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WILL HE .... OR WON'T HE?

[March 22nd] - It all comes down to today. After months of posturing and postulating from both sides, it's "do or die" time for the Nationals. It's rather simple, really. When Frank Robinson writes his name into the lineup, will Alfonso Soriano jog out to left field at Roger Dean Stadium? WTEM radio is reporting that Soriano told Frank Robinson that he will play in left field this afternoon, but really, who knows until he does ... or doesn't.

Both sides are now lining up their experts in what could become the sports case of the century. Terms like "seminal moment" are being bandied about by representatives from both sides. Labor lawyers are reading the same player's contract and are coming up with two very different conclusions. Yes he has to play the outfield; no, he doesn't have to.

The legalities of Soriano's stance takes a back seat to what will happen when he next plays a major league baseball game, especially if he continues to refuse to change positions. He will be a pariah wherever he plays. He will be booed mercilessly both at RFK at on the road. Fans now know that he lied about his age and sat out a season in Japan to become a free-agent. He has a past, fans no longer care about his future, and sports writers will make his present very, very difficult.

I keep glancing at the clock on my den wall, watching the seconds tick away to either the end of the Nationals' season before it even starts or the beginning of yet another divisive clubhouse. You know you're in trouble when Jose Guillen is saying he's worried about the clubhouse environment if Soriano stays on the team.

Tick - tick - tick - tick .....


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