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Minneapolis Star Tribune calls for Selig's ouster

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Star Tribune of Minneapolis called on baseball
commissioner Bud Selig to resign after revelations that his
Milwaukee Brewers received a loan from a company owned by the
family of Minnesota Twins owner Carl Pohlad.

Noting that three former commissioners called the loan a
possible conflict of interest, the newspaper, in a Saturday
editorial, said, "It turns out that not only are Selig and Pohlad
buddies, they were business partners in apparent violation of
baseball's rules prohibiting secret loans among teams."

Others are also calling for Selig to step down, including Rep.
John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House
Judiciary Committee.

The Star Tribune -- the largest newspaper in Minnesota -- reported
earlier this week that in 1995 the Brewers received a $3 million
loan from a company owned by the Pohlad family. Baseball prohibits
teams and officials from "directly or indirectly" lending money
to other teams and their officials.

Selig did not immediately return a phone call left at his home
by The Associated Press on Saturday.

Owners voted Nov. 6 to eliminate two teams, with Minnesota and
the Montreal Expos the likely targets. Pohlad possibly could get
more in a contraction payment than a sale of the team and has not
said whether he will deal with Donald Watkins, an Alabama
businessman who wants to buy the Twins.

"This lays even barer the unholy murder-for-profit scheme the
two men have hatched in which Pohlad gets a bundle of cash for
killing the Twins," the Star Tribune said. "Selig's Brewers get a
bigger share of the Midwest market, and the commissioner
ingratiates himself to owners who want 'contraction' to cover their
foolish expansions in Florida and other bumblings."

As a replacement for baseball's top job, the Star Tribune
suggests former Sen. Bill Bradley, former Senate Majority Leader
George Mitchell, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas or historian Doris
Kearns Goodwin.

On Friday, Colorado Rockies owner Jerry McMorris admitted Selig gave advance approval for the loan to McMorris' Timnath
Farms Inc.

"If we've got an arcane rule in there, then we ought to clean
it up with all the mergers and acquisitions that have gone on,"
McMorris said after the loan was revealed Friday by The Star
Tribune.

In addition, the St. Louis Cardinals borrowed money from 1996
into last year from Provident Bank, whose largest shareholder is
Cincinnati Reds owner Carl Lindner, The New York Times reported
Saturday.

The contraction plan prompted criticism from some in Congress,
leading to squabbling between Selig and Conyers.

"This is a little bit like Chrysler and Ford meeting to
conspire to eliminate General Motors," Conyers said at a news
conference in Detroit. "Nobody would tolerate it for a moment."

Conyers is to meet with one of Selig's lawyers next week in New
York and wants another hearing.

"I had no intentions of calling another one, but Selig was not
forthcoming," Conyers said. "He's a great witness, he's very
verbose, articulate. He knows a lot, maybe not as much as he thinks
he knows, but he's a great witness. He's got lots of answers for
everybody, not always to the questions you ask him."

The Judiciary Committee chairman, F. James
Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), said Saturday that another hearing was
unnecessary.

"Any issues related to the $3 million loan the Milwaukee
Brewers received in 1995 from a company controlled by the Pohlad
family is an issue for MLB and not for the U.S. Congress to
resolve," Sensenbrenner said.

"Sensitive labor negotiations between MLB and the players are
under way; I do not believe another House Judiciary Committee
hearing would help bring a prompt resolution that allows the 2002
MLB season to open on time. Opening the season on time should be
the goal."

Selig has
denied any improprieties.

Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), backed Selig, saying contraction
"should not cause questions about the integrity of a good man who
has devoted his life to baseball and to his community."

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), called for congress to investigate
"the shady and self-serving practices of the owners."

Meanwhile, management lawyer Rob Manfred testified Friday during
the ninth day of the hearing on the grievance by the players'
association to block contraction. The hearing, before arbitrator
Shyam Das, is scheduled to resume Monday, then recess until Jan.
24.

Contraction has been blocked by a Minnesota judge, who issued an
injunction Nov. 16 that forces the Twins to honor their lease at
the Metrodome this upcoming season. The Minnesota Court of Appeals hasn't
ruled on a request by Selig and the Twins to lift the injunction.

McMorris is called the father of contraction by many in baseball
because he first proposed the idea, without identifying any teams,
in 1999.

McMorris first proposed contraction to Selig's economic study
committee in 1999.

"There is no link with me proposing contraction and the
Minnesota Twins," McMorris said. "When I had the discussion with
the blue-ribbon panel, it was only a broad economic discussion and
certainly did not include any reference to specific teams."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.