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Expos to stay in Montreal for 04 season
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Old 19 Sep 2003, 09:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Expos to stay in Montreal for 04 season

Associated Press
NEW YORK -- The Montreal Expos voted Friday against shifting a quarter of next season's home games to Puerto Rico or Mexico.


Major League Baseball asked players Thursday to move about a quarter of the Expos' home games next year from Montreal to either San Juan or Monterrey.


Players met with Gene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players' association and other union officials Friday and took an informal vote. Games can't be moved from Montreal without an agreement with the union.


"I think the vote represents what the guys, in their gut, actually feel," the Expos' Todd Zeile said.


To increase revenue, baseball relocated 22 Expos home games this year to San Juan. Orza said the initial proposal for 2004 called for about the same number of games to be moved next season.


Games would only have been moved to only one location outside Montreal, not both.


The excessive travel required of the Expos this season may have hurt their chances of making the playoffs.


"There are players and club officials on this team that felt it had an effect," Orza said. The Expos want "81 games at home, 81 games on the road. Just like everyone else."


The Expos, close to elimination from postseason contention, were 32-18 on May 25, then went 8-14 on a 25-day trip that included their second homestand in Puerto Rico.


"I think they still feel that they made a lot of sacrifices, and [there were] some hollow promises that came with those sacrifices," said Zeile, who started the season with the New York Yankees and joined the Expos in mid-August.


"It just seemed like most of the guys were tired of the possibility of being manipulated when they just didn't feel good in their heart about doing it."


Baseball officials spent much of the past eight months discussing a permanent move of the Expos to Northern Virginia; Portland, Ore.; or Washington, D.C. Despite baseball's intention to decide by the end of the regular season, it appears no long-term solution will be made for the 2004 season.


Zeile, who raised questions and acted as a mediator during the meeting, said the lack of September callups while the team was in the wild-card race did not go unnoticed. Neither did the delay in relocating the team -- two things the players felt they would have had settled by now.


"If there was a commitment to improving the team, that would have been a good time to show it," Zeile said.


They drew 312,882 in San Juan, an average of 14,222, and 712,757 in Montreal, an average of 12,081. The overall home attendance of 1,025,639 was the team's highest since 1997.


The Expos were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season. The commissioner's office has said the team's payroll next year will be determined by expected revenue, which means the players' decision on a split schedule could affect offseason salary negotiations.


"I'd expect some sort of response," Zeile said.
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Old 21 Sep 2003, 04:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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