In the midst of a thrilling post-season, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig took time out to talk with Sports Biz Contributing Editor Mark Hyman about everything from satellite radio to profits, steroids, and the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
On Major League Baseball's just-announced, $650 million (over 11 years) deal with XM Satellite Radio (XMSR):
The deal is significant because we're going to [roughly] $65 million a year from a zero base. That alone is remarkable.
On how many franchises will be profitable this season:
I'm hopeful it's going to be half.... In the last five years there were times when [only] two or three teams showed a profit. It was a very, very serious situation, and a lot of people were concerned, including our bankers.
On the recent death of former National League MVP Ken Caminiti, who admitted to steroid use:
I have a great sense of sadness about [Caminiti's] death. One worry I have is that 10 years from now, long after I'm done as commissioner, someone will say: "You people knew about this and didn't do anything about it." [Caminiti] didn't deny he took steroids, and he claimed 50% of players were using. [But] he's my only source about that.
On the importance of being a Friend of Bud when bidding for a team:
A lot of franchises have been bought and sold to people I didn't know.... On the other hand, if you know people and they have a great track record in the sport, of course that helps. All things being equal, you bet it's a help.
On whether moving the Expos to Washington is the end of franchise relocation:
I think it's the end. Let me amend that: We may have another relocation. You never want to say never. But I don't see any now. Clubs are not lining up.
On criticism of the commish:
There hasn't been a lot lately. The critics seem to have gone underground. Our sport is like a dinosaur, slow to move and resistant to change. Ten or 11 years ago, I thought it was quite unfair to read comments about the wild card and later interleague play. You would have thought I defiled motherhood. Now [wild-card entries] the Red Sox and the Astros play in the postseason, and the fans love it.
On what he would have done if he had caught Barry Bonds's 700th home run ball, which is attracting bids of more than a half-million dollars in an online auction:
Given it to him. It would mean a lot more to Barry Bonds than to me as a fan. In an ethical sense, the guy who hit it, and worked to hit it, should get it. If I gave it to him, I might get an autographed bat.
On fans who are tired of seeing the Yankees in postseason play:
There's more parity than there has been in a long time. The Yankees haven't been world champions since 2000. We're seeing other teams. That will continue. We're completing the second year of our labor deal [intended to improve parity]. Revenue sharing has gone from nothing to $270 million to, next year, $300 million. Time will show that we're continuing to deal with disparity.
On the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry:
You can talk about the Packers and Bears, the old days of the Celtics and Lakers, the Dodgers and Giants. Those have great histories. But the intensity of the fans in both New York and Boston is unbelievable. At the ballpark...you see people praying. There can't be another rivalry this intense.
On the number of seats MLB could sell to a World Series Game 7 matching the Yankees and Houston Astros, with Roger Clemens pitching:
I'd say you could fill the Grand Canyon.