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1997 May Pit National vs. American League

THE Mets could be playing the Yankees, the White Sox might be facing the Cubs, and the Dodgers could be taking on the Angels as early as the 1997 season. All indications are that interleague play could become a reality soon.

''Interleague play, which has long been a dream of mine, is one step closer to fruition,'' acting baseball commissioner Bud Selig said at this week's winter baseball meetings. The concept was given a unanimous endorsement by the sport's executive council on the first day of the meetings.

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The games would give National League fans a chance to watch Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. in person, and American League fans the opportunity to see San Francisco's Barry Bonds.

Under the plan, each team from the AL East would play three games against each team from the NL East. Each team from the AL Central would play three games against each team from the NL Central; and each team from the AL West would play four games against each team from the NL West.

In addition to a vote of the owners, the plan requires the approval of the Major League Baseball Players Association.

One possible stumbling block is the designated-hitter rule: the AL has it and the NL doesn't.

''I hope there is interleague play in 1997,'' Selig said. ''The ... fans have wanted [it].''

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