Originally created 09/17/97

Owners still divided on realignment

ATLANTA - The committee studying realignment for baseball's team owners huddled Tuesday night with the sport's ruling Executive Council as the owners began three days of quarterly meetings at a downtown Atlanta hotel.

Proponents of a major realignment continue to push for the owners to approve a plan this week that would require at least nine clubs to switch leagues for next season. Some teams apparently remain adamant in their opposition to a widespread reshuffling, and the search for a compromise could yield a plan by which only a handful of clubs change leagues.

Acting commissioner Bud Selig said before Tuesday night's meeting that he remained uncertain about whether the owners will take any action before leaving town on Thursday.

"There will be a lot of discussion, and we'll see how it goes," Selig said. "I don't know what the result will be. The most important thing is not when. The important thing is to get the right thing done. There are a number of plans still under consideration."

Selig said he didn't know whether the realignment committee would make a recommendation to the Executive Council on Tuesday night. The owners are scheduled to gather in separate league meetings today, and in a full ownership session on Thursday. Any formal vote by the owners on a realignment proposal would come on Thursday.

Baseball sources said that if no vote is taken here, Selig might schedule another meeting for late this month in Chicago. The owners previously resolved that realignment would have to be approved by a majority vote in each league - rather than the usual three-quarters - as long as it's completed by Sept. 30. The owners could vote to extend that deadline, though. Any club that would have to switch leagues has veto power over realignment.

Most of the plans apparently still under consideration would leave baseball with a 16-team National League and a 14-club American League. That could mean four divisions, two in the NL with eight teams each and two in the AL with seven clubs apiece. Or it could mean seven divisions, four in the NL with four teams each and three in the AL, one with four clubs and two with five teams apiece. Under each of those plans, eight clubs still would quality for the postseason.


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