Bud Selig On The Dodgers Meeting Payroll This Month: “We are monitoring this situation very, very, very closely.”

May 10, 2011 – 9:30 am by Steven Cuce

As the verbal jabs continue to be spewed out by Frank McCourt, Bud Selig is trying to look out for the league’s best interest by taking every measure possible to ensure that the Dodgers’ financial dispute is handled in the appropriate manner. Selig has hired Tom Schieffer to monitor the Dodgers, while Dick Freeman has been brought in to look at all the finances from the accounting perspective.

The ugly divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt has left a black cloud over baseball in Los Angeles and that’s not the only concern on Selig’s plate. There’s also the New York Mets’ financial crisis stemming from the Bernie Madoff Scandal that Selig must tend to. Let’s not forget baseball is one of the few professional sports that does not have a labor dispute looming over its future, but that doesn’t mean that Selig doesn’t have his plate full. Amidst all the turmoil, the Major League Baseball commissioner is looking to expand the playoff format if the 14-man committee approves of his proposal. Mike Lupica, a well-known sports columnist for the New York Daily News, took the MLB commissioner to task on all of these issues facing the game despite it being his first day on the air with his new show on ESPN Radio New York.

Bud Selig joined ESPN New York on “The Mike Lupica Show” to discuss the Dodgers’ ability to meet payroll obligations this month, whether he finds it ironic that Frank McCourt is using Fox money to help bail him out, the difference between the financial situations of the Dodgers and Mets, what would make Major League Baseball step in and preside over the Mets’ financial difficulties, his personal reaction to being called “Un-American” by Frank McCourt and the possibility of not expanding Major League Baseball’s playoff structure.

Are the Dodgers going to be able to meet their payroll obligations at the end of this month?

“Well I don’t know that Mike [Lupica] right now. I know that story has been written a lot and the fact is I don’t know. Our people are tracking this very closely as you know I’ve appointed Ambassador [Tom] Schieffer, who of course ran the Texas Rangers for ten or eleven years, who I have enormous respect for. Tom will keep me very well posted. We’ve added Dick Freeman today who’s ran the Pirates and has a great accounting background, so I’ll be able to give you an answer as the days forward here, but at the moment we are monitoring this situation very, very, very closely.”

Do you think it’s ironic that Frank McCourt tried to save himself by using Fox as his banker after Fox couldn’t wait to unload the Dodgers, which is why McCourt got them in the first place?

“You have it right, but I’ll let you draw that conclusion if you understand. It is very ironic. Yes.”

How is the Mets situation with the Wilpons different from the Dodgers situation with the McCourt’s?

“I’ve gone into that a lot. Let me just say to you without…I mean there are enormous complexities to these in both deals. I keep reading as I did over the weekend that well they are essentially really the same. They are far from the same. Look without going into details that have been announced Fred Wilpon…yes and Fred Wilpon and I have been friends for a long time. I have enormous respect and affection for him. Fred Wilpon is doing what he should do. He’s looking for an economic mechanism that will bring more equity into the club, sheer raw cash to put it in it its most candidate way. That alone is a huge difference. There are a million of other differences, but I’m telling you guys right now to compare one situation to the other is just factually  incorrect and I pointed it out in the first one. By the way I believe that the Mets…I’ve been talking to Steve Greenberg of Allen & Co., who’s handled it very well. I talk to Fred a lot about it and I feel very comfortable that we are going to have a very reasonable economic solution to that problem as oppose to the other.”

What would have to change with the Mets situation to make you consider stepping in with the team on this coast with the way you stepped in with the team on the other coast [Dodgers]?

“There isn’t anything Mike [Lupica] because we’ve carefully watched that situation, talked to the people everyday, whether I’m talking to Fred. They are approaching it the way I would approach it quite frankly guys. There’s no question. They are looking to add equity and I have absolutely not a scintilla of doubt that that’s going to work out well and we can move on. I know people will say what about [Bernie] Madoff? That’s well in the future. Fred and Saul Katz are very comfortable in their position, but in this case to solve the immediate problem. They’re doing it! Mike they are doing.”

What was your personal reaction to Frank McCourt calling your actions to step in and take over the Dodgers as “Un-American?”

“I guess I’ve been commissioner for so long I’m use to most everything. Look I’m very cautious as you well know Mike. I move. I like consensus. I like to be very deliberative. [Mike Lupica: Glaciers move faster than you sometimes.] That’s right and I’m proud of everything I’ve done. That’s right. You’re right about that. Anyway the best interest clause and others. My job is to protect the best interest of this sport, so when I do something it is with a firm knowledge and understanding that I am what I think, the way I’ve been raised in this business to do what’s in the best interest of baseball.”

Would you please reconsider not expanding the playoff system in baseball because it is perfect the way it is?

“I understand your feeling and fortunately you’re not in the position I am, so I can at least make that judgement. I think we’re moving inevitably towards it. Look let’s go back a little bit. When I first went into the playoffs in 1993 and added two teams you would have thought the world was coming down. Poor Bob Costas was ready to jump off the Empire State Building. You know he didn’t and that’s okay. It’s worked out brilliantly and contributed to our history, contributed to the Red Sox winning. There are so many great things that have happened. Now three or four years ago Mike I had really convinced myself to do it and we had a committee and we did some things together, but I just decided at that time not to do it. The more I think about this, having ten teams out of thirty… think about this? It is not a violation of what I consider our great history and tradition. I did take it to my fourteen person committee, the four mangers, the four general managers, the four owners, plus Frank Robinson, and George Will. We have now taken three votes and all of them have been fourteen to nothing, which is unusual because that is the only subject. The more I thought about it we have details to work out, what kind of playoff it should be and when? We’re still not going to go into November. I’ll tell you that right now. Way back when, when I still owned the Brewers I was campaigning for 154 [games]. I would have loved 154 [games]. I was good with both sides. I went to a meeting and thought I had a lot of interest. Mike I made the motion and didn’t even have a second. Today I’m afraid the same might happen, but look we’re examining all possibilities.”

Listen to Bud Selig on 1050 ESPN New York here

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