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Selig's vision sets tone as owners wrap meetings

MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Instant replay, pace of play and formulation of a domestic-abuse policy were all part of the quarterly Owners Meetings that wrapped up Thursday at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Those important topics shared the billing, however, with the realization that this was the next-to-last conclave that Bud Selig will preside over as Commissioner. And the backdrop was both apt and symbolic.

KANSAS CITY -- Instant replay, pace of play and formulation of a domestic-abuse policy were all part of the quarterly Owners Meetings that wrapped up Thursday at the Intercontinental Hotel.

Those important topics shared the billing, however, with the realization that this was the next-to-last conclave that Bud Selig will preside over as Commissioner. And the backdrop was both apt and symbolic.

The owners went about their business in the wake of the announcement that the Miami Marlins have committed $325 million to slugger Giancarlo Stanton over the next 13 years. That came almost exactly two years to the day after the Marlins packaged five big names, including stars Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes a year after signing big free-agent contracts, to the Blue Jays for prospects.

And it happened in a city where, just last month, the Royals made it to Game 7 of the World Series in their first postseason appearance since 1985.

Both were important because they demonstrate that one of Selig's most significant achievements -- bringing competitive balance to the sport -- is achieving its purpose.

"That was the objective of changing the economic system, to be very candid with you. That's why I think the sport is as healthy and strong as it is today," Selig said. "The more competition we have, the better. Believe me, I got very frustrated at times, too. But I see things now that indicate to me -- and I know I'm right -- that there will be more competitive balance in the next few years than we've had. And it's been phenomenal."

About the Marlins, the Commissioner said: "What I like is individual franchises making decisions to make themselves better. It's a good sign. It's a very good sign for them, and that's how you have to look at it. I'm encouraged."

And the Royals' ascent demonstrates that patience can be rewarded.

"It was so much fun to be here. I remember when I was here for the All-Star Game in 2012, there was a lot of doom and gloom. So Kansas City was a thing of great pride," he said.

On the business side, Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred, who was formally given a five-year contract on Thursday, said although there will be some changes to the expanded replay system that debuted last season, the concept of managers challenging umpires' calls they think may have been wrong will remain.

Video: Commissioner-elect Manfred gets five-year contract

"I think the core of replay is going to be similar," he said. "We don't just anticipate that. It will be. The changes we're contemplating, without getting into the individual ones, are largely technology improvements. There are some issues related to exactly how long it takes to get the replay going that we're looking at. But we haven't made a decision about exactly what those changes are going to look like."

Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice president of baseball operations, said at the General Managers Meetings in Phoenix last week that he would like to see a change to the part of the process that requires managers to walk slowly onto the field while waiting for a signal from the dugout whether the video technician believes a challenge is merited.

Said Manfred: "There are issues around the edges. The better cameras we have, the better the system works. Those are the changes we're really focused on."

The latest initiative revolves around improving pace of play. Some suggestions were implemented this year in the Arizona Fall League. This will be further discussed at the Winter Meetings next month in San Diego, but at this point it appears unlikely it will be possible to iron out all the wrinkles and get approval from the Major League Baseball Players Association to enact changes in time for the 2015 season.

"The committee had a meeting here [Wednesday]," Selig said. "A very productive meeting, I might add. I am pushing because I do think there's no question it needs to be addressed, but we have a lot of work to do."

Dan Halem, executive vice president of labor relations, briefed the owners on the comprehensive domestic violence program that's being developed. There are aspects of that program that are educational that are going to apply to players and non-players. In addition, he covered the topics that will require negotiating with the Players Association as well, Manfred said.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.