Did it take this long to write the Magna Carta? How about the Law of the Sea Treaty? Or build the Great Wall? But then, did Bud Selig write the Law of the Sea Treaty, with Peter Angelos looking over his shoulder?
Bud, can we make a decision already?
You're not partitioning Germany after World War II.
You've got a bankrupt, ownerless baseball team you've had to move out of hockey-loving Montreal for the last three years. You can move it to Washington or Northern Virginia (a top 10 market) or smaller locales in Portland, Ore.; Norfolk; Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; or San Juan, Puerto Rico.
If you move it to Washington or Northern Virginia, your new best friend, Orioles owner Peter Angelos, will cry foul, sue you and me, get a stay to stop the move temporarily from some Baltimore judge and have all his Baltimore toadies announce the end of civilization even though MLB's rules claim Washington an "open" city.
Or you can move them to one of these lesser burgs, caving into this clever, selfish, stubborn lawyer who wants to retain his broadcast monopoly in the region and hopes to keep the capital area from having the major league team that it had 50 years before Baltimore got its team (with permission from Washington's owner).
Or you can keep them without portfolio in Montreal, as you've done for the past two years, and eliminate them in two years when the current labor agreement expires.
But Bud, do something. You're the commissioner, not a pollster of 29 owners. In your position, you shouldn't be seeking lifelong friendships from these guys anyway, most of whom will ignore you when we're called to that last roundup in Scottsdale or South Beach. Show some backbone. Stop saying you're waiting on demographic reports you know by heart and a white paper from a relocation committee that doesn't know our Red Line from the Orange Line. If you truly believe the nation's capital is not worthy of a ballclub, even though Washington was one of the original American League franchises and is a town of international repute despite its many problems, then say we're out.
We'll deal with such a decision with more grace than Angelos showed when Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley said this week it was okay by him if Washington got a baseball team and hoped fans in our area would continue to support the Orioles.
"I think that's typical of someone who never really does know what he's talking about and who is nothing more than a small-time politician aspiring to high political offices, which if he was successful to achieve he simply couldn't execute properly," Angelos told the Baltimore Sun on Wednesday night.
The next day, Angelos was just as steamed after reading a story in USA Today by veteran baseball writer Hal Bodley, who reported Washington and Northern Virginia were the leaders in the race for the Expos. "I think our position is a valid one. I hope he [Selig] sees it that way. And that the owners, when it comes to a vote, will support the Orioles' position,'' USA Today quoted Angelos as saying.
That kind of tough talk isn't likely to win the O's many additional customers this side of the parkway, or endear him to fans when the Angelos family takes over Rosecroft Raceway and eventually turns our Oxon Hill harness palace into a mini-Las Vegas. Ah, Peter, you and me at the tables, cigar smoke in the air, the sound of chips on the table, the roll of dice and clatter of slots. I can't wait.
Was Angelos insulted by how manipulative he was portrayed from reporting by staff writer Steve Fainaru in The Post's three-part series last week: "The Last Cartel: How Baseball Does Business?" Did anyone read how Bud runs this operation? How friends of MLB wound up with the prized Red Sox even though outbid significantly by competing groups? Or how the Expos could have been here years ago, if the playing field was level? Or that MLB has spent more than $5 million lobbying over the past six years? On what?
I could go on for days, but I'm having too much fun watching replays of the Yankees' thrilling come-from-behind 5-4, 13-inning series-sweeping victory over the Red Sox on Thursday night that saw shortstop Derek Jeter dive dangerously into the stands in the 12th inning after catching a ball and unlikely GW grad John Flaherty, a reserve catcher, win the game for the Yanks with a long single. Who cares about our plight when fans can watch fabulous games like that and leave us, as Shirley Povich used to write, with our noses against the window, outside, looking in.
Hearty Appetite for Soccer
Went to Summers Grill and Sports Pub -- a soccer fan's haven -- on Wednesday to watch the 2:30 p.m. telecast of the Euro 2004 semifinal match between Portugal and the Netherlands. The place was jammed with fans who paid $20 each to the closed-circuit operator and whatever for Summers' hearty fare and beverages. Most fans were dressed in orange, rooting for the Netherlands, disappointed by Portugal's 2-1 victory.
Chris Amolsch, a lawyer from Alexandria, took the afternoon off to watch because he loves the game, and, as he put it, "my grandparents were Dutch." Amolsch said he likes the fact all of the Netherlands and Portugal were watching and that "millions of people were living and dying on every play." He said smaller "soccer only" stadiums would help the pro game in this country and worried that too much was expected of D.C. United teen phenom Freddy Adu. Meantime, Summers manager Joe Javidara counted the house (210) and looked forward to next week's Copa America tournament, sans the $20 admission charge.
Portugal, called "plucky" by the New York Times, has never gone this far in a major international soccer tournament -- a longer drought than the Bullets/Wizards. The opponent for today's final is upstart Greece, also plucky and a 1-0 winner over the Czech Republic in Thursday's semi. . . .
Far be it from me to tell Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski what to do, but I'm puzzled by his interest in the Los Angeles Lakers. With Kobe Bryant's future unsettled and Shaq possibly headed for Dallas, I believe the Duke job superior to that of the Lakers. Besides, who would you'd rather have as your number one fan, Jack Nicholson or Feinstein?
Have a question or comment, reach me at Talkback@washpost.com. And trust me, pass on the Cajun chicken sandwich at Summers.