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Thursday, April 2, 1998

Expos' $9.1M payroll chicken feed to Orioles

AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK, Apr. 2 -- Baseball has become a two-tier game, according to
opening-day payrolls. At the top are big spenders who compete for the
playoffs and at the bottom are have-nots with little chance.

Baltimore displaced the New York Yankees as the highest-salaried team at
$69.0 million, more than 7½ times the Montreal Expos' payroll of $9.1
million, according to a study by The Associated Press.

``It's something you could see coming,'' acting commissioner Bud Selig
said Wednesday. ``I'd be surprised if anybody is surprised.''

Albert Belle, Gary Sheffield and Greg Maddux each make more individually
than Montreal's entire team.

``There's a few clubs that can be at $70 million every year,'' Expos
general manager Jim Beattie said. ``To have your payroll in the 30s, I
just don't think you can compete. To have your payroll in the 40s is
kind of in-between land.''

Montreal discarded nearly all its veterans, including Pedro Martinez,
Mike Lansing, Henry Rodriguez and Darrin Fletcher, cutting last year's
$18 million payroll in half. The Expos hope to gain approval this year
for a downtown stadium, and plan to rebuild the roster if ballpark
funding is approved.

``I would say our payroll will probably be in the high teens, we'll
probably double it next year,'' Beattie said. ``In 2000, I would say
possibly we'd be up in the low 30s. After that, we'll see where we are.
We could go out and sign a couple of free agents.''

Until the 1994-95 strike, the highest payrolls generally were three to
four times greater than the lowest. Last year, the disparity increased
dramatically, with the Yankees paying their players 6½ times more than
Pittsburgh, which opened 1997 with a low payroll of $9.1 million.

The Florida Marlins, fifth in payroll at the end of last season at $53.5
million, dropped to 20th at $33.4 million after shedding 12 players from
the roster that led the team to a World Series title.

Baltimore's payroll, a record for an opening day roster, was followed by
the Yankees ($63.5 million), who had been first from 1995-97. Cleveland
was third at $59.6 million, followed by Atlanta at $59.5 million and
Texas at $55.3 million.

Other than Montreal, the only teams below $20 million were Oakland
($19.5 million) and Pittsburgh ($13.4 million).

The expansion Arizona Diamondbacks are No. 23 at $30.6 million and the
Tampa Bay Devils Rays, baseball's other new team, is 25th at $25.3
million. Eight teams topped $50 million on opening day.

Belle and Sheffield were tied for the top spot on the salary list at $10
million apiece, followed by Maddux ($9.6 million), Barry Bonds
($8,916,667), Mark McGwire ($8,333,333) and Roger Clemens and Bernie
Williams ($8.25 million each).

Overall, the average salary was a record $1,441,406 for 840 players on
opening day rosters and disabled lists. The 4.2 percent increase from
the start of last season was baseball's lowest since a 9.9 percent drop
after the 1994-95 strike.

A record 317 players -- more than three of eight major leaguers -- make
$1 million or more, up from 280 last season. The $2 million club totals
216, up from 197.

Ten players make $8 million or more, double last season's total, and the
number at $7 million or higher increased from 15 to 19. Players at $6
million and above increased from 32 to 34, the $5 million club rose from
49 to 63.

The median salary -- the point at which an equal number of players are
above and below -- rose from $450,000 to a record $500,000. It had
dropped to $275,000 in 1995 following the end of the 7½-month strike.

With the addition of Arizona and Tampa Bay, total payroll rose to a
record $1.21 billion, up from $1.07 billion last year.

Sixty-six players are at the minimum $170,000, up from 48 at last year's
minimum of $150,000 and 40 at the 1996 minimum.

Pair compete in Knights' FT contest

PECOS, Apr. 2 -- Pecos Eagles freshmen Alex Garcia and Crockett Middle
School eighth grader Jamie Jenkins placed second and fourth on March 21,
at the Knights of Columbus 1998 Texas Free Throw Shooting Contest, held
at St. Edward's University in Austin.

Garcia competed in the boys 14-year-old division and finished in a
three-way tie for second, then won a tie-breaker for second place in the
division. Garcia hit 21 out of 25 attempts in earning the second place

Jenkins competed in the 13-year-old age group for girls and finished
fourth by hitting 17 of her 25 free throw attempts.

The two entered the K of C competition representing the El Paso Diocese,
of which Pecos is a part. Others entered in the state tournament were
from Amarillo, Austin, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas,
Fort Worth, Houston-Galveston, Lubbock, San Angelo, San Antonio, Tyler
and Victoria.

Pecos LL meeting Friday

PECOS, Apr. 2 -- The Pecos Little League will be holding a meeting for
all coaches on Friday, starting at 7 p.m. at the Texas-New Mexico Power
Co. Reddy Room on Stafford Boulevard.

League president Tony Aguilar also said more players are being sought
in the 11-12 age group for this season. The opening games for 1998 are
scheduled for April 18 at Chano Prieto Field.

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