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ESPN: D.C. logical spot for Expos


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By Jayson Stark


No announcements are expected at next week's owners meetings on the future of the Expos. But it appears that the future of the franchise will be a topic of more extensive conversation than it has been at any time since baseball took on ownership of the team.

And more and more, according to several sources we've spoken with in the last week, signs point toward the relocation committee recommending that this club finally be allowed to move to the only city that makes sense in the short or long term -- Washington.

Jose Vidro and the Expos could very well call Washington D.C. their home by next season.

If baseball is as intent as it now seems on moving the team for next year, the fact is, there's no other destination on the short list that's even remotely logical.

Washington has an acceptable major-league ballpark in the short term (RFK Stadium) -- and it's believed that the relocation committee was told this month, by the mayor and two powerful city council members, that it can put a long-term ballpark deal together in 45 days if MLB just gives the thumbs up.

Las Vegas, on the other hand, has major short-term hang ups (namely, a Triple-A park with 9,500 seats). And the Las Vegas Sun's Rob Miech reported this week that in the long term, the financing for a new ballpark would be modeled after the heavily private funding of SBC Park in San Francisco -- a model commissioner Bud Selig often has told people is not acceptable.

Then there is Monterrey, Mexico, which has made impressive presentations. But the players' union is said to have doubts about its viability as a major-league market. And baseball doesn't appear to have any interest in a one-year experimental relocation that would be designed to prove otherwise.

So the only real obstacle to D.C. at this point is Orioles owner Peter Angelos. But keep in mind that since it would be a National League team moving down the beltway, Angelos has no legal right to block this move or ask for damages.

Selig undoubtedly would attempt to find a way to make Angelos happy -- or richer. But that's the commish's challenge -- not Washington's. And if you've observed Selig at all over the years, you know that any time he's determined to find a solution to a problem, he finds one.

And we're betting he'll find one here, too -- once he concludes Washington is not only his most logical option. It's really his only option.

It tells you all you need to know about the selflessness of Jose Vidro that he is on the verge of accepting a below-market deal to remain with the Expos. Not many people in this sport would use loyalty as a reason to sign with a team that figures to have a new owner, city, manager and roster before his extension even kicks in. But that's Vidro.

Orlando Cabrera, on the other hand, is less certain to sign on than Vidro or Livan Hernandez, whom the Expos signed to a three-year extension a few weeks ago. There have been no serious negotiations between the team and Cabrera's agent, Dan Lozano. And Cabrera may choose to wait a while to see if the fate of the franchise comes into better focus before making any decisions.

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If anybody is interested in DC baseball, the washington Post is doing a thing celebrating the 80th anniversary of the one Washington baseball championship (The Nationals). They're including play by play write-ups for each game plus old time advertisments and news stories.

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