AL due $42 million in NL expansion Leagues to split burden evenly in stocking teams

June 07, 1991|By Ross Newhan | Ross Newhan,Los Angeles Times Peter Schmuck of The Sun's sports staff contributed to this article.

Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent said yesterday that he will award the American League $42 million of the $190 million the National League will receive from its two expansion teams and that the American League will supply half of the 78 players scheduled to be drafted from the 26 existing teams.

Vincent, acting as arbitrator after the two leagues' failure to resolve the American League's demand to share the expansion income, said in a seven-page ruling that any future expansion money will be divided equally between the leagues.

"There is much to be said, especially in baseball, for following precedent and for playing by the established rules," Vincent said of the fact that expansion revenue has never been shared before.

"On the other hand, the American League makes the good argument that the allocation to the National League of the entire $190 million . . . would seriously weaken the American League."

Each of the National League's 12 teams will receive $12,333,333, $3.5 million less See EXPANSION, 6D, Col. 1EXPANSION, from 1Dthan if the league had kept the entire $190 million. Each American League team will receive $3 million.

Los Angeles Dodger owner Peter O'Malley said Of Vincent's decision: "I respect it. We gave him a difficult problem to resolve, and I respect it."

Baltimore Orioles president Larry Lucchino said, "I think there were strong arguments and strong feelings on all sides, and I don't think that it's appropriate to comment on the process or the commissioner's judgment."

Vincent has said that the issue should have been resolved by the leagues and that he was unhappy to have been put in the no-win role of arbitrator. He said yesterday that he feared the decision might damage relations between the leagues and that he was disturbed that some owners continue to think only of their own interests, rather than the overall good of the game.

Vincent wrote that the squabbling and a tendency to see economic issues as moral ones were contributing to baseball's "fall from grace" and had to stop.

The dispute developed because of the increase in expansion fees to $95 million a team.

When the American League expanded to Toronto and Seattle in 1977, there was only $13.25 million at stake -- Toronto paid $7 million and Seattle $6.25 million. In 1969, Montreal and San Diego paid $10 million each to join the NL, and Kansas City and Seattle (the Pilots later became the Milwaukee Brewers) paid $5.55 million each to join the AL.

"The difficulty with the American League argument is that it forces me as commissioner away from the comforting and reassuring principles of law and of precedent into the cloudy waters of equity," Vincent wrote in his decision. "I am asked . . . to allocate money to protect the American League against serious harm which cannot readily be proven."

Each existing team will provide three players to the expansion pool. Previously, each NL team was to contribute six. The change must by approved by the players association, but Vincent said he had talked with the union and didn't expect a problem.

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