11/20/2002 7:22 pm ET
Selig to form promotional task force
By Jim Molony / MLB.com
IRVING, Texas -- Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has witnessed numerous changes to the Grand Old Game in recent years, including revenue sharing, an additional round of playoffs and the Wild Card, and now Selig is looking for ways to make the game even better.
Toward that end, Selig announced Wednesday that he will form a special task force -- The Commissioner's Initiative: Major League Baseball in the 21st Century -- that will be charged with determining how to best promote and market the game of baseball to the United States and the rest of the world.
"This is something I've been thinking about for a long time and spending almost all of my time here in the last couple of months," Selig said. "This is most important.
"A lot of people have come forth with a lot of ideas, and now that we have, fortunately, a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, we need to turn our attention, as I've often told the clubs and told them again today, back out on the field. We need to do it, after three or four decades quite candidly of not doing that, and given the place that we play in society, we need to really hear from all people.
"The game is the best game of the world. I kept saying that over and over today, no doubt in my mind. We have a lot of positives, we're setting attendance records, we had more television viewers than ever before, so I don't want any negativism because there really isn't any. But, having said that, just like nine years ago when we went to three divisions and the Wild Card and then later on, Interleague play, and the unbalanced schedule and a whole series of things we've done, we need to hear from people not connected to the game as well as those connected with the game.
"It is time to turn our attention to other important issues and to assure that baseball's role in the hearts of our fans and in the social fabric of our country grows throughout the 21st Century."
Just how baseball will go about that task is up to the task force. The Commissioner said the group will not be limited to any one topic. Any idea that will help achieve the goal of making the game better and more compelling for the fans will be considered.
"This will be a group of people that we'll announce in the coming weeks and this group will get together right away," Selig said. "Obviously, we've talked to the Players' Association about it, we expect to have players on there. It's just a joint effort to take the greatest game in the world and make it better. And we want to be very sensitive to the concerns that have been made."
Selig formed the Commissioner's Blue Ribbon Panel on Baseball Economics four years ago, and it was charged with coming up with economic recommendations.
"The Blue Ribbon Task Force report became a very, very crucial document from the time it was released until we concluded the labor agreement and I hope and believe this one will have the same positive and dramatic effect," Selig said. "I am very excited about the prospects of this initiative and I expect some exciting ideas and results."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.