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MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is making the media rounds with the All-Star Game taking place at Citi Field tonight, and the ongoing investigation into the Biogenesis clinic is one of the main topics of discussion. Selig made a rare late-night talk show appearance on CBS' "Late Show," where he said MLB has “initiated the toughest drug testing program in sports.” Selig: “I’m very proud of where we are, I’m very proud of what we are doing and what we’re going to do. It’s in the best interest in our sport and it’s the right thing to do.” CBS' David Letterman asked whether the owners are "complicitous in some of this.” Selig: “I don’t think so. They are so aggressive and they have been behind me so much because they understand that it is a stain on the sport if you don’t do anything about it.” Letterman brought up Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez, who has been tied to the clinic, and asked, "Is he ever going to play for the Yankees again?” Selig: “Only time will tell. We are in the midst of a very thorough and tough investigation in all of this because I really believe that it’s the right thing to do. ... That’s all I can tell you.” Letterman: “Is he one that might be suspended?” Selig: “I’d rather not say who.” Letterman: “You know, don’t you? I can tell you know.” Selig: “I do. The answer is I do” ("Late Show," CBS, 7/15). Selig also appeared on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" this morning and said of any impending suspensions, "The only thing I can say, and I’m not being facetious here, is you’ll know when I’m going to do it.” Selig added of the investigation, "I really want to be very, very careful, and we’ll do it when the investigation is complete and they bring everything to me.” Selig: "Because our program is as tough as it is and because there are many people who have always felt that baseball is held to a higher and different standard, people will talk about this. ... If the objective is to be transparent and to be aggressive in your programs and to do what we have to, then we are guilty of that and I’m proud of that” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/16).
SELIG PROUD OF MLB INVESTIGATORS: In N.Y., Michael O'Keeffe reports Selig "refused to say" whether Rodriguez and other players linked to Biogenesis clinic "will be suspended soon, but ... he did say Monday that his sport is 'cleaner than it has ever been.'" Selig said that he was "proud of the MLB investigators who have been gathering evidence that could lead to discipline" against Rodriguez, Brewers LF Ryan Braun and other players. Selig: “I don’t care what happens, we’re going to have an investigation, we’re going to learn everything we can possibly learn. It’s in the best interests of baseball" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/16). The AP's Ronald Blum noted Selig "also denied his willingness to combat steroids has increased during his time in office." Selig: "Some people say now that I'm over-vigilant because I'm worried about my legacy. That's nonsense. That's the silliest thing I've ever heard. This is in the best interests of baseball. I was brought up to understand that you are to do what's in the best interest of this sport no matter what, even if it's painful, and we're going to do that" (AP, 7/15).
CLEANING CREW: USA TODAY's John Perrotto writes the "specter of Biogenesis looms large" during the All-Star break. The scandal "seemingly touches all of baseball," and players on the All-Star rosters "cannot escape the questions." Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki said, "It's too bad we have to be at the All-Star Game talking about this. ... It's a shame it has to be a topic at all." Cardinals P Adam Wainwright: "Everyone is really getting tired of all the talk about who cheated and who didn't. It takes the focus away from the game, and that's not good" (USA TODAY, 7/16). Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "The players, the coaches, the managers, we are all 100 percent behind MLB in cleaning this game up, and eliminating any kind of drugs these players are involved with. It's a shame we have to deal with this now" (HARTFORD COURANT, 7/16). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner writes the "stain of the era before testing never quite goes away." That fact that Melky Cabrera, the MVP of last year's All-Star Game, "turned out to be a fraud does not help." Cabrera was suspended 50 games last year and is among those linked to Biogenesis. Wainwright: “It’s a shame that every time we sort of get past the steroid issue and we talk about how great our testing is, somebody gets caught. ... I wish we could get back to just playing the game the right way and letting our natural talents play out and see who wins the game" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/16). Meanwhile, in L.A., Bill Shaikin notes Orioles 1B Chris Davis "sounded more like a defendant than a slugger when he met with reporters" yesterday. Davis frequently "hears he must be on something, some performance-enhancing substance," and he must "face the questions because Bonds and Co. failed him" (L.A. TIMES, 7/16).
