SBD/July 12, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Selig Holds Annual Town Hall Chat, Says Labor Sessions Have Been "Constructive"

Selig supports retaining current MLB All-Star Game format
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday conducted his 11th annual Town Hall session at the All-Star FanFest and said he strongly favors the long-term retention of awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the winning league in the All-Star Game. First introduced in '03, the measure has come under increasing scrutiny and criticism by many players and the MLBPA at large, and is currently a subject within collective bargaining negotiations. But Selig said, "I hope it stays as long I'm around." The commissioner addressed several other key issues facing the game during the roughly 40-minute question-and-answer session. Selig again showed strong favoritism toward expanding the postseason field from eight teams to 10. But there remains no consensus on the proper format to accommodate an enlarged pool. "I can make a case for 10 -- no more than 10," he said. "Now the question is how many games you play to determine [a first-round playoff winner], and we haven't decided that yet."

LABOR TALKS: Like other MLB and union officials, he did not discuss the overall state of ongoing labor talks in detail. But Selig said sessions to date have been "constructive." Not surprisingly, he said a salary cap will not be pursued, as competitive balance in the game continues to grow without one. And Selig, as he has in the past, levied strong support for a worldwide draft and hard-slot compensation system for the MLB Draft. "I think what I'm most proud of in my commissionership is that we've had 16 years of labor peace -- unprecedented in baseball history," he said. "I hope that continues and that we have many more years of labor peace without interruption."

OTHER ISSUES: The Dodgers’ fractious bankruptcy situation became a brief moment of levity, as Selig joked, "At least we waited for the fifth or sixth question [in the Town Hall chat] before we got to the Dodgers." He did not offer much substantive comment on the situation, but acknowledged he has a "tough relationship" with team owner Frank McCourt. Divisional realignment has been a discussion of much media interest lately, but Selig signaled that has been a bit premature and overstated. "I've always had it on my mind, and I've talked to people about it from time to time. But is there anything imminent? No," he said. Meanwhile, instant replay, currently used for home run and boundary calls, will not see a major expansion, Selig said. He added the league "may make two more rather significant changes to the instant replay rule. But we're still discussing it." He did not go into any further details (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

IF I RULED THE WORLD: The ARIZONA REPUBLIC asked a roundtable of All-Stars what they would do if they were MLB Commissioner for a day. Brewers LF Ryan Braun said, “The game is really heading in a good direction. The most important thing would be to just avoid a lockout like some of the other sports. And just continue the momentum going. I think the game is moving in the right direction and it is in good hands." Cardinals LF Matt Holliday said, “I would make all the game times 1 p.m. or 7 p.m. I don't like these 3 p.m., 6 p.m., 5 p.m. games. I'd like to know if it's 1 or 7, especially with shadows.” Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw: “Oh, I throw my power around. … Maybe take the DH away for interleague. Just pitcher bias I guess. Change up the travel schedule a little bit maybe." Blue Jays P Ricky Romero: “I'd probably have a week-long All-Star break. That's what I'd do.” Orioles C Matt Wieters: "I would make the All-Star break four days instead of three days so every team gets that extra day. Even the guys here can take that extra day to recuperate" (AZCENTRAL.com, 7/11).
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