CINCINNATI -- On the latest stop in his farewell tour of Major League ballparks before he retires as Commissioner in January, Bud Selig met with reporters in Cincinnati on Friday fully prepared for the line of questioning he received.
By the second question, the topic of Pete Rose surfaced and was repeated throughout the 30-minute session at Great American Ball Park.
Rose, the Major Leagues' all-time hits leader, received a lifetime ban by then-Commissioner Bart Giamatti in 1989 for betting on baseball as manager of the Reds. Rose, a Cincinnati native and Reds great, has repeatedly lobbied Selig to be pardoned and has since admitted to betting on baseball.
"I understand the feeling here in Cincinnati, I do. I'm sensitive to it, as a matter of fact," Selig said. "I've said because I am the judge that it's a matter under advisement and therefore it really is inappropriate to say any more than that. How it ends eventually, I don't know. But I've taken it seriously, talked to a lot of people and it's one of those situations in life, it's difficult. You wished it didn't exist, but it does. I have five months to think about this.
"It's not a secret that this office was founded in 1921 because of the Black Sox Scandal. There's no secret about my own strong feelings. I think any Commissioner in any sport, but in baseball because of our history, the one thing the day you step in this office is you're always concerned about integrity. A sport without integrity is not a sport."
Selig said he has not discussed the Rose matter yet with his successor, Rob Manfred. Selig noted he would like to clear a few issues from the Commissioner-elect's plate before he takes office.
"There will be no subject that Rob and I don't discuss. This will be a very thoughtful, sensitive, seamless transition," Selig said.
One area where it appeared optimistic for Rose is that Selig seemed quite open to the idea of Rose being able to participate in All-Star Game festivities when Cincinnati serves as host in 2015. In past years, Selig has permitted Reds CEO Bob Castellini to invite Rose to be on the field for club celebrations such as 1975 World Series team reunion and, in 2010, the 25th anniversary of Rose surpassing Ty Cobb with his record-setting 4,192nd hit.
"The rule of thumb has always been to be reasonable and rational," Selig said. "When there are certain things that honor the history of the club, that's been my exception. The history of the club is very important to me. It's very important everywhere and it's certainly important here, in our oldest franchise with a magnificent history. If [Castellini] calls me and said, 'We're going to do this and this is a part of it,' one thing I was taught at an early age was, always use common sense. That's what I've tried to do."
As for other issues not pertaining to Rose, the Commissioner was asked about his concerns for the pace of games. When asked about the idea of a "pitch clock," Selig was opposed.
"In the next two to three weeks, I'm going to try to get some things done so they kick in for next year," Selig said. "I don't think we need a clock. I think there are other things we can do that can be just as efficient and frankly do the job."
Selig admitted that some "tweaking" needed to be done to the instant replay system the league introduced before this season. But he also said he's happy with the results in the system's first year, noting that it eliminated the time-consuming arguments from managers.
"We've stopped all of that," Selig said. "When people say it's added time to the game, I don't agree with that. I think it's shortened it. But there are some tweaks that need to be done. ... Maybe that first part when the manager comes out. I think we can do that a little better."
One reporter asked Selig if he could envision a league-wide retirement of another uniform number besides Jackie Robinson's No. 42.
"I don't see any other number," Selig said. "Jackie's number deserves to be alone in my opinion."
Regarding a baseball story that has swept the nation outside of the Major Leagues -- the sensation of female pitcher Mo'ne Davis in the Little League World Series, Selig was asked if he could envision a woman playing at the game's top level.
"I wouldn't say 'no' to that. Life is changing," Selig said. "My mother got me interested in baseball from the time I was 2-3 years old. My daughter ran the Brewers for 10 years. Do I think a woman someday could be able to compete in the big leagues? I wouldn't stand here today and say 'no.' I think it would be a wonderful thing. I think it's captivating what's happened in Williamsport."
Once in retirement, Selig plans to become a history teacher at the University of Wisconsin and will write a book with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, he said, but he has five months to go as Commissioner.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon.