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Bud Selig holds court, but not on Frank McCourt

Bud-selig_250 Commissioner Bud Selig met with reporters Saturday, touching on a variety of subjects -- except the Dodgers ownership situation, that is.

Selig has not commented publicly on that situation in the 17 months since Frank and Jamie McCourt filed for divorce, putting ownership of the Dodgers into legal limbo. Selig, reminded that he said last week he had "great affection and great respect" for embattled Mets owner Fred Wilpon, was asked whether he would say anything similar about Dodgers ownership.

"I'm not going to discuss the L.A. situation," Selig said. "Thank you for asking."

On other subjects:

Selig said he expected a second negotiating session between owners and players next week in Arizona, following an initial meeting last week in Florida. Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expires in December, but a new deal is expected to be reached without threat of a strike or lockout, extending the labor peace the sport has enjoyed since the 1994-95 strike.

The NFL is on the verge of locking out its players, although the two sides continue to negotiate.

"I have been through that," Selig said. "It brings back a lot of memories of the '90s. Those were tough years. The seven work stoppages that led to that, you could almost see it coming. So much anger. So much hostility. Those things are gone."

Selig reiterated that contraction is not under consideration, even with the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays plagued by poor attendance and looking for new ballparks. Selig told the Los Angeles Times last year that he would not consider folding the A's or Rays -- "I think we have moved past that," he said then -- and repeated Saturday that contraction is off the table.

"It hasn't been on the table," he said.

Selig appeared to shrug off the recent comments of several large-market owners frustrated by pouring millions of their profits into the pockets of small-market teams. That dynamic -- large-market owners versus small-market owners -- has complicated previous labor negotiations, since baseball depends on revenue sharing rather than on a salary cap for relative parity.

"At some point, if you don't want to worry about teams in minor markets, don't put teams in minor markets, or don't leave teams in minor markets if they're truly minor," New York Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner told reporters last month. "Socialism, communism, whatever you want to call it, is never the answer."

Selig said he believed the owners would remain united at the bargaining table.

"I don't have any reason to think that's going to change," Selig said. "Every club views it from their own perspective. I understand it. In the '90s, I used to hear it a lot more."

With the Chicago Cubs soon to vacate HoHoKam Stadium for a new ballpark in their spring home of Mesa, Ariz., and with two Tucson facilities now vacant, the Cactus League could accommodate as many as four more teams without additional construction. However, Selig said he believed the balance of 15 teams training in Arizona and 15 in Florida would be maintained.

"I don't know of anybody in Florida that is looking at Arizona," Selig said.

Selig also said he is concerned that Chicago Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd works out with Victor Conte, the trainer at the heart of the BALCO steroids scandal.

"It's not a situation that makes me very happy," Selig said.

-- Bill Shaikin in Mesa, Ariz.

Photo: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press

 
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