Baseball postpones contraction until 2003
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| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 01:04 pm:|
Baseball postpones contraction until 2003
By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer
February 5, 2002
NEW YORK (AP) -- Faced with a string of legal losses, baseball commissioner Bud Selig finally decided Tuesday that the sport won't try to eliminate teams until 2003.
Baseball had attempted to fold the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos but was thwarted by the Twins' landlord, which obtained an injunction that forced the team to honor its 2002 lease.
``While the clubs would have preferred to contract for 2002 and begin addressing the economic issues immediately,'' Selig said, ``events outside of our direct control, including yesterday's court decision in Minnesota, have required us to move the date of contraction to 2003.''
On Monday, the Minnesota Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal of the injunction by the Twins and Selig.
Owners voted Nov. 6 to eliminate two teams but did not specify which ones. Their labor negotiators later told the players' association the Twins and Expos were targeted.
Despite the court defeats in Minnesota, Selig had vowed to press on, saying the elimination of teams was needed to stem industry losses, which he claims totaled hundreds of millions of dollars last year. His admission of defeat came just nine days before the start of spring training, and he vowed to press forward with contraction for 2003.
``Contraction was an initiative of the 30 clubs and continues to be wholly supported by that group,'' he said. ``The clubs recognize that our current economic circumstance make contraction absolutely inevitable, as certain franchises simply cannot compete and cannot generate enough revenues to survive. Quite a few of our clubs advocate contraction by as many as four clubs, and our ultimate implementation of contraction obviously may well be affected by the economics of the industry in 2002.''
The players' association remains an obstacle to eliminating teams for 2003. The union filed a grievance to block contraction, claiming the owners' vote violated the players' labor contract, which expired Nov. 7 but remains in force.
Arbitrator Shyam Das was to hear his 12th day of testimony in the case Tuesday.
``I, personally, had hoped that the union had an interest in helping us solve our economic and competitive balance problems,'' said Paul Beeston, baseball's chief operating officer. ``It is evident now that they have no such interest and that is a great disappointment to me.
``We had several discussions this spring and summer indicating our consideration of contraction. The union's vigorous opposition to contraction was inconsistent with those earlier discussions.''
Owners claim they must bargain with the union only on the effects of contraction, such as player dispersal, not the decision to eliminate teams.
The Twins didn't even wait for Selig's announcement, telling employees after Monday's court ruling that the team would exist for its 42nd season in the Twin Cities.
``Hopefully, this gives the guys a sense of security to go out and play baseball,'' infielder Denny Hocking said.
The Twins and Expos rank 29th and 30th in revenue last year, and both have failed to obtain government financing for new ballparks. Twins owner Carl Pohlad told Selig he was willing to have his franchise folded.
``We've anticipated for the last month or so that we would be playing,'' Twins president Jerry Bell said. ``We have a good team, we had a good year last year, and we expect to have a good year this year.''
The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, sued to force the Twins to honor their lease and Hennepin County District Judge Harry Seymour Crump issued the injunction on Nov. 16.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the order Jan. 22, ruling in a 3-0 decision that Crump did not abuse his discretion in issuing the injunction.
The battle over the future of the Twins shifts back to the Minnesota Legislature, which is reviewing proposals for a new stadium that could ensure the team's long-term survival.
Republican Rep. Harry Mares, a stadium bill sponsor, said the pressure is on lawmakers.
``Either we act this session or I believe you'll still see contraction next year,'' he said.
Alabama businessman Donald Watkins has begun talks to acquire the team from Carl Pohlad, who bought the franchise in 1984 to keep it from moving.
Meanwhile Monday, baseball owners moved forward with plans to meet Feb. 12 in the Chicago area -- two days before the start of spring training -- to approve the sales of the Expos and Florida Marlins.
A group headed by Florida owner John Henry was given approval Jan. 16 to buy the Boston Red Sox for $660 million from the Jean R. Yawkey Trust.
Henry is negotiating to sell the Marlins to Expos owner Jeffrey Loria for $158.5 million and Loria is negotiating to sell the Expos to the remaining 29 teams for $120 million.
Unable to eliminate the Expos, Selig intends to have the commissioner's office appoint a chief executive officer-general manager to run the team this season. Frank Robinson, the vice president in charge of discipline in the commissioner's office, is expected to become manager of the Expos.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on baseball's antitrust exemption next Wednesday.
| By darth2900 on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 01:05 pm:|
time to get the Stadium proposal some legs or we will be one of the teams mentioned throughout the course of the season. If Watkins buys the twins and gets a stadium built, the A's will be on the block.
| By diamond_lil on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 01:09 pm:|
How right you are darth...
