Every morning, the fine folks at Sports Radio Interviews sift through the a.m. drive-time chatter to bring you the best interviews with coaches, players, and personalities across the sports landscape. Today: the Commish is ready for change.
Bud Selig joined XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix with Bickley and MJ to discuss Derek Jeter skipping the 2011 All-Star game, why he understands and supports Jeter's decision, his reaction to the theory that injuries are up this year as a result of steroids use being way down, the likelihood of expanded playoff format being implemented next season, and realignment also being a part of Major League Baseball's future.
What are your thoughts on Derek Jeter withdrawing from the 2011 All-Star game after getting his 3,000th hit on Saturday? Did any part of you think we need to revisit this idea because too many guys are withdrawing from the game?
"Well it's interesting no one in the National League has done that [withdrew]. The only player that is not here that was invited was Chipper Jones. I'm doing the American League and I haven't gotten the results yet. I don't think that is true. If you take out and I'll get back to Derek in a minute. If you take out the pitchers and Joe Torre and I had dinner last night actually with George Will and a bunch of other people. We talked about that. We're the ones that put the rule in. If you have pitched yesterday you can't pitch Tuesday, so there's no sense in playing in that game. Now are things we can do without. We have talked about that. If you look at these rosters there's 5 National League guys who are hurt and everyone one of them has come here starting with Ryan Braun. Look Derek Jeter, who I talked to on Saturday. Joe [Torre] got him on the phone with me and Derek Jeter really has been as good as it can get in the last year. He's makes my life a lot easier and he's so good. He's coming off…and he was very careful to say ‘Look I have been hurt. I still kind of feel it. We are going to Toronto on the turf, which is very tough.' I understand that. Look he's not 27 years old anymore. He's 37 years old, which is young by my standards, but I understand. I'll say to that the interest in playing in the game has been marvelous and I am proud of everybody."
There have been quite a bit of injuries in this era of Major League Baseball. Is that a good piece of evidence that steroids are out of baseball with players being hurt more often than they have been before? Is Major League Baseball cleaner that is has been?
"I would make this…it's interesting I'm going to have a conference call with trainers. At least 16 to 18 of them and maybe more now. They told me they had 18 lined up. I do that often now. I have great respect for the professional athletic trainers. They are not only good, but having run a club nobody knows what's going on more in any sport than what trainers does in the clubhouse and they are so optimistic. I call them now. I want to know what we should do? What should we do about this? Remember we banned amphetamines. Nobody seems to understand. We did that on our own. No one asked us to do it, so we did it. I think the sport…because I had doctors tell me 3,4,5 years ago they were more concerned about amphetamines at that point than steroids. They thought we gotta really clean this up. Now we banned both. Yes I know there is human growth hormone. We're working hard. We are spending a lot of money. We're testing in the minor leagues. No other sport is doing that. As soon as we have a reliable blood test we will do that. I believe this sport is cleaner today than it has been in a long time. I couldn't put an exact time on it, but if you asked me is it really much cleaner than it was 20 years ago you bet it is."
Is expanded playoffs happening next year in baseball?
"I believe so. Yes. Yes. You'll remember this. I remember in 1993 I was acting commissioner, not thinking I would be there long. Of course here it is, 18-19 years later, but interesting when we went to the Wild Card I got killed by all the traditionalists. I got killed. I don't know where you were on that. I don't remember. Now you have to admit it has not only worked out well. Just think about this I talked to some Red Sox fans over there and I did a chat on MLB.com. They said to me on the way out if it wasn't for the Wild Card 2004 would never happened, which is one of the legendary stories. Eight out of thirty teams [in the playoffs] isn't too many. It's less than any sport by far. I wont look at any other sport. You'll have to make your own judgement on that. Now we go to ten out of thirty [teams]. That is fair. It's just fair. Ten [teams] is not a bad number. Yes I have every reason to move it ahead, but we need to work out some details frankly in which we have been debating in the last month or so."
What are your thoughts on realignment? Are your more interested on locations or time zones?
"I don't know yet. The story that was ran was not only premature, but I'm not even sure where it came from, but I'm trying to be kind this morning, which Dan would tell you is unusual. Look I love realignment. In 1997 when we needed a team to move. I didn't want to move Milwaukee. They wanted to. My daughter was telling me they really wanted to, but I gave Kansas City a chance to move. David Glass who I love and thought should have moved. They had six weeks. They made up their mind and they didn't want to move and then Milwaukee moved. I believe in geographical realignment. I believe in a lot of things, but there is many details to work out and so there's thing we can do. Things we need to do as short term things and it's just premature right now. We're kicking a lot of things around. I want to be very careful. We make so many changes, but I always want to be careful that we don't do something I regret and so far we haven't and I'm trying to keep it that way."
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