Selig makes rounds with visits to Letterman, Politico
NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig stopped by the Ed Sullivan Theater late Monday afternoon to tape an appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman," and Letterman had plenty of questions.
Selig also answered questions at the Politico Playbook breakfast and at an appearance with Chris (Mad Dog) Russo live on SiriusXM during the T-Mobile FanFest at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on Monday before his appearance on "Late Show." The Commissioner made the visits in advance of his annual Town Hall meeting, which will be streamed live on MLB.com. He will answer questions in front of a live audience during the FanFest beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
At all three venues, the subject of Biogenesis, the shuttered South Florida anti-aging clinic that allegedly provided performance-enhancing substances to at least 20 players, was raised. And at each venue, Selig saluted the thoroughness of baseball's investigation without tipping his hand about what might happen and when.
"What's going to happen to Alex Rodriguez? Is he ever going to play for the Yankees [again]?" Letterman asked during Selig's 12-minute segment between appearances by actor Bruce Willis and musical guest Valerie Simpson.
"Only time will tell," Selig said. "We're in the midst of a very thorough and tough investigation on all of this, because I really believe it's not only the right thing to do, we're going to do it."
"Isn't there a sum of money that's at stake here if he doesn't play again this season?" Letterman asked.
Selig noted that was an issue between A-Rod and the Yankees.
"And that sum of money is incalculable?" Letterman responded.
"No, it's not incalculable. It's over $100 million, and it's been calculated by everyone," Selig said.
"I don't know how this works. Is he one that might be suspended?" Letterman asked.
"I'd rather not say," Selig responded.
"But you know, don't you? I can tell," Letterman said.
"I do. The answer is, I do," Selig said. The studio audience applauded.
"And how many players will be affected by the upcoming suspensions?" Letterman asked. "We believe that after [Tuesday night's] All-Star Game, there will be a reckoning. Am I right about that?"
"At some point in the future," Selig said.
"And how many are we talking about? More than a dozen, less than a dozen?" Letterman continued.
"We don't know," Selig answered. "I'll say this, you are persistent."
With Russo, the topics Selig addressed included convincing more players from the United States to participate in the World Baseball Classic, instant replay, the possibility of stiffer penalties for positive drug tests, the future of the designated hitter and the length of the regular season.
Russo pointed out that Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera was named MVP of last year's All-Star Game in Kansas City, helping his team secure home-field advantage in the World Series in the process, before failing a drug test and being suspended for 50 games.
"When it comes to enforcement, when a player tests positive, we have to do what we have to do and I can't worry about what happened before," Selig said.
Russo followed up, asking if the home-field advantage should have been rescinded and if a similar situation could arise this year since there are players in this year's All-Star Game who have been linked to Biogenesis.
"That would be unfair to everybody who played. You can't do that," Selig said to the first part of the question.
"We'll see what happens," he said to the second.
While signing autographs before he left the Javits Center, one fan yelled to Selig: "Thanks for your hard work, bro."
The first event of the day, hosted by Politico chief White House correspondent Mike Allen, joined two of America's favorite pastimes: Baseball and politics. Political analysts George Will and Mike Barnicle were in attendance.
Allen opened the conversation by noting that Barnicle has said Selig could have been a great Senate Majority Leader since he had shown the ability to deal with headstrong owners and a strong Players Association while still being able to reshape the game during his 22-year tenure.
"I decided long ago that while patience would be required, that it would be best to include people in the process," Selig said. "They may agree, they may disagree. But what I wanted to do is build a consensus. I knew back in the '90s how tough things were. We had had eight labor stoppages in my career. It was brutal.
"We had all these internal divisions. The economics of the sport needed reformation. There's no question about it. I knew then that to move forward, I couldn't do it unilaterally. You just can't. So if you want to get something done, if you want to get meaningful things done, you need to be political. You need to work on things. That's a fact of life. When you need votes, you have to work on getting them. And we've made more changes that, 22 years ago, you could even think about. Consensus works. But it does require patience and you take some hits."
At the end of the program, Selig returned to that theme when asked which U.S. Presidents he believed had provided lessons in leadership. He quickly mentioned Doris Kearns Goodwin's book about Abraham Lincoln, "Team of Rivals."
"Lincoln believed in consensus," Selig said. "He brought all these divergent people together. A lot of them hate each other. But that's the way he formed a consensus. And he worked at it. Look, leadership requires vision. It requires courage. And it requires people to do the right thing even if they themselves get hit hard. When you're in a role of leadership, that's what you have to do," he explained.
On Letterman, the Commissioner pointed out that baseball conducted 4,200 tests on Major League players last year with only seven positive results.
"They're going to start testing talk-show hosts," Letterman joked.
"And I'll be happy to participate in that," Selig responded, smiling.