Owners meet to discuss multiple changes
By Gary Brooks
SportsLine.com Baseball Editor


April 17, 2000

While nine games are played Monday, owners will begin a two-day conference in Houston with discussion expected about changes in interleague play, realignment and the sale of the Royals.

A vote on realignment -- which would have the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks switching leagues next season -- was expected to come this week but will now be put off until June at the earliest. The hot topic will come up though, as the current proposal from commissioner Bud Selig has the National League becoming a four-division league and the American League staying in three divisions but with four teams in the West and East but six in the Central.

The Diamondbacks moving to the AL West would bump the Rangers to the AL Central. Realignment is meant to ease travel and scheduling problems, with the plan being to go to an unbalanced schedule where team's play others in their divisions more often, though that would be tough to even out in the AL with four teams in two divisions and six in the Central.

"It's not a good idea at all," Detroit Tigers manager Phil Garner said. "That would be just awful. I don't know whose idea that was. I don't know what they're thinking about."

When interleague play began, the thinking was that it would eventually come to a rotation where teams faced teams other than those in their opposite division. But as it's been for four seasons, the AL West has played the NL West and so on. Allowing for a rotation where the NL East played the AL Central and so forth would make some of the city rivalries like Mets-Yankees and Cubs-White Sox tougher to keep in the schedule.

Something that could -- and should -- be considered with interleague play is having games played in NL parks played by AL rules with the designated hitter and vice versa to give fans in the opposite league's cities, a better idea of the differences.

The only thing expected to be settled at the meetings is the Royals ownership transfer. David Glass' $96 million bid for the team was approved by the Royals' board of directors and just needs the approval of league owners. Glass has been the team's chairman since Sept. 1993, taking over the role after the death of founding owner Ewing Kauffman.

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