ST. LOUIS - Turns out Commissioner Bud Selig was like the rest of us. He wondered why on Earth should a guy coming off a 50-game steroid suspension be able to have a rehab assignment before the 50 days are up? That was bargained for by the players union and major league baseball, but Selig made it crystal clear this morning speaking before the Baseball Writers of America at the Hilton Hotel in downtown St. Louis, he'd like to see that eliminated during the next negotiations when the basic agreement runs out in 2011.
"I believe that should be changed in the next labor negotiations," Selig said. (Serve) Fifty games and then you do what you got to do," Selig said.
Two ex-Red Sox who served suspensions for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs - J.C. Romero and Manny Ramirez - got to do a rehab assignment. Pitchers get up to 16 days and position players up to 10 to rehab so they can join their respective teams and hit the ground running under the current system. Selig also addressed the "positive" response Ramirez received from fans and admitted he was surprised.
"I did monitor it," Selig said, who said he was surprised with the positive nature of it, but he indicated "You always get back to the fact that fans want their team to win." Selig, however did reference the 2,400 tests performed this season and that only one - Ramirez - had tested positive. Romero tested positive prior to the start of the season.
In other Selig items:
Selig denied that there was any collusion against the 2008 free agent crop.
"That's fine....they're (agents) entitled to their opinion," said Selig of the Players' Association looking into collusion. "This is one sport where I can't even fathom that anybody could think that."
"Let me be blunt," Selig said, "Some live in the real world not in some scenario that doesn't exist." Selig asked MLB executive vice president Rob Manfred what the average salary was. Manfred said $3.2 million.
"I rest my case," Selig said. "They can say what ever they want. I'm not going to spend any more time reacting to that."
General counsel Michael Weiner, who will replace Donald Fehr as executive director soon, told reporters on Monday, "The (collusion) investigation is ongoing but not complete because of things to review. We've had some discussions with the commissioner's office. I'll know more I think by the end of the month."
Selig thought major league baseball was doing well at the gate considering the economy.
He said his goal for attendance at the All-Star break was 40 million fans and said total attendance has fallen about 40,000 short of that. He said attendance was down 5 percent and said that when he tells people in other industries about the lack of a substantial falloff that they're amazed and stunned. Selig also said that both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field in New York have reduced capacities than the old Shea and Yankee Stadium which account for some of the downturn.
"In a sense, it may be out greatest season," Selig said.
Selig was impressed at the magnitude of President Obama coming to the game tonight. He said Obama has stressed community service in this country and feels major league baseball has done a great job recognizing community service and doing their part in the inner cities through their charitable programs such as the Baseball Tomorrow Fund and the RBI Program and All Stars Among Us.
Selig briefly addressed the Pete Rose ban and said there was nothing new on the possibility there would be discussed of ever reinstating Rose. "He did accept a lifetime suspension," said Selig, who said his office has spent time discussing the Rose situation.