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Sports

Baseball commish: Can't interrupt season for Olympics

Baseball commish: Can't interrupt season for Olympics
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig addresses the media during a news conference Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball won't change its schedule to boost the sport's chances of getting back into the Olympics.

Baseball was an Olympic medal sport from 1992-2008, then was dropped for last year's London Games. IOC President Jacques Rogge says baseball should make its top athletes available, as they are in basketball and hockey.

"Look, we can't stop our season in August. We just can't," baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told the Associated Press Sports Editors on Thursday. "You can't say to your fans: 'We'll see you in the next period of time. You're club loses some players but yours doesn't.'"

The IOC board meets next month to select one or more sports for consideration by September's IOC general assembly. In an effort to boost the chance of readmission for 2020, the international baseball and softball federations are merging.

Some have suggested major leaguers could play in the Olympics during an extended All-Star break. Selig was clear that MLB's schedule will not be interrupted, and that weather made an earlier start or later ending impossible.

"Do I wish I could? Yes," he said. "But is it practical? No."

The sport launched its own international event in 2006, the World Baseball Classic. The first two tournaments were won by Japan, and the Dominican Republic took this year's title last month.

Many top American pitchers didn't play for their national team, including David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain. Some clubs were reluctant to have their players participate.

"They just didn't want to take a chance," Selig said. "And frankly, if I were running a club, I wouldn't either."

He does hope to add another international competition.

"My ultimate goal, I hope I live long enough to see it, is a true World Series," he said. "We have a ways to go."

On another international matter, Selig would like to institute a worldwide amateur draft for 2014. Under baseball's labor contract, MLB must notify the players' association by June 1 of its intent to start an international draft for next year, and the union would have until June 15 to veto it.

"We met with the players' association last week, had extended conversations on the topic," said Rob Manfred, an MLB executive vice president. "I think it's within the realm of the possible that we will have an agreement by June 1."

Union head Michael Weiner responded in an email to The Associated Press: "We have begun discussion, but I wouldn't prejudge the results."

Selig expects MLB executive vice president Joe Torre and his committee to make a proposal on expanded video review by umpires for 2014 when owners meet in New York on May 8-9. Selig does not plan on trying to make the NL use the designated hitter, which was adopted by the AL for the 1973 season.

"I'm going to leave things the way they are. And I do not think it's bad for baseball," he said.

Now 78, Selig once again insisted he will not accept a new contract when his current term expires in December 2014. He became acting commissioner in 1992 and said he would never take the job permanently, then did in 1998. After signing each of his previous extensions, Selig said he planned to retire when it concluded. He changed his mind in 2006 again in 2009, signing a deal that took him through 2012. In January 2012, he accepted a deal adding another two years.

"Done on Dec. 31, 2014. I'll assure you of that," he said.

He wouldn't commit to resolving the dispute between Oakland and San Francisco on the Athletics' desire to build ballpark in San Jose, which is part of the Giants' territory. Selig established a committee in March 2009 but wouldn't commit to a resolution while he's commissioner.

"Time will tell. I'm not going to set a time limit," he said. "We're in intense discussions with all the relevant parties."

The dispute appears to be in the same situation as Pete Rose's application for reinstatement. After agreeing to a lifetime ban in 1989 following an investigation of his gambling, Rose asked Selig in 1997 to lift the suspension.

"I keep saying it's under review. It is. And that's where it is. I'll let you draw your own conclusion," Selig said.

He will not put a timetable for deciding how much of the Los Angeles Dodgers' new broadcast agreement will be subject to revenue sharing.

Selig maintained he understands the anger of Miami Marlins' fans at the decision by owner Jeffrey Loria to sell most of the team's high-paid stars during the offseason — after a last-place finish in the first season of the team's new ballpark, largely financed with public money. He rejected the possibility Loria will sell the team after 2014, the last year Loria would have to share proceeds with Miami-Dade County.

"The owners deny that emphatically," he said. "They've said it publicly. They've said it privately."

As for the New York Yankees, Selig doesn't believe the sale of a share of the YES Network to News Corp.'s Fox division signals the Steinbrenner family would entertain bids for the franchise. As for the Mets, Selig said the team's finances have stabilized following several years of turmoil in the fallout from the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.

"I have absolutely not a scintilla of doubt that their finances are doing fine," he said. "The situations they faced have been resolved."

Baseball's security officials met Thursday but Selig said no changes are expected in the rules on bags fans can bring to ballparks, generally limited to 16 inches by 16 inches by eight inches. The meeting was scheduled before two bombs were set off at the Boston Marathon last week.

"I wouldn't say that Boston has changed anything," Selig said. "Each club makes its own decision."

He deflected questions about baseball's probe of Biogenesis of America, the closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused in media reports of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs to players. Baseball sued the clinic and its backers and has purchased documents that included players' names.

"We have the toughest drug-testing program in American sports. To enforce that program, we have to be aggressive and thorough, and that's what we're doing," he said.

Selig expects his task force in diversity in the game to produce initiatives. MLB says about 8.5 percent of players on this year's opening-day rosters identified themselves as African-American or black, about half the figure from the mid-1970s.

"Will do better," he said. "I can assure the result of everything we're doing you will see now in the next two or three years, or maybe better than that."
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