Selig hedges on '09 retirement plans

NEW YORK -- Baseball commissioner Bud Selig hedged slightly on his retirement plans Thursday, saying he intends to leave in 2009 but that he's learned "never to say never."

The 72-year-old Selig has been in charge of baseball since 1992, when he became acting commissioner. Voted to the job full-time in 1998, Selig said last year he intended to leave after his current term ends in 2009 in order to write and teach.

While acknowledging that some owners want him to accept another extension, Selig said he remains intent on leaving.

"I really think that's what's going to happen," he said.

Speaking at the World Congress of Sport, Selig repeated that he hasn't decided whether to attend games as Barry Bonds approaches Hank Aaron's career home run record. He also said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, was headed back to Florida on Thursday night for more meetings aimed at getting a new ballpark for the Florida Marlins.

Selig touched on baseball's $700 million, seven-year agreement with DirecTV for its out-of-market "Extra Innings" package. IN Demand said Wednesday it was matching the deal, but baseball rejected it, part of a dispute largely over how many homes will have access to The Baseball Channel that is to launch in 2009.

"I hope an accommodation will be made, but it's really up to them," Selig said.

The idea for the network was first proposed in 1988 by commissioner Peter Ueberroth, who hoped to launch it in 1990. In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday, DuPuy said the network would likely televise games during spring training and the regular season, contests from other professional or amateur baseball leagues and highlights shows.

Selig also said major-league teams transferred $343 million last year from high-revenue clubs to small-revenue teams and that the proposed sale of the Atlanta Braves from Time Warner Inc. to Liberty Media Corp. was valued at $461 million.

"We're working through a lot of issues there," he said.

Selig said baseball has no plans for an initial public offering of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, its Internet company.