PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Commissioner Bud Selig has called the first meeting of his new Special Committee on Thursday afternoon, following the morning joint session of general managers and owners. The 14-man committee will analyze ways of improving MLB on the field. It 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. "I've encouraged this group to be very blunt. I want these people to discuss anything they want," Selig said after meeting with the general managers and his executive council on Wednesday. "To synthesize these things I've had [Cardinals manager] Tony La Russa and [Braves president] John Schuerholz put together an agenda that has a wide variety of things on it. So we'll find out how extensive this is tomorrow."
Selig said he hoped to have one more in-person meeting of the committee prior to Spring Training and then utilize video conferencing after that. Most probably on the list is pace of game, umpiring, further extension of the use of instant replay, condensing of the postseason schedule, and various rule changes, among other topics. "There will be no sacred cows," Selig told MLB.com last week. The four managers on the committee are La Russa, Jim Leyland of the Tigers, Joe Torre of the Dodgers, and Mike Scioscia of the Angels. From the GM ranks is Schuerholz of the Braves, Andy MacPhail of the Orioles, Mark Shapiro of the Indians, and Terry Ryan, the former GM of the Twins. Among the owner representatives is Chuck Armstrong, president of the Mariners; Paul Beeston, president of the Blue Jays; Bill DeWitt, chairman of the Cardinals; and Dave Montgomery, president of the Phillies. "This is an extraordinary committee," Selig said. The playoff issue was broached by Scioscia, who complained about numerous off-days during this past postseason. He has already had a long telephone conversation with Selig, who pledged to make some changes before the postseason begins this October. Since the five-game first round and the start of the World Series is fixed, Selig has only a few options: start the first round a day earlier, eliminate the rain day from the championship round or simply extend each of the Division Series to a best-of-seven format. "We've talked about [the best-of-seven] first round," Selig said. "The problem is everybody wants to talk about us going into November and then they want to add to the schedule. All these things have been talked about, but I think that's on the agenda tomorrow."
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.