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Decision expected soon on Expos for 2004

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2003

CHICAGO (AP) The commissioner's office hopes to decide by next week whether the Montreal Expos will move 22 home games to San Juan or Monterrey in 2004.

The players' association and Major League Baseball have been negotiating a deal that would allow Expos' home games to be moved for a second straight season. The union has said Puerto Rico is its preferred destination.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said following Thursday's owners' meeting that he hopes an agreement will be finalized ''within 36 to 72 hours. Or 54 hours, somewhere in that range.''

In other news, commissioner Bud Selig defended baseball's steroid testing program. He also said he wants the 2004 season to begin in Japan and reported progress on having a World Cup before the 2005 season. He refused to comment on the possibility of reinstating Pete Rose.

When baseball's other 29 teams bought the Expos before the 2002 season, the hope was to have the team in a new home in time for 2003. Last January, DuPuy said baseball hoped to find a permanent home for the team in 2004, but on Thursday he finally acknowledged that no longer is possible.

The team is being sought by Northern Virginia; Portland, Ore.; and Washington, D.C. However, none has been able to complete financing for a new ballpark.

DuPuy said he has ''every expectation'' the Expos will be moved before the 2005 season.

''Our goal is to find an economically viable location for the Expos that will ensure the successful operation of a major league franchise for decades to come,'' DuPuy said.

Selig defended baseball's drug-testing program. Because more than 5 percent of steroids tests were positive in this year's anonymous survey, players will be penalized starting next year for positive tests.

A first positive test only results in treatment and a second in a 15-day suspension or fine of up to $10,000. A player would have to test positive five times before facing the toughest penalty: a one-year suspension or fine of up to $100,000.

''Yes, some people would like us to deal more harshly, more directly, but this program, I think, deals with it,'' Selig said. ''Remember, before this agreement, we had no program. So we've made progress.''

Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, called baseball's program a ''complete joke'' and an ''insult'' to the fight against performance-enhancing drugs.

''I don't have any comments for Mr. Pound's comments,'' Selig said. ''Mr. Pound can have any comment that he'd like to make. We'll run baseball, and he should worry about other things.

''Look, we have at least a program in place and it's better than what we had before,'' Selig added. ''And as it turns out, it was good enough to now lead to a tougher phase. So I'll let the record speak for itself.''

Selig didn't want to give a timetable for a World Cup, saying there are many logistical hurdles to overcome. DuPuy has said March 2005 is the target.

''I have said I hope we'll have a World Cup while I'm the commissioner,'' said Selig, whose contract runs through December 2006. ''So I'm hopeful. Very hopeful.''

Selig also said it's too early to judge the impact of the sport's labor agreement that started in September 2002. Since the record $252 million, 10-year contract Texas gave Alex Rodriguez in December 2000, the free-agent market has slowed.

''For years, everybody said, 'Let the market determine (salaries).' The market is now determining it,'' Selig said. ''That's a subject that time will tell.''

CHICAGO (AP) The commissioner's office hopes to decide by next week whether the Montreal Expos will move 22 home games to San Juan or Monterrey in 2004.

The players' association and Major League Baseball have been negotiating a deal that would allow Expos' home games to be moved for a second straight season. The union has said Puerto Rico is its preferred destination.

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said following Thursday's owners' meeting that he hopes an agreement will be finalized ''within 36 to 72 hours. Or 54 hours, somewhere in that range.''

In other news, commissioner Bud Selig defended baseball's steroid testing program. He also said he wants the 2004 season to begin in Japan and reported progress on having a World Cup before the 2005 season. He refused to comment on the possibility of reinstating Pete Rose.

When baseball's other 29 teams bought the Expos before the 2002 season, the hope was to have the team in a new home in time for 2003. Last January, DuPuy said baseball hoped to find a permanent home for the team in 2004, but on Thursday he finally acknowledged that no longer is possible.

The team is being sought by Northern Virginia; Portland, Ore.; and Washington, D.C. However, none has been able to complete financing for a new ballpark.

DuPuy said he has ''every expectation'' the Expos will be moved before the 2005 season.

''Our goal is to find an economically viable location for the Expos that will ensure the successful operation of a major league franchise for decades to come,'' DuPuy said.

Selig defended baseball's drug-testing program. Because more than 5 percent of steroids tests were positive in this year's anonymous survey, players will be penalized starting next year for positive tests.

A first positive test only results in treatment and a second in a 15-day suspension or fine of up to $10,000. A player would have to test positive five times before facing the toughest penalty: a one-year suspension or fine of up to $100,000.

''Yes, some people would like us to deal more harshly, more directly, but this program, I think, deals with it,'' Selig said. ''Remember, before this agreement, we had no program. So we've made progress.''

Dick Pound, chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency, called baseball's program a ''complete joke'' and an ''insult'' to the fight against performance-enhancing drugs.

''I don't have any comments for Mr. Pound's comments,'' Selig said. ''Mr. Pound can have any comment that he'd like to make. We'll run baseball, and he should worry about other things.

''Look, we have at least a program in place and it's better than what we had before,'' Selig added. ''And as it turns out, it was good enough to now lead to a tougher phase. So I'll let the record speak for itself.''

Selig didn't want to give a timetable for a World Cup, saying there are many logistical hurdles to overcome. DuPuy has said March 2005 is the target.

''I have said I hope we'll have a World Cup while I'm the commissioner,'' said Selig, whose contract runs through December 2006. ''So I'm hopeful. Very hopeful.''

Selig also said it's too early to judge the impact of the sport's labor agreement that started in September 2002. Since the record $252 million, 10-year contract Texas gave Alex Rodriguez in December 2000, the free-agent market has slowed.

''For years, everybody said, 'Let the market determine (salaries).' The market is now determining it,'' Selig said. ''That's a subject that time will tell.''



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