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appeared at a Politico Playbook breakfast event yesterday morning in N.Y., and said he has not given up achieving success for the league in Florida despite both franchises located in the state ranking at the bottom of the league in average attendance. Both the Rays and Marlins are facing significant struggles this year, though for different reasons. The Rays are seeking to complete their sixth straight winning season, but rank just 29th in home attendance with an average of 17,791 per game, as Tropicana Field is far from the bulk of the Tampa metro area. The Marlins, meanwhile, last fall conducted a highly debated dismantling of its roster following its unsuccessful debut season in Marlins Park, and currently rank last in attendance with an average of 17,417. The club also has the second-worst average local TV audience this season with 18,000 households per game. "We haven't given up on Florida," Selig said. "The demographics are still too good." Selig addresses several other topics during the roughly one-hour Q&A session with chief White House correspondent Mike Allen. He said no decisions will be made regarding the A's sought-after relocation to San Jose until an antitrust lawsuit levied against the league by the city of San Jose is resolved in some fashion. Selig said he still intends to retire in January '15 at the conclusion of his current contract, though did not given any further clues regarding a potential successor. He also maintains his plan to write a memoir of his time in baseball and says he has "hundreds, hundreds of boxes" of archival material. Meanwhile, in a more unusual query to Selig, he was asked his choice of at bat music if he was a player. His response, with a smile: Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
CONCERNS OVER PLAYER SPENDING: The AP's Ronald Blum reported Selig is "concerned about spending on players, whose average salary rose" 6% to $3.65M on Opening Day. MLB's revenue is "projected to reach" $8B this year, and Selig wants clubs to "spend less than half on players." Selig said, "We've made some new television deals and our clubs got a little excited, and so we may go over 50 percent, and that's dangerous. I think we have to work on more mechanisms" (AP, 7/15).
The next generation of MLB stars "has arrived," with players such as Angels LF Mike Trout, Nationals CF Bryce Harper and Orioles 3B Manny Machado "changing the complexion of the grand ol' game," according to Mike Fitzpatrick of the AP. Trout and Harper will start tonight's All-Star Game, as some of MLB's best players "are among the youngest on the field." Trout said, "It's good for the game. A lot of young guys are playing fearless and making a name for themselves at an early stage in their career." Fitzpatrick noted jersey sales for Trout, Harper and Mets P Matt Harvey "rank among the top 10 this season," and Machado's jersey ranked eighth even though he has "spent less than a year in the majors." But the league's youth movement is "not only Trout, Harper and Machado." Marlins P Jose Fernandez is an All-Star at 20 years old, while D'Backs P Patrick Corbin and Brewers SS Jean Segura made the team at 23 (AP, 7/15). In DC, Thomas Boswell notes exactly half of the 68 players in the All-Star Game are "first-timers," and counting those who "are all-stars but can’t play because of injuries, this year has produced 39 first-time all-stars." MLB has seen "changing of the guards and new waves and talent infusions in the past," but it may "never have seen anything like what is being celebrated" tonight here at Citi Field. What is "on display verges on being a new form of the sport" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/16). This year's All-Stars include 11 players "younger than 25 years old," while 44 of the 68 players who will be active for tonight's game "are younger than 30" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/16). USA TODAY's Paul White writes under the header, "Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado: MLB's Poster Boys" (USA TODAY, 7/16).
