MILWAUKEE -- Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig said Monday night that the fact not a single one of the four teams remaining in postseason play was among the game's biggest spenders demonstrates that MLB's economic policies are functioning as planned.
None of the top nine teams in player payroll has reached the League Championship Series this October. Selig has made extending "hope and faith" to the fans of more franchises the cornerstone of his 19 years as Commissioner. Mechanisms such as revenue sharing and the luxury tax have served this purpose.
"I really regard my job, and our job, to provide as much hope and faith in as many places as possible," Selig said. "I believe the sport is healthier as a result. We know the sport is as healthy as it's ever been. ... Has our system worked overall? The answer to your question is yes, and it's worked well."
Selig's comments were made in a question-and-answer media session at Miller Park, just before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series between Milwaukee and St. Louis. Those two clubs, and Texas and Detroit in the American League, Selig said, were manifestations of the game's good health and competitive balance. To the argument that television ratings would be negatively affected by the absence of teams from markets such as New York and Philadelphia, Selig said that could not be the primary concern.
"I don't spend a lot of time [contemplating] whether it's healthy to have this club out or that club out," the Commissioner said. "I'm satisfied. ... I think that having different clubs win is not bad at all. And I'm proud of that.
"But, you know, and I really mean this, what's better for ratings is something we just can't worry about. I looked at the last two weeks, it's been just miraculous. Produced great ratings, by the way, I might add. But that last Wednesday night of the season, only baseball -- and I've said this before -- could produce something like that."
On the issue of the current negotiation between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Selig declined to discuss specifics but characterized the talks as "quiet, thoughtful and constructive.
"Far different from the labor negotiations of the '80s, '70s, '90s, there were stories every day," he said. "They were painful. And I remember saying that a lot; that this isn't helpful and it isn't healthy. You need to do your work, and hopefully you can do it quietly. Both sides [now] are very constructive and have work to do, and understand that trying this in the media is not a good thing."
The Commissioner also stressed again that he remained in favor of expanding the current postseason field of eight teams to 10 with the inclusion of two more Wild Card teams, one from each league. But he did not elaborate on a timetable for when this expansion might occur.
Selig suggested that the Wild Card expansion could be tied to realignment, but emphasized that the issue was subject to collective bargaining and added, "We have work to do on it yet. Nothing is cast in stone."
When asked if those changes could occur as soon as next year, Selig responded: "I think that might be a little optimistic, but I don't know yet."
At one point, Selig was asked what he thought of people who wanted to expand the number of Wild Card berths, and he responded: "Since I'm the guy, I guess, I don't want to be too critical of me."
The Commissioner was asked about his memories of the 1982 World Series between the Cardinals and the Brewers. Selig was president of the Brewers at the time.
"Not that I'm a poor loser. It's 29 years later and if we had [closer Rollie] Fingers, we win. That's all I can tell you. ... But it does bring back a lot of memories. St. Louis and Milwaukee are two cities that have a lot of the same characteristics, and both are remarkable baseball towns."
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.