Before Game 2 of the World Series, Bud Selig sat down with Bob Costas for an interview that aired Friday evening on the MLB Network.
Costas led off the session with a question I've been asked ... In the wake of the greatest day in baseball history, shouldn't the potential loss of such high drama give pause to those who want to change the current playoff system?
Selig on a new set-up:
It sets up different scenarios. You're right: In this particular year, that probably would have been the case ... However, you don't do things for one year. That's the mistake ... Bob, you do it for 20 years, 30 years. These are permanent changes. And we believe, after really studying it, that if we can agree on all the details -- and we have not yet; I really want to make that point -- that 10 teams out of 30 is still not too many ... The fact of the matter is, there were different scenarios that would have set up. Yes, you're right. That last Wednesday of the season was really one of the great days in baseball; the last three weeks of the season were unbelievably exciting. But other years will present other possibility.
Which is exactly right. People have looked at the historical record -- presumably Bud's people among them -- and it's essentially a wash. For every great bit of drama you would lose by adding another playoff team in each league, you would gain another great bit somewhere else. At least in terms of photo finishes, battles for playoff spots coming down to the last day or two.*
* I am sure that some of my friends would argue that while you might have as many close races, the drama's not quite the same because the teams involved wouldn't be quite as good. May I grant that point and move along?
Anyway, Selig thinks this will happen in 2013, but possibly 2012. And there doesn't seem to be any consensus regarding the length of the new first round: single game, or best-of-three.
About the All-Star Game counting -- and I suspect Costas isn't a big fan -- he asked Selig, "If this game is gonna count for as much as it counts for, don't you need to reform the game itself?"
Selig's response might actually be news: It will be done for next year.
Well, we're working on that, actually. And everyone's been extremely cooperative. It's very possible that we could change the date of the All-Star Game, allow players more flexibility.
A lot of these players ... I talked to some of them, actually two or three of them called me to explain their position, and I appreciate that. Yes, I think we do have to do some things. We'll have some announcement after the first of the year. But I think we will give everybody an opportunity to at least play in something. And I will expect everybody to be there.
In other "news" ...
- MLB is planning to add "small things" to video review, perhaps limited to fair/foul calls down the lines.
- Selig said that the Astros moving to the American League to even out the leagues is just "one of three or four scenarios" he's looking at. I'd love to know what those others are.
- Selig's perfectly happy with the number of interleague games, and continues to make a statistical/attendance case for keeping things as they are. Of course he's comparing apples to oranges, but we've been through all that before.
- Asked to list ownership's three key issues in the ongoing negotiations over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Selig chose a) competitive balance, b) "slotting" for amateur draft picks, and c) a world-wide draft.
- The Commissioner is hoping that the new CBA includes provisions for testing major leaguers for HGH; he's also hoping for a ban on chewing tobacco in Major League Baseball games. (Good luck with both of those!)
It's never easy for me to admit this, but once again I'm finding myself agreeing with Commissioner Bud more than disagreeing. I can't figure out if he's changed, or I have.