ORLANDO – Bud Selig said today that he will reconvene the 14-man special baseball panel to discuss playoff expansion in early December at the Winter Meetings which begin Dec. 6 in Orlando.
Selig has grown more receptive to a concept of expanding playoffs that he was once against after the initial expansion of wild card teams was announced in Boston in 1993.
“It has a lot of different variations,” Selig said. “We have a lot of constituents and the Players Association would be involved. We’ll be discussing this.”
The 14-man committee includes Tony LaRussa, Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Joe Torre, Andy MacPhail, John Schuerholz, Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt, Dave Montgomery, Frank Robinson, Mark Shapiro, Terry Ryan, Chuck Armstrong and George Will.
Selig wouldn’t say whether a new round of playoffs involving one more playoff team in each league and leading to a wildcard round, would be able to get off the ground for next season. Selig said the topic will be discussed quite a bit this winter and “once we pass something I like to see it started as soon as possible.”
Selig said there are a number of issues that he has that would have to be resolved, one being whether to use a one-game sudden death format for the first round or best-of-three. “It’s not that we can’t solve them but we have to be very careful. I’m still very cautious about moving forward and change.” Selig said when GM’s discussed the new format at a meeting on Wednesday with Selig “there were a lot of differences in the room.”
“I love the wild card, but this sport has always been resistant to change. It’s a social institution and social institutions by their nature are opposed to change. The wild card worked out far better than I ever dreamed, never dreaming that it produced some of the greatest moments in history.”
“Eight is very fair number and so is 10,” he said.
Selig described yesterday’s meeting as one which “had no controversy” and one where a lot of discussion occurred on many subjects. Much of it were subjects not of interest to the general public such as pensions, legislative reports, MLB Network, and a general discussion on baseball economics. Selig said he would reconvene with the GM’s January 12-13 in Phoenix.
Selig said he congratulated the Rangers and Giants on their World Series appearances.
Selig was optimistic about a new basic agreements because of the good relationship which exists between MLB’s Ron Manfred and MLBPA chief Michael Weiner. Selig went back to the old Marvin Miller-Bowie Kuhn days to compare the stark differences in the tone and the relationship between the two bodies now and then.
“Nobody ever could have dreamed we’d have 16 years of labor peace,” said Selig, who referenced 25 years of real nastiness between owners and the players’ union in what was “as bad of a relationship as ever existed.”
Selig didn’t think there was much support by owners for the reduction of the 162-game schedule. Nor did he think that owners would go for scheduled double-headers in order to allow the regular season to end sooner to accommodate the possible new playoff round.
Selig also said the despite the economic problems in the country baseball had had “two of the best years we’ve ever had” with revenues pushing $7 billion.
Selig said that expanding instant replay was not discussed.