February 22, 2002
Contracting Twins eliminates historyOf all the ideas thrown around by Major League Baseball in order to help decide which teams to contract, one viable and necessary option was never presented.
Contract the Yankees.
Nobody needs them and their 4,319 championships, 14 billion Hall of Famers or their famed stadium that, despite obvious logistical problems to the contrary, was apparently built by Babe Ruth.
If baseball really wants to level the playing field, which was the point of contraction to begin with, what better way to do so than by removing a perennial contender? Sell off the all-star arms and phenoms and make Yankee Stadium The House That Selig Unbuilt.
I know what you are saying. You are saying that despite my intelligent support for the aforementioned idea, eliminating the Yankees goes against all that is good with baseball. After all, how can you just get rid of a franchise with some history, some lore and a major connection to baseball past?
Exactly. So why are the Twins a possibility for contraction then?
I admit the Yankees idea is a sham, and even every Red Sox-loving bone in my body doesn't really want to see them go (who would be our rival? Baltimore? Come on now). But the point is that contracting the Twins would be doing the same damage on a much smaller scale.
The Twins have two World Series titles and carry a list of some extremely talented players on their historical roster: Kirby Puckett, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva and Rod Carew. Tom Kelly made the Twins one of baseball's better franchises in the mid-80s and early 90s. So the team is struggling right now and fans are hard to come by. Give them time and some more talent and things will change. All professional teams go through peaks and valleys. The Twins' history book may not be as long as the Yankees', but it is certainly long enough to ensure that they get a chance to add a few more chapters.
The idea of contraction is a good one, as it will eliminate some of the untalented teams and it will start restoring baseball to the spectacular game it can be. But striking out the Twins is a major mistake.
And, if Bud Selig (commissioner of the league) and Major League Baseball refuse to hear the "Contract The Yankees" campaign, there are still many other Minnesota-less options worth considering.
I don't think anyone would argue with the contraction of the Montreal Expos, the original team scheduled along with the Twins for the electric chair, except maybe the 14 season-ticket holders in Montreal. The Expos are a team that, unlike the Twins, is in a continual valley and has yet to see a dramatic peak. If you were to walk down any major street in Montreal and ask the passers by if they thought the Expos should be contracted, they would most likely say something along the lines of "Oui." Or, perhaps more likely, "Who are the Expos?"
So, in keeping with the "Eliminate the Expos" theme, baseball could eliminate two teams as originally planned if it hacked right at a natural border. Canada.
Take the Toronto Blue Jays with the Expos and everything would be fine. American's national pastime would again be just that: America's. Now I am not anti-Canadian, after all the country has delivered such gems as Molson beer, Michael J. Fox and the world's greatest sentence-ender, eh. But it has done for baseball what George W. Bush has done for literacy. Very little.
I admit the Blue Jays have won two World Series, which contradicts one of my previous categories for security from contraction. However, the Jays have no other historical notes of interest, other than their beautiful powder-blue duds of the mid-80s.
Even their stadium, once considered a technological marvel with its retractable roof, is outdated by today's standards. Name a list of five future Hall of Famers who have played in Toronto, and I will name you a list of five fans who want to see both the Expos and Blue Jays stay (editor's note: Neither can be done).
Since I figured this would cause quite a stir among the Canadian contingent of the baseball fan world (sorry, Jack, Ted and Robert), I have created a regional elimination plan within the United States that could work as well. Eliminate Florida.
Again, the Marlins are a team with a World Series title, and that sounds like history to some. But never has there been a more ridiculous championship in baseball, as the Marlins simply rented some able bodies for a year, picked up some season-ending hardware and then shipped everyone out of town and sunk back to the depths of less than mediocrity. That is hardly a history.
And then of course you have the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Haven't they already been contracted? Maybe it just seems that way.
One final solution may seem the least plausible of all, but it could make the biggest difference in the game. If this step is taken, there will be no more strikes and no more contracting the wrong teams. Because in order to solve baseball's problems, you really don't have to eliminate an entire team. There is an easier solution that could lead America's greatest game back to its place as a staple of national life.
Contract Bud Selig.
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