Selig gets 3-year extension, ponders Expos' new home

Commissioner in place through '09

relocation committee briefs owners

August 20, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

PHILADELPHIA - In September 1992, Bud Selig told his wife, Sue, that his fellow owners had decided to make him Major League Baseball's acting commissioner.

She asked him how long it would last, and he told her, "Two to four months."

He recalled that story yesterday, after ownership voted unanimously to give him a three-year extension as commissioner, through 2009.

"It's got to be the longest two to four months in history," Selig said.

Yesterday's announcement about Selig, which had been expected, came as the owners continued to mull where to relocate the Montreal Expos, a decision that could have far-reaching implications for the Orioles.

Selig, 70, the former Milwaukee Brewers owner who assumed the commissioner's job on a full-time basis in 1998, has already presided over some of baseball's brightest and darkest moments.

He was the one who had to pull the plug on the 1994 World Series when the players' strike couldn't be resolved. But he also helped introduce the wild-card format and interleague play and helped the sport steer clear of another strike during the last labor negotiations, in 2002.

Last year, Selig was quoted as saying he'd be ready to step aside when this term ended in 2006. But the other owners talked him into staying, and yesterday's announcement had been expected for weeks.

"I have been in baseball over 25 years," said Mets owner Fred Wilpon, "and in that time, I have never known anyone more dedicated and more devoted to the game than Bud Selig."

As the quarterly owners' meetings closed yesterday, the biggest issue on Selig's plate remained the Expos' relocation.

The relocation committee met for 90 minutes on Wednesday, and Major League president Bob DuPuy briefed a full session of owners yesterday, including Orioles owner Peter Angelos.

Washington and Northern Virginia are among the top candidates, and Angelos has long voiced his opposition to both.

For the most part, owners kept their opinions about the Expos quiet this week, but Philadelphia Phillies chairman and part-owner Bill Giles told The Philadelphia Inquirer, "There's no question in my mind that D.C. is where the Expos should go. But on the other hand, I understand Angelos' feelings. I don't think we should put a new team in an area if it's going to hurt an existing franchise. That makes it difficult.

"I've heard directly from Baltimore people that Northern Virginia would be easier to swallow than D.C. That whole area is the best for long-lasting success, in my opinion. Any logical person would feel that way. But it's still a difficult situation."

Asked if the D.C. area would be considered the favorite were it not for the Orioles' presence in nearby Baltimore, San Francisco Giants owner Peter Magowan said, "I would think that's the general view."

But Magowan also said, "I'm sympathetic, as I think every other owner is, to any decision that would have a negative impact on any other owner."

NOTE: The owners also approved the formation of a 24-hour cable network dedicated to Major League Baseball, which could be up and running by the middle of next season. They also approved the concept of a World Cup international baseball tournament, but Selig said the plans were pushed to 2006 instead of 2005 because "we've just run out of time."

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