Commission Impossible? Selig Vows To Retire, Despite Owners Trying To Change His Mind
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig ahead of his final All-Star Game in the position spoke with a number of outlets about his and the sport's future. The WASHINGTON POST's Dave Sheinin reported a few times a month, Selig "gets one of the calls" from an owner asking him whether there is "any chance he would consider staying on as commissioner." Selig said the last call of this kind came "about a week ago," but added there is "zero" chance of it happening. The fact that owners "are practically begging Selig to stay indicates either a deep affection for him or a lack of faith in his potential successors or perhaps both." Some have speculated that Selig’s decision to step down "is a sign he sees some sort of downturn or flattening of the game’s economic growth." Selig "dismisses a question about that but not in an altogether reassuring way." Selig: "If we do our work as well internationally as I believe we can, I think we can go on to heights we can’t even conceive today" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/12).
INTERNATIONAL MEN OF MYSTERY: Selig said of his vision of how baseball will look in 20 years, "If international is as good as I think it is going to be, it can lead this sport into unbelievable success. Between the World Baseball Classic and opening up in Australia (this season) and we’ll open up next year -- somewhere I think you’ll be surprised where it is if it all works out. All around the world, baseball is really starting to take hold far more than it once was. So I think that will lead to incredible growth" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/13). Selig this morning continued on the international push, telling ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike" the potential for the game abroad "is just awesome." Selig: "When you watch the World Baseball Classic ... the potential is just stunningly huge. We're getting offers from all over the world now to play, and that wasn't true five or 10 years ago. Now it’s remarkable. Even in the World Baseball Classic -- we started out with a few teams and last time we were up to 28 and had to turn some countries away. The potential for growth in this sport internationally is awesome, absolutely awesome, and we will take advantage of it" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/14).
SEEING IS BELIEVING: The MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL's Tom Haudricourt yesterday "was granted exclusive access" to Selig aboard a private jet, which was flying Selig and his associates from Milwaukee to Minnesota for the All-Star Game. Selig said of his reaction to people who do not believe he will actually step down next year, "They better be there to watch me walk out the door because that's what's going to happen" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 7/14). A committee was put together earlier in the year to work on finding Selig's successor, and the commissioner said, "They're hard at work." Selig: "This has to be a quiet, thoughtful, sensitive process, because you can't do this in the open. … I'm very comfortable where they are. They keep me very well informed and a lot of conversation, and I’d say they're doing very well." He added, "You can't do this publicly. You've got to be thoughtful about it. You've got to really, really be sensitive" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/14). Selig said of the committee members, "I want them to be independent. ... They're doing wonderfully well. They know what I think about the next person. I have every confidence in them" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 7/14). Meanwhile, Red Sox Chair Tom Werner said of possibly succeeding Selig, "Me as commissioner? No, I’m very happy as chairman of the Boston Red Sox. It’s been a fantastic ride" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/14).
LEAVING THINGS IN GOOD SHAPE: Selig said MLB currently is "really in very, very good shape" despite the perception it is becoming more of a regional sport than a national one. He said, "Can you always try to do things better? You bet, and I understand that, but the only thing I can say to you, ‘It's a reflection of a lot of things.’ In 1992, our gross revenue is $1.2 billion, and I used to stay awake at night thinking how can we get to $2 billion? We have a shot this year to hit $9 billion. That’s proof of how popular the sport is” ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 7/14).