CHICAGO (AP) -- While contraction remained on hold, waiting for judges and arbitrators decide its fate, Bud Selig's term as baseball commissioner was expected to grow when baseball owners met Tuesday.
Owners voted Nov. 6 to eliminate two teams before next season but didn't select them. While the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos are the most likely candidates, according to many owners, contraction then ground to a halt 10 days later when a Minnesota judge issued a temporary injunction that forced the Twins to fulfill their lease next season at the Metrodome.
Selig did not want to ask owners to make any decisions on contraction at this meeting because the injunction was in place, a high-ranking baseball official said Monday on the condition he not be identified.
The Twins and baseball have asked the Minnesota Supreme Court for a speedy review of their request to lift the injunction, requesting a hearing no later than Dec. 7. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, which operates the Metrodome, must file its response by Wednesday.
Owners want to eliminate the Expos, who averaged just 7,648 fans per game at Olympic Stadium this year.
Twins owner Carl Pohlad, frustrated at the Minnesota government's refusal to fund a new ballpark, is willing to have his team eliminated in exchange for a contraction payment, even though his team has been profitable in recent years and raised its average attendance from 13,083 in 2000 to 22,287 this year.
The move against the Twins has prompted the House Judiciary Committee to consider scheduling a meeting for next week on baseball's antitrust exemption, which has given the sport total power to control its markets since 1922.
Meanwhile, no decisions have been made on the possible sales of the Florida Marlins or Anaheim Angels. Expos owner Jeffrey Loria has talked to Florida owner John Henry about buying the Marlins, but has not reached an agreement, the baseball official said.
While the Twins and Expos await word on whether they'll be around next year, Selig is likely to stay in place for years.
Selig, 67, is expected to gain the extension with little or no opposition is expected from owners, many indebted to him for his past assistance with individual team problems.
Meanwhile, the players and owners still were unable to agree on dates for arbitrator Shyam Das to hear the grievance the union filed to stop contraction. Players claim the Nov. 6 decision violate the terms of their expired labor agreement, and that owners can't eliminate clubs without the union's consent.
Das probably will have to arbitrate the timing of the arbitration when he speaks with the sides Wednesday.
"Assuming we haven't reached an agreement, we're going to go to him and ask for some help," said Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official.
Partly because of the contraction debate, there has been little negotiation between owners and players on a labor contract to replace the one that expired Nov. 7.
Some Twins fans planned to attend the meeting at O'Hare International Airport with the intent of giving Selig petitions with more than 110,000 signatures urging the team be saved.
Paul Ridgeway, one of the organizers, and former-Twin Frank Quilici said their caravan planned to stop in Selig's hometown of Milwaukee.
"Here's a message to you and the owners: Think twice about doing this to the Minnesota Twins," Quilici said.
Ridgeway said if Selig refused to meet them in Chicago, they'll park a motor home outside his office in Milwaukee on Wednesday.
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