An Ontario law that would prevent the Toronto Blue Jays from employing replacement players for striking major leaguers is not the only legal hurdle facing owners if they attempt to open the season with replacements.
They will also have to overcome the opposition of noted labor lawyer Peter Angelos, who owns the Baltimore Orioles and insists he won’t field a replacement team.
“My position hasn’t changed,” he said. “We’re duty bound to provide major league baseball to our fans, and that can’t be done with replacement players.”
Angelos also said he doesn’t want to see Cal Ripken Jr.'s streak of consecutive games played end because he didn’t play in a replacement game. The Oriole shortstop, who has played in 2,009 consecutive games and is 121 short of tying Lou Gehrig’s all-time record, has said he will not defect from the union and play in a replacement game to keep the streak alive.
Sources said Angelos has had his staff researching his legal position and will not surrender without a fight.
“Anyone who thinks the fans will accept replacement players as substitutes for the real thing are obviously suffering hallucinations,” Angelos said.
Acting commissioner Bud Selig, meanwhile, said he expects the Blue Jays and Orioles to live up to their obligations as members of the American League but would not reveal what legal actions major league baseball might take.
“The Toronto and Baltimore situations are obviously different, but whatever we do we’ll do as a group of 28,” Selig said. “Right now, we’re concentrating our energy on getting back to the table and making a deal so that all of that becomes academic.”