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 Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider

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PostSubject: Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider   Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:37 pm

08/14/2008 7:44 PM ET
Meetings give Selig a lot to consider
Commissioner will weigh instant replay, All-Star changes
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Now that the summer owners' meetings are over, Commissioner Bud Selig said he wants to tend to a variety of issues, the most important of which is the implementation of instant replay for disputed home run calls prior to the start of the playoffs.

Selig is waiting anxiously for a study to be finished, defining the reason why maple bats explode with such regularity. He's also trying to determine how to avoid another debacle in the All-Star Game, which went into extra innings this past July for the second time in seven years, taxing the pitching staffs of both leagues. The answer: two more pitchers per squad.

"I thought we had forever solved the problem," Selig said on Thursday. "And we had, actually, because everything we did worked. But we may also put an additional safeguard in."

All of this was discussed at Thursday morning's session that included the owners and top executives from the 30 clubs. The only actions items were the transition of power at the top of the Giants' organization from Peter Magowan to Bill Neukom, who will become the new managing general partner on Oct. 1.

As expected, the owners also approved the format and venues for next year's World Baseball Classic, which will open on March 5 in Tokyo Dome and close on March 23 at Dodger Stadium. Japan won the inaugural Classic in 2006, defeating Cuba in the final.

Selig said his prime concern now is getting the kinks out of the instant replay system so it can be introduced this September.

"I'm hoping we can get the bugs out sometime before the postseason," Selig said. "Whether we can make that timetable or not really hasn't been determined."

The owners, eight of whom sit on the executive council along with Selig, were briefed about the replay plan on Wednesday and the full body of executives heard the details on Thursday morning.

It was not an action item on either agenda and a vote by the clubs is not necessary for Selig to move forward and implement it. Substantial time has been spent by baseball operations on developing the plan since the general managers endorsed it with a 25-5 vote at their annual meetings late last year.

"Well, we're working on the whole instant replay situation -- it didn't need a vote," Selig said. "I'm quite satisfied that we're trying to get all the bugs out of it. It'll be very limited in its form, as you know. I'm a little reluctant to speak out about it until I know everything is working, but we are moving in the right direction."

As far as the maple bats are concerned, a wood research institute at the University of Wisconsin and a statistician at Harvard are helping MLB determine why so many of them have shattered this season. The institute is collecting the data and Harvard is analyzing it.

Selig ordered the study done after the owners' meetings this past May in Milwaukee and there has been one session of a group made up of officials from MLB and the Players Association since then. The union must sign off if the bats are banished or the size and shape of them is changed.

Selig really became concerned in April after Don Long, the Pirates hitting coach, was hit with a shard of maple bat while standing in the visitors' dugout at Dodger Stadium.

"I felt something hit me," Long said. "It was surprising."

The large splinter struck below the left eye, leaving a bloody gash in his cheek that needed 10 stitches to close. For a month, Long said he lost feeling near the left corner of his mouth and the ability to smile on that side. He also said that for a while he felt like he was "shaving a piece of rubber." Since then he has fully recovered.

As the study goes on, Selig is certainly concerned about a more debilitating incident.

"They're analyzing all the bats," Selig said. "There's a lot of work going on right now. My concerns are the same. Every game I watch there's bats splintering. I'm sensitive about it."

The All-Star Game is another one of Selig's acute sensitivities. Ever since he had to call the tied 2002 game in his hometown of Milwaukee because both teams ran out of pitching after 11 innings, Selig has lived by this mantra: the Midsummer Classic will be played to its finish.

Selig negotiated an expansion of the rosters to 32 players after that one, including a mandatory 12 pitchers. But when the July 15 game at Yankee Stadium went into the 15th inning and both teams again were down to their final pitchers, Selig prowled back and forth in his suite.

The game ended in the bottom of that inning with the American League prevailing, 4-3, but now Selig wants to make adjustments again.

When asked on Thursday if that could involve the addition of two more pitchers to each roster, Selig said, "That's the simplest, most direct way to do it."

He's also considering replacing pitchers on the roster who start Sunday before the game, but that's a future consideration.

In the present, Magowan attended the final meeting in his capacity as the Giants' representative since his group bought the team after the 1992 season, saving it for San Francisco from a move to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.

Neukom, his 66-year-old replacement, is a long-time investor in that group and a general partner for the past six years. A lawyer by trade, he just finished a one-year term as president of the American Bar Association and has another year to go in an emeritus position.

"I'm privileged to be invited to be the controlling person of the San Francisco Giants," Neukom said. "With Peter deciding to retire and move on, I got the opportunity to step in and work with the other investors and front-office people to be part of the national pastime.

