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Let’s Name the New DC Baseball Team!

Washington DC is getting a new baseball stadium the same way a dog gets medicine at the vet: held down, pried open, and force fed. But this medicine holds no cure for what ails our aching city.

Mayor Anthony Williams’ $440 million publicly funded stadium scheme is, even for this baseball fan, an obscenity. It’s like sending Dick Cheney to ‘All You Can Eat’ night at Beefsteak Charlie’s: just because we are entertained doesn’t mean it’s not both dangerous and grossly irresponsible.

But that’s not where the story ends. Mayor Williams, proving once again that inflicting injury is no fun without a sweet insult, wants the team to be named ‘The Grays.’ ‘Grays’ is neither a self-aggrandizing nod toward the Mayor’s sparkling personality nor his favorite color. It is in Williams’ words ‘a tribute’ to the area’s old Negro League team, the Homestead Grays, which featured Hall of Fame legends Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard.

The Mayor’s nostalgia for the Negro Leagues and his touching olive branch to this majority African-American city is somewhat dulled by his battle plan to build this $440 million lemon in the overwhelmingly Black South East Neighborhood of Anacostia. He is willing to use ‘fair use’ legal clauses to tear down people’s homes on the proposed stadium grounds if they won’t sell out to the city. Local rents are expected to skyrocket making it near impossible for poor and working class Blacks to stay in the area. Sports writer Sally Jenkins has made the point that if the team doesn’t meet its profit goals, the only recourse will be to further tax the citizens of DC, making working people pay for baseball games most cannot afford.

It’s a stunning act of chutzpah unrivaled since George W. Bush lobbied last year to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Williams wants to attack the most historic Black neighborhood in the city in the name of honoring the Negro Leagues. Not since the production of the 1992 pornographic film ‘Malcolm XXX’ has a symbol of African-American pride been so abused.

Those of us repulsed by the racist land grab at play in South East DC need to be clear that naming the team the Grays is a slap in the face to every player who endured the forced segregation of the Negro Leagues with skill and dignity. Instead, we need to come up with our own team name. Let’s conjure some ideas that let Williams and his political cronies on Capital Hill know exactly what we think of the entire rotten project. Surely a city with the history of Washington DC can inspire some more appropriate choices. After all we have been center stage for Newts, Watergates, and more than a few Dicks.

Please send suggestions to editor@pgpost.com.

All submissions will be run next week on CounterPunch. The winner of the contest will receive a T-Shirt bearing the new name. Hell, if they can use baseball as a political tool to advance their agenda, then so can we.

Once again e-mail editor@pgpost.com to submit an entry.

To get this column sent to you every week, email edgeofsports-subscribe@zirin.com.

 

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DAVE ZIRIN is the author of A People’s History of Sports in the United States (The New Press) Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.

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