Selig, Weiner touch upon labor talks, more


Selig, Weiner touch upon labor talks, more

By Sean McAdam Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
PHOENIX - In an extensive question-and-answer session with reporters Tuesday prior to the 82nd All-Star Game, commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Michael Weiner addressed a number of topics, ranging from the ongoing labor talks to proposed rule changes.

Among the highlights:

Selig said the game's chief economic indicators are all trending upward, citing gross revenues, attendance, local TV ratings and advanced media.

"The game has never been this popular, said Selig.

Reports that MLB is considering a realignment with two 15-team leagues was highly premature, said the commissioner.

"I don't know where all those stories came from, said Selig. "If you're thinking about significant realignment, it will probably have to wait.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires in December and Selig labeled the talks with the union "ongoing and constructive . . . It's a far cry from our labor negotiations in the '60s, '70s and '80s.

Selig absolved Derek Jeter of any fault for deciding not to come to the All-Star Game, citing the physical and mental exhaustion associated with his pursuit of 3,000 hits.

"There isn't a player that I'm more proud of in the last 15 years than Derek Jeter, said Selig. "He's played the game like it should be played. He's been a better human being off the field than he's been a player on the field . . . I know why Derek Jeter isn't here and I think I would have made the same decision Derek Jeter did . . . Any suggestion that I or anybody else around here is unhappy with him is just false.

The proposal to move the All-Star Game to Wednesday to allow pitchers pitching on the final day of the first half to participate may have some merit, Selig said.

"It's something we'll review,'' he said. "We'll take a look at that.

On the matter of confrontations between umpires and players, managers and coaches, Selig agreed with Tigers manager Jim Leyland that "too much tension exists.

"We need to remove some of that tension, I don't think there's any doubt, said Selig.

Selig strongly hinted that the 2013 All-Star Game will be hosted at Citi Field in New York. Next year Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City will be the site of the game.

Selig backed the idea of an international draft, arguing that it would "level the playing field.

Selig suggested that increased use of instant replay would be minimal, with boundary calls -- on the foul lines -- the next to be examined.

Weiner indicated that labor talks, from the perspective of the Players Association were "professional, though little concrete had been accomplished.

Weiner indicated that the players would like to see an alignment of two 15-team leagues, but added that that issue was tied to regular-season scheduling, an expanded postseason field and perhaps a shortening of spring training.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Cubs reach first World Series since 1945


Cubs reach first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.