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July 22, 2004
Expos watch, cont'd
More rumors of the impending death of the Montreal Expos: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports that baseball union leaders Don Fehr and Gene Orza met with Expos player reps Brian Schneider and Brad Wilkerson this week, and told them that they'd most likely be playing next year in Washington, D.C., unless Northern Virginia is picked as a compromise candidate to placate Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who has reportedly been resisting agreeing to a buyout of his territorial rights to D.C. There's still a "small chance," Stark added, that Las Vegas will be selected, while Portland and Norfolk as "extremely unlikely."
All such predictions should be taken with a large grain of salt - Stark is, after all, the guy who predicted the Red Sox beating the Cubs in this year's World Series - but if the tale of the union visit is true, it does sound like MLB is at least stepping up attempts to move the Expos in time for the 2005 season. If so, the league would likely be leaving the questions of where they'd play long-term and who would pay for it for a later date - which could either be a good bargaining tactic if the anointed city passes stadium legislation in all the excitement, or not so much if city officials try to cut a hard bargain, knowing that MLB has just given up all its leverage. Stay tuned, this could get very interesting.