SBD/Issue 84/Leagues & Governing Bodies

MLB GMs Have Productive Session With Selig At Owners' Meetings

Selig Says Meeting With GMs
Was "Very Constructive"
MLB GMs, participating for the first time at quarterly owners' meetings being held in Paradise Valley, Arizona, conducted a five-hour session yesterday, nearly half of which was with MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Neither Selig nor the GMs disclosed the specifics of the lengthy meeting. But all parties involved branded the session as a candid, open, and productive dialogue. The annual First-Year Player Draft, not surprisingly, is believed to have enveloped a sizable chunk of the meeting. Several team owners and Selig have previously opined in favor of expanding the draft to include players from around the world and creating a salary slotting system for those picks. Both matters, already the subject of vigorous debate and interest around the industry, are expected to become significant matters in labor negotiations with the union next year. Selig said he intends to make the interchange between GMs and league executives a regular occurrence. "I enjoyed this immensely. This was a very constructive meeting, and I firmly believe the GMs should be part of what we talk about here," Selig said. "The more communication that you have and the more they hear each other, the better chance we have to solve problems without any trauma."

HAPPY TO BE INCLUDED: Twenty-eight of the 30 GMs attended the session, with A's GM Billy Beane and Dodgers GM Ned Colleti unable to attend due to personal matters. Yankees GM Brian Cashman said, "It was an honor that the commissioner chose to spend his time with us that way, and it was really just good old-fashioned baseball talk" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Cashman added, “I think it really worked. There’s not many times when you can sit down with the Commissioner.” Indians Exec VP & GM Mark Shapiro: “The forum for us was tremendous. It was great for us to communicate on bigger picture issues and have an exchange of ideas. Having him consult with us and seek our opinions was uplifting” (MLB.com, 1/13). Braves President John Schuerholz: “I don’t know what it was that prompted him to do this, but it was a good idea. It was stimulating for the entire industry.” MLB.com’s Hal Bodley wrote Selig likely “talked about how player signings affect the entire industry.” Bodley: “Some are good, some are foolish and that’s probably what he said” (MLB.com, 1/13).

POSTSEASON SCHEDULE, REPLAY: Selig said there is no solution yet on fixing the oft-debated postseason schedule and reducing the number of off days, something the commissioner vowed to do in November and is among the key topics being addressed by his newly formed on-field task force that meets for the first time later today. "This is not as easy as it looks," Selig said. "I didn't say we couldn't do better. I do have some ideas. Yes, there are days we can eliminate, and should." Selig also said he intends to bring up expanding instant replay during the task force meeting (Fisher). MLB.com’s Tom Singer noted the topic of instant replay “hardly arose” during yesterday’s meetings. Several GMs “declined to get into specifics discussed behind closed doors and deferred questions about the future of instant replay to Selig” and VP/Baseball Operations Jimmie Lee Solomon. Solomon, when asked whether wider instant replay would be a talking point at the meetings, said, “No. It won’t be a topic here” (MLB.com, 1/13).

Pirates Have Built Dominican Complex To
Better Facilitate Int'l Player Development
MAKING SMALL TALK: Selig said he did not expect additional small-market teams to come under union pressure following the surprise joint announcement Tuesday that the Marlins would raise their major league payroll prior to the opening of their Miami ballpark. "There are a lot of small-market clubs spending a lot of money, frankly," Selig said. "I think that was a situation with Florida that we've been working on for a long time, and I think it was a good result." Added Pirates Owner Bob Nutting, whose team is also regularly among the lowest spenders in the league on major-league payroll: "I think the fixation just as the major league club's single-number payroll doesn't tell the whole story for the Pirates of where we're investing and how we're building the team. I'm comfortable what we're doing is the right thing for Pittsburgh." The Pirates in recent years have spiked spending on scouting, draft bonuses and international player development efforts.

SELIG ON MCGWIRE: Selig expounded slightly on his prior formal statement on Mark McGwire's admission of steroid use, one in which he said he was "pleased that McGwire has confronted his use of performance-enhancing substances as a player." Selig yesterday said, "My public statement, which I wrote over and over and over, says exactly how I feel on the matter. I just don't want to add to that. I painstakingly went over it." Selig added he drafted the statement while watching the Packers-Cardinals playoff game Sunday night, and that he knew about McGwire's past with steroids "beforehand, but not by much."

YANKEE STADIUM GAME ON ICE: Yankees President Randy Levine said it was "highly unlikely" the new Yankee Stadium would host next year's NHL Winter Classic, due to the club's planned staging of a new bowl game at the ballpark on December 30, amplifying growing industry feelings in recent days to that effect. "There's been no decision, but I would have to think it's highly unlikely, certainly if they're sticking to the New Year's Day (scheduling)" Levine said. "We haven't heard anything from NBC or the NHL, and we're moving ahead with the bowl game." A big part of the success attained in Boston with the '10 Winter Classic stemmed from an early installation of the ice at Fenway Park and the multitude of events held at the temporary rink, factors that could not be repeated at Yankee Stadium this December and January (Fisher).

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