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Fish Lines

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NO, it's not interlocking play. And no, it's not an interleague championship.

But an exhibition tournament this weekend in Sioux Falls between teams from the Northern League, including the Winnipeg Goldeyes, and teams from the American Association is at least another baby step toward closer relations between the two leagues.

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A total of six teams will be in Sioux Falls for what's being billed as the Independent Showcase -- Winnipeg, Kansas City and Fargo from the Northern League and St. Paul, Lincoln and Sioux Falls from the American Association.

The event builds on a smaller exhibition event that was held in Kansas City prior to last season and would seem like another move toward patching the acrimonious relations between the two leagues, which hit rock bottom in 2005 when Sioux City, Sioux Falls, St. Paul and Lincoln all bolted the Northern League to join up with what is now a 10-team American Association loop.

The defections left the Northern League with just six teams and Northern League owners have been pushing for interleague play or an interleague championship with the AA, advances that AA owners so far have resisted.

Still, in a first for Winnipeg since the defections, an American Association team will visit Winnipeg next week when the St. Paul Saints play here next Monday and Tuesday. While the Goldeyes have played exhibition games in St. Paul the past couple of years, this will be the first time an American Association team has visited Canwest Park.

So are this weekend's exhibition tournament and next week's games with the Saints signs of thawing relations? Not so fast, says Goldeyes GM Andrew Collier.

"This is something the GMs put together to get more exhibition games and more action for the guys," says Collier. "But if anything further is going to happen down the road, that will have to happen at the ownership level."

The Fish will play the Canaries tonight and then the Lincoln Salt Dogs Saturday.

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