Return to Index Mission Statement Stadium Situation Articles about the Twins' quest for a new park Why the Twins need a new park Concerns about a new Twins park Thoughts about the Twins and the stadium issue Save the Twins poll Twins links Contact Webmaster Save the Minnesota Twins is dedicated to keeping baseball 
in Minnesota by helping the Twins build a new stadium.
home > articles > article

Could Twins be called out?
by Gordon Wittenmyer

Why now? Why the Twins?

What would make Major League Baseball propose that Minnesota have its franchise stripped from the sport, along with the Montreal Expos?

Despite the fact the Tampa-St. Petersburg and Miami-Fort Lauderdale markets have shown far less support for the Florida teams in their brief big-league histories, eliminating the Minnesota Twins actually might make more sense in the short term to baseball's owners than eliminating one of the Florida teams.

The Miami Herald reported in today's editions that one scenario under discussion would have Florida Marlins owner John Henry purchase the Anaheim Angels from Disney, Montreal owner Jeff Loria buy the Marlins, while the Twins and the Montreal Expos are eliminated. The Herald's sources indicated the plan had less than a 50 percent chance of being implemented, because numerous parties would have to reach financial agreements and potential legal action.

The No. 1 reason why eliminating the Twins might make sense to other owners is Twins owner Carl Pohlad. He might have sounded the first warning of this possibility when late this season he suddenly said -- without a buyer in sight -- that he again was willing to sell the franchise should anyone make him a suitable offer.

Pohlad, 86, is the richest owner in the sport in personal wealth -- especially since selling $800 million to $1 billion in banking assets to Wells Fargo Bank earlier this month. But he has alienated fans with his unwillingness to spend and with empty threats of moving or selling the team. He also has drawn the ire of larger-revenue owners for pocketing revenue-sharing money in order to show a modest operating profit instead of directly investing that money -- about $20 million last year -- into player payroll. The Twins have had the lowest payroll in the majors each of the past two seasons.

There certainly would be no crying in baseball if Pohlad were out of the business.

By contrast, Montreal owner Jeffrey Loria, 61, is considered by baseball an up-and-coming owner who has a passion for the role and a long-term desire to compete. But Montreal is clearly baseball's weakest link economically and the surest franchise to go in any contraction scenario. If Loria were allowed to stay in the game by, say, buying the Florida Marlins, that would be welcomed by baseball.

And Florida owner John Henry might suffer most from being too closely associated with the man he bought the team from, South Florida pariah Wayne Huizenga. Huizenga shocked many fans by dismantling the 1997 World Series champions. Henry merely wants out of Florida, not out of baseball. And baseball would welcome his continued ownership after buying, say, the Anaheim Angels from Disney.

Since Disney and Pohlad are the owners who most want out, this would be their way.

The other major reason eliminating the Twins makes sense is the nature of the markets.

Beyond Pohlad's possible desire to sell, the failure of the team and a local task force of business leaders to achieve a deal for a new stadium this year dealt a severe blow to the team's economic outlook.

The Twins' proposal -- generous by industry standards -- promised half the money would be raised privately and asked the state for a $100 million interest-free loan. The bill got as far as the floors of the state House and Senate but no further.