Is the Band-Aid about to be applied? Acting Commissioner Bud Selig said at the owners' meetings in Atlanta that a minimum of five teams have to switch leagues to create a meaningful realignment.
However, the clock is ticking on a 1998 schedule, and each time a new plan evolves, fewer teams seem to be switching.
Selig and his realignment committee chairman, John Harrington of the Boston Red Sox, have gone from a radical plan in which 15 teams would have switched to a modified nine to a moderate seven--and there always has been the suspicion that Selig wanted to start big so he ultimately can convince two or three teams to move as a small price to pay for the best interests of the game.
"We could probably get a plan passed today in which one or two teams switched, but the price of doing a little now and more [in a year or two] is that it becomes confusing to the fans," Harrington said before leaving Atlanta. "However, we're running out of time and may have to do that."
One thing seems certain:
San Francisco Giant owner Peter Magowan was back in his Bay Area office Friday and insisting he will "not back off" in his determination to stop the Oakland Athletics from joining the National League as part of a scenario in which all eight Pacific and Mountain time zone teams would be in the NL.
In what has become biting repartee between Magowan and Arizona Diamondback owner Jerry Colangelo, the Giant owner reiterated that Colangelo could easily resolve the dilemma by going to the AL as part of a Band-Aid approach to be reexamined in a year or two.
"This shouldn't be life or death for them," Magowan said of the Diamondbacks. "They're going to be sold out no matter what league they're in."
The contributions of rookie Jaret Wright have been pivotal for the Cleveland Indians, strapped at times because of pitching injuries.
The 21-year-old son of former Angel pitcher Clyde Wright is 5-1 in his last six starts, 8-3 overall and 7-0 in 11 starts after a Cleveland loss.
Pressure? "It's great to be pitching in a pennant race," said Wright, who was pitching for Anaheim's Katella High two years ago.
Cal Ripken Jr. can't shake the back spasms that have plagued his second half and contributed to a .145 batting average over his last 20 games through Thursday. However, his consecutive-game streak is at 2,470 and he doesn't plan to sit out, even though the Baltimore Orioles have clinched a playoff berth.
"My belief is that it's not something that's going to go away with one, two or three days of rest," Ripken said. "And when you take time off and it doesn't get better, you run the risk of getting rusty, losing on both counts. My plan is to get hot again and take that into the playoffs."
One possible concession: Ripken will miss some innings over the final week or agree to serve as designated hitter, even though he has never been in the Baltimore lineup at any position except shortstop or third base.
Said Manager Davey Johnson: "I'm not getting involved in 'the Streak' or anything like that. If there's speculation about that, the next thing you know 500 [reporters] are here. I don't need that."