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Bud Selig's Turn At Bat


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Bud Selig's Turn at Bat

Selig on team disparities, and his role as baseball commishMajor League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig took time out from the Subway Series to sit down with Sports Business Contributing Editor Mark Hyman and other editors for a freewheeling discussion of the great issues facing the game, such as the gulf between have and have-not clubs and who will buy the Red Sox. Since Selig could wind up as the ultimate arbiter of the bat-throwing incident in Game 2 of the Series that cost Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens a $50,000 fine, he declined to comment on the episode. But he wasn't reticent about the need to fix the disparities between teams.Q: You've talked often about concerns that the big-revenue clubs are crowding out the small-market teams. Isn't this [the Subway Series] another example of that and therefore not good for baseball?A: Well, the fact is [this Series] is the manifestation of the system that we have today. You have the highest-payroll team [the Yankees] playing the third-highest-payroll team [the Mets]. But in terms of the continued renaissance of the game, this is a good World Series.Q: There seem to be a lot of people who are very bullish about baseball. I noticed recently that the financial markets extended [the league] a billion-dollar line of credit, plus TV feels very positive about baseball, with Fox having just paid $2.5 billion for postseason rights. Yet often within baseball, you hear more of a pessimistic view about the future of the game. Why is that?A: I think the concerns you are talking about internally are the result of the disparity issue and the economic issues that surround it. I don't think anybody inside the game doubts that we are in the midst of a renaissancebut there is no doubt wherever I go, all people want to talk about are players' salaries, disparity, what are you going to do about it? It's really an amazing paradox, because you have this incredible popularity, with attendance rising this year to almost 73 million.... On the other hand, you have the Minnesota Twins with a payroll of $15 million and the New York Yankees with a payroll of $115 million. So that's my job--get all this in line.Q: To fix the disparity issue, when do you move from persuasion to coercion?A: Shortly. I've spent enough time establishing all the facts.Q: The Red Sox are for sale. What sort of ownership group do you envision there?A: It is a very crucial franchise. This is not a happy set of events, but that's life. Hopefully, it will be a local group because I believe in local ownership.Q: When you were acting commissioner, you were criticized a lot for not being tough enough. Since you've become commissioner you have consolidated a lot of power in the Office of the Commissioner and assembled a strong management team. Were you just playing possum when you were acting commissioner?A: I wasn't playing possum but....I was reluctant to do anything without building a consensus. One thing about being commissioner, whatever you do, somebody is going to be mad at you.For a video of Selig, go to the Business Week Media Center at www.businessweek.com/mediacenter/


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