Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig insists the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays must have new ballparks to be able to compete.
Speaking on Thursday to the Associated Press Sports Editors, Selig provided no timetable for deciding the Bay Area dispute between the A’s, who would like to build a ballpark in San Jose, and the Giants, who won’t give up their territorial rights there.
”I’m always hopeful when there are debates amongst clubs, I try to lead teams in a direction of solving their problems themselves,” Selig said. ”However, this group has an interesting comment whenever they get in trouble: `That’s why you’re here, Commissioner.’ That’s what they tell me. I don’t know that that’s a particularly good answer. … We’ve had a lot of meetings, spent an enormous amount of time. I’ve just met with both clubs again and we’ll continue along this process.”
Asked whether there could be a solution that wouldn’t anger one of the Bay Area teams, Selig responded: ”Time will tell. I’m always hopeful. I’m an optimist, and I really believe that every problem has a solution to it. The question is just finding the right one, and so far I’ve been lucky on that score. And so I hope my string of luck will continue.”
He was clear, however, that he wants the A’s to move from the Coliseum, their home since 1968 and the last stadium shared by baseball and the NFL.
”The one given everybody believes is that Oakland needs a new stadium,” Selig said. ”The last time I was there, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’ll say it anyway, it reminded me of County Stadium and Shea Stadium, and that’s not a compliment, in either case. … You can’t ask people to compete if they have a stadium that doesn’t produce any kind of revenue to give them a chance to compete. So that’s a given.”
Twenty-four teams have opened ballparks since 1989, all but Boston (which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park on Friday), the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, Oakland and Tampa Bay.
The Rays started play in Tropicana Field in 1998, eight years after it opened. Owner Stuart Sternberg announced plans in 2007 for a new ballpark with a retractable fabric roof, then abandoned the project over the next two years.
”They need a new ballpark, there’s no question,” Selig said. ”I talked a lot to Stu Sternberg and he’s talking to people. He and I have had many conversations, and we’ll just monitor the situation. He’s doing what he should do. He’s there, he’s talking to all parties trying to see what he can do.”
Speaking about Florida’s other team, Selig backed the Miami Marlins’ five-game suspension of manager Ozzie Guillen for comments praising Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
”I was disappointed, very disappointed,” Selig said about Guillen’s remarks, adding that Guillen’s apology will be judged by ”time and future actions – they’ll speak the loudest.”
He didn’t think Guillen’s comments were analogous to inflammatory remarks by late Cincinnati owner Marge Schott and retired reliever John Rocker that earned longer suspensions.
”I thought the suspension and the way he was treated was penalty enough,” Selig said.
Selig said baseball was making progress in negotiations with the incoming owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers for more information on the group’s financing and ownership of the parking lots and land surrounding Dodger Stadium. Current owner Frank McCourt will keep an interest in the land.
”I know how people feel there, so you bet, I’m concerned with all ramifications, including the parking,” Selig said.
As Selig spoke, new adviser Tony La Russa listened. La Russa, who retired as manager of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals after last season, was a member of Selig’s study committee and said he originally opposed the new one-game, wild-card playoff but changed his mind.
”We were looking for a way to value the regular-season champion and make the wild-card team a little more or a lot more disadvantaged,” he said.
Selig also said:
-he will soon announce the sites of the 2013 and 2014 All-Star games. MLB has long ago decided it wanted the 2013 game at the Mets’ Citi Field and 2014 at Minnesota’s Target Field
-revenue will exceed $7 billion this year.
-baseball has not started checking into whether there are issues with the prescription painkiller Toradol.
-attendance is up about 4 percent so far this season.
-he wouldn’t comment on Roger Clemens’ perjury trial. ”That is something Roger is going to have to face now. … There’s nothing I can say.”
-of MLB’s efforts to increase the percentage of African-American players: ”progress like that doesn’t come overnight.”