...and we have to make sure Oakland officials and the Mayor should be very well informed and aware of this fact.
You can be sure our group will do everything possible to keep the ball rolling and the ballpark drive in highlights.
gotta go to work...damn...
| By jeffreyb on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 01:16 pm:|
With the mention of 4 teams again, the A's ARE on the block!
also, if i were litigating against Baseball re their dirty deeds, this:
>"Contraction was an initiative of the 30 clubs
>and continues to be wholly supported by that
>group," he said.
is what lawyers call a concession against interest, regarding their staging of 28-2 votes, as done re contraction and the tabling of the Oakland purchase several years ago.
| By darth2900 on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 01:42 pm:|
Could you explain in detail what concession against interest means?
Also I am doing research in hopes of showing how a new ballpark would affect commercial real estate prices... I have an example in our favor using P*B park. Can anybody think of other economic advantages... before you tell me that commercial real estate rising in one part of Oakland causes it to drop in another Emkey, I cvan tell you that was not the case in San Francisco...
| By jeffreyb on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 01:55 pm:|
it's a lawsuit evidentiary rule that sez when an opponent states something that is contrary to what might normally be thought of as being in his interest, that statement should be given the highest weight in the weighing of evidence by a judge or jury.
if someone sued the A's over the dirty rejection of the buyers by MLB, or the Twins over contraction, the team would say, 'hey it wasn't us, we voted against the deal', and one can suppose that MLB would back that up.
but when selig sez that 30 teams are in favor of contraction, he's admitting, against the above stated presumed interest, that they stage votes as a fig leaf defense against any one who might sue the teams most directly involved. he's conceeding they stage votes, and in so doing he's making a 'concession against interest.'
| By darth2900 on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 01:59 pm:|
wow... that is like seriously smart, are you a lawyer?
Jayson Stark already mentions the A's in his contraction sidebar on the ESPN.com site. You might want to pass that on to Mayor Brown, etc.
Two key points:
In 2003, baseball is not necessarily tied to contracting the Expos and Twins, although those teams remain the front-runners. While Montreal is certain to be part of any contraction plan, Minnesota could move itself out of the picture with a stadium deal, leaving baseball with some tough decisions in selecting a second team for contraction. The focus would move to Florida, but Jeffrey Loria just bought the Marlins, so that team probably is no longer a target and the Devil Rays have a long-term stadium lease. Oakland has been another team mentioned as a contraction possibility and the A's are on a year-to-year lease.
The owners' postponement of contraction eliminates one of the union's two grievance points against the owners. The union had filed a grievance stating that baseball could not change the schedule -- to one based on 28 teams -- after the union had approved the 30-team schedule. That grievance no longer is relevant. The other grievance will be decided on the merits of whether owners have the right to contract unilaterally or wether it must be negotiated as part of the collective-bargaining agreement.
The more I hear about this the more it scares me to death. I live and die with A's baseball, as I'm sure do most of you. It is hard for me to do much since I live in Missouri, but I will do what I can. We need to stop The A's from going the way of the dinosaur at all costs!
| By eyleenn on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 03:09 pm:|
Darth, yes, Jeffrey is a lawyer.
| By jeffreyb on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 04:03 pm:|
yes, thanx both of you. i went looking for the stadium authority in Minneapolis on the web to pass that peanut gallery comment onwards...
check out what i found.
the stadium authority folks are actively encouraging fans to sign up to stay abreast of matters, there's an email form and everything.
if only the Oakland politicians would take heed...
| By jerryo1 on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 06:29 pm:|
Darn Eyleen! You beat me to it. I was going to post that Jeffrey is NOT a lawyer, but he DID stay at a Holiday Inn last night!
| By phil on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 06:40 pm:|
Here is an article that might help your research:
| By kbailey3131 on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 07:23 pm:|
Is the other thing we hope for is that MLB puts out for approval another 30 team schedule for the players to approve? Unless the players union is willing to concede the league's ability to contract by two for 2003 they'd fight that too.
We also need to hope that the A's win the WS, not like Generalissimo Selig worries about the PR associated when a WS winner is liquidated a year later, he sat on his hands when the Marlins as the world knew them closed up shop that offseason.
| By gregorymark on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 08:46 pm:|
Gov. Jesse Ventura on Greta Van Susteren's show on Fox News: "Major League Baseball has banned Pete Rose for gambling. But I guess extorting money from cities and states to pay for new ballparks, or losing their teams, is OK."
