Major League Baseball made some major headlines last week. For the first time since 1996, no players were voted into the Hall of Fame. Then on Thursday, MLB announced that they had reached a deal to expand the league’s drug-testing program. This will include random blood testing for human growth hormone during the season and implementing a new test to spot high levels of testosterone. Commissioner Bud Selig explains in the following interview his thoughts on two historic events in baseball history. Bud Selig joined XTRA Sports 910 in Phoenix with Bickley and MJ to discuss Major League Baseball testing for human growth hormone throughout the regular season, getting the MLBPA to agree on blood testing, baseball writers voting no one into the Hall of Fame, the moment he decided to make an effort to improve drug testing in baseball and a time where we will see Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds in the Hall of Fame.
Congrats on the momentous announcement in testing for human growth hormone throughout the regular season:
“Well thank you very much. I said at the time that it was a great day for baseball and I really meant that. When I announced it in the owners meetings, it got a huge round of applause. You have to understand, commissioners don’t usually get huge rounds of applause at the owners meetings. Our people worked so hard on it and I think and I felt so strongly about this — this was a gap in the program. We can’t have any gaps. We just can’t have any gaps. This was a great day for us to get the MLBPA to agree to blood testing on human growth hormone, which is very prevalent in society. Forget baseball, it’s a societal problem and you and I have discussed that in the past. This was big. This was really big.”
How difficult was it to get the MLBPA to agree on blood testing?
“It was a good negotiation. Michael Weiner [executive director MLBPA], who took over for Donald Fehr, and he’s just as tough. He’s very smart, but he and Rob Manfred [Executive Vice President of Major League Baseball] have a great relationship and it wasn’t easy. It took time and we did get it done. I give Mike and the MLBPA a lot of credit, but like anything in this area, it doesn’t come easy. We did what we had to do and I just felt, given the whole testosterone situation last year, with various tests that we needed to clean this up. We’re proud of our program. It’s one thing to be proud, but we gotta make sure it’s comprehensive.”
Was it a good thing for baseball that the writers voted no one into the Hall of Fame?
“When somebody said it was a bad day for baseball, I said very candidly that that is ridiculous. There’s nothing that says every year someone should be elected to the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is the final stomping grounds of very, very few players in baseball. One/100th of one percent of players who played [get in] and if they have questions, they shouldn’t feel compelled to do it. Next year we will certainly have three, maybe four or even five candidates, players that come into the Hall of Fame. To say it was a bad day for baseball? I don’t think so. Look, we’ve addressed our problem. I meet with our professional athletic trainers every few months, and doctors, and I wish you could hear those meetings and the way they talk about the difference now compared to five years and 10 years ago and 20 years ago, and that’s all we can do. I respect the writers’ decisions. I know they were thoughtful and I did not regard that as a bad day for baseball at all.”
After the Ryan Braun and Melky Cabrera testosterone tests, when did you decide something had to be done to improve testing in baseball?
“Oh, I would say last January, February and March. I kept saying to our people that, ‘Hey guys come on. We gotta clean this part of it up.’ One thing about it, and people who know me, when there is something on my mind, they are going to hear it every day. I don’t mind telling you that they did hear it every day.” I know you don’t have a vote, but do you think there will be a point in time where we will see Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds in the Hall of Fame?
“I don’t know that. I just really don’t know that because that’s a question where I don’t have a vote and I have enough controversy that I have to deal with. That’s a decision for the people who have covered the sport — at least 75 percent of them are going to have to decide. They are just going to have to decide. To sit here and speculate on that? I just don’t know.”