Selig hopes to shorten postseason by two or three days

Updated: October 23, 2008, 9:05 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig hopes to shorten the postseason by two or three days next season by eliminating some off days.

MLB shifted the start of the World Series from Saturday to Wednesday beginning last year, adding four extra days off. Selig said he likes the Wednesday start but is concerned about weather next year, when the regular season doesn't start until April 5. World Series Game 7 would be on Nov. 5 if the current format is kept.

"We've got to look at trying to -- maybe not having so many off days and days when you have only one game," Selig said at Tropicana Field before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night.

Selig was pleased with the rating for the Series opener, a 3-2 win by the Philadelphia Phillies over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night. The game earned a 9.2 rating and 15 share on Fox, the network said.

That's down 12 percent from the 10.5 for last year's opener between the Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies but up 15 percent from the 8.0 for the St. Louis Cardinals-Detroit Tigers matchup two years ago.

"The secret to success is once you get to Games 5, 6 and 7, and this one starting out at a 10.3 [overnight rating] I think is every encouraging," he said, referring to the rating for the nation's larger television markets.

The World Series hasn't gone to a sixth game for four straight years -- the first time that's happened since 1913-16. Selig didn't think having Tampa Bay in the Series would necessarily reduce the TV audience.

"The Rays got a lot of coverage playing the Red Sox. It isn't like people are being introduced to the team for the first time," he said. "There are some members of the media worrying more about the ratings than we do."

Selig said playing day games on weekends is not an alternative.

"We had some afternoon games during the league championship and division series. The ratings were brutal," he said. "The ratings get better and better as the night goes on."

Even if MLB wanted to schedule day games, TV slots would be difficult if not impossible to find during football season.

"The networks have commitments, and they just can't do it," he said. "There's no sense in being anything but blunt about it."

The rating is the percentage watching a program among homes with televisions, and the share is the percentage tuned into the broadcast among those households with TVs on at the time.

On other topics:

• With rain predicted for Philadelphia on Saturday, when Game 3 is scheduled, Selig said he had been watching The Weather Channel. "They're going to get rain. The question is, when and how long? It's pretty tough to estimate," he said.

• Selig had a regularly scheduled meeting Thursday with baseball's bankers. "I spent more time talking to them about their problems," he said.

• Teams have contacted Selig since he said Oct. 4 that they should not "get too cocky" and overprice tickets for next year given the economy. "Since then I've had a lot of owners call wanting to know if I was talking about them," he said. "I think we have to be extremely sensitive. This is really a tough time in this country."

• MLB still hasn't heard from the Chicago Cubs about whether they are close to a deal to sell the franchise. "Obviously, the ball is in their court," he said. "We are waiting to hear, and we have not heard."

• Selig hopes the divorce of Padres owner John Moores and his wife, Becky, won't result in a reduction of the team's payroll. "I don't think John or Becky want it to affect the Padres. They both love the Padres," he said. The Moores even fought about access to the owner's box at Petco Park last season. "Somebody once told me that you think you've seen everything, but you haven't. That falls under that classification," Selig said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press