IN THE WAKE of Twins owner Carl Pohlad's agreement to sell the team to North Carolina's Don Beaver, the Strib's two most "impartial" sports columnists conveniently chose vitriol over sound reasoning in analyzing the deal. Calling Pohlad's ploy the work of a "clever old fox" (and pimp-slapping his favorite target, stadium critic state Sen. John Marty, along the way), columnist Patrick Reusse declared on Saturday that there was no "mushy middle in the Twins' situation now"--in other words, if the Legislature doesn't pony up, the team is gone. The sharper, more populist Reusse of yore would have pointed out that the North Carolina option is full of holes: Beaver wants to move to club to the 46th-largest media market, where he must spend millions to upgrade a ballpark that currently holds just 10,000, while he awaits a $150 million stadium referendum that's more unpopular in the polls than the proposal here. Further, Beaver has no season-ticket holders or upfront fan money for his venture, and the NHL franchise that just came to the Triad is drawing squat. All of this makes it questionable whether major league baseball owners really will OK the first franchise relocation in more than a quarter century. Reusse, however, would rather bait Marty, to whom he ascribes way too much influence.
A day later, another Strib columnist, Dan Barreiro, also blasted lawmakers--again, singling out Marty--who he claims are afraid to take a position on the issue. But the reason the debate has dragged on for so long is because a firm majority of lawmakers have consistently opposed any stadium deal, no matter how many different ways ballpark shills have proposed funding it. The fact that Beaver and his "Field of Dreams" scenario is the best Pohlad can do would have made for a nifty column, albeit one we'd never read in the Star Tribune.