Introduction from Angels Vice President of Communications, Tim Mead:
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate you coming out. I know we're a few minutes delayed but it's important to know the Commissioner just addressed our staff. He had a tremendous session with him and answered a lot of questions of our staff. He really works tirelessly and it's a tremendous opportunity for them to hear candid, straight forward comments and responses to their questions. Before we open up to the Commissioner to your questions, we're going to start with a statement first. I'd just like to say, and I think most of us in the room who have been around baseball and the PR people know how fortunate you are that we've had a Commissioner who has addressed you, addressed the concerns and has been very, very transparent for numerous years. On a personal level, when I started in this game in the press box in County Stadium, the time he took with visiting PR people and the time he spent with the media is an honor and times I'll never forget. Many of us remember him, as much as the owner of the Brewers, and that interaction as the Commissioner. With that, it's a privilege to introduce Commissioner Selig to the media.
Introduction from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig:
Thank you very much Tim. I have a little laryngitis which maybe at this session will be good for me (smirks), but that's another story. So bare with me and it's a pleasure. I must say I'm about halfway through my ballpark tour with a lot more to come and I've enjoyed this. It's a great way to say goodbye. The session I just had, is the time of my life. I enjoy it immensely and it's so meaningful. A lot of you I talk to all the time, so fire away and I'm just glad to be here today.
PRESS CONFERENCE NOW PERMITS OPEN QUESTIONS FROM THE MEDIA
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times:
With all that you've done for the game, does it disappoint you personally when your hand picked successor was not voted against by some owners?
Nobody knows baseball politics like I do. I've been involved in this for 45 years so I've seen all kinds of things go on, and yes, I would like admit I'd have liked a 30 to nothing votes, many have kidded me about that, they do and I'm proud of that. But, in this process I promised when I started in February that we were going have an open, inclusive vote. That I was going to put people on the committee and there was seven of them, and they were to come back with people that they though. I gave them a list and I would say the people that came back were on my original list. There wasn't much for me to be mad about. We went to what was a very democratic process. Democracy isn't always pretty, we all know that. But, was I disappointed? No.
Alex Curry, Fox Sports West:
How would you sum up your 22 years as acting commissioner and is there one thing you want to be remembered by?
Well you know I follow a lot about legacies and everyone talks about a legacy. I'm a history buff, in fact I'm going to become a history professor come February 1st. I'm going to let historians figure that. There are a lot of things I'm proud of, but the economic reformation of the game. In 1992, we didn't have any parody. A couple weeks ago, one morning I got up, looked at the paper, and all three national league divisions were tied, and we know what's going on in the American League. So, I'm proud of that because all the economic reforms have lead to that. It's been an enormous amount of change, you know the wild card, but the economic changes sole, painfully, but now very successfully have lead to competitive balance like we've never had before.
Taylor Ward, Valley Bay News/Scout.com:
What is your fondest memory of being commissioner?
Commissioner Selig :
Well I'm going to give you the same answer that I gave to the front office group today. We had the unfortunate 1994 work stoppage, and then in 1995, September 6th, if my memory serves me right and it does, Cal Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's record. I remember being in Camden Yards that night, inspiring night, it really helped the beginning of bringing baseball back. It was one of those things that you're just really proud to be part of and Cal really handled himself beautifully. I think the other one, there have been so many in my long career, but the other one would be retiring Jackie Robinson's number in 1997 with Rachel Robinson, who I have magnificent admiration for, and their daughter Sharon who of course works for us. Understanding that Jackie Robinson coming to Major League Baseball was it's most powerful and important moment, and to be able to retire that number was a really wonderful thing. I have to give Ken Griffey, Jr. credit. He called me years later, on a Sunday night, and asked can we all wear 42, and I told him I needed to think about it until Monday morning, which I didn't. I give him credit, so today when you watch, and I know how much it means to the Robinson family and everybody else, my friend Henry Aaron comments, everybody wearing 42, those are two things that will standout in my mind.
Bob Agnew, Angels Radio AM 830:
In your address just prior to the staff, there were two things that jumped out, the integrity to the game and the best interest of baseball, these seem to be your bench marks.
Commissioner Selig :
I had great mentors in this sport from 1970 on, and you're taught certain things in this sport right from the beginning. Some people never understand it but the best interest of the sport transcends everything else. Obviously, the integrity of this sport is crucial. Without integrity you don't have a sport, it's as simple as that. My office was created in 1921 because of the Black Sox scandal. As I said earlier, without Babe Ruth, this sport maybe doesn't survive. The day I walked in 45 years ago I understand that very well.
Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com
Where do you stand on Mike Trout being the face of baseball once Derek Jeter retires, would you like for that to happen?
Commissioner Selig :
Let me just say at the outset, I spoke with Derek, we've been lucky that he's been the face of our sport. We were kidding at All-Star Game, saying we came in together and went out together. He's a guy, as great as he is on the field, he's better off the field. He reminds me of Henry Aaron. We're lucky, the great icons we've had have really been good. From everything I've heard about Mike Trout from everybody, we're lucky. We have great young players and as sad as it is to see Derek go, we have this every generation. Mike Trout is special and he's a great on the field guy and just as big off the field. If he is the coming icon of this next generation, I'd be very, very happy.
Terry Smith, Angels Radio :
How much have you enjoyed being in your spot as the baseball commissioner?
Commissioner Selig :
Some days a lot, and other days I wonder what the hell I'm doing. But, the one thing I tell people all the time, first ingredient to this job is a passion for the sport. You can't do this job if you don't care. I heard somebody say the other day after someone questioned my passion, "he'd pull a double-header every day if he could" and he's probably right. At home, I watch all 15 games. I watch the Angels a lot as a matter of fact. So, the only answer I can give is I just had my 80th birthday, and I said that night very briefly, this has been an incredible journey for me. When I was a kid in Milwaukee where I live, I thought I was going to be a history professor. Somebody told me that some day I was going to do this, and it's special. Yes, it's been a tough job, but that's part of life. To me, it's been a privilege to be this generation's commissioner.
Jeff Fletcher, Orange County Register:
The stadium is now over 50 years old and there's things the city and the Angels have talked about, trying to get fixed up. I assume you looked around today, what is your opinion on the condition of the stadium?
I will say this about the stadium. I've talked to Arte a lot about it. I have great faith in their ability to do what's best for this franchise over the long haul. Arte has kept be addressed of things, and when there are things to talk about, we'll do that. They have to do, to continue to remain competitive, is what they think is in their best interest.
You brought up 1994 earlier, and you've had a lot of things that have made a great impact on baseball in a positive way, which is going to be a lot of your legacy. Do you feel that there was anything you could have done to prevent the 1994 World Series from being cancelled?
There is, and I've thought a lot about it. Let me just say, that was eighth work stoppage since I got in baseball in 1970. We have the toughest, most scarred relationship with the union you could have had, long before I came in to be. That particular work stoppage was caused, and players went out on strike, because the sport was in trouble. Losing a lot of money, disparity growing, no revenue sharing. Some day I'm going to write a book and I'm going to spend a few chapters on that. But I've thought about, and I don't know what else I could have done frankly. I guess I'm going to say this to you, because history is the most interesting here. It broke my heart, please understand that. That night, I went upstairs at home after dinner and replayed every World Series I could remember and that went back to 1944. But, we've now had 22 years of labor peace, I'm not sure we could've gotten there, maybe history will show us. I'm comfortable telling you I don't know what else I could have done and what we could have done. It was unfortunate but we were in a period where the system needed to be changed. It needed to be changed, and yet, we have changed the system a whole lot. I'm saddened by it, but I'm proud of what's happened in the next two decades.
Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times
What are you going to miss about this?
Well, I'll be able to answer that probably a year from today. Obviously, I'm a fan, I'll watch a lot games, go to a lot of games, do a lot of things. I'm looking forward to my retirement, I don't mind telling you that. I thought long and hard before I announced it, as I said, I'm going to teach at at least two or three universities, and write a book. Will I follow the game, yes, I've been a baseball man my whole life. I plan to be very busy.
Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News:
What is your thoughts on Pete Rose ever entering the Hall of Fame?
I spent last Friday in Cincinnati, so I'm up to date on Pete Rose questions. It is a matter of advisement, and I am the judge, which puts me in a very difficult position because I like to answer and answer very candidly. As I said to the people in Cincinnati, when Bart Giomatti suspended him, who was my best friend, I say to you, my office was created because of the Black Sox scandal. There's a rule on the books that says if you gamble on baseball, you get a life time suspension. Bart said to Pete that he had to reconfigure his life, so I have thought many hours about it and I will continue to do so.