Selig: 'Time is running out' on union
DETROIT -- More than two months after Bud Selig fired off a letter to the players' union proposing tough new steroid penalties, he's still waiting for a response, he said Tuesday.
"I understand their process [of running ideas past players] is a little more fragmented than ours," Selig said, in a meeting with the Baseball Writers Association of America. "But they know I'm anxious about this, and I think time is running [out] for us."
Because he's still waiting on that response, the commissioner said he still "can't give you a timetable" on when the sides might agree on, or even start actively negotiating a new tougher steroid agreement. But he said he wasn't inclined to act on his own.
"I'd rather do something with them," Selig said, of the players.
Steroids, labor peace, the World Baseball Classic and the All-Star Game itself dominated the conversation during Selig's one-hour session. Here are the highlights:
• ON HOW CONGRESS CHANGED HIS FEELINGS ABOUT THE STEROID ISSUE: "March 17 was one of the most troubling days of my life," Selig said. "There are lessons to be learned in life, and I believe intelligent men should learn those lessons."
• ON WHY HE'S CAMPAIGNING FOR TOUGHER PENALTIES, EVEN THOUGH HE FEELS THE CURRENT PLAN IS WORKING: "I believe we must create an understanding [among the public] that we're committed to ridding this sport of steroids, and we're not kidding, and we mean it. The perception that we don't mean it is there right now. And it's affected the integrity of the sport."
• ON WHY HE THINKS NO "PROMINENT" PLAYERS HAVE TESTED POSITIVE FOR STEROIDS: "I don't think anybody, just because there has not been a 'prominent' player named, thinks that [those players haven't been identified due to] a double standard -- because there is no double standard. We're under a very significant obligation to reveal anybody who tests positive."
• ON THE LESSONS BASEBALL HAS LEARNED FROM THE CANCELLATION OF THE HOCKEY SEASON: "We've already been through a lot of that -- just not quite to that extent. ... The residue of all our labor pains for the past 30-35 years really hurt our sport. People got tired of hearing about it. ... So labor peace is the key to the continued growth -- and survival -- of this sport. If we want this sport to grow and do the things we all think it can do, we can't have that residue of hatred and bitterness. There are never any winners when you have that. There are just losers, scattered all about."
• ON WHETHER THE DRAMATIC INCREASE IN BASEBALL REVENUES, WITHOUT A CORRESPONDING HIKE IN SALARIES, THREATENS THE PROSPECTS OF THAT LABOR PEACE: "Our revenues this year will be about $4.5 billion. When I took over in 1992, they were $1.2 billion. ... Do I believe today that things are so prosperous, they threaten labor peace? I don't believe that."
• ON WHY HE WANTS THE ALL-STAR GAME TO DETERMINE HOME FIELD IN THE WORLD SERIES INSTEAD OF BEST REGULAR-SEASON RECORD: "This is the only practically way we could not only re-energize our game but do something that should help us in other ways. ... [Tying home field to the best record] just isn't practical. We can't wait until late August or early September to determine home field. [To make all the logistical arrangements], it takes months."
• ON WHETHER HE THINKS THE HOME RUN DERBY IS TOO LONG: "I'm aware that there are other people like my wife, who told me it lasted too long -- and that was at quarter to 9 [meaning it was about 40 minutes old at the time]. She said, 'Buddy, how long are we going to sit here?' ... Frankly, I think there are things we can do to maybe shorten it up a little bit."
• ON A PROPOSAL BY THE PLAYERS TO MAKE THE ALL-STAR GAME U.S.-VERSUS-THE-WORLD, INSTEAD OF NL-VERSUS-AL: "I still like American League and National League. I know there are people who say it isn't like it used to be. And it isn't, but I still like American League versus National League. Even with interleague play, I like it the way it is. Now I won't be commissioner forever, so maybe the next commissioner won't feel that way. But I like it the way it is."
• ON WHETHER HE EXPECTS CUBA TO BE PART OF NEXT MARCH'S WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: "We've got some ongoing problems, but I'm confident today [that] Cuba will be in."
• ON WHETHER PLAYERS WILL BE ALLOWED TO DECLINE INVITATIONS TO PLAY IN THE WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: "I said this yesterday, and I'll say it again: I expect all 30 clubs to cooperate. I want to be very careful about how I say this. ... This event is in the best interest of the sport as a whole, and I hope everyone will see it that way."
• ON WHEN HE EXPECTS THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS TO FINALLY HAVE AN OWNER: "It's moving along. Last year, I made some predictions, and I'm trying to avoid that. ... But I'm very confident something will be done this summer, and they'll have a new owner."
• ON THREATS BY SOME CONGRESSMEN THAT IF DEMOCRATIC-PARTY CONTRIBUTOR GEORGE SOROS WINDS UP BUYING THE NATIONALS, IT COULD JEOPARDIZE BASEBALL'S ANTITRUST EXEMPTION: "That will have no effect. We have to select an ownership group in Washington, and it's a baseball decision -- not a political decision."
• ON WHETHER THE MARLINS' DIFFICULTY IN GETTING A NEW BALLPARK BUILT IN FLORIDA MAKES THEM FIRST IN LINE TO MOVE TO ANOTHER CITY: "Absolutely not. There isn't anybody at the front of the line to move."
• ON WHERE PETE ROSE'S CASE STANDS, COMPARED TO THIS TIME LAST YEAR: "Exactly where it did the last time I talked to you [i.e. nowhere]."
Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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