Bud Selig recently sat for an interview with SPORTING NEWS' Stan McNeal, and he reflected on his accomplishments as MLB Commissioner, discussed the league-wide attendance decline, his plans for expanding the playoffs and the negotiations for a new CBA. The following are excerpts from that interview.
Q: Looking at your time as commissioner, what do you consider your most satisfying accomplishment?
Selig: What I'd say to you is if you took inventory (of MLB) in 1992 and took inventory today, the sport is unquestionably more popular than it's ever been by any criteria. The sport has changed more in the last 18, 19 years than ever before. The last six or seven years have been the greatest in our history. Revenue sharing has worked, the wild card has worked, and interleague has worked. Our gross revenues are at an all-time high. ... Here we are at $7.5 billion-plus. Our attendance is tremendous. Our network and our Internet companies have exceeded everybody's expectations to a point that we're the leaders in those fields, no question about it.
Q: What about attendance? It seems to have flat-lined.
Selig: This year, we have 16 teams ahead (of 2010), five virtually even and nine behind. Overall, we're ahead in spite of the fact that we've had a couple of places that are way behind. In this horrible economic environment, this is extraordinary.
Q: Even if realignment doesn't begin until 2013, could the playoffs be expanded for 2012?
Selig: We have a lot of mechanics to work out yet, but we could do that before realignment. One is not contingent on the other.
Q: Sounds like you want expanded playoffs for next year.
Selig: If we can work out all the details and it's part of the collective bargaining agreement, yeah, I think it will be good for baseball. I want to make sure we do it right.
Q: Will you be disappointed if a new CBA isn't announced by the end of the World Series, like it was in 2006?
Selig: No, I don't put any deadline on it. We'll be done when we're done. The talks are constructive. There are a lot of differences, but when you think back, we had the worst labor history from 1967 through 1995, '96. It was a tortured, mistrusting, painful relationship. While we have our differences today, the personal stuff is gone. I give a lot of people on both sides credit for the constructive relationship (SPORTING NEWS, 10/10 issue).