As heard on 620WTMJ
Selig wants to globalize baseball in final years as MLB commissioner
MILWAUKEE - Bud Selig begins his second-to-last season as baseball's commissioner. Selig plans on retiring come December 2014, and he assured Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Gene Mueller the other day that his deadline is firm, with other opportunities awaiting.
There's still more that he wants to get done before he leaves, though, including the globalization of the game.
"If we do our job, internationally, you won't recognize this sport ten years from now - maybe even five years from now," says Selig.
Are we talking like a truly global World Series? "That's my final dream."
Not to say he isn't done tweaking today's game - a panel is looking into expanded instant replay.
"I'm for it. We want to be careful, though, that we don't disturb the pace of the game. So we're looking at a lot of things, a lot of very unique ideas. I'll have more to tell you in the next three to four months."
Sports Illustrated's baseball preview issue includes a piece on whether there are too many strikeouts in baseball. One exec points out that it'll be hard to keep drawing fans if batters keep failing to put the ball in play when the game is on the line in the late innings.
"No, I don't really agree with that. Pitching is really dominant today, and I think it's good. And remember, the last nine years have been the greatest attended baseball games, and we're going to have a tremendous year this year."
Selig started his reign with a push for competitive balance and. A look at this year's contenders would seem to show he's gotten it. There's pennant buzz in Toronto and Washington for a change, while traditional powerhouses are re-tooling.
"It's our job to provide hope and faith in as many places as possible, so that on April 1st, a fan feels that his team has a chance to be competitive. That's all you can do. Well, you know, it's well over 20 or 22 clubs this year, and some people think it's better than that."
Ryan Braun starts the new season under a fresh cloud of suspicion--his name linked to a Miami clinic linked to performance enhancing drugs--a recent USA Today piece by veteran writer Bob Nightengale suggested MLB is making Braun "public enemy number one" amid the course of it's ongoing investigation.
"Bob, actually didn't say that. He called our people to say he was quoting other people. It's a big difference. I'm proud of our drug program. The players association fought us. Baseball never had a testing program. We went through a lot. I went to Washington and took a lot of tough criticism. Now we have the toughest testing program in American sports. Now the World Anti-doping Association says we have the best program in America. It's administered toughly - to everybody. After all, my job is to protect the integrity of this sport. My job is to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, but uniformly. That's what it is."
Being commissioner has it's perks. Selig hopes to see the new Jackie Robinson movie "42" before it premieres April 12th - the 66th anniversary of Robinson becoming the first player to bust baseball's color barrier.
"I haven't seen it, but I'm going to see it. Jackie Robinson's coming to the big leagues, I have often described, as baseball's most important and powerful moment. I'm so looking forward to this movie. I can't wait to see this movie. I'm told it's just tremendous."
And, as his second-to-last-opening-day as commissioner looms, does Selig have any regrets? Does he want any of his calls back?
"No, I can't say that I do, really."
Selig says his two favorite opening days: 1970, the Brewers first since coming to Milwaukee from Seattle and 1980 when Sixto Lezcano hit a ninth inning grand slam off Dick Drago to give the crew a win over Boston.