Selig optimistic during Town Hall Chat
Commissioner addresses variety of topics in open forum
ST. LOUIS -- Citing stout attendance figures, high-tension rivalries and a performance-enhancing drug testing program that works, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig lauded the state of the game Tuesday at his annual All-Star Town Hall Chat.
Answering e-mail questions from fans and a handful of live queries from an assembled crowd at the All-Star FanFest, Selig praised the All-Star Game's host city and discussed how other metropolitan areas have been lining up to host future games.
"It is a remarkable baseball town," Selig said. "The Commissioner is always supposed to be neutral, but there are some great baseball cities; there is no city with a greater history, tradition and presence than St. Louis."
Questions for Selig ranged from the speculative -- the league someday playing games in Europe, for example -- to the pointed. One Blue Jays fan asked if MLB would ever consider doing away with the unbalanced schedule to help promote competitiveness; another asked if baseball might implement a replay challenge system similar to that used in the NFL.
Selig's answers leaned toward the status quo. He deflected questions of instant replay and downplayed talk of future expansion. He praised the schedule and promised nothing regarding the Hall of Fame bans on Pete Rose and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson.
In short, he reiterated that baseball is doing as well as anyone could hope in this time of economic trouble, and that the progressive actions that highlighted Selig's early tenure as Commissioner are simply no longer necessary.
The future, he said, is bright.
"I'm very confident that we are cultivating a younger generation," Selig said. "And I'll tell you, just look around at FanFest today and look over there. Now you tell me if we have lost the younger generation. I don't think so."
At that moment, fans were packed into the MLB.com booth on the center of the FanFest floor, and quite a few more hung over a short wall, listening as host Vinny Micucci read off the questions. Also in attendance were MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy and executive vice president of labor relations Rob Manfred.
On the topic of performance-enhancing drugs, Selig briefly discussed Manny Ramirez's suspension as proof that the current system is working.
Selig said that the league's roughly 2,500 negative tests were far more telling than any one positive test.
"Unfortunately, the only positive test was one of our star players," Selig said. "But what does that prove? That proves that, No. 1: Nobody is above the law. Whoever fails a test is going to go down, and he went down for 50 games."
Selig also defended ticket prices at Major League ballparks, calling the perception of baseball as unaffordable "a myth."
"Baseball is really affordable," Selig said. "There is no question about it. As a matter of fact, we wouldn't be drawing the huge attendances we have the last seven or eight years if it wasn't family entertainment. We are up at [higher] attendance levels now than ever before. Clubs are doing discounting everywhere, and that's enabling families to come to games. Our attendance has been remarkable."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.