Commissioner Selig's 2014 Town Hall Chat

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to Fanfest 2014, the celebration that happens here. Alongside of Commissioner Selig, I am JB.

Before we open, there is a video we put together that celebrates some of the amazing moments from the 22 All-Star Games that happened while you have been Commissioner. We can roll that and take a look at what has been a historic run.

[Video playing.]

THE MODERATOR: Also, all of those watching around the world, welcome to Minneapolis. I am JB, alongside Commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig. It's time for the 14th Annual Town Hall Chat. A big round of applause.


THE MODERATOR: Commissioner, this is one of the highlights, a chance to sit with you and have a chance to catch up and let the fans ask you questions that they have. But also, interestingly, to see how each year, suddenly, and not so suddenly, this week and the game has grown. It has been a thrilling time.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Well, it has. And I think back to the All-Star Games, I remember in the '70s, in the early and mid '80s, and 1975, we had the All-Star Game in Milwaukee. Then we had a little luncheon and then the game, and a little party before the game and after the game everybody was gone.

And now I look around at the thousands of people and you look at everything that's happening here. Wonderful for the city. The Twins, by the way, are doing a great job, and everybody here has been as proud as you can be. And you look at Fanfest, you look at this five- or six-day celebration and you look at what it has meant for baseball. And all of the interest in the Home Run Derby last night and the big game tonight.

And it's like a lot of other things with baseball, it is something you couldn't have dreamed even 15 or 20 years ago. And it was a wonderful highlight film, and I can remember all of that. And I love All-Star Games, and they mean so much to so many people. And it has been a privilege.

THE MODERATOR: It certainly is a privilege for us at to have a chance to sit and talk with you. This chat in particular is now streamed live throughout the world to millions of fans. It started as a handful of emails answered in the office. As the distribution that is our platform has grown, so has this conversation.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: You know, fan votes has been phenomenal. And today just another manifestation of that. It has been amazing.

But what does all of this mean? All of this means the sport has never been more popular and never has been more widely accepted. And you just look around at all this, and I just it is just stunning to me. The growth in the sport is stunning.

THE MODERATOR: Absolutely, it has grown to international proportions and continues to evolve and grow. As this chat has grown, it used to be emails, and now we get thousands upon thousands of questions to find the themes, to find the ones that seem to ask most directly some of the topics on fans' minds. So if you are ready.


THE MODERATOR: We should probably get to those questions.


THE MODERATOR: The very first question from Troy: What is the one thing you want to be remembered for as Commissioner of Major League Baseball?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Well, that's a very good question. So much has happened. I am proud of so much, but I said I talked to the writers this morning, and I would say the changing of the economics of the game.

And I will tell you why I say that. Because it's our job to provide hope and faith and have the system where teams can compete. Not just on the size of the market, but on what they do. And so with all the things that we've done, the '90s were painful. We had to change the whole economic structure. It was tough.

So today there's hope and faith in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, the Twin Cities, on and on and on. As a result, baseball is so much stronger and so much better. And it's really, I guess, there are a lot of things, broadcasting program and Wild Card and you go on and on. But the big change, it took us years, which is the economic change that gave hope and faith to a lot of places.

THE MODERATOR: That is certainly a legacy of hope and faith in economic ways, and looking forward to what each team does. As we move on to the next question, this one is from Andrew. Speaking of legacy, what do you think Derek Jeter's legacy will be? Will we ever see a player with his character and class again?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: That's an easy one. I said it this morning and I say it again: To have a great face of baseball, one of the great icons of this generation, to be a person of Derek Jeter's class, his dignity, his respect for the game, we're lucky. Derek Jeter is everything that you would want.

And I have a great relationship with him. I have the utmost respect. You know, the great Stan Musial here, an icon in his generation, and my friend Henry Aaron, a great icon of all time, and now you come to Derek Jeter. Baseball is lucky. They're the best.

And people like Derek Jeter make it easy to be the Commissioner of Baseball. It makes me proud.

THE MODERATOR: And it is something with those men that is beyond the lines. It is the way they play with such skill, such character in the way they conduct themselves, incredible character.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: As great as they are out on the field, between the lines people like to say, they are better human beings off the field, and that's more important.

THE MODERATOR: That's something we look to as exemplary role models as they compete. We'll move on with the questions from the Town Hall Chat. This one about baseball playing. Should there be a time limit on a player stepping out of the batter's box?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Good question. I have said that a lot, you know. Way back when, and I'll say years ago, decades ago, once a player got in the batter's box, he stayed in the batter's box. Henry Aaron in his years, he never got out of the batter's box.

