TORONTO -- Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent hinted strongly yesterday that he would not seek a second term, but he was just as adamant that he would not resign while the office of the commissioner is under fire.
Vincent, who was at SkyDome for the final game of the pivotal series between the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, acknowledged that there have been many times when he considered walking away from the job during the firestorm that has developed over his decision to realign the National League.
Vincent seems intent on weathering the assault because of the possible effect a resignation under pressure might have on baseball. But once his term ends on March 31, 1994, it seems fairly clear that he will not seek re-election.
"I haven't said that, but do you think someone in my position would want to go through this again?" he said.
There has been an underground campaign to encourage him to resign. There is an above-ground lawsuit -- brought by the Chicago Cubs -- challenging his power to rearrange the two National League divisions. There is the general perception that he is under siege from a number of directions. Vincent shares that perception.
"I do, yes," he said. "I feel very much under siege. There is no question the commissionership is under pressure. The Cubs suit is an attack. I think it is a serious problem for me."
His discussion with reporters touched on several issues, including realignment and the pending sale of the San Francisco Giants to a group that intends to move the team to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. There were few hard answers on the possible team transfer because he said he has not had time to poll all of the owners.
"I've talked to some owners who are troubled and want the team to stay in San Francisco," Vincent said. "I think some of it is concern about the West Coast teams functioning well with [the Giants] gone."
The major concern of the American League clubs appears to be territorial. If the Giants move to Tampa/St. Petersburg, the AL will be shut out of the lucrative Florida market for the foreseeable future.
"That's right," he said, "and they can't move a team into San Francisco because of the A's. So it's a big issue for the American League."
The timing of the move could also complicate National League realignment. Vincent acted unilaterally to move the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals into the NL West and the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds to the NL East to give the divisions more geographical integrity. Now, the NL West Giants could be one of the Easternmost teams in the league.
"That's a bit premature," Vincent said, "but it's an issue. Part of the issue is, when would a move take place. I really don't know what the answer is."