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Volume 24 No. 160
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          MLB's Ownership Committee granted Marlins President Don
     Smiley "initial approval" to purchase the team, according to
     Craig Barnes of the Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL.  Final
     approval is contingent on MLB's full examination and
     ownership endorsement.  Smiley: "It's more than a vote of
     confidence.  It's a strong endorsement."  Barnes: "There are
     indications that Smiley might seek resolution at the owners'
     meetings in June" (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 3/19). 
          LEAVE IT TO BEAVER: In MN, La Velle Neal writes that
     prospective Twins Owner Don Beaver "acknowledged Wednesday
     that if stadium funding isn't secured" in NC, it could
     "kill" his deal to buy the team.  Beaver: "You can't approve
     a relocation without a place to play."  Neal adds that the
     comments "acknowledged" what other MLB officials have been
     "saying for months: The decision to move the Twins can't be
     made until a May 5 referendum in two North Carolina counties
     in the Triad area."  Beaver also dismissed a previously
     announced March 31 deadline to sign a deal with Twins Owner
     Carl Pohlad: "I don't know if March 31 is of any
     significance. ... We are not worried about deadlines or
     anything like that" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/19).  
          NOTES: Frank Robinson will address owners today about
     speeding up the game.  One idea is to have umpires keep
     hitters in the batters box and make pitchers deliver the
     ball within 12 seconds when there are no runners on
     base....Red Sox CEO John Harrington said a schedule has been
     completed for the '99 season that includes "much the same
     schedule for interleague play."  It must be approved by the
     Donald Fehr said he expects interleague play to continue in
     '99, with some "refinement" to avoid the "abundance of two-
     game series teams were forced to play" in '97 and this
     season.  Fehr: "The basic belief is it is a good thing.  But
     there are complications" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/19).