DETROIT -- It took Bud Selig years to overcome being labeled the commissioner who killed the World Series in the aftermath of the 1994 players' strike. Yesterday, Selig, who has been batted around in Congressional hearings and excoriated in a new book on baseball's steroid era, was asked if he feared he might be remembered as the commissioner who turned a blind eye to steroids.
Selig's face flashed with anger.
''The thing about the whole steroid thing, yes, I'm the commissioner of baseball, so naturally, I accept this reasonably, [that] people say, 'Well, Bud, you're the commissioner of baseball.' But I'm a baseball man. In the '90s, I went from [spring training] camp to camp, and talked to every manager, general manager, owners in some cases, and not one person ever came to me [on steroids].
''I'm the one in 1998 after the Mark McGwire thing [the controversy over his use of androstenedione] who went -- I've told the story -- who went to my pharmacy on a Sunday morning. From that day on, I worried about it, set a policy in the minor leagues.
''Billy Beane said it best to me," said Selig, who saw the Athletics general manager the day after testifying before a Congressional panel in March. ''He said, 'I played here, I scouted here, I was an assistant general manager, I never saw any of it [steroid use].' I got that from every camp.
''So this idea that this sanctimonious, 'Well, he should have known and they should have known,' well OK, maybe that's so. Then that means you guys [media] should have known. But there was only a sum total of 11 articles from 1987 to '98 or '99 that even mentioned it. I'm not being critical of you guys. I was there with you.
''So I'm not worried because the game has never been healthier, never been more popular."
Selig, who made his customary appearance yesterday afternoon at a meeting of the Baseball Writers Association of America, said although he believes baseball's current steroid testing plan is working, he continues to support more stiffer ''three strikes and you're out" penalties.
''I believe there is an integrity issue involved that transcends whether the program is working or not," Selig said. ''We must create the understanding everywhere that we mean to rid this sport of steroids. The perception that we don't mean it is there, and has affected every component part of baseball, starting with the commissioner."
Later, Selig again insisted that it was unfair, as his critics charge, that baseball willfully ignored steroid use. It was only after the fact, he said, that steroid use was cited for the explosion in home runs. Before that, he said, people pointed to ''juiced" baseballs, [corked] bats, diluted pitching and smaller ballparks for the increase.
''Brian Cashman, I talked to about it the second day of the year. I was in Yankee Stadium, my first question was, 'Let's just go back from the time you walked in here, and he gave me the same exact answer as Billy Beane did,' " said Selig, citing a conversation he had with the Yankees general manager. ''[Braves GM] John Schuerholz called me on the phone and he said, 'Commissioner, I just want you to know I've been a guy who has been in this game since 1975. I don't know where these people are coming from."
Reliever Chad Bradford should become a member of the Red Sox in time to pitch in the series against the Yankees, which begins tomorrow night in Boston. Bradford, the submarining reliever who has been on rehab assignment after undergoing back surgery in March, likely will fill the seventh inning role previously occupied by Matt Mantei before he was lost for the season with an ankle injury. The Sox gave up disgruntled outfielder Jay Payton for Bradford, with the deal expected to be finalized no later than tomorrow . . . There were strong indications Gabe Kapler is already in Boston after his unhappy playing experience in Japan, in anticipation of being signed by the Sox to replace Payton. But Kapler, who hit .153 for the Yomiuri Giants, has yet to clear waivers and wrote in an e-mail that he is not in a position to comment about his status . . . An exasperated Terry Francona addressed rumors that Manny Ramirez last week used sunglasses that had a built-in music player. ''I wish somebody had asked me," Francona said. ''Somebody called me and told me it was a big deal [in Boston]. In Texas, I knew about it. [First base coach] Lynn Jones came to me and said, 'Hey, don't panic, but Manny's got these glasses, he can't see because of the glare.' I think he wore them for an inning. They had no battery in them. He can't see. He's scuffling. Johnny [Damon] said they couldn't see." . . . Ramirez could have his wallet lightened by Major League Baseball after missing Monday's mandatory media interview session. The fine could be $5,000, $10,000 or more, an MLB official said, depending on the results of its inquiry. What MLB officials found so exasperating, they said, is that Ramirez arrived with the other Sox All-Stars on a chartered flight Sunday night and was in town.
Rogers hears it
Francona used Texas pitcher Kenny Rogers, who heard the loudest boos during introductions at
His Sox are on
Justin Duchscherer wanted to play for a Boston Red Sox manager. He didn't think he'd get his chance like this. Boston drafted Duchscherer, an Oakland Athletics reliever with a 4-1 record and 1.49 ERA who made the American League All-Star team, in the eighth round of the 1996 draft. The Red Sox traded Duchscherer, who's making a bargain-basement $302,000 this season, to Texas in June, 2001 for catcher Doug Mirabelli. Duchscherer was playing for Double A Trenton when Boston traded him. Last night, he played for Francona, which is not the way he imagined debuting for a Sox skipper. ''I was disappointed when I got traded away from the Red Sox," Duchscherer said. ''I was really hoping to get to the big leagues with those guys." . . . Here's what David Eckstein said of top Sox prospect Dustin Pedroia, who has been compared with the Cardinals' infielder because of his size and hustling approach to the game. ''Is he the kid from Arizona State? Yeah, I saw him play at ASU a few years ago. There was an agent around me, and he said, 'Everyone's comparing him to you.' Then I was in Boston, and someone there told me, 'We just drafted a guy just like you.' From what I've heard, it sounds like we're pretty similar players."
Globe correspondent Adam Kilgore contributed to this report