09/10/09 12:54 PM ET
Selig pleased with state of the game
Commissioner talks balance, economy, Draft with FOX Sports
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
In a wide-ranging interview with FOX Sports, Selig talked about being satisfied with the competitive balance in baseball, declared the collective-bargaining agreement will need some fine-tuning after the 2011 season and concluded by saying an MLB salary cap has not been discussed.
"You never say never to anything," Selig said. "But there are other ways we can achieve what we've set out to achieve [a competitive balance].
"We lived through a lot of [labor] trauma because we tried to get a salary cap. A lot of people are critical that we didn't get one. ... But I think that our economic system is really quite creative. A lot of people don't understand it. But let me use the word 'tweak' again. There is some stuff we need to do -- some very important stuff."
If the season ended today, six of the top-nine payroll teams -- the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, Phillies and Dodgers -- would make the playoffs. Selig said that while the economy has been a problem for some lower-revenue clubs, he doesn't see overall competitive balance as an issue.
"I really do think this [season] is the aberration," Selig said. "The last three or four years have been more the norm than this year.
"I'm really quite comfortable standing on what I said a couple of years ago: We have more competitive balance than ever before. But every year isn't going to work out exactly the way people would like."
Selig, who said gross revenues in the sport have jumped to close to $7 billion, said he feels the clubs currently at the bottom of the standings are "on the right track."
"There are some [low-revenue] teams that have been disappointments this year. By the way, there have been teams with high payrolls and have drawn a lot of people who have been stunning disappointments," said Selig, who added that he likes the current unbalanced schedule. "Money itself does not buy winning. People are going to have to learn that lesson. But I don't have one organization that I could really say isn't trying to do it the right way."
Since the new millennium, MLB has seen small- and middle-market teams like the D-backs (2001 World Series champs), Marlins ('03 champs), Rockies and Rays ('07 and '08 runner-ups, respectively) advance to the World Series.
Selig said that in order to further enhance competitive balance, the current collective-bargaining agreement needs to be tweaked, mainly by making the First-Year Player Draft worldwide and adding a slotting system for drafted-player bonuses. Currently, a player must be a resident of the U.S. or its territories to enter the Draft.
"[The securing of amateur talent] is the major vehicle for clubs today to build for the future," Selig said. "My theory is that it shouldn't only be about money, it should be about management. We need to change the Draft. I understand it won't be easy. But I also think it's imperative. It's imperative for the health of the game. I feel very strongly about that.
"The Draft from time to time has wavered from [its original purpose]. The Draft should be to level the playing field. Everybody knows that. There ought to be a spirit of fairness. We need to do that."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.