CLEVELAND -- Major League Baseball's schedule/format committee is scheduled to meet here today for further discussion on the proposed realignment of the two leagues, but no final decision is expected on the format for next season.
The owners have set a Sept. 30 deadline for completing a realignment plan and solving the scheduling problems that have hurt the first year of their two-year experiment with interleague play.
Interim commissioner Bud Selig said recently that the move to an imbalanced schedule is almost inevitable, but the owners must move the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays into the American League East to facilitate a regionalized schedule that is weighted heavily toward divisional competition.
The situation is so complicated, however, that committee chairman John Harrington said during the weekend that the owners will consider a plan that involves the realigning of as many as six teams to make regionalized play more attractive, but it seems highly unlikely that many clubs would be willing to change leagues.
"We discussed a minimal plan in Philadelphia [last month]," Harrington told the Associated Press. "We want to discuss something more substantial, with maybe four, five or six teams changing leagues. We'll see if there is any consensus on the committee for that."
Groupings discussed include Houston and Texas, Kansas City and St. Louis, Montreal and Toronto and Florida and Tampa Bay.
The Major League Baseball Players Association also must be consulted on any dramatic changes, even in situations where the owners are within their collective bargaining rights to move unilaterally.
The union may not be able to stop certain scheduling changes, but it has leverage because it must approve the continuation of interleague play after the 1998 season.
Union officials, however, have not been particularly difficult to deal with on this issue.
"As long as they find a way to get rid of all those two-game series and put Tampa Bay in the East," said union counsel Gene Orza, "they'll get no problems from us."
Pub Date: 7/08/97