The expansive interview hit on a number of topics including how the downturn in the economy has impacted attendance, the possible use of instant replay, whether maple bats constitute a "safety in the workplace" issue, the pace of the game, and much more.
The following two excerpts cover the issue of drug testing and the relationship with the MLBPA during the 2002 CBA negotiations.
The Business of Sports Network thanks XM Satellite Radio, and producer Brent Gambill for these transcription excerpts:
Steiner: What… Over the last couple of years, visa vie the Mitchell Report and all of the other stuff that we have gone through. Big picture… what does this all tell you about statistically where we are now. It appears home runs are down. Pitching velocity is down. Anecdotally, just talking to scouts and all, scouts are saying we are now beginning to assess young players at the high school and college level more athletically rather than in terms of sheer brawn. Big picture, how has the game adjusted post-steroids? Post all of that?
Selig: Well, extremely well. I tell ya the thing that makes me really very proud. I know people are critical; “they were too slow to react” and “they should’ve known”. All of those are debates that I could participate in very aggressively, but let’s review the bidding here for you Charley. We, today, have the toughest testing program in American sports. We’re proud of that. I’m very proud of it.
We’ve banned amphetamines. For those of us who have been along for a long time, and that includes the two of us, that’s a very, very significant thing. Amphetamines have been around for 80 to a hundred years in different forms. This idea that other generations haven’t used things to make them play better or whatever is just not true. We banned them. Nobody asked us to ban ‘em. We did it.
We’re funding a study and a program with Dr. Catlin in Los Angeles with the National Football League to find a test for human growth hormone.
My minor league program, Charley, is now in its eighth year, so the great young stars –
the Ryan Howards and the Prince Fielders and Ryan Brauns and Chase Utleys and on and on and on, there are a lot of them on every team – have now been tested for eight years. Not just tested the last year or two. So, this idea that we didn’t react well is just not right.
You know steroids… By the way, I would go and get George Mitchell again. That’s how, that’s how delighted I am that the report… That we got the report and it worked. But baseball reacted well. It’s a societal problem, Charley. It isn’t a baseball problem or a football problem or anything else. Not a sport problem. It’s a societal problem. We’re doing a lot work with the partnership for Drug Free America. All the players named in the Mitchell Report, and many other players who want to, are doing public service work with the partnership, so I am satisfied.
You go through life… I said to Jerome Holtzman, who is our baseball historian, whom you know obviously very well, is a remarkable human being and has a wonderful knowledge of the sport. I asked him about a year ago to go back to the ‘20s and point out to me each decade what problems commissioners had; what problems the sport had because people were writing in the late 90’s and even four, five, six, seven, eight years ago, “Oh, this is terrible. Baseball never had problems.” And of course they had. They’ve had a lot of problems like this. And, so I am proud of the fact. I give the Players Association a lot of credit; they reopened [the JDA] two or three times and they didn’t have to, which shows you that our 16 years of labor peace, which is also unprecedented, today that we did react well. So, a problem is a societal problem. We were in the forefront of taking action and doing things. Whatever happens as a result of that, frankly that’s just fine. That’s what we meant to do.
(further into the interview)
Steiner: The reproach ma that you had with Don [Fehr] and Gene [Orza] – that’s to say the players union and management. Could this have been done without the help of Congressional intervention?
Selig: Well, I think it could of. I know a lot of people say that’s what pushed us over. I happen to think their wrong, but that’s a debate probably not worth having. We proposed a steroid program in nineteen hundred and ninety-four. That’s a negotiation that broke down and the players were on strike so there was no World Series and we had a rocky period in the nineties. We had eight work stoppages from 1972 on. Now, here we are with 16 years of peace. We fought like the dickens in 2002 and it was the last item.
Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos were the two representatives at that time of ownership. Andy called me one night, I was home in Milwaukee and he was of course in New York, and after kidding me he’d like to watch his team play, but I’d had him there for about two and a half months. He said, “I wish you could have seen what went on today.” I said, “What happened.” He said, “Have you heard from Rob or Bob today?” Obviously, Rob Manfred and Bob DuPuy. I said, “I have but just briefly they are going to call me tonight.” He said, “I have to tell you, it was worth the price of admission. Angelos got into a brawl with Gene Orza over steroids and drugs and it was three hours of…” He said, “I’ve never heard anything like that.” So I had to make the decision at 6:30 in the morning Charley, do we take a program that I knew was not as strong as I like but have now since improved it a lot or have another work stoppage? I believed another work stoppage would hurt the game badly for maybe two or three generations and never it never came back. So you know the union – I don’t say this critically, they would not quarrel they had the privacy issues and other issues – they were dead set against it. So sometimes in life Charley you have to reach a certain point before you are willing to change, but people talk about the Congressional thing. Remember my minor league program went into affect in 2001. We were working with the Partnership for Drug Free America. Drug testing is something that has to be collectively bargained. That is not something that the Commissioner can do unilaterally. People don’t say it much any more, but I used to hear, “Well, if Landis was still the Commissioner.” Well, there’s two facts involved: One, he isn’t and two, he didn’t have to deal with the Players Association, and life was much different. Commissioners are bound by rules, too. Was it Congressional intervention that really did it? Look, I think it probably helped to some degree, but we were already there and frankly, owners don’t get enough credit. I want to tell you something Charley, no owner has ever said to me, “Gee, I like the home runs” or, “This is good.” Owners have always had deep and abiding concerns and last year – last week, when we approved the new drug testing program, which we did in about 30 seconds after Rob Manfred got done, Frank McCourt of the Dodgers really wanted to be the club that did this. (He) got up immediately, there was a second. I asked if there was any discussion. A vote was taken. Thirty to nothing. Done. Over. That’s always been the case.
To read the entire interview with Commissioner Selig from today’s Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner on XM 175, go to:
The Independent Leagues are constantly changing, always evolving, trying to discover the right formula to put the best product on the field, while making it conveniently affordable for its fans. In what looks like another exceptional move for the Northern League, it has been announced that the Rockford RiverHawks will be joining them for the 2010 season.
The Northern League was formed in 1993, with a 72-game schedule. When the Northern League consisted of between eight and twelve teams, the schedule was 96-games with two divisions, beginning in late May and ends in August around Labor Day. The Division leaders in each half qualify for the post-season, but when the league dropped to six teams in 2008, a 96-game schedule was still being played but the season was not split and did not have divisions. They did implement a new system where the top four teams qualified for the playoffs; the first place team plays the fourth, the second and third place team’s play and the winners battle it out in a best of five championship series. The Northern League is widely known as the dominant or most well known Independent League in baseball and with two new teams likely to arrive in 2010, it appears they are ahead of the curve yet again. RiverHawks Director of Baseball Operations, Dave Ciarrachi, commented on the situation, “This will broaden our marketing base as well as our media exposure, “we feel that this is a tremendous upgrade for our franchise.” Currently the Northern League consists of six teams, the Kansas City T-Bones, located in Kansas City, Kansas, the Fargo-Moorehead RedHawks and the Winnipeg Goldeyes. The league also consists of three Chicago based teams; the Schaumburg Flyers, the Joliet Jackhammers and the Gary Southshore RailCats.
An apparent merger between the Northern League and the Frontier League was in the works, it did not evolve, but apparently the move was agreed upon by all parties. "We're going to try to upgrade our on-field product," Ciarrachi said. In a recent article by the Rockford Register Star, Josh Olerud, general manager and vice president of sales for the RiverHawks, explains the thinking behind the switch, “It’s a big step for us on the field, player-wise and talent wise, and also just with the exposure the big Northern League has”. If you look at the specifics between leagues, you might see another reason. The Frontier League is more of a developmental league with an age limit of 26. The Northern League has no age restrictions and a higher team salary; $105,000 compared to $72,000. This is a very exciting opportunity for Rockford and the Northern League. On one hand, you have Rockford who has a very successful organization, winning the Frontier League Championship in 2004 and winning the West Division in 2004 and 2006 and for the Northern League, this is another chance for them to expand its marketing and ticketing opportunities. The RiverHawks Road Ranger Stadium is within 100 miles of 4 teams in the league, something Ciarrachi is thrilled about, “We have the opportunity for players to interact with our community for a longer period of time, it gives us the chance to put the best professional baseball product on the field.”
Devon Teeple is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM's Perspective, is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels. Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Southern Ontario Canada.
Albert Pujols is the featured story in this week's ESPN The Magazine. And while he is not Derek Jeter from a marketing standpoint, heis becoming more and more the face of Major League Baseball. When doing research for the article that I co-wrote with Larry Borowsky for the Maple Street Press 2010 Cardinals Annual entitled The Cost Of Doing Business, I spoke with Dan Farrell, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, and Martin Coco Director of Advertising and Fan Development for the Cardinals. Pujols is a key part of the organization both on and off the field.
The new Miami Marlins (yes, that's what they will be named by then) ballpark opens in 2012, but this animation from Populous, who is designing it, really shows just how much of a break it will be with past designs. Enjoy.
