Bud Selig Speaks

As has become custom, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig spoke with the media this afternoon ahead of tonight’s All-Star Game. He was joined by Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre to discuss an entire range of issues from interleague play to instant replay.

Perhaps the most surprising comments from Selig were with regard to the recent not guilty verdict in the Roger Clemens perjury trial, which led to him expressing his thoughts on the Mitchell Report.

I’m as proud today of the Mitchell Report today as I was then. I took a lot of criticism at the time internally as I was externally. No other sport had an outside person come in before … we knew from the start it was impossible to get everything. They not only examined and found a lot of things. They made 19 or 20 suggestions, which we adopted and cleaned up clubhouses. The only objective was to make it cleaner. The Mitchell Report will stand when history judges it as another step in a process that cleaned up a sport quickly.

It’s true that after the Mitchell Report came out in December of 2007, baseball moved quickly to dramatically change its drug testing policies, and while an emphasis on Human Growth Hormone is rather laughable, overall stricter measures surrounding banned substances is a good thing. However, it’s naive to think that MLB didn’t want to implement these changes long before the report was released, and if we think about it critically, we probably come to the conclusion that it was used more as a justification for action rather than a revelation that caused a response.

There also remain a ton of questions regarding Senator George Mitchell authoring a report on steroids in baseball while he held a position as director of the Boston Red Sox. His spearheading the report didn’t merely create a conflict of interest, it also makes Mr. Selig’s comments today that an outside person came in to look at drugs in sports appear rather disingenuous. Senator Mitchell himself admitted to the L.A. Times that his “tight relationship with Major League Baseball left him open to criticism,” but maintained that no one would “find any evidence of bias, of special treatment of the Red Sox.”

Mr. Selig’s wishy washy stance on instant replay is also somewhat maddening. The commissioner claims that replay will be expanded, but only when the technology becomes available. Newsflash: the technology is available, and has been available for a long time. I’m not being at all facetious when I ask, “What are the drawbacks of enhanced instant replay being used for fair/foul balls and safe/out calls?”

According to Mr. Selig:

Nobody is anxious to expand replay anymore. That doesn’t mean we won’t continue to review it. Baseball is a game of pace, you can’t compare it to anything else. We have to be careful how we proceed.

It would appear as though Mr. Selig and I have very different Twitter feeds.

According to Mr. Torre:

First of all you want umpires to call what they see. In the case of fair or foul, the smartest thing is to call it fair. Because if it’s called foul and ruled fair, where do we put the runners? That’s why, through education, I’m not so quick [to accept more replay]. We’ve had all the suggestions, the extra umpire, someone sitting at [MLB Adavance Media]. The game is imperfect, for all of us who want everything to be right all the time, it’s not going to happen. I don’t know why we want everything to be perfect. It’s an imperfect game. Life isn’t perfect and this is a game of life.

Well, the thing about life is, it will never be perfect. We will all never be able to attain every single thing that we want. So, in the thinking of the Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations, there’s no point in striving to move closer to perfection. Why bother attempting to attain the things that we want?

I don’t see how the issue is nearly as complex as Mr. Selig makes it out to be. However, I also don’t understand why the owners, whom the commissioner represents, wouldn’t want to include technological advancements as a means of improving accuracy. The cost can’t possibly be that much more significant. And even if it was, Mr. Torre announced that the league is already planning placing a significant amount of additional cameras in every stadium in baseball.

It wasn’t all bad news though, as Mr. Selig admitted that the league was considering something that I’ve long championed as a great idea for spicing up interleague play: using American League rules in National League stadiums, and National League rules in American League stadiums so that the designated hitter would bat in NL ballparks while the pitcher would bat in AL ballparks. Sure, it’s kind of gimmicky, but it gives fans attending games something to see that they normally wouldn’t.

Of course, you could argue that you can’t please all the fans all the time, so why bother trying at all. Perhaps the league could commission a report on it.

Comments (9)

  1. Bud Selig is incapable of taking a bad picture.

  2. LOL… do you guys have a whole repository of unflattering Bud pics?

  3. By the way, I do think Torre sort-of has a point about “where do you put the runners”… but only in that MLB does need to carefully consider HOW to use replay wider in a way that doesn’t put too much onus on umpires to make more judgment calls about “what would have happened”…

    But you’re right – there’s no reason they couldn’t go through the exercise of coming up with a list of plays that could be in scope for unobtrusive video review, and come up with some proposals for a challenge system what have you (or whatever mechanism to limit the total number of replays per game). Because this work is difficult and potentially controversial, one gets the impression they are simply couldn’t be bothered.

    The game would be so much better if they at least added some no-brainer situations to what is permitted to be reviewed.

    • Yeah, I get that too. It just seems like such a cop out excuse: Well, it can’t be perfect, so why bother?

      • There is no reason not to put bang bang plays at plates to review. They do the same thing in cricket and it takes 30 seconds or so. It is like wrestling. Even though you can replay after the ref’s decision stands. I should never be able to compare Baseball to professional wresting.

        If you SMEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL what Josh Doan is Cooking.

  4. I dont’ really get this “Where do we put the runners” – I spent two seconds thinking about it and came up with at least one good solution for foul balls being reversed to fair.

    Infield ball – Ground Rule Single
    Outfield ball – Ground Rule Double

    But how can you rule out a replay system for a play like Andrew Galarraga’s botched final out – just because you can’t figure out where to put the runners on a foul ball play…

    Do as the NFL did – get the system in place – and work out the kinks after.

    Also – Next time my work isn’t perfect, I’m just going to tell my boss “Listen, life isnt perfect…for all of us who want everything to be right all the time, it’s not going to happen. I don’t know why we want everything to be perfect.”

    I’ll let everyone know how that one goes…

  5. Nice post, Dustin. I thought the obvious correlation you were going to make between the steroid testing and replay was that, like steroids, replay is trending towards activation but will likely need something to justify its use as opposed to an outright revelation. Though most of us would agree that enough mistakes have been made to warrant replay, let’s see what happens when a titanic miss happens in the World Series and the boobirds come hunting for Selig.

    Also, I was very interested to see Joe Torre recycle an old baseball refrain in his defense of no-replay: the “the game is imperfect” rhetoric. I played the game for 15 years and had coaches use that exact line on me as a means of sculpting an implacable focus and dedication to my own personal effort. All together not surprised then, to see it used there. If the bloggers of baseball were children that rhetoric might work, but not so in the face of logic. Again, nice work.

  6. I’ve always thought about using AL rules in NL ballparks and vice versa as well, hope they implement it. Just to add some freshness for the fans.

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