Archive for Sunday, June 1, 2003

Expos turn up the heat on Selig

June 1, 2003


In the sauna that is San Juan, the Montreal Expos begin their second Puerto Rican home stand Tuesday night, facing the Anaheim Angels.

It's a home stand, of course, in name only.

In reality, the virtually homeless Expos -- amid the strong possibility they will be forced to split one more season between Canada and the Caribbean -- have embarked on the mother of all trips: from Montreal to Florida to Philadelphia to Puerto Rico to Seattle to Oakland to Pittsburgh to a June 20 return to Montreal.

Testing resiliency, resolve and room service, they'll play 22 games in 25 days, with the ultimate possibility of an unscheduled stop in a city not on the itinerary.

That's a stretch, perhaps, but if the undaunted Expos come off this expedition still shadowing the Atlanta Braves in the National League East and still leading the NL wild-card race well, says catcher Michael Barrett, "we should be in contention all the way," and the club's custodian, Tony Tavares, might be forced to stop in Milwaukee to ask commissioner Bud Selig the mother of all questions.

That, too, may be a stretch, but there's no disputing the perception, at least, that the integrity of the commissioner and the 29 other owners, in their second year of underwriting the Expos' payroll and other expenses, of making this franchise a ward of the state, could be at stake.

At some point, if still competitive, general manager Omar Minaya may ask Tavares to see if Selig is willing to kick up the payroll, allowing the Expos to secure another pitcher, hitter or player off the bench.

The reaction?

Who knows? But it's more than what Selig acknowledges to be an "awkward situation."

It's a situation that challenges integrity and smacks of potential conflict.

With the Expos already receiving about $30 million in revenue sharing, will the owners balk at letting Selig lift the Montreal budget by an additional $5 million or so?

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