MILWAUKEE - The Montreal Expos might be the constant subject of contraction and relocation talk, but it hasn't stopped them from wheeling and dealing to make a run at the National League East title.
Two weeks after shocking the baseball world by trading for Cleveland Indians ace Bartolo Colon, the Expos reportedly have agreed in principal to a deal that would bring them Cliff Floyd and Ryan Dempster from the Florida Marlins.
The deal with the Marlins reportedly was pending Major League Baseball's approval, but The New York Daily News re ported that the trade was not likely to go through because commissioner Bud Selig would not allow the Expos to make any deal in which they take on more salary.
Regardless, Expos manager Frank Robinson had reason to smile at last night's All-Star Game, where he served as a member of the National League coaching staff. Robinson, who won a Triple Crown with the Orioles during a Hall of Fame career, said Montreal's management has sent a message to its players.
"It shows the organization believes in us." Robinson said. 'And they"re trying to help us win. We have to do our part, but that kind of thing was a real pick-me-up."
The Expos trail the Atlanta Braves by 9 1/2 games in the NL East, but they open the second half with a four-game series against the Braves, beginning Thursday.
Robinson, who hinted to The Sun earlier this year that he might like to return for another season as Expos manager, downplayed that possibility yesterday.
"I don't want to do it again." Robinson said. "This is it. I didn't go in saying, "Well, if we do good, it's a one-year thing.' "
Major League Baseball treated fans to a video presentation of the game's 30 greatest moments before last night's game. There were highlights of Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, Willie Mays" famous catch, Hank Aaron's 714th home run and Cal Ripken's 2,131st consecutive game with the Orioles.
Mays emerged from center field, Aaron emerged from left field, and Ripken emerged at third base, wearing his white Orioles jersey. It was the first time in 20 years Ripken did not play in the game, but the fans still had a chance to show their appreciation, giving him a long ovation.
Ballots will now be available at games for fans to vote on their all-time favorite moment, with the results announced during the World Series.
Orioles third baseman Tony Batista always has marched to the beat of a different drummer, and that was apparent again during pre-game introductions. While the rest of the American League reserves stoically doffed their caps, Batista heard his name, hoisted both arms in the air and shook them with excitement.
Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre have been to the All-Star Game as both players and managers, and Brenly talked about the differences between the two experiences this week.
"It has become more of an event." said Brenly, a reserve catcher on the 1984 National League squad. "The game itself used to be the highlight of the [All-Star] break. I think now, a lot of people look forward to the home run contest more than the game."
For the second time in three years, baseball's All-Stars paid tribute to Ted Williams - although this time it was a much more understated ceremony than the poignant one at Fenway Park three years ago.
Boston Red Sox All-Stars Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Damon and Ugueth Urbina unveiled Williams" No. 9 painted into the grass in left field - the position he patrolled in 18 All-Star Games.
Baseball also formally announced that the All-Star Game MVP will be named after Williams, who died Friday at age 83.
Highlights of Williams' career played on the video board be fore the unveiling, and Garciaparra, Tony Gwynn, Sammy Sosa and Shawn Green talked about the impact Williams" All-Star appearance at his home stadium in 1999 had on them.
At the end of the video, the scoreboard simply said, "Ted Williams, 1918-2002, "The Greatest Hitter That Ever Lived." '
Awards must go on
There will be Cy Young and MVP awards given even if a work stoppage cuts this season short.
The Baseball Writers Association of America voted 33-13 yesterday to give its annual awards out no matter what happens with baseball's labor situation.
The BBWAA gives the MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year awards in each league. The BBWAA handed out awards after the strike-shortened 1994 season, as well.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.