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 on Melky, the wild cards, and labor peace.
Bud Selig joined ESPN New York with The Mike Lupica Show to discuss the craziness that is the race for the second wildcard spots, the resurgence of baseball in Baltimore, playoff contenders having a wide array of payrolls, the ugly situations of Yunel Escobar and Melky Cabrera and the state of baseball as a business.
When you created the second wild card, did you imagine there would be so many teams in the race in September?
"It's remarkable, because you know how much I deliberated on this and talked about it and thought about it. I loved what I did originally in '93 and now this. But in my wildest dreams I couldn't have drawn up anything like this. This is phenomenal. Two or three or four days ago, there were 18 teams still in the running. … I knew it would be good. Did I think it would be this good? No."
Does the resurgence of a baseball city like Baltimore make you happy?
"It makes me very happy. You know, what I remember so poignantly, in the late 70s and early to mid-80s, Milwaukee and Baltimore had a great rivalry. … It went down to the last game of the 1982 season. … Baltimore, Md., is a great baseball town and this is incredible. [Tuesday] night they go 18 innings and win again. Here you are, on the 19th of Sept., and the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles are in a dead heat."
On the potential playoff teams having such a wide disparity in payrolls:
"You know, I set out in the 90s to try to … make sure that management skills also are important. As you look at Washington today, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh's had a terrific year until the last couple weeks, Oakland which is a stunning story. … We have more parity, competitive balance - call it whatever you want - than we've ever had in our history."
How much of a headache could it be if there are tiebreaker games needed to decide those final wild card spots?
"I only wish that would happen. If you can figure out a way to make that happen, I'll be the happiest guy in America."
What was your reaction to the Yunel Escobar situation, and did you think the punishment was appropriate?
"I do. I think the punishment is appropriate. … You've often heard me say, and I believe this with every fiber in my body, that baseball is a social institution. It has enormous social responsibility. So when I hear something like this, it's disappointing. It's just disappointing. But we've dealt with it, and I'm very comfortable that we've dealt with it. … Whether the young man knew what he was doing or not is irrelevant. The fact is he did it and we can't allow that."
On the suspension of Melky Cabrera:
"Let me correct something: People said, when that happened, ‘Aw, you must be disappointed, Commissioner. Isn't this terrible?' No, it isn't terrible. It shows our program is working. We've administered well over 4,000 tests and we've had five positives. That, alone, is a very dramatic manifestation of how good our program is."
Are you happy with baseball as a business right now?
"I am. You know, I always say to the owners, when the focus in on the field and not on all these other issues, we're doing great. The sport has never been more popular. We have peace. Things are working well. It's my job to make sure that we continue doing that. But given everything right now, I'm just very grateful for where we are."
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