NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig announced on Tuesday that he will chair a new 14-man special committee to analyze ways of improving Major League Baseball on the field. The committee includes four managers, four former and present general managers, four owner representatives, MLB consultant and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, plus renowned columnist George Will. "There will be no sacred cows," Selig said on a conference call. "We're open to talk about anything. I've had this in mind for a long time. This is a very blunt group. I want to sit there and listen. If there's anything we can do to improve this game I want to hear about it and discuss it. I will be guided by what this committee comes up with. I have that much respect for this group."
The group will take up such subjects as pace of game, umpiring, further extension of the use of instant replay and various rule changes, among others. It will meet for the first time during the first quarterly owners' meetings of the new year in the Phoenix area scheduled for Jan. 13-14. The 30 active GMs have also been invited to sit in on those meetings for the first time. "The four of us are particularly excited to be part of this committee," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, who will be joined from the managerial ranks by the Tigers' Jim Leyland, the Dodgers' Joe Torre and the Angels' Mike Scioscia. "We welcome the opportunity to talk to [the Commissioner] about some of these issues. We especially like the no sacred cows part of it." From the GM ranks is Braves executive John Schuerholz, Andy MacPhail of the Orioles, former Twins GM Terry Ryan and Mark Shapiro of the Indians. Among the owner representatives is Chuck Armstrong of the Mariners, Paul Beeston of the Blue Jays, Bill DeWitt of the Cardinals and Dave Montgomery of the Phillies. "This is an extraordinary committee," said Selig, who said there was no particular timeline for implementing any of its recommendations. Schuerholz, now president of the Braves after a long term as GM, said he'd like to tackle the issue of standardizing the designated hitter in both leagues, one way or the other. "It's the issue that's been around the longest and has been the most profound topic," said Schuerholz, who also had a successful tour as GM of the Royals. "It's a great topic of conversation for the fans: Whether both leagues should use the DH or not seems to bubble up from time-to-time. When I was in the American League I was in favor of it and since I've been over in the National League I may have taken a different position on it. "But I've come to the conclusion that the DH can flourish by using it in its different ways." Another topic of immediate concern will be the Commissioner's recent pledge that he intends to compress the postseason schedule prior to the advent of the playoffs next October. Scioscia complained about the numerous off days during this past postseason and has already had a long telephone conversation with Selig about it. "I don't know how it's going to be addressed, but I know I want to hear from [the committee] and it's one of the things we're going to talk about," Selig said. "It's up to me once we decide what we want to do. I'll listen to the recommendation this group makes and take it from there." With Selig having said he expects to retire at 78 when his current contract expires after the 2012 season, the on-field changes recommended by this committee may be the last of his term as Commissioner. "I'm really looking forward to this group doing some things that are most meaningful," he said. "A year or two from now we'll look back and realize how important this was."
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.