"It's a proud franchise. We're going to re-double our efforts, bring competitive baseball back to San Francisco on a regular basis, and have all the fun that that brings us."

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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PostSubject: Re: Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider   Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:39 pm

08/14/2008 1:58 PM ET
Selig: Work continues on instant replay
Commissioner says he wants to be sure system is 'perfect'
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Commissioner Bud Selig said after the closing of Thursday's joint meeting of the 30 club executives that he could implement instant replay for disputed home run calls before the end of the season.

"I'm hoping we can get the bugs out sometime before the postseason," Selig said. "Whether we can make that timetable or not really hasn't been determined."

The owners, eight of whom sit on the executive council along with Selig, were briefed about the replay plan on Wednesday and the full body of executives heard the details on Thursday morning.

It was not an action item on either agenda and a vote by the clubs is not necessary for Selig to move forward and implement it. Substantial time has been spent by baseball operations on developing the plan since the general managers endorsed it with a 25-5 vote at their annual meetings late last year.

"Well, we're working on the whole instant replay situation -- it didn't need a vote," Selig said. "I'm quite satisfied that we're trying to get all the bugs out of it. It'll be very limited in its form, as you know. I'm a little reluctant to speak out about it until I know everything is working, but we are moving in the right direction."

Selig said that each of the 30 big league ballparks are currently being wired so that the chief of that particular umpiring crew can be in contact with a central location at Major League Baseball Advanced Media's offices in New York, where an official will review each disputed call.

The GMs determined this past November that they are in favor of one central replay location to review disputed home run calls, much like the National Hockey League utilizes in Toronto to review contested goals.

MLB would be the last of the four major professional sports leagues to utilize instant replay in some fashion. The National Basketball Association uses it to review last-second baskets at the end of each quarter. The National Football League uses it on a much wider scope to review a variety of plays.

But Selig reiterated that he wasn't ready to make an announcement about replay, at least not yet.

"Yogi once said that it ain't over till it's over so I want to be very careful," Selig said. "When we do it I want to make sure it's very good, that it's perfect. Somebody said today that there'd only been 16 [disputed home run calls] this year. I shouldn't say only -- 16 is a lot. They may have determined the outcome of 16 games.

"We have spent a lot of time doing a lot of checking. They're wiring 30 parks. And Chelsea [in Manhattan], where the headquarters will be at MLBAM, I've been over there to look at it and it's unbelievable. It's a lot of fun. But there's still work to be done and I don't want to put a date on it. Let's just say my confidence is growing."

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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PostSubject: Re: Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider   Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:41 pm

08/14/2008 2:58 PM ET
Selig, owners discuss maple bat issue
Commissioner, clubs hoping to find solution by 2009 season
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- A wood research institute at the University of Wisconsin and a statistician at Harvard are helping Major League Baseball determine why so many maple bats are shattering this season.

"At least now I know we have a good forestry division," Commissioner Bud Selig quipped.

But Selig doesn't know what exact solution will come out of the maple bat dispute, which was one of many subjects that came up at the third quarterly meetings of MLB's owners.

MLB recently directed all of its clubs to save each of its broken bats so that the player using the bat, the type of bat used, the manufacturer of the bat and the nature of the break can be noted.

Forest Products Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin is studying the bats, and Dr. Carl Morris of Harvard is compiling all the data.

"They're analyzing all the bats," Selig said. "There's a lot of work going on right now. My concerns are the same. Every game I watch there's bats splintering. I'm sensitive about it."

Maple bats are a sensitive issue, in general.

A ban on the bats would have to be approved by the players' union, and that's made difficult by the fact that so many players prefer to use maple.

Rob Manfred, MLB's executive vice president in charge of labor relations, has been working with the union on the issue. Manfred said MLB is in a "tough spot" with regard to the bats and declined to comment further on the matter Thursday.

Currently, MLB has a rule on bats in which the difference between a bat's weight and its length must be no greater than 3 1/2. In other words, if a bat is 34 inches long, it must weigh at least 30 1/2 ounces. A change in that rule would also have to be collectively bargained.

The maple situation, therefore, is complicated, and unlikely to be solved before the 2009 season, Selig said.

"Even if you did [find a solution]," Selig said, "to make the changes in the bats, [the manufacturers] would need a significant amount of lead time, I'm told."

Theories abound on the bats. Some believe inferior wood is the culprit. Others point to thin handles. Still others cite a rushed drying process used by manufacturers trying to keep up with the demand for bats.

"I've talked to a lot of people," Selig said. "I've talked to Hall of Famers ... Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Rod Carew. They talk about the bat handles and everything else. Everybody has a different theory on it."

