Selig has more changes in store for baseball - NBC Sports

Selig has more changes in store for baseball
Commissioner has changed the game, and he's not finished yet
Reuters
Bud Selig has some more changes planned for baseball before he steps down as commissioner following the 2012 season.
July 14, 2011, 7:07 pm
  • New kid in town: The event could be the coming-out party for David Einhorn, the kid commissioner Bud Selig remembers from their Milwaukee neighborhood who is about to become minority owner of the New York Mets.

The deal - approval coming soon - has Einhorn getting one-third of the Mets for $200 million, with an option to up his stake to 60 percent in three to five years. With the Wilpon family facing an uncertain future in light of a $1 billion-plus lawsuit against them - fallout from the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal - controlling interest in the Mets figures to transfer to Einhorn soon enough.

If Selig is on hand for the festivities, it won't be as the game's longtime leader. He reiterated again on Tuesday his plan to step down upon the expiration of his contract at the end of 2012.

There has been a long-running joke about Selig never leaving office - since he has been talked out of it in the past - and some don't believe he'll walk away this time, either.

But there clearly is an air of legacy-established satisfaction about him these days, and the timing will be nearly perfect: after 20 years on the job, when he'll be 78 years old, and with a new Basic Agreement in place.

  • Home-field advantage: The All-Star Game will continue to determine home-field advantage in the World Series.

It may not be the best way to do it - overall record in interleague play is. But there's no debating that the format has improved the actual All-Star Game, and long gone are the days of limos lining up and whisking players away before the game reached the seventh-inning stretch.

And MLB's television partners like it this way, too.

  • More instant replay: If there are any borderline fair-foul calls in the game, there will be option to review them through instant replay.

That will be the next step in a gradual move toward replacing the mistakes-included human element in the game with flawless and timely technology.

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Image: A vendor sells beer in the upper deck as a giant U.S. flag is displayed on the field before MLB's All-Star Game in Phoenix

Images of MLB's American League versus the National League in Phoenix, Ariz.

  • Realignment: Both of the 2013 All-Star squads likely will be comprised of players from 15-team leagues.

The players union long has supported the idea of two 15-team leagues - a simple matter of mathematical fairness when it comes to competition for postseason spots.

And MLB owners and officials slowly are coming around to the concept - slowly being the operative word. As Selig said about stories of imminent changes: "somebody was quoting four sources. I'm the only one doing it, and I don't think I've even talked to four people.''

But when realignment happens, there really is only one choice for the team that will make the NL-to-AL move: The Houston Astros. Whether it's part of the agreement for approval of soon-to-be-owner Jim Crane or not, the Astros' move from NL Central to AL West levels all six divisions at five teams, and deepens the Astros-Rangers rivalry.

The other possibility - the Arizona Diamondbacks to the AL West - still would require the Astros to move to the NL West, so why affect two teams when you don't need to do so?

While the 15-15 format will require at least one interleague series being played every day of the season, proposals currently being discussed don't call for a significant change in the total number of interleague games to be played.

Teams likely will be playing a few more interleague games than they currently do, but a small enough of an increase that there will be no need to alter the current designated-hitter rules split along league lines.

  • Interleague changes: However, when it comes to interleague games, there could be a flip-flop for the sake of variety and interest - DH in effect in NL parks, no DH in effect in AL parks.

And the DH definitely will remain in play for all All-Star games.

Selig loves the six-division format, and winning a division title is at the very epicenter of every clubhouse in the big leagues. So recent speculation about the leagues returning to a one- or two-division format with balanced schedules simply is unfounded.

  • But what's going to happen as soon as 2012 is the addition of a second wild-card qualifier in each league - a concept with support on both sides of the Basic Agreement bargaining table.

To be determined is how to fit an added round of playoffs (three game, max) into the schedule without stretching it into November. The most-viable solution is shortening what everybody agrees is a too-long exhibition season, and starting the regular season a couple of days earlier.

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