All sales final
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist

Former car salesman Bud Selig tries to unload a slightly used team ...

"Hey, how ya doing? Good to see you. Shopping around for a baseball team? Well, you've come to the right place, I can tell you that. We have the area's best selection of major league teams. We've got National League and American League models, all makes and models, both new and used. I guess I shouldn't say "used'' -- we're supposed to call them "pre-owned'' nowadays.

Bud Selig
"Do I hear $200 million? Going once, going twice ..."
"So, what sort of team do you have in mind? Maybe something in a large market? We just sold a couple teams in Southern California, but I might be able to find you something in D.C. if you're willing to wait. No? I don't blame you. Personally, I've always preferred a smaller-market team myself. Sure, you sacrifice a little prestige, but you can't beat the smaller market for handling and low maintenance costs.

"Now, for just $200 million, I can put you in the owners' box of a sleek, little Canadian club. Needs a little loving, sure; but find the right fan base, a nice stadium and a new superstar right fielder, and you've got a beautiful team that will be the envy of all the neighbors. And don't worry, the Expos are licensed to go anywhere.

"But I can see you're not interested in the Expos. No need to explain -- I can tell just from talking to you that you're a man who knows his baseball, and you don't want to invest good money in a team that's going to need some work, a new farm system and a whole lot of lawyers. You want to be able to take your team right off the lot and be ready to win. Fair enough. I understand. That's smart. That's the way I would be, too.

"And I've got just the team for you. The manager's special: the fully-loaded Milwaukee Brewers, complete with convertible roof stadium and priced to sell.

"This team is an amazing steal. Just one owner, and he hasn't taken it out for a pennant drive in years.

"Feel free to look under the hood. That's a brand new president and a recently-installed general manager in there. No superstars right now, but lots of promising young kids in the farm system. And unlike some of those large market teams, this is a club with a small payroll that is getting smaller all the time. Not only that, you get a check for revenue-sharing each year, too. The other owners are practically paying you to run the team.

"How much? Well, before I get to that, do you see that blue and white Dodgers sedan over there? I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but we're in the process of selling that one for $430 million -- and its stadium is more than 40 years old. This baby here plays in the exact same league and has an almost brand new stadium and I can let you have it for just $240 million. That's about half the price of the Dodgers. Hey, the stadium alone is worth $400 million.

"Now, I know what you're thinking. Why is Bud willing to do this? Quite frankly, we need to clear inventory before we get the new models, and my manager says to cut whatever deal we can to make room on the lot. He says I can even drop the price to $215 million if you're willing to pay cash. Me, I say we've priced it way too low. We're gonna take an absolute bath on the team at this price. But what can I do? He's the boss, I'm just the employee.

Miller Park
Plenty of room to stretch out when you get to Miller Park.
"Go ahead and think it over. OK with you if I just step into my office and start the paperwork, in case you decide to buy? I wouldn't think about it too long, though. At this price, that baby isn't going to last long. I already had a nice couple from Portland take it a look at it just this morning.

"We also have some very attractive loan rates, right now.

"Hey, I understand. You want to shop around first, maybe see what other leagues are offering. That's smart. I'd do the same myself. But this is just something else to consider. If you think the price is a little steep, we also can do trade-ins. John Henry and Jeffrey Loria both recently traded in their old teams for different models; and, I must say, they're both very pleased.

"Now, don't be hasty. I just talked to the manager and he's never done this before but he says I can knock another $25 million off the list price. But that offer is only good while you're here on the lot.

"All right, you drive a hard bargain. This the best I can do, because we're losing money on this as it is, but I'll take $165 million and that's my absolute lowest price and, quite frankly, I'm only doing that because I've got to make quota for the month.

"And, say, did I mention the cupholders?

"Great, excellent. You won't regret it. This team really is a bargain and I'm sure it will provide you with years of service. I would, however, recommend that you buy the TruCoat sealant for the retractable roof. Otherwise the salt builds up and you get oxidization problems.''

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com





ALL SALES FINAL

ALSO SEE:


Jim Caple Archive

Caple: The "Frasier" finale

Caple: Golden moments

Caple: Rose rage

Jim Caple's 2003 Sports Quiz

Caple: The year that wasn't

The List: Best lists of 2003





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