|Selig sidesteps Bonds, steroids questions|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 17 May 2007 08:23|
Selig, a longtime friend of Aaron, has refused to commit to attending the games.
``Is he really approaching?'' Selig said facetiously during a news conference after owners finished their two-day meeting Thursday. ``I don't have anything different to say today. I'll make a decision at some appropriate time.''
Selig sounded a bit testy in responding to questions. In 1974, commissioner Bowie Kuhn was criticized for not attending the game when Aaron hit No. 715 to break Babe Ruth's record. Kuhn did attend when Aaron hit No. 714.
Selig also wouldn't say whether he was concerned that active players thus far have not agreed to be interviewed for former Sen. George Mitchell's steroids investigation and have not supplied medical records.
``That is something that my friends at the players' association, the players, you'll have to ask them,'' Selig said.
Owners approved baseball's new seven-year ``Extra Innings'' out-of-market television contracts with DirecTV and iN Demand, deals that guarantee the clubs average of $80 million annually. Owners also approved the launch of the MLB Network, which Selig said will be available to at least 47 million homes when it starts broadcasting on Jan. 1, 2009.
``That will exceed any other cable channel launch in cable television history by almost 20 million homes,'' baseball executive vice president Tim Brosnan said, adding that the current high was set by MSNBC, which was available in 28 million homes a year after its launch in 1996.
The MLB Network will broadcast baseball programming 24 hours a day, including a weekly Saturday night live game during the regular season.
Selig said the new postseason schedule did not come up during the meetings. Last week, baseball announced that the World Series will start Oct. 24 and Game 7 will be Nov. 1, an effort that eliminates Friday night games and cuts Saturday night games from two to one. Those are the lowest-rated television nights of the week.
tings to reflect that this sport is more popular today than it's ever been.''
Selig said baseball was not considering an expansion of the first round from best-of-five to best-of-seven.
``We're pressing now to Nov. 1. The clubs are not interested in shortening the season, and I understand it,'' he said. ``And therefore, you can't have everything. There are a lot of people who believe a five-game series really has moire tension, more pressure, every game means more.''
At times, Selig also has said baseball would consider changing the first-round schedule to make it more difficult for wild-card teams, who currently are home for Games 3 and 4.
``We continue to talk about that,'' he said.
Brosnan said affiliation agreements were in place with 33 multisystem operators of cable television networks to carry the MLB Network on their widest digital tier. Baseball owns two-thirds of the network, DirecTV owns one-sixth and Comcast, Cox and Time-Warner Cable own the remaining sixth.
``We used the out-of-market package to leverage distribution, to be quite honest with you,'' Brosnan said.
Baseball originally reached an exclusive ``Extra Innings'' deals with DirecTV that was criticized by some. Brosnan said that agreement was a $400 million, four-year contract that gave the company a $300 million, three-year option.
Brosnan also said it was too early to determine whether baseball will send teams to China for exhibition games next March. He will be part of a baseball delegation traveling to China on May to examine ballparks.
``It's a giant, burgeoning marketplace that's just starting to figure out how to digest big U.S. sporting events,'' he said. ``I think we'll know a heck of a lot more about the viability on our return.''