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New Sammy Sosa Rumor!

Sammy's going north, so I hear -- 90 miles north, to Milwaukee.

Latest rumor has the recent Brewers/White Sox deal involving Carlos Lee, being a prelude to this blockbuster, which would also send Dr. Tightpants to the Brewers where he'd become their closer, replacing the traded Danny Kolb, and get the Cubs some bullpen help in return in young righty Mike Adams.

The money would be a straight exchange, of sorts -- the teams would continue to pay the existing contracts, Sosa would waive the "trade fee" he's supposed to get with the 2006 option of his deal vesting if he's traded, so the cost of this deal to the Cubs, net, is about $16 million, for one year only -- the $17 million of Sosa's 2005 contract, the $4.5 million buyout, and the $3.5 million he gets if he's traded, being paid by the Cubs, and Lee's $8 million being paid by the Brewers.

What? You don't believe me?

You shouldn't, because I made all of that up.

I did that pretty much just to say how sick and tired I am of seeing all the rumors, some of them serious (and you ought to see the talk in the Cubs newsgroup about how they feel about Cliff Floyd coming to the Friendly Confines), some of them ludicrous (I mean, if the Cubs want a closer who is young and wild and gives up too many home runs, why not just keep Kyle, and not bother trading for Jorge Julio of the Orioles, not to mention why on Earth would the Cubs want Jerry Hairston, Jr., and yes, I know this is a major run-on sentence, but I couldn't quite find the right place to stop it).

Still, I am almost certain Sammy is going somewhere, because the dollars the Cubs have to pay him in 2005 are holding up other deals, filling other slots, and I sense Jim Hendry chomping at the bit (or is it "champing", I can never remember!) to make this deal. Chris DeLuca wrote as much in today's Sun-Times:

The Cubs are done playing games with Sosa. His teammates are fed up with him, his manager wants nothing to do with him and his front office has worked overtime to dump him -- all reasons why Sosa wants to leave just as much as the Cubs want to push him away.

I think a deal will get done before most teams shut their offices down for the holidays, and it'll be with a team none of us has thought of up to now.

One team it won't be with is the Washington Nationals -- and who knows how much longer we'll even be able to call them that.

The DC City Council voted yesterday to require private financing for half the cost of the new stadium that is to be built, and to say that pissed off MLB is putting it mildly.

They cancelled a press conference scheduled for today that was to reveal their new uniforms. (The uniforms, however, would have looked like this (though without pinstripes, home) and this (road). There were, incidentally, links in the MLB store to actual jerseys you could buy, this morning, but they have been removed.

MLB further said, in this press release:

Because our stadium agreement provides for a December 31, 2004 deadline, we will not entertain offers for permanent relocation of the club until that deadline passes. In the meantime, the club's baseball operations will proceed, but its business and promotional activities will cease until further notice. We thank the fans of Washington, D.C. for their support and enthusiasm, but given the present uncertainty, any ticket purchaser who entrusted us with a deposit may request a refund through the club's ticket office.

Sounds to me like once the December 31 date passes, if the DC City Council doesn't change its mind, that MLB may try to find another place for this club to play, maybe even in 2005. And it's even possible that this could be the prelude to contracting two teams after the 2006 season, a right that MLB got from the players' association in the latest agreement. That article goes on to say:

By contracting the team they currently own, the teams could save $50 million a year in revenue sharing and money from the television contract that would no longer go to the contracted team.

They could then use that money to finance buying out the owner of a second team, while continuing to keep the additional revenue sharing dollars that would have gone to both teams in perpetuity, said one sports investment banker, who has helped structure the financing of professional baseball teams.

"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," he said. "If the Washington D.C. deal falling through could have possibly been planned, I would have said it was a brilliant strategy."

In order to keep the team for two years, Major League Baseball would obviously have to find someplace to play. But no matter where they are, odds are that attendance can't be much worse than it was in Montreal and in their home-away-from-home in Puerto Rico last year, where the average attendance was 9,300 fans per game.

Contraction would also help the teams artificially lower the salaries heading into a new collective bargaining agreement in 2007. With two less teams, there will be more talent to select from with less demand.

What a mess.