MLB Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday delivered his first public comments since the suspensions of 14 players in the Biogenesis investigation and said it "has been very stressful for me," according to Pat Borzi of the N.Y. TIMES. Appearing at the RBI World Series at Target Field, Selig said, "You asked the question; I’ve got to give you an honest answer. It’s been tough." Borzi notes Selig "appeared relaxed and jovial except when questioned" about Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez. He did not indicate "whether baseball would negotiate further with Rodriguez," who formally appealed his 211-game suspension yesterday. Selig said, "He has a right to do what he’s doing. My own personal thoughts on the subject are not relevant, because he has the right to do it." The commissioner said that he "received overwhelming support from owners, players, trainers and baseball officials, with many calling him to say so." Selig: "You can’t say we ignored this. There was a big debate Monday and Tuesday: is this a good day or a bad day for baseball? It’s not even a question -- it was a good day for baseball, because we faced up to the problem. Nobody’s hiding it. Nobody swept it under the rug. We did what any social institution should do. And I really appreciate the player comments, and there have been a lot of them." Selig said of the length of the suspensions, "I’m comfortable where we are. Whether we need tougher penalties is something we’re going to talk about in the future." He added, "The great majority of our players who have done this well and clean don’t like being tarred with this" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/8). MLB.com provides a transcript of Selig's remarks (MLB.com, 8/8).
PLAYING DURING THE APPEAL: In N.Y., Ken Davidoff notes Rodriguez by appealing the suspension is "increasing the likelihood he will be in a Yankees uniform for the duration of this season." The next step will come when MLB and the MLBPA "meet and determine a date for the hearing" (N.Y. POST, 8/8). The GLOBE & MAIL's Tom Maloney writes both MLB and the MLBPA "may have incentive to encourage a settlement" in Rodriguez' case. While the process is "confidential, so was baseball's investigation and it sprung widespread media leaks" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/8). CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman wrote MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner "shouldn't be blamed here." The union is "cooperating to try to rid the game of drugs under his watch, and he should be commended for that after years of stonewalling from the previous union leadership" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/7).
BAD SHOW: An Albany TIMES UNION editorial stated it is "pathetic" to watch Rodriguez behave "more like a crafty criminal defendant than a once-awesome ballplayer." The editorial: "Baseball isn’t a court. The niceties of civil liberties and due process, so essential in the real world, have a more limited application. It’s credibility beyond all suspicion that needs to prevail, not guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That means a demonstrable absence of cheating on the scale that steroids and other drugs allow" (TIMESUNION.com, 8/7).
The PGA Tour is "prepared to make a change to its schedule in 2014 to accommodate the PGA of America and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson," according to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. PGA of America President Ted Bishop yesterday said that the Tour has "agreed to stage all four of its FedEx Cup playoff events in consecutive weeks to give players a break before heading to the Ryder Cup." The event is scheduled for Sept. 26-28, 2014, and "would have immediately followed the PGA Tour's final event, the Tour Championship." Next year's schedule "would mean there is no break during the four-tournament series." There is a week off between the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship this year. Bishop acknowledged that there was "some give and take" with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem "over this issue." Finchem "successfully lobbied the PGA of America to abandon its marketing slogan 'Glory's Last Shot' for the PGA Championship in exchange for the date switch." Bishop said of Finchem, "He was very provocative and emphasized the fact that the PGA Championship is the strongest field in major golf, that it stands on its own merits and that there was golf that was played after the PGA Championship, most notably the FedEx Cup" (ESPN.com, 8/7). Meanwhile, Bishop earlier this week insinuated the PGA Championship could be played earlier than normal in '16, as the Rio Games will occur during the time of year the tournament is normally held. He said, "We haven't set a date yet for 2016, but I doubt very seriously if it would be after Labor Day. I would think what you're going to see in 2016 probably would be a sliding forward of the majors" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 8/6).
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER? The AP's Doug Ferguson wrote in order to give the PGA Championship a clearer identity, officials should "consider making less money from TV revenue and move it to October." There are only two weeks between the British Open and the PGA this year, and the PGA of America "can do better -- not only for the players, but for the marketing of a major that lags well behind the other three in popularity." The short gap after the British Open "just keeps the PGA Championship from getting the buildup it deserves." October works because "in this global game, it fits the international schedule perfectly." A month after the British Open, the PGA Tour "begins its lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs until the end of September," and a month later, the European Tour "begins its Race to Dubai with a series of tournaments in Asia." In between "would be the final major of the year." For those who "care nothing about golf except for the majors ... this gives them one last event to anticipate in the fall." In Ryder Cup years, the matches "could be played in August instead of a month later" (AP, 8/5).
The NFL will "study and examine the 2013 preseason games to see what can be improved in hopes of offering a better product in the future," according to a source cited by Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said that his "goal is for a more fan-friendly and watchable preseason." The league also has "discussed -- and will continue to discuss -- the possibility of lowering preseason ticket prices across the board." One team "can't just drop prices; it would have to be a league-induced change." However, the NFL "can't impose it unilaterally; owners would have to vote on the proposed change at an owners' meeting" (NFL.com, 8/7). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio wrote it is "fair to infer the league wants to send a message, with minimal obvious fingerprints." The message is the 18-game regular season "remains on the table, with 18-and-2, 16-and-2, and 17-and-3 being the possible configurations of the regular season and preseason." This is "about coming up with a path to an expanded regular season, which the players and many fans and media members have resisted" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/7).
EXAMINING THE NFL'S VETTING PROCESS: THE MMQB's Andrew Brandt noted several team owners have been in the news for legal issues this summer and wrote, "Whether it is the Wilfs in Minnesota or Jimmy Haslam in Cleveland, these allegations do not reflect well on the league." Brandt: "I will say this: the vetting process by the NFL is comprehensive and broad, with many questions asked about finances and background issues." In these cases, it is unknown "if questions simply weren’t asked or if they were asked and the NFL was satisfied with the answers." Brandt: "Unfortunately for both franchises, this negative publicity will linger" (MMQB.SI.com, 8/7).