Bud Selig talks PEDs, replay and competitive balance

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Tom Verducci has an exclusive interview with Bud Selig and asked him about PEDs, replay, competitive balance and his legacy in the game. Takeaways: (1) he’s definitely retiring after 2014; (2) he denies that baseball turned a blind eye to PEDs; rather he was surprised by it and then the union fought testing; (3) he simply changed his mind about replay; and (4) he’s proud of what has happened to competitive balance in the game.

I think serious issue can be taken with his account of the history of PEDs in baseball. Veducci pressed him a couple of times and it caused Selig to admit some things. And while I have no doubt about Selig’s personal ignorance of PEDs — he tells a story about how he had his pharmacist explain Andro to him — I wasn’t aware that the entirety of Major League Baseball’s knowledge and action with respect to PEDs was contingent on the personal knowledge of an aging and physically-detached-from-the-clubhouse commissioner. Baseball as an institution turned a blind eye and it seems impossible for Selig to deny that.

As for replay, I wish Verducci asked him about why it needs to be a challenge system, but I don’t suppose Selig would have much to say beyond deferring to the expertise of his commission on the matter.

It’s hard to take any issue with Selig’s final summation of his legacy:

if you look at where we were in 1992 in terms of attendance, revenue, popularity, game itself, competitive balance, labor peace, go on and on, I think the last 21, 22 years of baseball have been really remarkably good. But I’ve got to let others draw those conclusions.

That’s undeniably true. We can and should note when good things happen despite bad decisions and when better things could have or may be achieved rather than merely good, but it’s hard to argue that the game is worse off now than it was when Selig took over.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.