CHICAGO -- Major League Baseball owners voted to eliminate two teams before the
start of the 2002 season, and while commissioner Bud Selig refused to identify
the teams, neither he nor Twins owner Carl Pohlad said anything to alter the
perception that the Twins seem headed for contraction.
While leaving the Chicago O'Hare Hyatt following the owners' meetings on
Tuesday, Pohlad refused to discuss the day's events, but when asked how he felt
about them said, "It's not easy. After 15 years of work, it's not
Selig said some owners favored eliminating four teams, and that he hoped to
name the two doomed franchises "expeditiously."
"There are so many moving parts to this puzzle -- we're plowing historic
ground here," Selig said. "We know no modern American sport has done
this. We know there will be potholes along the way...
"The fact of the matter is that we haven't picked the final two teams,
and there is a lot of negotiation to be done."
Selig said the owners voted "overwhelmingly" in favor of
eliminating two teams. While his unwillingness to name the teams could give
Twins' fans hope that the team could be saved, Selig said that an ownership
change would not change a doomed team's fate, and indicated that baseball only
needs to tie up loose ends before announcing the identity of the teams.
In a statement released by MLB, Selig said, "The franchises proposed for
contraction will not be identified, pending the completion of negotiations with
the clubs as well as the resolution of other details, such as minor league
affiliations, notification of employees, and scheduling."
Asked why relocating franchises is not a better option than contraction,
Selig said, "Contraction, we believe, deals with this problem because
whatever the two franchises are that we finally contract, and there are more
than two candidates at this time, there are teams that we've judged to be not
capable now or in the future of generating enough revenue to be a productive
The notion of contraction was quickly condemned by Players Association
director Donald Fehr. In a statement, he said, "Today's announcement by the
commissioner -- that the clubs will attempt to imediately eliminate two as yet
unnamed major league clubs -- is most imprudent and unfortunate.
"This decision has been made unilaterally without any attempt to
negotiate with the players, apparently without any serious consideration of
other options, including relocation, and seemingly with little concern for the
interests of the fans.
"We consider this action to be inconsistent with the law, our contract,
and perhaps most important, the long-term welfare of the sport."