06/17/09 8:32 AM ET
Selig: Baseball held to higher standard
Commissioner says sport gets more PED criticism than NFL
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
"We are held to a higher and different standard," Selig said during a 17-minute appearance on the Dan Patrick Show.
The Commissioner engaged in discussion of the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, whose four-time Super Bowl championship teams from 1975-80 have been alleged to have conducted in widespread use of steroids and included players who later admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.
"We have to be very careful that we don't overreact to a situation," Selig said. "For instance, the comment in football that came out about the great Steelers teams of the '70s. Should they take those Super Bowls away from the Rooneys? I don't think so.
"Steroids were and are a societal problem, not a baseball problem, and I'm proud of what we have done and we've come much farther than anybody thought. ... It's a whole different world than it was 10 years ago. It's one thing not to confront your problems when you know them, and another thing to confront them and do everything."
Selig addressed a variety of subjects during the interview, including Manny Ramirez and his inclusion on the All-Star ballot, Yankee Stadium, Alex Rodriguez and the state of the game in the face of the current economic climate.
"I feel good about where we are," Selig said. "Our attendance is down somewhere between four and five percent, which is remarkable given the economy, and we have had horrendous weather in the Midwest and East. In fact, I've never had so many clubs calling me to complain about the weather -- as if there is something, by the way, I can do about it, but they do call about everything, so why not call about this, too?"
A public debate ensued last month about Ramirez and the All-Star Game when the Dodgers slugger, suspended last month for 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy, was fourth among outfielders when the first National League All-Star voting update was issued in late May. Some voiced the opinion that he should be ruled ineligible for the July 14 game in St. Louis. Others said the fans should decide.
"The ballots are printed in March and there's not really much you can do about it," Selig said. "In this particular case -- and obviously, we are talking about Manny Ramirez -- I think the fans are voting and I think they'll make a determination long before July 3 [when voting ends]."
Ramirez has since slipped to sixth place, more than 366,000 votes out of what would be a spot in the NL's starting lineup. Selig said he would address the situation if it were to change.
"That's a question that I will deal with at that time," Selig said. "The only comment I will make about that is that I thought [Dodgers manager] Joe Torre had it absolutely correct. Joe Torre said he didn't think Manny should play in the All-Star Game and you ought to reward people. He's now running sixth among outfielders and dropping, so I think that becomes an academic issue."
Other topics Selig discussed:
Testing for performance-enhancing drugs: "We've had one positive test this year, and we've administered over 1,500 now. We've had eight positive tests the last three years."
Allegations that Alex Rodriguez tipped pitches to opposing players: An investigation is in progress but Selig said he could not elaborate on it.
Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez and his opposition to public speculation about a player being on steroids: "Ibanez is having a wonderful year. Raul Ibanez has had drug tests now for seven or eight years, a lot of them. And do I think [speculation] is fair? No, I do not think it's fair."
Uniform advertisements: "Even though I'm the guy that brought the Wild Card, Interleague Play and revenue sharing and all these changes, I'm still a traditionalist at heart. I still love the Yankee uniform, the Cub uniform, the Dodgers and things that I grew up with in the '40s."
Yankee Stadium, which has been yielding home runs at a near-record pace: "What's happened there needs to be analyzed. I read the other day that once the old stadium is torn down. there may be quite a change. My knowledge of physics is about as much as my knowledge of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, so I can't pass [an opinion] on that, but I said, 'Let it play out for a while and then we'll make a judgment.'"
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.