© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig took Manhattan on Tuesday in the hours before the 79th All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
He told two distinct audiences that instant replay is a possibility on a limited basis for Major League Baseball games, perhaps by the start of the playoffs, but certainly not as early as Aug. 1 as previously reported.
He also said for the first time that it isn't practical to place an asterisk next to the name of any player who set a record during Major League Baseball's so-called steroid era.
"We are hard at work, looking at [instant replay] intensely," Selig said during a question-and-answer session with reporters at the annual Baseball Writers of America Association luncheon. "No decision has been made. I want to say that again. But if it occurs, it will be in a limited form. Once we are convinced that the bugs are all out of it, it'll come quickly.
"And so, is there a chance that we could agree to do it before the postseason? The answer is yes, there's a chance. But we've got work to be done yet."
About the notion of modifying records, Selig said: "When you start that, when you start dealing in asterisks, trying to change records, then you're really starting to open a Pandora's box. I don't think it's pragmatic. So I don't really have any plans to do that."
Once again, Selig answered questions in person and via the Internet during his eighth consecutive chat with fans at the DHL All-Star FanFest, this year held at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. The session was carried live on MLB.com from the site's FanFest booth.
Aside from replay, Selig was asked about myriad issues, including the increase of shattering maple bats, the future of the designated hitter, expanding the first postseason round from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven format, and the All-Star format in which the team from the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
Selig said that the DH rule will remain the same -- used by the American League and not by the National League -- and hasn't been a matter of discussion among owners for 30 years.
He said that changing the first-round playoff format has been considered, but won't be altered at this point because of the season's length.
And finally, Selig said he's happy with the All-Star format, which was collectively bargained and is part of the current Basic Agreement, which is due to expire after the 2012 season.
But in both venues, Selig wasn't asked a single direct question about steroids or drug testing -- an indication, perhaps, that the decades-long saga is off the front burner in the eyes of fans and journalists.
"I have not been a proponent of instant replay as everybody knows. However, I've said to our people that we ought to study it in the most limited form. And that is on home runs. ... No decision has been made. But I'm not ruling it out for 2008."
-- Commissioner Bud Selig
Selig, though, was asked in both places about Barry Bonds, MLB's all-time home run leader who is an unsigned free agent this season with criminal proceedings pending next year in a San Francisco federal court.
At the writer's luncheon, Selig was asked if there was any truth to an assertion made by some that the clubs had determined in unison to keep the former Giants left-handed slugger out of the game.
"Well, every club is free to do what it wants to do," he said. "No club has talked to me about it. Clubs have made individual decisions based, I think, on a myriad of factors. And so, I'm not going to respond to those charges. They're without basis. That's an individual club matter and you're going to have to just ask the 30 clubs or those that you think should be talking to Barry. But nobody has spoken to me about it at all."
At the FanFest, Selig finally put the matter to rest that an asterisk might be placed on any of Bonds' records or the records of any player who performed during the past two decades.
"I haven't made any decisions on those things," Selig said. "But I can tell you ... I don't really think it's a practical possibility.
"You have to know everything that went on and everyone who participated. I'm just proud that we've corrected our [drug] problem and that we've moved on. We've done well. So I'm not going to worry about it."
About instant replay, last year the general managers voted 25-5 to institute replay on home run calls only -- fair or foul or in and out of the park.
MLB is trying to determine whether an official in a central location will have access to the television broadcasts of every game and communicate with the umpire crew chief on location when a call is in question.
"I have not been a proponent of instant replay as everybody knows," Selig said during the 25-minute chat. "However, I've said to our people that we ought to study it in the most limited form. And that is on home runs. The new parks are tough for umpires. The umpires are standing in the infield and are running out. The ball is 300 feet away. It's very difficult. So we are studying it. No decision has been made. But I'm not ruling it out for 2008."
About maple bats, there has been one meeting regarding the issue and others are planned.
"The maple bat study is under way," Selig told the writers. "I'm very concerned. I watch so many games and I'm amazed at the amount of bats that have been breaking. I've talked to a lot of people about this. In fact, I spent yesterday talking to a lot of Hall of Famers about it. I got some very interesting perspectives. Putting up nets [down the lines to protect people in the stands], I don't think is a practical solution. It creates a lot of other problems.
"I'm concerned about the safety of the people on the field. This is a health and safety issue that I'm very concerned with. I'd like to get to the cause of the problem first before we make any decisions."