November 14, 2004

The Great Debate: Day 7


Denny McLain, Moderator

Hmmm hmmmm hmm hmmm hmmm, 'cause at least I know I'm free, and I'll grandly stand tough, and fight for -

Oh, we're back? Sorry. I guess I got swept up in the moment there, what with Mr. Fred showing the flag and all. Gosh I love the flag. These colors don't run, baby.

Right. Welcome to the final day of arguments in the great Grays vs. Senators debate. Mr. BallWonk will now make his final rebuttal, and tomorrow both he and Mr. Fred will make their closing statements. Remember, this debate is being simulcast live at BallWonk's blog, as is the balloting. Polls will remain open here and at the other blog for a week following Monday's closing statements. Please vote now, and come back and vote often, up to once per day.

Warden Norton is getting impatient, so I'm going to have to ask you to be quick, here, Mr. BallWonk.

BallWonk, Speaking for the Grays

I'll do my best, Denny.

I applaud my opponent, Mr. Fred, for reminding us of the few great Senators of the past. (And I note that only one of them actually played baseball, which tells you everything you need to know about Senators history.) As a pragmatist, I do not want my baseball team to be sullied by association with the Senate, which contains after all the 100 least popular people in America. Polls regularly show that U.S. Senators, as a group, are less trusted and popular than a frat house full of used-car dealers, personal-injury lawyers, and New Jersey strippers.

But they do not deserve this public scorn, at least not all of them. Why, BallWonk himself once worked in a Senate office, and he found his employer and most other Senators to be among the most admirable people he has ever met. Still, the public clearly does not agree, and no matter how much we wish otherwise, no matter how many photos we show of John McCain or Ben Nighthorse Campbell or Olymia Snowe, the people will continue to associate Senators with cynicism, dishonesty, and opportunism.

Why, that sounds like the New York Mets.

Is that how we want people to think of our team, too? I hope not.

And what of the question of representation? Washington itself is not represented in the Senate. It makes no more sense to call a team in DC
the Senators than to call it the King George IIIs. The lack of democracy - and, to be honest, looking at Marion Barry, sometimes the presence of democracy - in DC is bad enough. Why rub salt in the wound by imposing recreation without representation?


They don't call Washington "Chocolate City" for nothing, and it's not on account of a sweet tooth. Washington has been a center of black culture in America for generations. Today it is home to perhaps the largest and most vibrant black middle class of any American city, and the local black community has never rallied behind any of our local sports teams.

When we name our team the Grays, we will be able to speed up that day when all of Washington's residents, black fans and white fans, Virginians and Marylanders, Republicans and Democrats, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old baseball spiritual, "Take me out to the ball game! Take me out with the crowd! Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, I don't care if I never get back!"

If we want to return to the days of the Senators, when Washington baseball struggled to outdraw a double-A team, and in fact drew fewer fans than the 2004 Expos - which pretty much puts the lie to any claim that there even are true Senators fans - then by all means, keep the Senators name. Our team can do just fine with the small-market revenue that comes from playing before an empty ballpark, right? After all, who needs a popular, winning team when we can have our very own facsimile of the Devil Rays.

See, as Parliament's George Clinton would say, Senators just doesn't represent. It doesn't represent a city with no Senators of its own. The nearly all-white Senate doesn't represent the most thriving black metropolis in the nation. The slow-to-integrate and always black-unfriendly Senators teams of old don't represent our tolerant and inclusive town. And the monumental incompetence of the Senators, whose last pennant came 70 years ago next season, doesn't represent the kind of popular, winning franchise we all hope to have.

This really is about representation. The Senators name represents division, segregation, bigotry, failure, disappointment, betrayal, and disenfranchisement. It represents an 80-year championship drought and 70 years since the last pennant. Even the lowly Chicago Cubs have won the pennant since the last time the Senators hoisted the flag. Senators represents exactly what our team must not be.

Grays, however, represents a team that moved to Washington to become
champions. Grays represents popularity, victory, pennants, and championships. Grays represents triumph over racial divisions and divisional rivals. The Grays were everything we want our team to be.

Posted by Fred at November 14, 2004 08:43 PM
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