Thursday, April 22, 2010
MLB starts examining WADA's HGH test
NEW YORK -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig says his science adviser is examining the human growth hormone blood test available through the World Anti-Doping Agency but isn't sure when the study will be completed.
At his annual session Thursday with the Associated Press Sports Editors, Selig said UCLA professor Dr. Gary Green hasn't made a determination. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency insists the test is valid.
"As soon as Dr. Green has finished his study on things, believe me, I'm most anxious to move forward," Selig said. "One can debate what HGH does or doesn't do. It needs to be banned."
While HGH is banned by baseball, the sport doesn't test for it.
Unionized major leaguers currently have only urine testing. The players' union has said it would consider a blood test if it is validated.
Selig said that if baseball adopts the test, it would start using it for players with minor league contracts. He has repeatedly spoken with club athletic trainers about how prevalent the use of HGH is in the majors.
"The answer is we really don't know," Selig said. "Most think it's relatively low, but they really don't know."
Cincinnati pitcher Edinson Volquez was suspended 50 games this week for testing positive for a banned fertility drug. It was the first suspension of a major leaguer under the drug program since Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez was penalized last May.
"The only thing that it proves is our program is working," Selig said. "We do a lot of education. We'll do more."
On another topic, Selig said that while attendance is down between 1 and 2 percent this season, advance ticket sales for the rest of season were up 7 percent as of April 15, according to Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which handles online sales.
"We've had a little weather problem, a little here and there, but I feel pretty good about it," he said.
Selig has noticed the low crowds in Toronto, Citi Field and other places.
"It doesn't overly bother me," he said. "Some clubs it depends on winning and losing. But it's April, schools are still in, weekday games. When you are within 1 or 2 percent, it just doesn't add anything to get concerned about."
Selig also said he is against expanding the first round of the playoffs to seven games, a proposal the players' association says it might make during bargaining for a labor contract that would start in December 2011. Expanding the playoffs was brought up by Selig's new committee examining on-field matters,
"I happen to like five-game series, but I understand," he said. "I said to the committee one day if you want to be playing on Thanksgiving Day, we can talk about all these things. What I've said to the clubs is, `Look, if you guys want to cut the schedule to 154 games, maybe we can start talking about some of these things.' Well, so far, I haven't had one club that evinced interest in 154 games."
Recommendations to quicken the pace of games may not be put in place until the 2011 season. Because this is an era of long games, Selig isn't sure whether doubleheaders are fan friendly.
"I'm not sure fans like doubleheaders. I had that feeling, frankly, in running the Brewers many years ago," he said. "Maybe you're still there at 7:30. You know, we do play splits. The clubs, after all, given the payrolls and given everything, have a right to try to maximize their revenue in every way. But in terms of the doubleheader, I'm not sure they're even fan friendly anymore."
Selig, who has been in charge of baseball since September 1992, repeated he intends to retire when his contract expires at the end of 2012. But he acknowledged "there are lot of club owners who don't believe that."
He even told a story of what happened in Arizona last weekend when someone said he would be sorry to see Selig step down. Selig said his wife, Sue, responded to that person: "If you believe that, then you believe you just bought the Brooklyn Bridge."
Selig on other topics:
-On Sandy Alderson's recommendations to reform baseball's Dominican Republic operations: "It won't be popular and it won't be well received. But the people who will be most unhappy about it down there are the people doing maybe some of the things that they shouldn't."
-On accusations that some teams have not spent money they received in revenue sharing: "One of those economic myths that keeps rolling: All these guys are putting money in the pocket. Well, if they are, you look at their financial statement. Either the pocket had a hole in it or something's wrong." Selig said $450 million will be shifted in revenue sharing this year.
-On the bitter divorce of Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt: "I'm sorry that this has happened, obviously, but the process will work its way out. ... It's one of those things in life that happens."
-He has no timetable on the report on the Oakland Athletics' options for a new ballpark.
-Pete Rose's application for reinstatement, made in September 1997, remains under review.
-He is happy with the current rules for video review of umpires' decisions, put in place in 2008, and so is his committee.
-Any changes in the five-year wait after retirement for appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot would be up to the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
-A series between the World Series and Japan Series champions is many years off.
-He thinks the sport's efforts to improve the percentage of black players will pay off. "I'm really comfortable that you're going to see an uptick in African-American participation."
-He anticipated Mark McGwire would be welcomed back by fans as the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting coach after the former slugger admitted using steroids. "I can't say I'm surprised."
-He didn't disagree with umpire Joe West's criticism of the slow pace of the season-opening Yankees-Red Sox series but was disappointed the crew chief spoke publicly. "There are ways to do it."