* Commissioner Bud Selig was impressed with the numbers -- 96,000 fans at Olympic Stadium to see the New York Mets-Toronto Blue Jays two-game exhibition series, but says that the Montreal group has a lot of work to do. .... 2014 Canadians drafted … Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
MINNEAPOLIS _ The question was a good one.
We hope it doesn’t become like Jim Hunt’s yearly question to Pete Rozelle at the annual NFL state of the union.
Ol’ Hunt would ask “when is the NFL coming to Toronto?”
With commissioner Bud Selig at the microphone for his annual state of the union, a Toronto columnist asked -- although not as loudly as Hunt -- during “about baseball returning to Montreal?”
Well, actually the question was “the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets drew 96,000 to Olympic Stadium for two exhibitions, as the owner who brought baseball back to Milwaukee did you find that interesting, did it make an impression?”
Responded Selig: “It did make a big impression. I was impressed. I’ve talked to a lot of people there. They have much work to do but that was very, very impressive. No question in my mind. We certainly in my case have no hard or angry feelings toward Montreal at all. They tried to keep the team there; it’s a long story. I think (the exhibitions were) marvelous. But they do have a lot of work to do.
“I wish them well. And I think they would be an excellent candidate in the future, no question about it.”
When options came up later for Canada getting a second team during Selig’s 12th annual address to the Baseball Writers of America the commissioner didn’t mention Montreal as an option.
_ The Oakland A’s.
Selig called it a “complex situation.”
The A’s hope their Coliseum lease extension will be passed at Wednesday’s meeting. Oakland councilman Larry Reid has said that the A’s would consider leaving for Montreal or San Antonio. A’s ownership disputes that.
“We want the lease situation satisfied,” said Selig. “We worked hard at it, made significant progress, hopefully, we’ll have that done. There are a lot of complicating things that have happened. Someway somehow, it’ll be worked out. What the timetable is ... it’s working it out in the right way.
“There are a lot of different parties involved with very strong feelings. I’ve been fortunate in my career to solve most everything else I tried and I’m proud of that. Some things in life that just take more time, and this is one of them.”
The committee to solve the A’s stadium issue has been working for 64 months.
“We’re talking about the complexity of the situation and difficulty, we had a deal done,” said Selig, “and we’ve got to go through the tortures of hell to get to where we are.”
As for moving to either Montreal or San Antonio?
“I read a lot of comments, and I have no idea where they’re coming from,” Selig said. “nobody certainly has talked to me, so it was beyond absurd.”
_ The Tampa Bay Rays.
Selig said it was obvious that the Rays need a new park but said he has faith in owner Stuart Sternberg.
“All you have to do is look at the daily attendance figures (an average of 16,902; the major-league average is 30,028) and you can see what they need. Demographics in the market are good, I have no question about that.
“I have a lot of faith in Stu Sternberg. Hopefully, before I leave office, there’ll be a conversation on all of this.”
While the commissioner admitted he had an opinion if the team would be better off with a new yard in Tampa, he wasn’t sharing.
“That’s a club’s decision,” Selig said. “I know they are talking to a lot of people.”
Selig would not address questions about the potential of the Rays eventually seeking permission to relocate to Montreal.
The other factor to be considered in a team moving to Montreal is what would the Blue Jays do if they suddenly had to slice up their advertising revenue?
Selig covered other topics.
_ Replay. Selig said expanded instant replay could use some tweaking. Joe Torre, executive vice-president, said there will be no major change to speed up the process like throwing a flag, as NFL coaches do. “In certain cities you may have a whole laundry bag come out on the field,” he said. A total of 47% of calls have been overturned, however when managers come out, retreat after getting a thumbs down after the replay has been examined, the number is 21%.
_ Length of games. Selig said the average game time is three hours and one minute and he’d like to see less dawdling from players fidgeting in the box or on the mound. “Some rules need to be enforced,” he said. “I know players have habits and habits are tough to break, but Henry Aaron reminded me in 20-something years, once he got in the batter’s box, he never got out.”
_ Home Run Derby: Monday’s Derby dragged on, as usual. “TV wants a three-hour program,” said Selig.
_ The Cincinnati Reds will be allowed to include Pete Rose in all-star festivities next season. “That’ll be up to the Cincinnati club, they know what they can do and they can’t do,” Selig said. Banned from betting on baseball in 1989, Rose was officially recognized twice at Great American Ball Park: on the 25th anniversary of his record-breaking 4,192nd hit in 2010 and at the dedication of the statue of Big Red Machine teammate, when the entire “Great Eight” last year.
_ Indians logo. The Washington Redskins had their patent taken away, will the Cleveland Indians be forced to change their Chief Wahoo logo, which many find offensive. “I’ve never had anybody raise the issue,” he said, stating both the Atlanta Braves and the Indians have taken polls indicating that there it’s not a problem.
_ Chewing tobacco. In light of Tony Gwynn’s death from oral cancer which Gwynn said was from chewing tobacco, Selig he would like to eliminate it, but didn’t call for a ban. “All we can do is communicate and hope it’s successful,” said Selig.
_ Drug testing. Selig believes baseball has “the best program there is” in sports, since it is the only sport that tests for human growth hormone.