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Glory comes with a price
Bennett is about to be dragged through mud

by Berry Tramel Published: November 3, 2007

This always happens when franchises move.

Fifty years after Walter O'Malley moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, his name still angers New Yorkers.

When O'Malley threatened to move, fans carried signs that said "O — Biggest Bum of Them All” and "O'Malley — Brooklyn's Hitler.”

The New York Times' Arthur Daley wrote that "the only word that fits the Dodgers is greed.”

Years later, Howard Golden, past borough president of Brooklyn, said, "People still equate what O'Malley did with the knife that struck on Pearl Harbor.”

History exonerated O'Malley. New York City politics squelched O'Malley's reasonable demands for permission to build a new ballpark in Brooklyn. New York politicos played chicken with the Dodgers and lost.

The cities almost always lose. In Baltimore, Bob Irsay was vilified after taking the Colts to Indianapolis, but Baltimore eventually built a new stadium and swiped the Browns from Cleveland. Art Modell was vilified for moving those Browns, but Cleveland very soon built a new stadium for the new Browns.

In Charlotte, George Shinn was Public Enemy No. 1, but soon after he took the Hornets to New Orleans, Charlotte put up a new building and got the expansion Bobcats. In Houston, Bud Adams was lampooned for moving the Oilers to Tennessee, but Houston quickly built a new stadium for the expansion Texans.

Build now or lose your team and build later. That seems to be the options for a major-league city.

Franchise owners possess a precious commodity, and like it or not, you have to play ball with them. And if you don't, you vilify them.

Bennett and Co. will try to negotiate a quick exit from Seattle, and Seattle will in turn try to make Bennett look like a bad man. A very bad man.

Hope he's got thick skin. Either that or the vision to see the day when he goes from villain to hero.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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