Selig speaks on sport's issues

All-Star Notebook

He says MLB is investigating international concerns, working on replay

July 16, 2008|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN REPORTER

NEW YORK - Last night's All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium in New York ended too late to be included in this edition. A full report on the game can be found at baltimoresun.com.

At his annual appearance before the Baseball Writers Association of America, commissioner Bud Selig said yesterday that the sport continues to prosper, partially because the attention is on the field of play these days and not peripheral issues that have haunted the game.

Still, Selig acknowledged that some off-field matters still concern him, including federal investigations into bonus-skimming in the Dominican Republic and a gambling ring that reportedly enveloped former Orioles national crosschecker Alan Marr, who was fired in June.

"I am always concerned. I am very sensitive about any [gambling]," Selig said.

"We are conducting our own investigation. We have our own investigative unit. They are very hard at work. ... I don't want to comment on the investigation, but there certainly is no evidence it is widespread."

Also, according to published reports, numerous baseball officials in the Dominican and United States are under suspicion for allegedly skimming funds that were targeted as bonuses for Dominican signees.

Washington general manager Jim Bowden said he and other Nationals officials have spoken to Major League Baseball and the FBI, but he does not believe he or other staff members are suspected of wrongdoing.

Selig said MLB might institute a worldwide draft someday, potentially after the next labor contract in 2012, which could eliminate the murkiness surrounding international bonuses.

"We have been on top of it. Our investigative unit has been on top of it," Selig said. "We will continue to be, and we will do whatever we have to do to clean those matters up."

The commissioner answered questions for 45 minutes on topics including:

* Potentially implementing instant replay: "If it occurs at all, and no decision has been made, it will be in a very limited form. Once we are convinced the bugs are out, it will come quickly." He said it could happen for the 2008 postseason, "but we've got work to be done."

* The Nationals' MASN TV rating, which at 0.39 is three times lower than any other club. "We are having our own people look into it. We are having other people review it. It's ongoing ... but we are going to look at that. The overall health of the franchise, I think, is fine."

* The nation's scuffling economy affecting baseball: "There is no question with the gas price situation and the economy, the picture is very bleak, and I've worried a lot about it. So far we're OK."

Tejada's big switch

Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada is in his fifth All-Star Game, but his first away from the American League.

"It means a lot because it is my first year in the National League," said Tejada, who was selected in 2002 with the Oakland Athletics and from 2004 to 2006 with the Orioles. "It is kind of strange."

He's not the only one who has had to adjust to the switch. After Monday's AL news conference, New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez wondered why Tejada was coming and not going.

"He said, 'Hey, Miggi, we are already finished,' " Tejada recalled. "And I said, 'No. I am on the other side now.' "

The A-list dilemma

George Sherrill's night of party hopping in New York ended before it started. The Orioles' closer had invitations to attend separate parties hosted by Derek Jeter, Rodriguez and the Steinbrenner family.

Sherrill went to Jeter's party first, but there was no easy VIP entrance. So he stood in line for 15 minutes in the heat, sweating in his suit. And the line didn't move.

"I was sweating like a bulldog," he said. "So I got mad and went home."

Another Orioles rep

Sherrill wasn't the only member of the Orioles representing the franchise at Yankee Stadium. Fred Tyler, the franchise's longtime visiting clubhouse manager, agreed to help with clubhouse duties in New York. He has worked two other All-Star games - 1993 at Camden Yards and 1999 at Fenway Park.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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