Bud Selig refused to say if Alex Rodriguez and other players linked to the Biogenesis doping scandal will be suspended soon, but the Major League Baseball commissioner did say Monday that his sport is “cleaner than it has ever been.”
Selig, interviewed by political journalist Mike Allen during an All-Star break event sponsored by Politico, said he was proud of the MLB investigators who have been gathering evidence that could lead to discipline for Rodriguez, Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun and many other players.
“I don’t care what happens, we’re going to have an investigation, we’re going to learn everything we can possibly learn,” Selig said during the midtown Manhattan event. “It’s in the best interests of baseball.”
Selig acknowledged that baseball officials remained on the bench while drug abuse — the cocaine scandal of the 1980s, the steroid explosion of the 1990s and 2000s, and the amphetamines that for decades were as common in baseball as rosin bags — continued unabated.
MLB and the Players Association established a joint drug program in 2002, but Selig said congressional hearings and political pressure helped turn baseball’s policy into “the gold standard” for sports.
“They were not a day at the beach, I can tell you that,” said Selig, referring to attacks on MLB’s drug program during the series of congressional hearings between 2005 and 2008.
Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez is one of MLB’s biggest targets in the Biogenesis probe.
“So what do we have now? We have the toughest drug-testing program in America,” Selig added.
Asked about his leadership style, Selig told Allen that he has sought to build consensus between baseball’s various constituencies — the Players Association, small-market teams, big-market teams — since becoming commissioner more than 20 years ago.
The result, he said, has been unprecedented labor peace and financial prosperity. His job now, he says, is to make sure the sport stays on track.
“We are in a golden age. We are in numbers nobody could have dreamed possible,” Selig said when asked if he worried that the NFL would cut into MLB’s market share. “Obviously the television people think that the sport is very attractive. Now attendance. Minor league is breaking records, major league is breaking records.”
Selig said helping to develop the revenue sharing designed to help small-market teams such as the Milwaukee Brewers — the club he once owned and operated — keep up with the Yankees and other big-market franchises was his proudest achievement as commissioner.
Selig said the his favorite game of all time was Game 5 of the 1982 American League Championship Series. His Brewers clawed back from a 2-0 deficit in the best-of-five series to win the American League pennant.
“It was a wonderful time,” Selig said. “I’m not ashamed to say I started to cry.”
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