PARADISE VALLEY, ARIZ. | Commissioner Bud Selig met with baseball’s general managers at the start of what promised to be an uneventful two-day meeting of owners at an appropriately tranquil Phoenix-area resort.
Expansion of the playoffs to include two more wild card teams has been put off until at least 2012, largely because it would must be agreed to by the players’ association. The union’s labor contract with Major League Baseball expires in December.
Selig wasn’t scheduled to talk with reporters until Thursday, following a joint meeting of general managers and owners. When he walked past reporters on Wednesday he told them they were “in for a lot of dead time” at the meetings.
While the NFL and NBA are talking lockout in labor confrontations, baseball has made no such dire warnings, a sign of the peace that exists between owners and the union since the devastating 1994-95 strike that wiped out the World Series for the first time in nine decades.
“Commissioner Selig has worked hard obviously to put the game into the position, as well as the union side, to both work together to find compromise,” New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “They’ve done a great job with that.”
Several general managers said the playoff expansion and proposed increase in the use of instant replay didn’t even come up when the GMss met with Selig. They said those are issues to be decided at the ownership level.
“Certainly other sports have more teams and I think that’s very beneficial,” he said. “The way the game’s gone the last decade, a lot of parity and a really a lot of good jobs by not just the big market teams getting in, I think whatever keeps people in the race and keeps the fans that love their team s with the hope of getting in and maybe another a team or two get in I think that would be great.”
Oakland general manager Billy Beane said MLB should be careful about expanding instant replay.
“You’ve got to be careful letting the genie out of the bottle,” he said. “Really, there’s got to e a lot of discussion. I think there should be limitations quite frankly. … I think there’s a certain part of baseball history that lends itself to human decisions.”
A year ago, at these same meetings, Selig adopted a policy of including general managers in meetings with owners to help them understand the differences of their jobs.
“Last year they scheduled an hour or two for us and then it turned out to be a four- or five-hour meeting,” Cashman said.
With little to deal with on the administrative front, talk quickly turned to the upcoming season and the always-rugged AL East.
Cashman said he was still working on pitching from what he described as a “thin” free agent pool, and as far as he knew Andy Pettitte still planned to stay home with his family rather than pitch another season. If Pettitte changes his mind, any return would be with the Yankees, Cashman said.
Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein feels good, with good reason, about his team’s offseason moves, which included the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
“There’s a real good feeling around the clubhouse right now,” he said, “that if they work hard enough they’ve got a chance to be part of something special.”
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