Bud Selig meets annually with the APSE at Major League Baseball's Manhattan headquarters. From my understanding, it used to be more of an off-the-record exchange of complaints between MLB officials and newspapers sports editors. But now it has evolved into an on-the-record, question-and-answers session.
So, here's what the commish had to say:
--In what I thought was the most interesting, new item of the day - like most people in his position, Selig tends to repeat opinions and anecdotes - Selig said he has discussed the idea of a "True World Series" with his Japanese equivalent Ryozo Kato. As you can see in the linked story, Kato has similar wishes.
I asked Selig if he meant a series pitting the World Series champion against the Japan Series champion. "That’s exactly right," Selig said. "Maybe one year it would be the US vs. Japan. Who knows?"
This would be awesome, IMO. On paper, undoubtedly, the MLB team would be heavily favored. But in a series - let's say, four out of seven? Anything could happen.
Selig wouldn't put a time span on this, and he noted, "There's all kinds of problems" with the logistics. I think the key would be finding a sponsor or sponsors willing to fund the event and make it worth everyone's while.
After that, you'd have to figure out exactly where the games would be played. Would you have a dual-continent series? Or would you alternate years of homefield advantage, in which all seven (or whatever) games are played in one team's ballpark, to avoid the exhausting travel?
--I'll keep stumping for an extra playoff team, but it ain't happening. Here's what Selig said:
"I’m sensitive about our postseason going into November. I really am sensitive. A lot of people, including members of my committee, want to take the first round into seven games. Well, that’s fine. But that just extends it. I said to the committee, if you want to be playing on Thanksgiving Day…
"If you want to cut the schedule to 154 games, then we can start talking about it. So far, I haven’t found one club interested in doing that."
--Selig, while asserting that the game's illegal performance-enhancing drug culture has changed for the better, reiterated that he wants to develop a viable test for HGH. So I asked Selig what his understanding was of HGH. What impact it could have by itself, as opposed to a player who combined HGH with a steroid (which, of course, can be detected through baseball's current urine tests).
Selig declined to answer that. He said, "One can debate what HGH does or doesn’t do. It needs to be banned."
For PR reasons, I asked, as well as science reasons? After all, if HGH by itself doesn't do a heck of a lot - which is the assertion of many smarter than me - then the only reason to get worked up over it is to quiet the masses. Until the next drug comes along, of course.
"For health reasons," Selig said.
--Pace of game is a huge issue within the industry, as we know from Joe West, and Selig said that he and his committee were discussing it at length.
"I think we have come up with some things that will help quicken the games," he said. "Hopefully we’ll have an announcement soon."
Asked what the announcement would entail, Selig said, "Pitchers (stepping off the mound during at-bats), hitters (stepping out of the batter's box during at-bats). A little bit here, a little bit there. Managers going to the mound. We’re just in the process of discussing it."
I asked him if West was out of line with his comments. He declined to discuss West's words, specifically, but he made his opinion pretty clear with these general comments: "I prefer that if somebody has those things, they do that internally. That’s all. Whehter you’re right or wrong."
As for extended instant replay, another of my pet causes, Selig said it wasn't happening, due to his (misguided, IMO) belief that such a process would lengthen the game even more.
--He reiterated that he would retire when his current contract runs out, in 2012 (he'll be 78), and then he admitted that, just this past week, a friend came up to him and told Selig that he was sorry he'd be stepping down.
"My wife, who’s never shy, said, 'If you believe that, you’ll believe he just bought the Brooklyn Bridge,'" Selig said smiling.
As long as Selig stays healthy, I think he'll sign another extension, beyond 2012.
--Thanks to JE for this FanGraphs link, which explains that catchers' defense has been added to WAR.
--Good notes column by Jayson Stark, covering plenty of ground. What I liked in particular was Stark's takes on the A's and Rays, the last two teams with stadium issues. I agree with Stark that, eventually, the only for the A's to survive is a move to San Jose and - in conjucntion with that - a ginormous payoff to the Giants, who currently own the territorial rights to San Jose.
And in Tampa Bay, playing in St. Petersburg is simply not viable. The Rays have to move to Tampa, or even Orlando.
Thanks to Twitter, my brother from another mother, for the Stark column.