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Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2002

Major League tour in doubt


Staff writer

It appears that bad news is in the offing for Japanese and foreign fans of Major League Baseball.

The biennial post-season tour to Japan by the Major League players is on the verge of being canceled as a result of the current stalemate in negotiations between MLB owners and players over a new collective bargaining agreement.

The Nikkan Sports reported in Tuesday's edition that an announcement was imminent from Japanese organizers that the tour was being called off. The early cancellation of the tour would be necessary because organizers would lack enough leadup time to properly promote the event.

The organization of the tour rotates between the Asahi, Mainichi and Yomiuri newspaper groups.

This year The Yomiuri Shimbun was scheduled to organize the series of games -- which are usually played throughout Japan against the top players from the Central and Pacific Leagues before sellout crowds -- according to Dr. Peter Miller, the Major League Baseball Players Association representative in Japan.

When a strike wiped out the final month and a half of the 1994 regular season as well as the playoffs and World Series, the tour was canceled. It was not rescheduled for the following year, and the MLB players didn't return again until 1996, marking a gap of four years between appearances.

A similar occurrence this time around would mean that the MLB players may not come to Japan again until after the 2004 season.

Speaking from his home in Kamakura, Kanagawa Pref., via telephone, Miller said: "I really can't comment on the report only to say that I hope it isn't true."



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