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'Great exchange of ideas' to advance game

'Great exchange of ideas' to advance game

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- The first Special Committee meeting called by Commissioner Bud Selig on Thursday afternoon began at 2 p.m. MT and lasted four hours.

That led one member of the media to ask Selig if he would consider forming a committee to study the length of these committee meetings.

"That's all right," Selig said. "I'm delighted you all have a sense of humor. I'm too tired to have one now."

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The 14-man committee was gathered to analyze ways of improving MLB on the field. By Selig's request, none of the four managers, four former and present general managers, four owner representatives, MLB consultant and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, plus renowned columnist George Will, would comment on the substance of the meeting.

"It was a very good meeting," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Please don't ask me anything else because I don't want to be eliminated on the first day."

Managers Jim Leyland of the Tigers and Mike Scioscia of the Angels also deferred comment to Selig, who was also mum on content, saying that 15-20 subjects were discussed and that the committee had "a lot of work to do." Selig did make two promises: The committee will meet again in two-to-three weeks at a still undetermined location and at least one of the changes would be implemented by the start of the regular season.

"I have a sense that action will come out of this soon. This is an action committee," said Selig said about a meeting that convened only two hours after the end of the first quarterly owners' meeting of the year. "Some will happen pretty quickly, others will take some time.

"It was really productive day and a great experience. As we said in the initial press release there was over 450 years of [baseball] experience in the room. There was a great exchange of ideas on many subjects. Everybody was engaged and did a lot of homework. I must say that this was a most enjoyable afternoon."

Selig said some changes might be able to be unilaterally implemented, while others must be collectively bargained with the MLB Players Association. The current Basic Agreement expires on Dec. 11, 2011, and negotiations are expected to begin in earnest next year.

"I said there would be no sacred cows and there were no sacred cows," Selig said. "Everything was on the table."

The four managers on the committee are Leyland, Torre, Scioscia and Tony La Russa of the Cardinals.

From the GM ranks were Braves president and former GM John Schuerholz, Andy MacPhail of the Orioles, Mark Shapiro of the Indians, and Terry Ryan, the former GM of the Twins.

Among the owner representatives was 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.

Asked why he wanted to keep the meeting's subject matter private, Selig said: "I don't want to talk about the subjects now. The only subject we actually never talked about is they didn't evaluate the Commissioner. That's the only thing I can tell you. Other than that we really discussed everything, from A to Z."

The playoff schedule issue was broached by Scioscia, who complained about numerous off-days during this past postseason. Selig has 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 each League Championship Series or simply extend each of the first-round Division Series to a best-of-seven format.

"There is a lot of sentiment [for a seven-game first round] among players, as a fairer competitive issue," said Mike Weiner, the new executive director of the Players Association, upon his election late this past year. "I expect it'll have to be dealt with in collective bargaining, so we would have to wait until after the 2011 season."

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.

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