Angelos' reminder: D.C. team would expose O's to harm

Owner remains opposed

decision in Selig's hands

May 21, 2004|By Ed Waldman | Ed Waldman,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Peter Angelos holds that a major league team in Washington would hurt his Orioles, and commissioner Bud Selig states his "first job and responsibility" is to protect Major League Baseball's 30 existing franchises - but that doesn't eliminate the District of Columbia as a possible new home for the Montreal Expos.

Selig yesterday declined to be more specific about the Expos' relocation after the conclusion of a baseball owners meeting, saying he first wants to read the analysis of the seven contenders being prepared by the nine-person relocation committee.

But Angelos did say - again - where he doesn't want the Expos to end up. That would be in Washington or Northern Virginia.

"You wouldn't put another team 35 miles away from the St. Louis Cardinals. Why would you put one 35 miles away from the Orioles?" he said.

The Orioles say their studies show that the team draws 25 percent of its fans from Washington and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia.

Angelos also said he didn't have a favorite from among the other candidates. He said he would be guided by the commissioner and the relocation committee.

And Selig said he would be guided by "common sense, judgment."

"I'm going to have to look at all the presentations, then analyze them," he said after owners concluded their regularly scheduled quarterly meeting at baseball's Park Avenue headquarters.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's president and chief operating officer, said Wednesday that Selig should have the committee's report within a month. He also said that Selig had "grave concerns" from "Day One" that putting a team in Northern Virginia or Washington would have an impact on the Orioles.

The proximity of Portland, Ore., another contender for the Expos, to Seattle also has been discussed by the committee, DuPuy said. Those cities are about 175 miles apart, and one MLB source said yesterday that the Mariners' ownership is extremely opposed to relocating the Expos to Portland.

Other contenders for the Expos include Las Vegas; Norfolk, Va.; Monterrey, Mexico, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

During a high-profile visit to Washington two weeks ago, two members of the relocation committee, MLB executive vice president of administration John McHale Jr. and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, assured Mayor Anthony A. Williams that baseball was serious about the possibility of the Expos moving to D.C.

Yesterday, Selig stressed that DuPuy's comments simply reiterated a longstanding position.

"In fact, they went back and pulled out a lot of my quotes [yesterday] morning, and they go back a long time," Selig said. "It isn't only this situation. Anything that we do or project to do should be for the overall good of the game, and you try not to hurt your existing franchises. But that's a judgment you have to make when you have all the facts.

"I think that baseball back in 1968 didn't take the care they should have when they moved a team into Oakland without assuming what it was going to do to San Francisco. And as a result, for a long period of time there was a lot of difficulty as a result of that decision."

The relocation process has taken much longer - more than a year, in fact - than originally intended. For the second year in a row, the Expos are playing 22 "home" games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

But Selig defended what he called a "painful process," saying the extra time has helped the committee do a thorough analysis.

"Sure, in a perfect world you'd like things to happen quicker," he said. " But it's time to get this done. I know Bob DuPuy feels, and many people on the committee [feel], the extra year has not been detrimental. And there wasn't anybody in the meeting [yesterday] or in any of the meetings [Wednesday] who expressed an opinion to the contrary."

Selig said his decision, which would need to be approve by three-fourths of the owners, should come in mid-summer, sometime around the All-Star Game on July 13.

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