Jim Essian's firing as Chicago Cubs manager appeared likely, according to the Chicago Tribune, when club president Don Grenesko refused yesterday to assure that Essian would be back next season.
"Any evaluation -- and I hate to use the 'e' word -- will be made after the season," Grenesko said after meeting with general manager Jim Frey. "I don't have any comment beyond that."
Essian took over for the fired Don Zimmer on May 23. The Cubs, 17-19 under Zimmer, have won 57 and lost 64 under Essian. They've lost 24 of the past 35.
* ASTROS: Owner John McMullen reportedly has terminatenegotiations with a Houston group trying to purchase the club.
Banker Ben Love and his son, lawyer Jeff Love, are part of a group that has been negotiating to purchase the club since McMullen announced that he would sell it.
Houston television station KRIV-TV and the Houston Chronicle quoted sources as saying the Love group's latest offer was rejected and that McMullen had asked to end the talks.
* TIGERS: President Bo Schembechler has announced that thclub had rejected two proposed sites for a new Tiger Stadium near downtown. Both sites were impractical, were costly, failed to meet the team's specifications and were being virtually forced on the club by the city and Wayne County, he said.
* METS: William Shea, who brought National League baseball back to New York in 1962 and got a ballpark named for him in gratitude, died early yesterday in his apartment in Manhattan. He was 84.