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You Want Realignment? They Have Plans

Baseball: Committee considers less radical ideas with nine or 10 teams changing leagues.


A realignment plan that would find nine teams switching leagues--instead of 15 in the more radical and widely publicized concept--was one of several alternatives discussed by baseball's realignment committee during a Wednesday meeting with the executive council in Chicago.

Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said at least five plans are still under consideration, but he expects the committee to submit only one for a vote when owners meet in Atlanta Sept. 16-18.

Selig and committee chairman John Harrington have been lobbying hard for the radical plan that would have 15 teams change leagues and totally revamp the American and National leagues, but there has been strong opposition--particularly among National League teams that would be asked to move. Although realignment requires only majority approval, any team asked to move can veto it.

The modified version in which nine teams would switch leagues seems to overcome the objections of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets to leaving the National League and the objections of the two New York and two Chicago teams to being in the same division. The eight Pacific and Mountain time zone teams would remain grouped in the NL West, as in the more radical plan.

The modified proposal, according to sources:


West: Dodgers, Angels, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.

Central/East: Reds, Pirates, Mets, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.


East: New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Montreal Expos and Detroit Tigers.

Central/South: Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins.

The key, according to sources, is convincing Atlanta to move out of the NL to create a geographic grouping with Florida and Tampa Bay.

There is also a plan in which 10 teams would switch leagues, and the 16-team NL would be split into four divisions of four teams each (the Angels and Dodgers would be paired with San Diego and Arizona) and the 14-team AL would be split into two divisions of five teams each and one of four teams.

All of this may still be too much for more conservative owners, who feel that the landscape is changing too rapidly. Selig said that nothing is dead--from the plan in which 15 teams would switch leagues to plans in which as few as three would--but that baseball would be making a mistake by applying only a Band-Aid to the scheduling and logistical problems.

It is also no secret that the networks are pushing hard for geographical realignment so that more games would start in common time zones.

"We talk about growing revenue," Selig said. "Well, the most logical way to do that is through a schedule that maximizes rivalries and minimizes travel."

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