PHOENIX -- Two major league teams could be eliminated by the start of next season, baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Sunday before Game 2 of the World Series.
''Can it be worked out for 2002? Time will tell. But I wouldn't rule it out,'' Selig said as he stood by the New York Yankees dugout at Bank One Ballpark.
Some owners want to eliminate teams that are losing money and taking a large part of the $160 million in the revenue-sharing fund this year. If owners approve contraction, they would eliminate the Montreal Expos plus one other team, with the Florida Marlins and Minnesota Twins among the candidates mentioned most often.
All three teams have sought government assistance in constructing new ballparks.
''As the (economic) problems have exacerbated,'' Selig said, ''it has become clearer to me that everything should be on the table, including contraction.''
Owners plan to meet in Chicago the week following the World Series, and Selig said he wasn't sure if any decisions on contraction would be made then.
The players' association said its approval is needed to eliminate teams because of the impact on player contracts and work rules, so any decision likely is subject to collective bargaining.
In addition, baseball's labor contract expires at the end of the World Series, and talks have not yet begun on a new agreement. The union says it is ready to start bargaining and is waiting for management.
All 30 of the current teams are on next season's schedule, and some franchises already have released their schedules. Some owners, including proponents of contraction, say that with each passing day, it becomes harder to eliminate teams for 2002.
Selig responded with examples of past franchise moves, such as his purchase of the Seattle Pilots on April 1, 1970, and the team's immediate move to Milwaukee, where it became the Brewers.
However, the examples he cited came before there players' association approval was necessary for many decisions.
''We have worked on a lot of different types of schedules,'' Selig said. ''We have not spent the last four or five months standing by.''
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