World Cup could be delayed

Sources say pulling together a World Cup-style tournament by next March might not be possible.

Originally Published: June 29, 2004
By Alan Schwarz | Baseball America
NEW YORK -- For the past 12 months, as news of baseball's pursuing a World Cup-style tournament for next spring has grown stronger and stronger, most onlookers have considered the event a virtual fait accompli, as if it boiled down only to selecting the rosters and screaming, "Play Ball!" But for the parties involved, it has always been far more complicated. So complicated, in fact, that there is significant and growing concern the plans will have to be pushed back to 2006.

Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association, the co-producers of the event, have agreed on much of the tournament structure: 16 teams, three rounds, dates and more. All spring they had hoped to unveil official plans for the event sometime by or during the July 12-14 All-Star Game festivities. However, according to multiple sources involved with the talks, several major issues have not only made an announcement by then unlikely, but also threatened the entire 2005 plan.

"We're at a point now where we have a short window to get some things done if we're going to try to do this in March 2005," said Paul Archey, MLB's senior vice president for international operations. Added union chief operating officer Gene Orza, "I wouldn't say there's a growing pessimism about the ability to put on these games in 2005. But there's certainly a heightened trepidation about the ability to do it."
Alan Schwarz is the senior writer for Baseball America. His book, "The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics," can be ordered on his website,