And it might be crazy, and the pitcher pitches ball one, a guy gets out and starts adjusting anything, he hasn't swung yet. And that takes time. We're working on time of the game. We really are working on time of the game. And I am very comfortable that Joe Torre and all of our baseball people, we are right at three hours right now. We're working on it.

THE MODERATOR: And it is certainly a theme that has been brought up many times.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Oh, many times, wherever I go. We continue.

THE MODERATOR: And the next question speaks to some of the changes that occurred. Jason wants to know: Is there any possibility that the Wild Card round of the playoffs will be expanded to best-of-three series?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: No, I don't think so. I'll tell you why. I have a 14-man committee that had four managers, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Mike Scioscia, and Jim Leyland. And they all talked me into the one game I really wanted, too.

The playoffs take a long time. I am bound and determined to make sure that baseball is done by October 31. It starts to get cold in a lot of places, obviously. And we start running into November and you are asking for trouble. Really asking for trouble. So the managers, much to my surprise, like the one game. And it has been great.

The first Wild Card passed in September of 1993. And oh, you would have thought that I defiled motherhood. I mean everybody -- you can't have a Wild Card, it won't work, it will never work. And it's produced great, great moments in baseball. And now the second Wild Card is also coming, and I am proud of it.

I'm glad where we are and will stay where we are.

THE MODERATOR: It seems to be the sense that would keep Derek Jeter as Mr. November. And pressing on, questions about the celebration and about the All Star, Michael wants to know if you can, where will the 2016 All-Star Game be played?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: A very good question, because I don't know. Next year, we are going to be in Cincinnati and they will do a magnificent job. And before I leave I'll have to do two or three All-Star Games in '16 and '17 at the very least. We don't know yet.

You know, it's interesting, years ago we used to have to beg people, literally beg them, and now cities are lined up and everybody wants an All-Star Game. And I look around today and it is amazing, the number of people here, the excitement. A great thing for our community and great things for our fans.

THE MODERATOR: It is great to see a city embrace it and be enmeshed with the fabric of it, bringing out a character it.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: No question. All the Twins caps.

THE MODERATOR: And the next question is off of All-Star Game feed: When will Dodger Stadium be awarded the All-Star Game? The last one was 1980.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: And I was there, I remember. They are one of the clubs that were once an All-Star Game and are certainly on the list of potentials, no questions about it. It would be a great place, and the Dodgers have a wonderful franchise and are doing well, so they are on the strong list of candidates.

THE MODERATOR: Commissioner, as we continue to celebrate the All-Star Game, we talk about All-Stars. We all know the veterans who protect our freedoms are the genuine, genuine All-Stars in life, and we want to acknowledge attendees from Walter Reed who are here today. The PALS for Patriots Program sponsored by makes sure that veterans from Walter Reed get a chance to these events. An enormous round of applause for those veterans who put themselves in harm's way.


THE MODERATOR: We continue here with the Town Hall Chat from Minneapolis with our next question: With interleague play and players switching teams and leagues more than in the past, is it possible to go back to the time when there was only one MVP, one Cy Young and one Rookie of the Year?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: I think it's fair that each league have its own. We are now up to 30 teams and only do one. Even this year, it's going to be tough enough picking in each league, but you will only get one. Players deserve that kind of honor.

You have Felix Hernandez, you have got Adam Wainwright, and Clayton Kershaw, who has been lights out. And so each league ought to have its own Cy Young Award and MVP.

THE MODERATOR: It seems to be something the fans appreciate, whether they like the rules or not. And pressing on with the chat, the question from Dave: Do you think the new rules regarding collisions at the plate have taken some of the excitement out of those plays?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: No, I don't. In fact, talking to the media, the question was asked, and Joe Torre was there, who is the author of it and a former Major League catcher, and no, I think it has worked out really well. Our job is to protect the health of the players.

And I think what they've done and Joe did it with the Giants and Bob Melvin of Oakland and other catchers that are now managers. Mike Matheny, who had a concussion in his career. And they really believe.

And no, I think it is an absolutely right rule. The plays at the home plate are still very exciting, but if we can eliminate violent collisions where people get hurt, tearing up a knee.

THE MODERATOR: That is something that people would be concerned about, an over-sanitized game, and it doesn't seem to do that. It just seems to change the structure at the plate.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: It certainly hasn't changed the game from my standpoint, and I watch it every day.

THE MODERATOR: That's something we talked about, too, as a Commissioner you were a fan of baseball long before.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: I was. I was a fan, I always will be a fan. I always joke with people, the best part of my day is when I get home at night and I watched 15 games, going from game to game. That is a lot of fun.

THE MODERATOR: A nice perk of the game. Will Montreal ever get another MLB team?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Well, hard to forecast. They had two exhibition games, they drew 95,000 people. They did very, very well. Very pleased and proud of what they have done.