And Selig is hoping the experts MLB has hired will find the most applicable theory yet.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider   Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:42 pm

08/14/2008 2:32 PM ET
More All-Star pitchers being considered
Two more for each league appears likely after 15-inning affair
By Anthony Castrovince / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Hopeful that the All-Star Game won't ever again go into a 15th inning but mindful that it could, Commissioner Bud Selig is considering options to further tweak the Midsummer Classic's roster sizes.

Talking to reporters after the owners meetings here, Selig said Major League Baseball might find a way to further defend itself from the threat of the American and National League teams running out of pitchers before the game's completion.

When asked if that could involve the addition of two more pitchers to each roster, Selig said, "That's the simplest, most direct way to do it."

All-Star rosters are once again a hot topic because of what transpired at Yankee Stadium on July 15, when the AL didn't push the winning run across in a 4-3 victory over the NL until the bottom of the 15th. By that point, both teams were down to their last pitcher -- Brad Lidge of the NL and Scott Kazmir of the AL.

Had the game kept going, one can only speculate on what scenarios might have unfolded. It's conceivable that a position player could have been forced to take the mound.

The 2008 game harkened back to what transpired in 2002, when the AL and NL played to a 7-7 tie after 11 innings in Milwaukee's Miller Park.

That famous kiss-your-sister finish forced MLB to take action with the All-Star Game. Beginning in 2003, rosters were expanded from 30 players to 32, including a mandatory pitching staff of 12. Also, MLB began awarding home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that won the Midsummer Classic.

"I thought we had forever solved the problem," Selig said. "And we had, actually, because everything we did worked. But we may also put an additional safeguard in."

Selig did not offer any more details on the matter. He simply said he has listened to many suggestions regarding the All-Star Game and he has quite a few himself.

But Selig also knows that what happened in the Bronx was rare. It was just the second All-Star Game to go to a 15th inning and the first in 41 years.

Selig hopes it's the last.

"Or at least as long as I'm Commissioner," he said with a smile. "What happens after that, [others] can worry about."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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PostSubject: Re: Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider   Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:44 pm

08/14/2008 4:47 PM ET
MLB investigating scout allegations
Some accused of taking money in Dominican signings
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Major League Baseball's new Department of Investigations is the middle of a full-scale probe into allegations that some baseball scouts, working for big-league clubs, have taken bribes or kickbacks for signing Dominican Republic teenagers to baseball contracts.

A report on the matter was delivered to the 30 club executives on Thursday at their quarterly joint meeting, Commissioner Bud Selig said.

"I know there have been stories about the Dominican Republic," Selig said. "But I want to suggest to you that we've been doing our own investigation for a long time. It's a very thorough one. It's had some ramifications for some clubs already, as you probably know. And it will probably have more ramifications."

Baseball's investigation has run parallel with an FBI investigation into the same matter. Some scouts and baseball executives have been accused of taking kickbacks out of the sums of money paid by MLB teams to secure the finest in young Dominican talent.

A former Nationals part-time scout is part of the MLB investigation that has already led to the firing of one scout and could result in disciplinary action against at least seven others, ESPN.com reported earlier this week.

Several Yankees who scout the Dominican have been placed on leave as MLB and the FBI investigate whether club employees paid players small portions of bonuses they reported to baseball and kept the difference for themselves, The New York Times reported.

And ESPN.com reported that Pablo Lantigua, the Dominican scouting supervisor for the Red Sox, was fired after he was confronted by baseball investigators and accused of skimming signing bonuses. The Red Sox said that Lantigua was fired for violating team policy.

Selig wouldn't specify on Thursday how widespread the probe was at the moment, but only that it was continuing.

MLB's Department of Investigations was established earlier this year as an outgrowth of one of the recommendations made by former Sen. George Mitchell in his report analyzing the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. That report was released in December.

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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PostSubject: Re: Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider   Fri Aug 15, 2008 1:25 pm

that whole Domincan Republic thing is scary...almost like a slave trade!
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PostSubject: Re: Summer Owners Meetings give Selig a lot to consider   Sat Aug 16, 2008 12:22 pm

Saturday, August 16, 2008
Charting the majors
Detroit News wire services

Yankees fire two scouts involved in skimming probe

The New York Yankees have fired two scouts under investigation in a probe of possible skimming from contracts with Latin American players.

The Yankees terminated the contracts of Carlos Rios , their director of Latin American scouting, and Ramon Valdivia , their Dominican Republic scouting director, a baseball official said Friday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

The pair were accused of skimming six figures from the deals, a second baseball official said.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman declined comment.

Major League Baseball has been investigating alleged skimming involving Latin American operations for months.
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