Plans for realigning get airing, no consent Deadline for decision remains Sept. 30

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CLEVELAND -- Major League Baseball's schedule/format committee met for 90 minutes yesterday to discuss realignment, but no decision was made on the format for the 1998 season.

The committee continues to examine a variety of options aimed at geographic realignment and enhanced divisional play. The most likely scenario has the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays moving from the American League West to the AL East, the Detroit Tigers moving to the AL Central, the Houston Astros switching leagues to replace the Devil Rays in the AL West and the Kansas City Royals moving into the National League Central.

Committee chairman John Harrington said, however, that several plans are under consideration, including some that would change the makeup of the six divisions dramatically. Baseball owners have set a Sept. 30 deadline for a decision, but they would like to get something in place before that.

"The real deadline is to get the 1998 schedule to the teams so they can market themselves," Harrington said. "We're moving ahead, and we still have three or four alternatives to go through."

One of them is a plan that would move one team and imbalance the two leagues, creating a 16-team league and a 14-team league, but that would force baseball to return to a four-division format, something that seems highly unlikely.

Harrington also left open the possibility that the owners would not be able to settle on a plan and would be forced to table the issue until the two-year interleague experiment expires after next year.

Pub Date: 7/09/97

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