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Selig lauds umpiring crew, expounds on replay in '14

BOSTON -- Commissioner Bud Selig credited the umpiring crew for getting together to reverse a call in the World Series opener on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, and he repeated his support for expanded instant replay in 2014.

On a grounder hit by David Ortiz in the first inning of Boston's 8-1 win over St. Louis, second-base umpire Dana DeMuth originally ruled Red Sox baserunner Dustin Pedroia out at second base on a force play, even though it was clear that Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma did not catch the ball before dropping it. The six umpires huddled, and then changed the call, loading the bases with one out in the first.

"I watched the play right away, and it was obvious what happened. So I give the umpires a great deal of credit. I really do. They made the right decision," Selig said after presenting retired Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award before Game 2 on Thursday night.

"The one thing I will say, I time everything. And if you took all the debates, instant replay there would have saved us a lot of time. So they made the right decision there, and I give them a lot of credit. One of them said today in the paper, 'We're supposed to get it right.' And they did."

Selig said he remains confident the expanded replay plan (which includes a challenge system for managers) that was unveiled at the Owners Meetings in Cooperstown, N.Y., in August will be fully operational next season. He said he didn't know whether he'd bring the matter to a vote at the next Owners Meeting in Orlando, Fla., next month or at the January meeting in Phoenix.

The Major League Baseball Players Association and the World Umpires Association also have to sign off before it can go into effect. Selig is fully committed toward the plan's implementation in 2014.

"We spent a lot of time talking about it [Thursday]," the Commissioner said. "And I'm looking forward to it. I told our bankers, because they remember that three or four years ago, I told them I wasn't the least bit interested in expanded replay. Well, my father told me many years ago that life is nothing but a series of adjustments. 

"And this is an adjustment that I've made. Everybody that's worked on this has put in endless, endless hours. So I'm very, very comfortable with where we are."

The Commissioner touched on a number of subjects during the impromptu news conference.

On the fact that for the first time in 14 years the teams with the best records in their respective leagues are meeting in the World Series, he said: "That means a lot to me. I think it's great. Whatever you do, you're going to have criticism. The fact that you've got the two best records is really good. Nobody can say, 'You didn't do this or you didn't do that or the Wild Card.'

"You've got the two teams with the best records, and that's a tribute to our system. I knew this from my own personal experience of running the Brewers. It is hard getting here, and it's hard coming back. You think it isn't, but when you've owned a club and gone through it yourself, you know how tough it is."

Selig also addressed the sport's continuing popularity and growth this past season at the ballpark and through its online and television ventures.

"Good. Really good. Another great attendance year," said Selig. "We went over 74 million, which five or 10 years ago, I would have been dancing on the table. And you don't want to see me dancing on the table. I don't think my family would have enjoyed it too much, or the owners. Attendance is good, revenues are good. BAM [MLB Advanced Media], the [MLB] Network ... I'm really comfortable and proud with where we are."

On the legal maneuvering by lawyers for Alex Rodriguez as he appeals his 211-game suspension, Selig said: "I just don't have any comment. I haven't commented up to this point, and I think at this point, it's inappropriate for me to comment ... for a myriad of reasons."

Paul Hagen is a reporter for