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Specific Political Party Brings Politics to Baseball

Now I'm not making any political commentary and this is definitely baseball related ... so please be nice to me. And, btw, Roll Call is  non-partisan and one of the most authoratitative sources on news from the Hill.

Republicans Warn MLB on Soros' Nats Bid
Roll Call - June 27, 2005
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"Tosome Capitol Hill Republicans there is a dark cloud on the Nats' horizon: the potential that their newly adopted home team could be purchased by billionaire financier George Soros.

"In addition to being a well-known currency speculator and philanthropist, Soros is also known in political circles for having pumped more than $20 million in the last cycle into groups seeking to unseat President Bush and elect Democrats.

"While the Soros-Ledecky group is not seen as the frontrunner to win the bidding for the Nationals, who should be awarded to their new owner at the end of the 2005 season, the very prospect that Soros could have a stake in the team is enough to irritate Congressional Republicans.

"'I think Major League Baseball understands the stakes,' said Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R), the Northern Virginia lawmaker who recently convened high-profile steroid hearings. 'I don't think they want to get involved in a political fight.'

"Davis, whose panel also oversees District of Columbia issues, said that if a Soros sale went through, 'I don't think it's the Nats that get hurt. I think it's Major League Baseball that gets hurt. They enjoy all sorts of exemptions' from anti-trust laws.

"Indeed, Hill Republicans could potentially make life difficult for MLB in a variety of ways. In addition to being exempt from anti-trust rules, baseball is still under scrutiny over the steroid issue. The Nats, meanwhile, hope to have a publicly-funded stadium built soon, though money for that venture is expected to come through the sale of bonds rather than a federal outlay.

"Still, Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), vice chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that covers the District of Columbia budget, said if Soros buys the team and seeks public funding for the new stadium or anything else, the GOP attitude would be, 'Let him pay for it.'

"'We're not going to interfere with [the sale], but from a fan's perspective, who needs the politics?' Sweeney said.

"Another senior Republican lawmaker who requested anonymity said that the league should be aware of the perception problem that might be associated with selling the Nats to Soros.

"'Why would Major League Baseball want to get involved with George Soros?' said the lawmaker. 'It's about more than just the sale price.'"

Democrat George Miller responded,
"Even baseball, apparently, is not off limits to the overreaching of the Republicans, who believe that winning an election means dictating the political beliefs and actions of all major institutions in this country... One of the benefits of baseball returning to Washington is that the ballpark is still one of those rare places where we can all leave our political divisions at the gate and just enjoy the game. For the sake of all of our sanity, let's keep it that way."

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