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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Bud Selig News Conference

Aired July 10, 2002 - 16:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Brooks, thank you. You finished just in time for us to go to Milwaukee to the baseball commissioner Bud Selig to talk about that infamous tie in last night's All-Star game. Let's listen.

BUD SELIG, COMMISSIONER, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: Well, good afternoon, everybody. Certainly the last five days, which have been glorious ones in Milwaukee, I enjoyed so much and I promised my wife a couple days ago, and I was telling her how tired I was, that Wednesday we'd take maybe some time off, and not realizing, of course, what was going to happen yesterday.

And I guess what I would like to say to all of you today, and I understand the criticism, and obviously those of you who know me well, and there is a fair number in this room who do, I'm always very sensitive to that. Having grown up with two or three generations of Brewer fans, I think I understand them as well as anybody on this face of this earth.

But when you are the commissioner of baseball, it is easy to sit around and either criticize, second-guess without the facts, and the facts are thus:

In the top of the 11th inning yesterday, Sandy Alderson came to me, who is, you know, our director of on-field operations, former president and general manager of the Oakland A's for 20 years, so he's a man of enormous success and experience in baseball, and said that Joe Torre wanted to talk to me and Bob Brenly, that they were out of players.

Well, I was startled. I knew they tried to use everybody, and managers manage in the All-Star game today differently than they did 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago. I keep hearing people talk about the 55 All-Star game, of which I guess I'm probably the only one in the room who was there, but that was different.

Managers manage. If they -- managers today feel, maybe it's the result of the Mike Mussina incident in 1993 in Baltimore, that they should get everybody in the game. And they did, and so what Joe then said to me when he came over, and Bob Brenly, is we're out of players. We don't have any more, and more importantly, from the National League side, their pitcher was having physical problems and couldn't get loose. The home plate umpire also came and told me that. Well, now here you are in a situation. You have no pitchers left. We can go back and talk again about how the managers manage, but it was too late for that last night. And I'm not being critical of them. I want to say that. They were both very concerned. I've had a call today from Joe Torre, who I've known only about 44 years, and called just to find out how I was doing, and I appreciate it. He and I talked for a long time.

And while calling a game off, up to that moment, had not even entered my mind, I was faced with having to make an immediate decision based on the facts at hand.

There were no position players left. There were no pitchers left. The National League's pitcher was really struggling. And at some point, when you're the commissioner of baseball, you have various constituencies. Most important are the fans. I made the mistake today of listening to some things I probably shouldn't listen to, but I'm somewhat -- I'm disappointed, I suppose, in the sense that -- well, nobody cares about the fans. That's -- nothing could be farther from the truth.

We cared a great deal. But we do have All-Star game records and other things to do, and to go into extra innings or further extra innings without any pitching is -- was really the only option. There was no other option. If you want to set different rules for the game and make sure this, while a horribly painful and heartbreaking lesson, we'll learn if this. This will never happen again.

There was a series of ways we think are ready that we can -- we can solve that. But that's for another day. And that's once we get through the season and so on and so forth. Actually, I have talked to both managers about it and everybody has different ideas. But those are -- it is an easy problem to solve once you know you have the problem.

But I didn't have that luxury, and I -- look, I -- one thing about being the commissioner, whatever decision I make, I will stand, and in the retrospect, 18 hours later, there is nothing else -- there was nothing else to do.

Could we have announced it a little more efficiently? I suppose so. I think that's a fair critique. But there was so much going on so quickly, that that was very, very tough to do. So I said last night that it was a very sad experience for me. I can't tell you how sad it is that I've spent a very lonely and sad evening. I know how long I looked forward to this. I know how hard everybody in baseball worked on this.

It was a great, great five days but for a couple of minutes. And I'm sorry for the Brewers and everybody else involved. But it was a wonderful, wonderful five days. And I think if everybody knew all of the facts, as many people in baseball have told me today, I had no other option.

WOODRUFF: We are listening to baseball commissioner Bud Selig say, essentially, he had no choice last night. He called off the All- Star game with a tie after 11 innings, saying he didn't have any choice because the managers had played all the players. They couldn't bring them back. The fans didn't understand. They booed Mr. Selig. He obviously took it very hard. He is saying that he's had a very rough 24 hours. We don't doubt it.

But that's Bud Selig talking to us from Milwaukee. We are going to take a short break. When we come back, back to corporate responsibility. We will hear from House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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