The Nationals open their second season next week without a local owner.
Ted Lerner is seriously being considered by Major League Baseball, the current owners of the team, insiders say. MLB doesn’t want to deal with a group of people. They’d rather have a single owner with deep pockets. Lerner has the hometown flavor, and he’s not likely to pick up and move or sell the team. The downside is that he doesn’t know much about baseball. But that won’t deter the commission, which has made a point of being a matchmaker. So do they plan to match Lerner with someone else with baseball know-how and contacts?
Enter Emmis Communications CEO Jeff Smulyan, another bidder for the team. MLB is trying to put the two groups together. D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams is still pushing for the Washington Baseball Club — Fred Malek, Jeff Zients, Jim Kimsey et al. They have big local names — Colin Powell, Vernon Jordan — and big bucks, but we hear that MLB doesn’t want to deal with them. What’s more, MLB isn’t in a big rush. After all, they’ve got the team and the general manager. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is an old pal of Indiana-based Smulyan, who once owned the Seattle Mariners. That can’t hurt the marriage. Stay tuned.
AND TUNE IN FOR TONIGHT’S HONOREES
News organizations are reeling in top guests and sources for before- and after-parties as well as the event itself — the annual Radio-TV Correspondents Dinner — this evening at the Washington Hilton. Although CNN won’t confirm the number, I hear that the tab for the network’s late-night bash is expected to reach the six-figure mark. But it’s all politically correct since the network is honoring Katrina and military heroes. Their guests include: Gen. Russell Honore, Master Sgt. Suran Sar (U.S. Army Special Forces officer awarded the Silver and Bronze Stars for his actions in Afghanistan), Adm. Mike Mullin, Vice Adm. Thad Allen, Air Force Capt. Jason Clark, Marine Corps Capt. Devin Corn, Marine Corps Sgt. Jeremy LaForce, Army Capt. Edward Twaddell, and Bay St. Louis, Miss., Mayor Eddie Favre, as well as Sens. John Sununu and John Thune, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Katrina heroes B>Peggy Laborde and Anne Milling, leaders of Women of the Storm.
ABC News has landed GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, governor of Massachusetts. CBS has a host of big congressional names, including Sens. Joe Biden, Lindsey Graham, Pat Leahy and John McCain, and Reps. Henry Waxman, Charles Rangel, David Dreier and Mike Castle.
REPORTED HERE, MONTHS AGO
No surprise. We wrote on Jan. 26 that President Bush would name OMB Director Josh Bolten to replace Andy Card as White House chief of staff. And what timing for those who have signed on to play in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s PhRMA/Volkswagen Celebrity Tennis Gala XXI at McLean Racquet Club on Saturday evening. They’ll have the opportunity to schmooze with Bolten over the net.