Owners approve K.C. sale, still debating realignment
Seattle Times news services
HOUSTON - Baseball owners voted unanimously yesterday to approve the $96 million sale of the Kansas City Royals to team chairman David Glass.
Glass took over as chairman in September 1993, shortly after the death of founding owner Ewing Kauffman.
Under Kauffman's succession plan, the team was offered for sale to Kansas City-area individuals and companies, with the money earmarked for charity.
"It's been a long time coming," Glass said. "I've already raised the cash. Thank goodness I didn't have it in the Nasdaq."
While deferring a decision on realignment until they meet again in June, and approving a plan on how to handle disasters such as a team plane crash, the main business was approving Glass, and that took just 40 seconds.
"I know that Ewing Kauffman wanted me to wind up owning the team. He said that to me more than once," said Glass, who in January retired as chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
His purchase is set to close April 28 or May 1.
Following the vote, it immediately became clear there would be no vote on realignment until June at the earliest.
Commissioner Bud Selig has offered a plan that would shift Arizona from the National League West to the American League West and move Tampa Bay from the AL East to the NL. In addition, it's possible the AL could have four teams in the West and East, but six in the Central. And, the NL could junk the wild card and go to four four-team divisions.
Prospects of a six-team AL Central have caused most of the controversy.
"It makes no sense," said Royals president Mike Herman, whose team would be in that division. "If everybody else has four, why shouldn't I have four? Just use your common sense. That doesn't always work in baseball."
Some owners don't want to get rid of the wild card in the NL because it keeps more teams in contention until late in the season.
"I like the wild card," said Jerry McMorris, owner of the Colorado Rockies. "But if change is needed to make better scheduling, so be it."
Selig's goal is to have more teams grouped geographically, so travel and late television starts can be cut down. That would allow more intradivision games.
Baseball owners do seem intent on changing the interleague-play format. Until now, the AL East has played the NL East, the AL Central has met the NL Central and the AL West has gone against the NL West.
Under some plans, the divisions would rotate, except natural rivalries - New York Mets-Yankees, Chicago Cubs-White Sox, etc. - would be maintained.
-- Former umpire Ron Barnes sued Major League Baseball and several minor-league governing bodies, charging he wasn't promoted and eventually lost his job because of age discrimination.
Barnes, who worked about 400 National League games from 1990 through 1997, seeks at least $20 million in damages, reinstatement as a major-league umpire and back pay. He filed the suit in U.S. District Court in New York.
Barnes alleges that Major League Baseball bypassed him for a promotion in March 1998 for five "younger, less experienced and less qualified umpires whose performance evaluations were inferior" to his.
A league official said he wasn't aware of the suit. Barnes' attorney, Thomas D. Gettler, declined to comment.
Barnes was 39 years old when he lost out for a promotion to Bruce Dreckman, Sam Holbrook, Paul Schreiber, Kerwin Danley and Jerry Meals - all of whom were between 28 and 35.
-- St. Louis outfielder J.D. Drew was listed as day-to-day after tests showed he has a bruised left wrist from being hit by a pitch in Sunday's game against Colorado.
-- Cleveland could be without Bartolo Colon for three weeks after the right-hander was placed on the disabled list with a slight tear in his rib cage.
-- The Mets placed right-hander Bobby Jones on the DL with a strained right calf.
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