The Red Sox had it last season. The ’08 Yankees were sick as a dog. Remember the 2007 Cardinals? They could barely get out of bed. These teams came down with the injury bug. Not just the usual bump and bruise, not just a tight hammy here or dead arm there, but the rampant spreading of what could only be described as collective bad luck.
As of Opening Day, nobody officially has the bug, but several teams will be missing key players to start the season. Here are some of the most important players starting the season on the DL:
RP Angel Guzman (Chicago Cubs) – Guzman underwent arthroscopic surgery in March to repair a “career threatening” injury to his right shoulder. In 2009, Guzman was the only consistent Cubs reliever sporting a 2.95 ERA in 55 games.
SP Ted Lilly (Chicago Cubs) - Lilly, likely the team's third starter, was put on the DL Sunday retroactive March 26. Lilly has made several minor league appearances and has looked good. Manager Lou Pinella said he felt "wonderful." Return is likely when he becomes eligible.
3B Freddy Sanchez (San Francisco Giants) – After signing a two-year, $12 million extension in the off-season, Sanchez will start the year on the 15-day DL. The infielder surprised the Giants when he had surgery in January to get rid of discomfort in his shoulder.
2B Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers) - Kinsler sustained a high ankle sprain March 12 and will not be ready for the opening of the season. Kinsler, who was put on the DL retroactive March 26 will be available April 10.
1B Russell Branyan (Cleveland Indians) – After signing a one-year, $2 million contract in the off-season, Branyan will start the year on the DL due to a herniated disc in his back. Branyan hit 31 home runs last season for the Seattle Mariners. The primary first baseman is likely to start the year on rehab in triple-A Columbus.
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox) - The Sox announced Sunday that Matsuzaka will start April 10 for triple-A Pawtucket. The Boston pitcher has struggled with back and neck problems that put him behind in spring training.
SP Cliff Lee (Seattle Mariners) – The new Mariners starter said he “felt good” after throwing Sunday. He has been shut down since March 15 with a strained abdominal muscle. Lee suffered the injury after being run over by Dimondbacks’ catcher Chris Snyder. The timetable on Lee’s return is still unclear, but the team says he may be ahead of schedule.
SS Jose Reyes (New York Mets) – Reyes, who missed 126 games during the 2009 season, starts where he left off: on the DL. He missed most of spring training with thyroid issues. Reyes did take 10 minor league at bats and says “everything is good.” The Mets have not announced when Reyes will return.
CF Carlos Beltran (New York Mets) - Beltran was another player who surprised his team with off-season surgery. He is reported to be seeing action soon. As for now, Gary Matthews Jr. will start in center for the Mets.
RP J.P. Howell (Tampa Bay Rays) – The Rays have not yet revealed their timetable on their closer J.P. Howell. It appears they are taking precautions as he has struggled with soreness in his shoulder. Rotoworld suggested Howell may return in early May.
RP Kerry Wood (Cleveland Indians) – Saying Kerry Wood is on the DL is like saying Babe Ruth hit home runs. Wood strained a muscle in his back and will be on the DL retroactive March 26. Chris Perez will take over as closer while Wood is out.
SP - Gil Meche(Kansas City Royals) – The Royals starter was put on the DL retroactive March 26 with right shoulder bursitis. He’s already thrown several times and is tentatively scheduled to start the sixth game of the regular season for the Royals.
SP Scott Kazmir (Anaheim Angels) – The Angels placed Kazmir on the DL as a precaution. He threw 71 pitches against the Brewers in an exhibition game.
SP Jeff Francis (Colorado Rockies) – The left-hander missed 2009 with surgery to repair a torn labrum. Apparently it isn’t healed yet because Francis says “It’s hurting pretty bad.” He was scheduled to start the second game of the season, but will miss at least the first couple of weeks.
RP Houston Street (Colorado Rockies) - USA Today reported that the Rockies’ closer had a setback in his attempt to overcome right shoulder stiffness. He was shut down for the third time during the spring earlier this week. Left-hander Franklin Morales will take over as Rockies closer.
CL Brad Lidge (Philadelphia Phillies) – The Phlis’ closer struggled last season with injuries, seeing his numbers suffer as well. Lidge threw a bullpen session Sunday. The Phillies said Lidge had “No pain. No issues.” Lidge had surgery on the inner half of his elbow after the World Series last season. The closer will make rehab appearances in early April and will likely join the team later in the month.
1B Lance Berkman (Houston Astros) - Berkman, who has suffered from knee injuries and recovering from arthroscopic surgery, said he is unsure about whether he'll be able to return when he is eligible on April 10. His recovery period was originally estimated to between two and four weeks.