They have got work to do, but I like, you know, I like what they are doing there, and I wish them well. They certainly have no hard feelings. I have friends there and I talk to a lot of people, and I wish them well. It's a wonderful area, but they are helping themselves and I wish them well.

THE MODERATOR: That conversation is one that will continue. As we press on, this next question from Gabriel speaks to injuries again and protection of the players: How should MLB address the increasing amount of pitching injuries and surgeries in young arms coming out of high school and college?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: That's a very good question. We have a special committee who are outstanding doctors -- Dr. Andrews, team physicians and trainers and baseball people. They are very concerned about it. Very concerned. We've had a lot of Tommy John problems. Not good for the sport. You lose all of your young players. In a lot of cases come back better than ever. But we are studying it now, trying to find out why, what we are doing, and we are -- it's terrific.

THE MODERATOR: It is something that is being addressed.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: It is a problem and we need to really go to work. We need to really do what we have to do, and I am anxious to get this committee's report and see exactly what we can do.

THE MODERATOR: Certainly, as we all hope, stay healthy and continue the game. We continue with the Town Hall Chat: Mr. Selig, I just read the Athletics have a new 10-year deal to remain in their current stadium. Are there any teams that have growing stadium issues that will have to be addressed some time soon?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: The Athletics, we still have one more hurdle to go. The owner of the Athletics, Mr. Wolff -- but they have one more hurdle and that will hopefully start. We have an Oakland problem and a Tampa problem and those are problems we are trying to work on and will continue to work on.

THE MODERATOR: These are conversations that continue to happen throughout baseball.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: You bet. Down to just two problems, which 10 years ago -- 10, 15 years, we had a lot of problems and solved most of them.

THE MODERATOR: An evolution on the way. And continuing with the question from Keith: Will MLB consider expanding certain divisions again in order to bring teams to states such as Louisiana and Oregon, or any area that deserves a franchise?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: There are wonderful areas that deserve a franchise, but I think with 30 right now, I think 30 teams that I don't see any expansion. In fact, I think we're at the appropriate number now, and I think we will stay at that number.

THE MODERATOR: All right. That is the sequence of vetted questions that we have brought to the Town Hall conversation and I think everyone submitted online at Now one of best parts of the day is right here in Minneapolis; we take fans' questions. One of our favorite fans is right there.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: She is one of my favorite people, too. One of the most talented writers.

THE MODERATOR: There we go.

Q. What are some of your favorite All Star moments?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: Favorite All Star moments. Well, Meggie, my first All-Star Game was 1950, at Comiskey Park, Chicago, and they hit a home run to win the game. And Ted Williams broke his elbow and played, I think, nine innings, almost the whole game.

Nineteen fifty-five was the great Stan Musial in Milwaukee -- hit a home run in the 12th inning to win the game.

There have been a lot of really great moments in the All-Star. You know, when you see it tonight, just sit and watch and look at the talent out on the field. Really, really exciting. All-Star Game, we are the sport that has the best All-Star Games, by far, and it is a thrill to see the talent.

Nice to see you, Meggie. Always a pleasure to see you, Meggie.

Q. Are there any plans to integrate the military into future MLB events?

THE MODERATOR: Any plans for stronger integration of the military with special events in Major League Baseball?

COMMISSIONER SELIG: I hope so. We have done a lot, but we would like to do a lot more. And I would like to say this to you, and you, and all of the people: Baseball is a social institution. It has important social responsibility. One of the things that we should always do is remember the sacrifices that all of you have done for us. So in every way we possibly can, baseball will try to include the military, even a lot more than they do now.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for that question.


Q. Thank you, Commissioner, for your service over the years. Also, I was wondering what your opinion was of the format of the derby.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: They changed the format of the derby. Unfortunately, last night we had an hour rain delay. And I said to the writers, the hour rain delays for home runs or playoffs is never really good. The metaphor, they sort of wet things down a little bit.

But the derby is very, very popular. I thought we had two good teams this year. But we'll continue to tweak it and see if we can come up with something. But it is great. And fans love it. It was great last night. I love the last two rounds, and boy, they were fun. It is just a fun evening.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much. It certainly is.

COMMISSIONER SELIG: I worried about weather for 50 years and it has never done any good. I have done everything, and I was told last night that the rain was going to stop at 6. Six-thirty, it hadn't stopped. And hadn't stopped at 7. But I won't make the comments I usually make about weather, because I have got in a lot of trouble over the years. So they are wonderful.

THE MODERATOR: They are wonderful, no better last moment than that. Commissioner, for all the years and the time you have taken to sit and talk to the fans and sit at this desk at, I thank you. And a big round of applause for Commissioner Selig.


COMMISSIONER SELIG: It is always a pleasure to be here. I enjoy it.