The natural tendency when a person passes away is to forget the faults and remember the good things.
Regarding the late Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad, this is not one of those tributes.
Pohlad is given credit for saving baseball in Minnesota when he purchased the Twins in 1984, and maybe that's true. But during his time in the owner's chair, the remarkable thing is that he didn't kill baseball in Minnesota.
Lord knows, he tried.
His volunteering the Twins for contraction during baseball's despicable 2001 scheme remains one of the most reprehensible actions of any owner in recent memory.
His misrepresentation of his financial "contributions" while attempting to get public subsidy for a new stadium in 1997 for a time killed the whole idea of a new ballpark in Minnesota -- and at the very least delayed the entire project by several years.
Oh yes, this guy was a beauty. He got his start in the banking business foreclosing family farms during the Depression. Nice, huh? He remained a cold-hearted businessman the rest of the way, too.
He was worth more financially than Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, yet he kept the Twins' payroll low, Scrooge-like, in line with all of the other small-market owners. He was one of Commissioner Bud Selig's chief lieutenants in the war to keep club payrolls down.
The two had an odd alliance, Selig and Pohlad, to the point where Pohlad even sent the commissioner suits and sports jackets at times when he thought Selig needed an upgrade.
As such, and because it's what Commissioners do, Selig offered condolences in a statement issued by major league baseball on Monday: "His devotion to the Minnesota Twins, the Twin Cities and major league baseball was remarkable. In my long career, I have never met a more loyal and caring human being."
He wasn't a caring human being when foreclosing on those families all those years ago. And he was ready and willing to kill the Twins -- baseball fans of Minnesota be damned -- when the citizens wouldn't give him a sweetheart deal on a new ballpark.
He threatened to move the team to North Carolina. It was one of the most transparent scams ever concocted. The prospective "buyer" in North Carolina essentially was a hillbilly propped up like a scarecrow to instill fear in baseball fans throughout Minnesota.
He told the public during that ill-fated news conference in '97 that he would kick in $80 million toward the new ballpark. It was only later that it was discovered that, surprise, what was advertised as his contribution really was a loan that the state would repay to him -- with interest.
And that wasn't even the most vile thing that happened. No, within the myriad scare tactics was a beauty of a television ad produced by one of his sons featuring footage of former outfielder Marty Cordova visiting a children's hospital and autographing a baseball for an ill boy.
The voiceover intoned something like, "If the Twins move away, boys like this one will never have the chance to get Marty Cordova's autograph."
Too bad the sick boy had died even before the advertisement ran on television. Nobody had gotten consent to use the boy's image, so nobody associated with the advertisement knew he had passed away until it was too late. It was another disgusting moment, and another embarrassment for Pohlad.
Yet instead of any remorse or apology after all of this, Pohlad took it to the next level when he failed to extort a stadium from the taxpayers. He joined Selig in baseball's dirty scheme, volunteering to serve the Twins up for contraction.
The irony of it all is that Pohlad's Twins remained one of the most respected organizations in the game. The one thing he did right was to put baseball people in charge and leave them there. And I will say this: The baseball people running the show, from Andy MacPhail to Terry Ryan to Bill Smith, have always said that they were treated fairly by Pohlad. I've never heard any of them utter a bad word about the man, and I suppose that says something as well.
In the long run, Pohlad did get his stadium. The new ballpark will open in 2010, and from what I've seen of the blueprints, the good people of Minnesota will be getting a ballpark that they deserve.
I can't say the same for Pohlad.