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Sunday, Sep 21, 2014
Major League Baseball

Selig cites economic changes as top accomplishment as MLB chief


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NEW YORK — Addressing sports editors for what he said was the final time, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig tried to sum up his proudest accomplishment since he took the job in 1992.

Selig announced in September his last day will be Jan. 24, 2015. He said when he followed Fay Vincent he inherited “an industry that had not functioned well in terms of getting along, getting things done both internally and externally.”

“I guess the ability to get people to work together and the economic changes,” he cited Friday when asked by the Associated Press Sports Editors what he was proudest of. “I look back on it and it’s remarkable to me, even in retrospect.”

Selig turns 80 in July and he says he will not accept another extension, although he admits “I keep hearing a lot of owners it seems for whatever reason” think he will.

“It’s hard to understand that,” he said. “Next Jan. 25 is it.”

Yet, he won’t publicly announce succession plans.

“It will be a very comprehensive, thorough process, but it needs to be done in a quiet and thoughtful way if it’s going to be successful,” he said.

He sat alongside MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred, who was hired by Selig as his chief labor negotiator in 1998. Manfred was promoted to his new role in September and is viewed by some as the heir apparent.

On Selig’s other side was Bob Bowman, the chief executive of MLB Advanced Media.

There has been no indication whether the next commissioner will come from within MLB’s central offices. But Selig likely will have a key role in determining his successor.

“Since I’ve done this job the last 23 years, I guess I have an opinion,” he said.

As for regrets, Selig thought back to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series during a 7½-month players’ strike prompted by management’s attempt to obtain a salary cap.

“We were headed for it. There was all the lack of trust,” he said. You say who was to blame? I could write a script either way. That’s unimportant anymore. So I’ve tried to think of that period and think was there anything? I think we learned a lot. I have to say that at least I did.”

On other topics, Selig said:

• MLB has a chance to reach $9 billion in revenue for the first time this year.

• He does not anticipate more changes to MLB’s drug-testing program while he’s commissioner.

• He would never consider putting an asterisk on the statistics of steroids-tainted stars because “that’s a very slippery slope.”

• Wouldn’t commit to a resolution of the Athletics-Giants dispute over Oakland’s right to move to San Jose but did say, “I’d like to at least on all issues try to remove as many of the controversial difficult ones” before he leaves.

• “Time will tell” whether the escalation in rights fees paid by regional sports networks is a bubble.

• MLB is “trying very hard to resolve” the broadcast rights dispute between the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals.

• He is confident the Chicago Cubs will turn around under the Ricketts family and team president Theo Epstein, saying “this idea that they’re burdened by debt is not factually correct.”

• Montreal “has good demographics” but “there are a lot of miles to walk” before MLB would consider putting a team there again.

• Criticism was unwarranted of the decision to have the Dodgers and Diamondbacks open the season in Australia, calling “this idea it took away from opening day — what a bunch of nonsense.”

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