Selig picked on the wrong state, with Ventura closelining him on the Twins' contraction.
One question: MLB, through its designated mouth, Bud Selig, claims that teams lose an overall $500 million (according to what Jesse said), and that MLB threatens cities to build new stadiums to help with income, or lose their teams. The question is: why, with the building of new stadiums all over MLB, they're still losing $500 million? If stadiums are suppose to be the answer, why is baseball still in trouble with all the new stadiums?
| By jeffreyb on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 09:18 pm:|
hey, here's a 'magic of the internet' story...
i was able to figure out the name of the Minneapolis stadium authority's attorney, due to an archived article from the Minneapolis daily paper. then a visit to the state Bar Association web site gave me that guy's email address. i wrote him, as above, that i thought that MLB had made a blunder in tacitly admitting that they staged votes.
He wrote back right away. he thanked me, and agreed it was a mistake by MLB, one that he'll use in his lawsuit!
| By kbailey3131 on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 12:10 am:|
That's the million dollar question gregorymark, one which I don't believe the House committee ever directly asked The Generalissimo during the December hearing, they danced around it instead focusing on the ludicrous contention of Selig's that they were in fact losing that much money.
Selig was not the most lucid testifier that day so I doubt if he was asked that question he would have come up with an answer anyway, but I was disappointed that it was not asked more directly.
If I were to answer on Bud's behalf, I would guess his answer would be that the new stadium teams are having their revenue eaten up by having to make payments to the bottom feeder teams. AND/OR that salaries are so out of whack that they are eating up the revenue generated by these new stadia. If the players union would agree to salary caps and broader revenue sharing the world would be a better place. That's why he could, with a straight face, make the claim that its everybody's fault but theirs that the game's finances are so screwed up in light of the headlines about the Yankees reaching a deal with Giambi for a small mint.
| By darth2900 on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 09:20 am:|
that is great reading. Excellent analysis from both sides of the coin.
Everyone should read that, what I think is key is that we play up the parallels between Coors Field and Oakland. The Uptown Site in Oakland has a lot more in common with Coors Field than Jacobs Field... what is interesting to note is the fact that Cleveland did downtown redevelopement before Jacobs Field was built so the demoand for residential living spaces and entertainment options had been satisfied. Denver however used a stadium to "speed up" downtown developement in an area of town that was gaining a reputation but had not really started growing. I just see a huge parallel in what Denver had going on and Uptown Oakland... am I missing the boat on that?
| By diamond_lil on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 10:52 am:|
That's good stuff and good work Jeff. I sure hope you can keep that line of communication open.
I am certain that the Oakland A's will be the target for contraction next year if the ballpark proposal doesn't take shape during this season.
Especially now that Watkins is moving forward with his plans to purchase the Twins tied into a ballpark proposal of his own.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that Oakland fans are very much isolated and without the SF political and SF media support.
Oakland fans have to almost generate their own PR and fight the wave of negativism which stems from a very biased pro Giants media in the Bay Area.
Example: I was listening to KNBR while running my errands this past Saturday morning. The Giants were holding one of their FanFest events and had Gary Radnich interviewing Jon Miller:
Radnich asked Miller what he thought of the MLB contraction issue. Miller responded (paraphrasing)
'I'm very much in favor of it...and I'm in favor of contracting as much as FOUR teams...it seems Selig will not be able to pull that off this year but he will eventually succeed because it is the best for the game'.
Of course the entire baseball world knows that the A's are included in the four teams to be contracted right? So Miller knew quite well what he was saying...
So, moral of the story...we have to hope that the Giants don't hurt at the gate and have a very productive revenue year or they will more than ever put added pressure on the need to take the Bay Are market as their own...
and we all know how Selig feels about how the A's hurt the Giants "badly" and how it was "a HORRIBLE (insert droopy mouth) mistake" to have the A's move here from Kansas City.
| By jeffreyb on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 12:26 am:|
i agree that the ballpark proposal is the key.
there is no way that the east bay politicians and fans will generate anything close to the Minnesota level of protest...a level that was so strong, it directly influenced the Minnesota courts.
| By eyleenn on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 02:02 pm:|
That Pioneer Planet article was great, very educational re benefits/detriments of an urban location. Something our local pols should read.