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Contraction Timeline

The Events of 2001-2002

by John Gettings

2001

Oct. 24

A Canadian newspaper, The Windsor Star(Ontario) publishes a report that Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has decided to contract—or eliminate—the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins after the 2001 World Series. Selig, who once called contraction a "viable option," is, nonetheless, infuriated by the story and claims no decision has been made.

Nov. 4

The Arizona Diamondbacks defeat the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series.

Nov. 6

At a quarterly meeting in Chicago, baseball owners vote 28–2 in favor of contracting, or the folding and buyout, of two of the league's 30 teams before the 2002 season. The teams are yet to be determined, but the leading candidates are the Minnesota Twins and the Montreal Expos.

Nov. 7

The Major League Baseball Players' Association, the players' union, files a grievance claiming that the owners' vote to contract two teams violates the current collective bargaining agreement.

The current collective bargaining agreement, signed by players and owners in 1995, expires at midnight.

Nov. 13

Florida's attorney general subpoenas documents from Commissioner Selig and the two teams in his state to find out if the Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays are candidates for elimination.

Nov. 14

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduces legislation geared at ending baseball's exemption from federal antitrust laws.

Nov. 16

A Minnesota judge grants a temporary injunction requested by the company that owns the Twins' home stadium. District Judge Harry Crump orders the Minnesota Twins to honor the final year of their HHH Metrodome lease and play their entire 2002 home schedule there. Lawyers for the team and MLB appeal the decision.

Nov. 20

The first day teams can sign one of this year's free agents. Top-tier free agents shouldn't be affected, but with contraction looming, team officials aren't likely to pursue signings right away, instead asking themselves, "Why should we pay big money for a free agent, if we could potentially fill our need via the dispersal draft?"

Nov. 22

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports Florida Marlins owner John Henry will sell the team to an undisclosed buyer, who plans to keep the team in Florida, for $150 million.

Nov. 27

Owners unanimously approve a three-year contract extension for Commissioner Bud Selig, which will keep him in office through 2006. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Selig admits Major League Baseball's collective debt exceeds $500 million and 25 of its 30 teams lost money last year.

The House Judiciary Committee calls for a hearing on baseball's antitrust exemption for Dec. 6. It will be the public's first look at teams' financial ledgers.

Dec. 4

An arbitrator begins hearing arguments from the league and the union regarding the grievance filed by the players' association on Nov. 7.

Dec. 6

Commissioner Selig testifies before Congress about baseball's financial difficulties and suggests a remedy lies in eliminating two teams; not in a bill that would repeal baseball's antitrust exemption.

2002

Feb. 4

The Minnesota Supreme Court refuses to consider baseball's appeal of an injunction that forces the Twins to fulfill their Metrodome lease in 2002.

Feb. 5

Commissioner Selig announces that league contraction will not occur in 2002. League owners will table the issue, hoping to try again for the 2003 season.


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In Feb. 1918, over the course of just 12 hours, the temperature in Granville, N.D., rose 83 degrees, from -33°F to 50°F.

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