Saturday, November 10, 2001
Pohlad expresses 'hopelessness'
Letter to Twins employees explains allowing contraction
Enquirer news services
ST. PAUL Twins owner Carl Pohlad's willingness to accept an industry buyout that would kill the franchise results from a sense of hopelessness in the team's ability to compete economically in Minnesota, according to a letter signed by Pohlad's son Jim, and distributed to team employees Friday.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, read in part: Baseball has committed itself to economic and competitive reform. Contraction is a response to markets where local revenues are insufficient to contribute to competitiveness. Our willingness to go along with contraction, if the Commissioner so decides, has come from a feeling of hopelessness. Within the context of baseball's commitment, when we are posed the question, "why should the Minnesota Twins not be contracted?' we are unable to find a plausible answer.
Meanwhile, baseball commissioner Bud Selig said on www.mlb.com, Major League Baseball's official Web site, that the elimination of two teams could be completed this month. I honestly believe that we can get this done by the end of November, Selig said.
Lawyers for both the owners and players will meet again Monday to discuss the legal fight.
Selig announced Tuesday that owners had voted to shut down two of the 30 teams before the 2002 season. Lawsuits and challenges from lawmakers, the Minnesota attorney general and the baseball players' union could get in Selig's way.
Gene Orza, the union's No.2 official, said Friday that management negotiators previously informed the players' association it was too late in the year to eliminate teams.
What we were told in late September was that it was not possible to do in 2002, Orza said. Our basic argument is that the basic agreement and its related agreements read as a whole cannot possibly be read to mean that on Nov.7 you can announce that two teams aren't going to be playing anymore on Feb.15. That's an inherently preposterous proposition.
Carl and Jim Pohlad met with team employees Friday for the first time since reports of the Twins being eliminated in a contraction plan surfaced three weeks ago. But the letter and their often noncommittal responses to questions Friday did little to ease fears of employees, according to several people who attended the meeting.
Twins employees had more questions than the Pohlads had time for, with the Pohlads ending the meeting after about an hour, employees said.
There were a number of questions, but those questions were answered to the extent you can, team President Jerry Bell said. What everyone would want to knoware we or aren't we? we don't know.
There are obstacles to thispotential lawsuits and the players' association to deal with. I don't know what the outcome will be. . . . It's uncertain. It's awful. Awful.
A major topic at the meeting was a pay to stay plan for retaining staff during the period of limbo. If baseball succeeds in shutting down the Twins, employees who remain on staff until then would receive three months' salary in addition to a standard severance package, Bell confirmed.
We outlined what affects the employees. Make no mistake about it, that's my first concern, Bell said. I wanted to do that. Carl and Jim wanted to do that. . . . Employees who have been here for years and years are my priority.
Pohlad expresses 'hopelessness'|
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