with no restrictions, letting Loria get out of his 3 year agreement and move the team.

2) Tell Loria to get his act together and try and make baseball work in Montreal.

3) Dissolve or fuse the Expos and other teams.

I think most people realize that the consolidation theory is a load of BS designed to get some leverage for the owners when the CBA comes up. That means Bud will "consider" it to scare the MLBPA a bit but it will never come to that. That leaves Bud light two options regarding the Expos.

If he let Loria move the team, that would mean allowing Loria to back out of his three year agreement he signed when he took over the team. Since it looks like Loria never intended to keep the team here, Selig would be opening the door for any rich guy to buy a poor baseball team at bargain basement price and sign an agreement saying he'd keep the team in town for a while. He could then have his fun running the team into the ground for a year and then turn around and sell them for a tidy profit. Such moves hurt the credibility of MLB a lot.

Secondly, it would also give Loria a huge payday which would definitely cause a lot of resentement among other owners who'd also have to approve a move. Some of these guys have lost a lot of money on baseball over the years and are stuck in crappy situations too but MLB won't allow them to move yet. So is Selig going to ask them to approve a move of Loria who has run this team for one year and run it poorly? I don't think so. A lot of these other owners want to keep the threat of a move to DC open to help them get new parks too and some of the smaller markets likely want to move there themselves.

Third, Montreal is a big market and Selig knows that a baseball team run properly there would work as well as a team run properly in any other pottential market. It's also a market which would be completely lost from MLB if the Expos moved whereas the Florida or Oakland markets wouldn't be completely lost with moves from there since there are teams close by who a move would help. I think we've already seen that Expos fans won't cheer for the Jays if there's a move. Montreal also adds an international flavour to MLB in an era when all the major sports are going international.

Fourth is where we come in. Baseball is very concerned about it's image and if popular opinion opposes a move, he'd be hesitant to do it. It would be quite easy to paint Montreal fans as the victims here since everyone hates a carpetbagger and it's possible that Loria has likely mis-managed this team. This is why letters must be sent to Selig and to the various media outleets. If we could get a few major publications to run stories on Loria's mis-management of the team, public opinion would be overwhelmingly against Loria.

So while Loria may be the creep here, it's not in his best interest to let the Expos move right now so Menard may have been right when he said that the Expos will be around in Montreal for a lot longer than people think.

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