Selig Touts MLB's Rising Popularity In Annual MLB.com Town Hall Chat
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday held his 12th annual MLB.com Town Hall Chat, and generally stayed well away from any sensitive topics while eagerly touting the rising popularity of the sport. "Someday we'll look back at this era as the golden era of baseball, no question about it," Selig said. "They'll look at attendance numbers, revenue numbers, popularity, and say, 'Wow, for a sport many people in the last 50 or 70 years have written off, it's a great story.'" Selig said he was "very satisfied" on balance with the outcomes and performance of the league's five-year CBA to date. Moreover, he said the league's extended labor peace, guaranteed at least 21 straight years, has been a boon for the sport. "We're going to have a generation of people who aren't going to have to struggle with a work stoppage. I'm very proud of that," he said. He noted some improvement has occurred this season in enforcing rules already in the books to eliminate unnecessary delays during games. "The umpires are trying to enforce it. The managers have been better. I think we've made some progress. It's something that we need to watch," he said. Selig also was predictably bullish on the prospect of MLB sustaining the league's increase at the gate, more than 6% thus far this season.
WORLD MARKET: Selig, unsurprisingly, is expecting big results from the third iteration of the World Baseball Classic, which is co-owned and operated by the league and the MLBPA. The '13 WBC includes a new qualifying round that begins this fall. "It's grown. We're up to 28 countries, everybody wanting in," he said. "I want to go to different parts of the world that we haven't gone to. So my expectation is it's going to be huge and really meaningful." However, Selig was lukewarm on the prospect of international games, even as he wants to make further inroads in areas such as Europe. He said games at Lord's Cricket Ground in London, "would be historic, but I don't know about great."