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Selig: MLB won’t interrupt season for Olympics
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. Your 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.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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