Owners of major leaque baseball clubs will again tackle the problem of placing a franchise in Washington during their meetings in Tampa, Fla., today, but it is unlikely that this issue or others on the agenda will be resolved at the sessions.
Although some progress may be made on the so-called Washington Problem, a solution appeared bleak yesterday with the announcement by Oakland A's owner Charles O. Finley that he would boycott the meetings.
"I don't want to hurt their feelings, but I'm afriad they might try to buy my club. I'm not going to Tampa and I'm not sending anyone to represent me," Finley said.
Some of Finley's colleagues in both the American and National leagues buy out the AL club, transfer it to the have suggested having the leagues NL and move it to Washington.
League and club officials have said that Finley has asked him to help find a buyer for the A's because of his mounting financial problems with both the club and his private insurance business. Finley vehemently denied any desire to self, but alternately has said he would not like to move the A's Sounding disconsolate yesterday, he refused to comment on his future plans.
If consummated, such a plan would create two 13-club leagues and have some limited interleague play. It would also undoubtedly necessiate indemnifying the leagues and the A's, who have 10 years left on their lease with the Oakland Coliseum.
Since such strategy would have to be carefully planned, there is little chance of Washington's getting assurance at today's meetings of a club for 1978 - short of NL expansion, a vital impossibility.
The situation raises other problems for the leagues, since they are also discussing possible realignment. The AL, with 14 clubs, favors realignment into three divisions of five, five and four teams, with a revised wild-card playoff format similar to football's.
The NL is also studying a number of realignment proposals and final adoption of any of them may depend on what the AL does. There is also some concern about whether any plans can be formalized until the A's future is determined.