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Selig appoints committee to address on-field issues

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Bud Selig loves to commission panels of experts to address some of baseball’s most-important issues. How many “Blue-Ribbon” panels has he assembled over the years to study economics, steroids and other topics?

Well, the MLB commissioner is doing it again, today announcing the formation of a “Special Committee for On-Field Matters” that includes 13 current or former managers, general managers and team executives, plus syndicated columnist George Will (I believe his presence on all of these panels is mandatory).

The complete panel includes some notable names…

Managers: Tony La Russa (Cardinals), Joe Torre (Dodgers), Jim Leyland (Tigers), Mike Scioscia (Angels)

GMs: Andy MacPhail (Orioles), John Schuerholz (formerly Braves), Mark Shapiro (Indians), Terry Ryan (formerly Twins)

Executives: Chuck Armstrong (Mariners), Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Bill DeWitt (Cardinals), Dave Montgomery (Phillies)

Others: Frank Robinson, George Will

Now, if you’re like me, the first thing you noticed is that this panel includes both Frank Robinson and Mike Scioscia. You may recall the two had a bit of an incident back in June 2005, getting into a heated argument on the field in Anaheim after the Nats caught Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly using pine tar on his glove. This resulted in both benches clearing, Robinson and Scioscia having to be separated by umpires and Jose Guillen publicly calling Scioscia “a piece of garbage.” (Man, those were the days.)

After the game, Robinson also had the following to say about Sciosica: “I lost a lot of respect for Mike tonight, as a person and as a manager. There’s nothing he can say to me now. Nothing. I don’t even want him to approach me. I don’t want him to try to apologize to me. If he even thought about it, I will not accept it. I don’t want anything to do with it.”

Oh, and this gem, one of Frank’s all-time greatest lines: “I wasn’t going to let him intimidate me. I am the intimidator.”

I don’t know if Robinson and Scioscia have spoken to each other in the 4 1/2 years since this incident, but I’d sure love to be in the room in Phoenix next month when this committee convenes for the first time and both gentlemen are present.

But about that committee … Selig just wrapped up a conference call with reporters to discuss its intentions, and rattled off several topics that figure to be addressed. They include: pace of play, the use of instant replay, scheduling of regular season and postseason games, the format of postseason series, the stike zone and other umpiring issues and perhaps even the use of the DH.

“There are no sacred cows,” Selig said. “Whatever they want to talk about, they will.”

What kind of authority will this committee have? Well, in all likelihood, they’ll make formal recommendations to Selig, who then has the authority to attempt to implement changes … with approval from the players’ union, of course.

It should be noted that no current players or union officials are on this committee, nor are any members of the umpiring community. That could cause some headaches down the road, though Selig is confident in the group he assembled to get the job done. “With the experience we have in this group, we’ve touched on everything,” he said. “You can’t do any better than we just did.”

Selig gave no firm timetable for implementation of any proposed changes, though he sounds like he’d like to move things along quickly. “I’m going to try to move it along as expeditiously as possible,” he said. “It’s hard to set a timetable, but sooner than later.”

Hopefully, the committee’s work won’t be disrupted by any tussles between Robinson and Scioscia.

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Mark Zuckerman

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