Selig told the writers and fans that new owners for the Nationals would be determined by the end of the summer. Eight groups have placed deposits of $100,000 with the Commissioner's office and have filed bids. All eight met last month with the ownership subcommittee that is trying to narrow the list.A meeting to brief Selig this weekend didn't materialize, but he said discussions are ongoing. "We have eight groups bidding on the Washington franchise, and I believe we'll bring that to conclusion sometime in the next month or six weeks," he told a questioner during the chat session. "You'll have an owner and I believe an outstanding ownership group, and the Washington franchise will do very, very well." Selig told MLB.com readers that Interleague Play, which has been highly popular since its inception in 1997, "is here to stay." He also defended the American League's use of the designated hitter. When asked if there was a chance of eliminating it, he answered: "It will take some precipitous event, like overall Major League realignment, to do that." Answering a question posed to him after the chat session, Selig said he was bullish on the idea of the American League using the DH in National League parks next season during Interleague Play. Pitchers would hit in the American League parks. "Right now, I've got to tell you that I like it a lot," Selig said, adding that he probably would go through the process of chatting with owners and officials of the Players' Association about making the change in time for 2006. In answer to a question from the Internet about his proposal to stiffen penalties for steroid use in the Major Leagues, Selig said that it had become a matter of integrity for the owners and players. "Well, you know, on April 25, I wrote a letter to [union executive director] Don Fehr, and I said that I wanted the penalties to go to 50 games, 100 games and life," Selig said. "We're having ongoing discussions. The current program is working. Make no mistake about it, it is working. But there's an integrity issue here, and that's why I believe baseball needs a tougher program, so that people understand we will rid the sport of steroids under all circumstances." Selig said he was against the use of instant replay to change an umpire's decision; that his favorite player as a youngster growing up in Milwaukee was the great Joltin' Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees; and, as he has all year, Selig continued to beat the drums loudly about the health of Major League Baseball. "The sport is enjoying its biggest year," he said. "Last Sunday, we passed the 40 million mark [in overall attendance], which is absolutely stunning. So I'm very proud of that, and we've really made a lot of progress."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.