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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

After Years of Frustration...

Sorry is the fool who trades his love for hi-rise rent.
Seems the more you make equals the loneliness you get.


Last week the owner of the Twins, Carl Pohlad passed away at the age of 94.  I've saved this entry for about a week (actually for about six years if you want to be technical about it) because I wanted to show some semblance of class and not rip into a guy while his family waits for the funeral. 

It's been a week so I'm just going to let it all out.

On Monday when the local media started reporting the death, they would use a headline like,

"Carl Pohlad, the man who saved the Twins, dead at 94".  Nearly every outlet used some sort of that title for their front page or intro to the story.  I bit my lip long and hard until it started bleeding because it was just too early to rip into the guy.  Afterall, for all I know he was a great family man and a dear friend.  I didn't know him personally at all except when I accidentally tried to take his seat at the metrodome when I was about 15.  He sounded like a person who was decent to his staff and actually showed some sort of loyalty to his own staff.  My qualms about him come as a Minnesota Twins fan.

The man who saved the Twins eh?  I agree however the scope of that sentence is so misleading that I would guess that Sid Hartman was the one responsible for writing it.  Actually Hartman did write such a story (two as a matter of fact) and while Pohlad probably saved the Twins in 1984 he tried his absolute hardest to rid the state of the Twins from 1997-2006.  I would like to say that last sentence was drenched in hyperbole but I can honestly say it isn't. 

This man was hell bent on moving this team and soaking the taxpayers out of whatever he could for so many years.  Say what  you want about how cheap he is as an owner, he's been considered the cheapest owner in all of sports, but as and owner he's been horrific to deal with in a fan-to-franchise type of way.  For years I was honestly worried about losing my favorite baseball team because a billionaire owner couldn't squeeze enough money out of taxpayers. 

Some would argue that he was the owner during both Twins World Championship seasons and he certainly was, and he deserves some credit but the love fest ended shortly after those runs.  I remember in the mid 90's when the team was struggling and fan support was low (wow imagine that correlation) he tried to sell the team to Don Beaver in Charlotte.  If it hadn't been for the disinterested fans in Charlotte the team would've probably moved.

Then when that didn't work he tried to up the value of the team by raising the flag for a new ballpark.  He had a plan and was willing to contribute $80M (about a third) towards the cause.  It was a good plan until someone noticed that in the fine print of the deal, the $80M was to be paid back to Pohlad by the State thus making it a $80M loan instead of a rightful contribution. 

When that didn't work and the state of baseball was reeling from bad baseball economic times his buddy, and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig asked for two teams to contract.  One team was the Montreal Expos who Major League Baseball ended up purchasing and the other was left to an owner who was to volunteer his club.  Carl Pohlad apparently was the owner to volunteer to contract the Twins so he could pocket $150M.  If it wasn't for a court order for the Twins to acknowledge their lease until it was up then the team and all it's 100 year history (because it is the original Senators team) would've been history.

The man who saved baseball!?  Really? 

If you're not fired up about those last three paragraphs then read this by Sid Hartman,

Selig recalls Pohlad as an All-Star owner

There are so many things in this column that boil my blood that I can barely contain myself.  Selig, calling Pohlad the best owner in baseball is so ludicrous that I can't help but looking on to their questionable relationship.  Bud Selig, whose family owned the Milwaukee Brewers and who accepted a loan from Pohlad which raises many conflict of interest exclamations, called Pohlad the best owner in baseball.  Selig whose family would've benefited the most from a Twins contraction by being the closest team in the upper Midwest was wondering why his legacy was stained with bad blood from the fans.  Bud Selig who would seemingly "cook the books" to show congress that Major League Baseball was losing money.  He also brought up the idea of contraction just a couple years of adding two expansion teams which probably shouldn't have been added in the first place.  This is the guy that said Carl Pohlad was one of the best owners in baseball.

The Metrodome is a crappy place for baseball and they averaged about 12,000 fans a game in the nineties.  These are 12,000 fans who would forgo a beautiful sunny day to come inside a sterile environment and watch a game on fake grass in a state where we do whatever we can to be outside no matter what conditions are outside.  These fans were watching players like Scott Stahoviak, Pat Mears, Butch Husky, and Denny Hocking.  It's amazing that even 5,000 came to watch those lousy teams.

When the Pohlad and the Twins were begging for state legislature to foot most of the bill for a new ballpark I understood both sides of the argument.  I am as pro ballpark as they come but I could understand taxpayers not wanting to help out a scummy billionaire who would seemingly would sell his soul for an extra dollar.  The guy tried to swindle us in the past so why should we do anything for him?  If he really wanted the ballpark to pass so badly then he could've foot half of the bill.  The extra money would've came back to him 2 fold with the value of the team skyrocketing.

I love the Twins, many people all over Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and even Montana love the Twins.  Carl Pohlad was a man who didn't care about the fan base in my opinion.  This is a man who tried to sell this team for a quick $150M and stick a big middle finger to the state and all the fans.  I'm sick of hearing about how he saved the team because that does not justify holding the state and fanbase hostage.

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