NEW YORK (WFAN) — Many fans criticize it, but former baseball commissioner Bud Selig says he still likes the rule he implemented in 2003 that awarded home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins that year’s All-Star Game.
In an interview with WFAN’s Mike Francesa and guest host Bill Simmons on Monday, Selig said, contrary to popular belief, the move was not a reaction to the tie in the 2002 All-Star Game.
“The game had become dull,” said Selig, who received a lifetime achievement award from the Sports Business Journal on Monday. ” … Worse than that, players didn’t want to play. People didn’t want to go.”
Selig said he spoke to Hank Aaron and Ron Santo, who both urged him to “attach some meaning to it.”
“Is it perfect?” Selig said. “No. … But we needed to do something. And so the fact of the matter is it was really the only practical thing we could do.
“The game was improved. Everybody wants to play now. Guys stay. They don’t leave.”
Simmons asked Selig if he wished he could go back to a certain year to begin fighting performance-enhancing drugs sooner. The former commissioner said he tried to implement steroid testing in 1994, but the players’ union fought against it in collective bargaining. He added that in 2001, a year before the steroid scandal in baseball erupted, he ordered testing in the minor leagues.
“When people say you were slow to react, that’s just a historical myth,” Selig said. “That isn’t true.”
When asked what he was most proud of during his 22 years as commissioner, Selig pointed to economic reform.
“Since the late ’30s, 1940s, nobody ever changed anything,” he said. “So here we have a rapidly changing culture. And so I had to do a lot of things, and some of them were painful, and at the time controversial.”
“People don’t like change. And especially, how I say that baseball is a social institution that is really resistant to change. But I’m proud of that. I’m proud of revenue sharing. I’m proud of BAM (Baseball Advanced Media) and all the things that have gone with that, that’s owned by all 30 clubs, and the wild card and all the changes that we made because it’s contributed frankly to what I call competitive balance.”
To listen to the full interview, click on the audio player above.