Bud Selig on HGH Testing Being Included in MLB’s New Collective Bargaining Agreement: “I am very proud of that. It’s a great day for the sport.”November 23, 2011 – 6:20 am by Steven Cuce
Major League Baseball has just ensured two plus decades of labor peace in a sport that has been plagued by a scarred history of labor disputes. Who would have thought not long ago that baseball would be the only professional sport to avoid a major labor dispute or work stoppage in the forthcoming years? No one. Baseball has enjoyed steady growth as a result of the labor peace that will now continue on for years to come.
The highlights of the new collective bargaining agreement include baseball being the first North American professional major league to start blood testing on HGH. The playoffs have now expanded to 10 teams with the addition of an extra wild card team in each league. Now the two wild cards in each league will face off in a one game sudden death round for the right to play a division winner. That means a heavier emphasis has now been put on winning the division for all teams going into the playoffs. Selig also hopes to bring more competitive balance to the game by restricting the amount of money that large market teams can spend on amateur draft picks and international signings.
Bud Selig joined ESPN New York with The Mike Lupica Show to discuss working with the MLBPA for a successful agreement on testing for HGH, implementing two extra wild cards beginning in next year’s postseason, if he thinks he could have accomplished more during the early parts of his tenure as commissioner if he was working with people like Michael Weiner from the get-go, and the most important issue in the new CBA being HGH blood testing.
Would you have believed that 10 years ago when you first threw out the idea of testing for HGH that you would have been able to work together on a deal with the MLBPA to now test against HGH? Did you think that was possible?
“It was impossible. There’s no question you know that as we talked back then getting the MLBPA in 2002 to start – remember my minor league program will go into its 12th year. People will say we were slow to react. Minor League testing has gone on for 12 years. I took this not only seriously, but I made it part and parcel of what we had to do and so when I think to where we are now – look let me go back to the 1980’s with you a second. We had a terrible cocaine problem. I lived through it myself with my own team the Milwaukee club. We couldn’t get any drug testing program. You remember how many times Steve Howe got suspended? We couldn’t get anywhere. Think of this evolution: Today we have the toughest testing program in American sports and we’ve add HGH. I am very proud of that. It’s a great day for the sport. Our fans can look forward now to five more years uninterrupted and concentrate on the game.”
You are starting to win me over on the extra wild-card team in each league for the playoffs. Don La Greca has talked me into it. I’m looking at it as a chance especially for some team in the American League to get into the playoffs besides the team from the American League East?
“That’s absolutely correct. He’s [Don La Greca] right. He’s absolutely right. Look when I went with the wild-card [idea] in September of 1993 I got really criticized and ripped and people said you can’t do it. Look at what it has produced. It’s really been so wonderful and 10 out of the 30 [teams] is the right number. I don’t feel we have really hurt anything here. I think it sets up for tremendous scenarios. I would have liked two out of three [series] more often, but all the managers on my committee – [Joe] Torre and [Mike] Scioscia and [Tony] La Russa and Jimmy Leyland all liked one [game series], which surprised me. All the baseball people have liked one, so this has been great. We closed the season on such a high. Everything from Labor Day on and then September 28th, which I’ll never forget and the playoffs and the World Series. This is great.”
Do you sometimes look back at when you became the 9th MLB Commissioner and wonder what other progress could have been made if you didn’t have such obstructionists running the show and had more people you could work with like Michael Weiner?
“Well I am not going to get back into history. We have done so well and done so much and today was an interesting day because when I think back to the 1970’s and 1980’s and what went on then and you think today ‘wow.’ All you can say is ‘wow what a difference.’ ”
The one thing you were stuck on in this new collective bargaining agreement was HGH blood testing right?
“Yes. Yes. That is absolutely true and the draft was very critical to me too because it’s a fairness issue. I sort of regard in my job, not sort of I do, but always the fairness issue. What’s fair for the clubs? Both were important, but yes HGH was extremely important.”
Listen to Bud Selig on 1050 ESPN New York here [Interview begins at the 15:10 mark of the podcast]