ORIOLES, PIRATES SEEING RESURGENCE: In Baltimore, Dan Connolly writes the fact that Machado, 1B Chris Davis, SS J.J. Hardy, CF Adam Jones and P Chris Tillman were at the All-Star Game "together was what was significant for an Orioles team that had become accustomed to sending just one player nearly every year." Tillman said, "This is just awesome to see. I am happy for the fans. That's the most important thing, it's for Baltimore. Not Tillman or Jonesy or Davis. This is for the city of Baltimore." The Orioles "haven't had five players at an All-Star Game" since '97 (Baltimore SUN, 7/16). Meanwhile, MLB.com's Matthew Leach noted there is a "cadre of five Pirates at the All-Star Game, the most since" '72. That includes CF Andrew McCutchen, 3B Pedro Alvarez and Ps Jeff Locke, Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon. McCutchen said, "To have five representatives of the Pirates, we hadn't (even) had four in forever. ... It's great to be able to be a part of it and to be able to see it unfold. It's fun, just to see the transition from a few years ago to where we are now" (MLB.com, 7/15).
US Lacrosse is preparing to "move from its city headquarters to a business park" in Baltimore County, according to Chris Korman of the Baltimore SUN. Since forming 15 years ago as the "merger of eight disparate groups, US Lacrosse has grown from 12 employees serving 15,000 players, coaches, officials and others involved in the game to a current membership of more than 415,000." US Lacrosse in November "bought 12 acres" $4.5M. Preliminary plans call for "offices and possibly a training center for the men's and women's national teams." What is "not clear is whether the Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame, currently in leased space at" Johns Hopkins Univ., also will move. US Lacrosse to buy the land "dipped into cash reserves at both the organization and the US Lacrosse Foundation." A new HQs, training center and fields "would cost millions of dollars, money that US Lacrosse would need to raise." But it "hasn't had great success with fundraising." US Lacrosse President & CEO Steve Stenersen said that in '12, the NGB "spent about $500,000 to raise about $1 million." He added, "A lot of our focus in the early years was on the operational side, and now we're in a position where we need to improve our ability to reach out to donors who can support what we are doing." Officials said that the organization has a "planned operating budget of nearly" $19M for '13, and is sitting on about $10M "in cash reserves." The bulk of its '12 revenue "came from nearly $12 million in member dues." The rest came from "sponsors, advertising and other sources." The group spent nearly $6.7M for "member services -- such as an insurance policy that covers players, a monthly magazine, and printing and distributing yearbooks -- and about $1.5 million each on special events and marketing." Running the organization "costs about" $2.5M. Tax documents show that Stenersen in '11 was "paid nearly $213,000." The NGB also spends about $2.9M "on the sport's development" (Baltimore SUN, 7/14).
In Charlotte, Jacob Feldman notes NASCAR yesterday "set out 11 goals mainly dealing with rules and penalties" that the organization says will "focus on technology and transparency." NASCAR "promised to remove antiquated regulations from its rulebook and clarify what is left primarily with math and drawings rather than text." It also "plans to objectively categorize potential offenses and their corresponding penalties" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/16).
TEAM BUILDING: In Pittsburgh, Jerry DiPaola reports the number of AFL teams has "fallen from 18 teams in 2011 to 17 to 14 this year." However, AFL Commissioner Jerry Kurz said expansion next year is "more probable than not." He added that he "expects to have a franchise next year in Chicago, the AFL's base of operations." Kurz said that the league "must deal with what he calls 'issues and challenges'" and added that "chief among those issues are a lack of sufficient visibility in some cities" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/16).
EURO TRIP: In N.Y., Karen Crouse writes a "cold economic wind has sent chills through the European Tour," as its '13 schedule features one event in England, down from five in '06, and "one event in Spain, six fewer than two years ago." The Tour is "at a crossroads." Its pool of skilled players is "deeper than would-be sponsors’ pockets, leading to a drain of talent to the PGA Tour, where the purses are bigger." The exporting of the European Tour’s higher-profile players is "making room for the importing of promising young Americans like Peter Uihlein and Brooks Koepka, who have turned to Europe to expand their horizons and their games after failing to earn their PGA Tour playing privileges" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/15).
DOUBLE THE FUN? In Toronto, Mike Zeisberger reports organizers and sponsors of the Izod IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto "loved the format" of the event, and fans "ate it up en masse." But drivers and crews generally "weren't thrilled by it" because the "dangers of fatigue and mechanical failure escalate by running two events in a 28-hour span" (TORONTO SUN, 7/16).