NEW YORK — The fate of baseball's labor agreement now rests with acting Commissioner Bud Selig.
Neither union leader Donald Fehr nor management negotiator Randy Levine would comment Friday, but sources said that Fehr and Levine have completed all aspects of a five-year agreement, and Fehr hopes to meet with Selig today for assurance that Selig supports it.
"Don doesn't want to commit anything to writing and put it to an executive board vote if Selig and the owners intend to repudiate their negotiator," one source said. "He wants to know that Bud definitely plans to hold an owners' meeting to vote on the deal, and that Bud will endorse it."
Fehr would also like to announce the deal immediately and may do that unilaterally, sources said. Selig, who would prefer holding the announcement until after the owners' meeting, returned to Milwaukee from Atlanta on Friday, having been kept abreast of the final proceedings by Levine.
Selig will be in New York for resumption of the World Series tonight, but he could not be reached Friday.
Ratification requires 21 votes. Selig has said he will not try to influence the clubs, that this is too important for that, but it is thought he privately supports the agreement and can produce 21 votes if he expresses that opinion in the meeting, as expected.
Fehr is scheduled to leave with a major league all-star team for a tour of Japan on Monday, but the pressing issue is the free-agent timetable. Eligible players can begin a 15-day filing period the day after the World Series. If new work rules aren't in place by the end of that period, the proposed deal is likely to collapse, baseball continuing to operate tenuously under the expired rules.