MINNEAPOLIS -- Bud Selig’s annual -- and perhaps final -- state of the major league union on Tuesday covered a variety of topics, including Derek Jeter’s final All-Star Game.
The retiring Major League Baseball Commissioner spoke to the BBWAA early Tuesday and recognized the New York Yankees superstar shortstop, who is also in his final season. Selig said MLB couldn’t have had a better face of baseball than Jeter, who is starting at shortstop for the American League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, which begins at 7 p.m.
“You couldn't have written a script like this,” Selig said. “He's just remarkable. How lucky can this sport be to have the icon of this generation turn out to be Derek Jeter?”
Selig said MLB plans to recognize Jeter sometime later this season. Fielding questions on players who have been penalized for performance-enhancing drugs and returned for the playoffs later that season, Selig reiterated his belief that MLB has the strongest testing policy of any major sport. MLB Players Association head Tony Clark later backed Selig’s assertion.
“Who else is testing for HGH?” Selig said.
In the wake of the death of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who said he got cancer from usage of smokeless tobacco, Selig called the issue a “sensitive subject.”
“It will be a subject they'll discuss the next collective bargaining,” Selig said.
Selig also he’s pleased with how baseball has handled the integration of instant replay after admitting he long dragged his feet on the subject. MLB official Joe Torre noted that even though roughly 47 percent of plays challenged have been overturned, only about 22 percent of calls where managers have left initially the dugout to see if they would challenge a play have resulted in an overturn.
On Rule 7.13, which regards catchers and blocking the plate, Torre said the provisional law is successful for one reason: “We haven’t had any devastating collisions.”
Clark spoke emphatically as he addressed potential improprieties in the negotiations between the Houston Astros and No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken. Aiken reportedly has health issues that have led to a potential reduced signing bonus for the prep left-hander.
“We are concerned any time it appears that players rights are being trampled on,” Clark said. “It is disappointing on any number of levels to think what has happened in that situation.
“The manipulation that we think happened in this case is going to lead us to have some conversations.”