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Selig Discusses Instant Replay, Economic Parity, More, in Hour Long Interview PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 12:47

Selig

Commissioner Selig gave, what might have been, his more broad reaching interview ever, on MLB Network’s "Studio 42 with Bob Costas" (Next showing, 4:30 a.m. ET). Selig discussed a number of topics, including the postseason ending in November, the use of instant replay, parity in the league, a possible best-of-seven Division Series, and more. Here are some excerpts:

On the postseason scheduling and the 2009 season finishing in November
"I'm not comfortable because I really loathe going into November, worried about it a long time. We've talked about it and quite candidly the alternatives are not many in this regard. I know people complain about the schedule and we do have off days. We don't know in March how many [series] will go four games, five games. We also need days to accommodate the clubs. We had the Red Sox play the Angels and we don't know if it's going to be a five-game series. You've got to plan for the five games with travel days, because otherwise you're going from Anaheim to Boston, you can't make them travel all night. Even during the season we try not to make them do that.

What if the Division Series is a best-of-seven, with additional revenue?
"That would be something you could do if you have another seven to 10 days, which I believe you could have to work with, but that won't work, because clubs really don't want to do it, and I understand why because there are some very strong economic reasons.

"I don't mind the first series being five games. Look, all the way into the '80s we played League Championship Series that were only five games."

On adding instant replay for the postseason
"I've talked to a lot of baseball people. Managers -- Mike Scioscia [of the Angels] came out publicly, he's certainly one of the people I've talked to. A year ago, when we went to instant replay, I said I'll do it for home runs because the new stadiums presented challenges for umpires who had to run 200 feet, make a call with very difficult backgrounds, they couldn't see. I learned long ago that this is a game of pace. When I watch other sports and there are three- and four-minute delays ... we also have closer supervision on the bases than we've had. I really believe, I'm really proud of the umpires and I want to be very protective of them. There have been a series of calls that were incorrect ... we had a little period there in the playoffs where we had some calls -- I said they were controversial, you and I know they were worse than that.

"Mike Scioscia said something to me the other day. I had been very concerned. He said, 'All of us who argue -- these guys are right 99 percent of the time. Instant replay at any time of the season would be a disaster.' I agree with it. I worry about pitchers standing on the mound, walking around. We've been very concerned about the pace of our game, we've worked very hard, [have had] slight progress. I never say never to anything, and over the course of the offseason this year, I'll do a lot of thinking about the subject.

"Some of the controversial calls we've had, more calls in error, could have been avoided with the umpires getting together and talking about it. On the first night of the World Series, they did and made the correct call. Nestor Chylak, the Hall of Fame umpire, used to say to me, 'The best games we have are the ones where nobody talks about the umpires.' ... Some of those [calls] could be rectified by umpires meeting together. There are a lot of things we could do to correct some of these things. ... I think there are many things we can talk about that do change this."

On the possibility of a salary cap or a salary floor
"We wanted a floor the last time and the Players Association was against it. I'll be able to get more into the economics as time goes on. I have a lot of ideas, and will have a lot to say on it."

On former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn being in the Hall of Fame while Marvin Miller, Kuhn's longtime nemesis as the groundbreaking Players Association leader, is not
"Marvin Miller belongs in the Hall of Fame, if the criteria is what impact you had on the sport, whatever way one wants to value that impact, yes, Marvin Miller should be in the Hall. Not a lot of support. Marvin should be in the Hall of Fame."

On competitive balance and whether clubs at the bottom face a problem given that six of the top 10 clubs in ranking of payroll made the postseason
"No, I don't think so. I said we had work to do. But I took the last five years, 20 of the 30 teams have made the playoffs. No other sport can say that. You had Colorado in the [2007] World Series, you've had Tampa Bay in the [2008] World Series, you had Milwaukee in the [2008] playoffs for the first time [since 1982], Minnesota did well, Colorado did well again this year. I'm not telling you there isn't work to be done. But if you take this five-to-six-year period and compare it to any other in the last 20-25 years, you'll find we have more competitive balance today than ever before.

"Is it perfect? No. I know people are talking about this year [that] three out of the last four teams standing [in the postseason] have high payrolls. But it wasn't true in the year before, and it wasn't true the year before that, so it's something I have to keep an eye on. No question about it, it's something I worried about for a long time. But when I took over, and all the way into 1996-97-98, there was no revenue sharing ... It was nothing. This year it will be $440 [million] to $450 million. We've done that without any litigation, without clubs fighting, done it without work stoppages, so we've made progress. ... I want to repeat, I didn't say the system was perfect, but it's come a long, long way. Nobody a decade ago could have dreamed that all the clubs would be in this position.


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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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