Selig says he has yet to decide on attending Bonds' record-breaker
SAN FRANCISCO -- Commissioner Bud Selig is familiar with the concept of the media hammering incessantly on a theme. In recent years, he's encountered the routine with questions about Pete Rose's reinstatement bid, All-Star Game ties and the use of performance enhancing drugs in the game.
The obsession du jour seems relatively trivial in comparison: Everybody's just dying for a glimpse of the commissioner's travel itinerary.
Selig engaged in the standard give-and-take during a Tuesday media luncheon at the All-Star Game, and he was peppered with questions about whether he plans to be in attendance when San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds hits his 756th home run to pass Hank Aaron on the all-time list.
Selig responded with a skillful array of no comments and variations on the theme, "Will you please stop asking me about this?"
"I understand that I am the commissioner of baseball, and this is the most hallowed record in American sports," Selig said. "I understand [the writers] have a job to do, and I'd be asking the same questions if I were you. But it's something I'm going to handle my own way. I'll do what I believe is in the best interests of baseball."
Bonds, who currently has 751 homers, is pursuing Aaron under a cloud of alleged steroid use, and Selig's presence or absence could help validate or minimize the accomplishment in the public eye. Aaron has already indicated that he has no plans to be in the crowd for No. 756, regardless of where and when it occurs.
The focus on Selig's travel plans is, in some ways, a sign that things are going well for Major League Baseball this season. Selig said Tuesday that 2007 attendance has already surpassed 46 million, which puts baseball in line to set another record.
Amid rampant criticism of baseball's drug testing program, Selig reiterated his claim that MLB has the toughest policy in all of sports and has made significant progress against performance enhancers. On June 18, he met with medical advisers, 16 team doctors and several club trainers for an update on efforts to combat human growth hormone, amphetamines and other substances.
"They feel we've really achieved a lot, and they were quite insulted by people who they believe aren't well-informed and think otherwise," Selig said.
Selig, who attended the dedication of two local baseball fields with Hall of Famer Willie Mays early Tuesday, addressed several other topics during his media session:
• He said doesn't anticipate any problems with the Giants trying to manipulate the schedule so that Bonds can hit Nos. 755 and 756 at AT&T Park in San Francisco. In 1974, commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in and ordered the Atlanta Braves to play Aaron in Cincinnati while citing the integrity of the game.
"I've been reading a book on Einstein, and this isn't the theory of relativity," Selig said. "There are pennant races going on, and I would hope that will be the overriding determining factor. If you want to win every game, you play your best team."
• The commissioner is unenthused about agent Scott Boras' proposal to make the World Series a best-of-nine proposition, with the first two games at a neutral site. Boras made his suggestions in a letter to Selig in April that became public two weeks ago.
"He's entitled to his opinion," Selig said. "My view is, teams play for decades to get to a World Series, and now you're going to open 1,500 miles from home? As for a nine-game World Series I'll leave it to my friend, Derek Jeter, who says, "It's long enough now.'"
• Selig said baseball might re-evaluate the manner in which All-Star rosters are announced after some glitches arose in the system.
An Atlanta-Florida game before the TBS announcement show dragged on longer than expected because of a rain delay and extra innings.
"This was the first year of that and it was a tough situation," Selig said. "It's Murphy's Law: If something can go wrong, it will. Well, it went wrong."
• Selig said he remains "reasonably confident" that a stadium deal for the Florida Marlins can be brokered despite a series of setbacks.
"It's, frankly, very discouraging at the moment. The commissioner is very upset about it. No one's very happy," Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said according to The Associated Press. "We thought the stars were aligned. We thought that everything was in place to get that final piece. We were very disappointed when the legislature adjourned without passing [it]."
Selig added that he hopes the sale of the Chicago Cubs by the Tribune Company can move along with "dispatch."
"I think it's important for the future of the Chicago Cubs franchise to get it done, get it over with and move on," Selig said.