Selig sees bright financial future for baseball

NAPLES, Fla. -- Baseball revenue climbed to $6.075 billion
this year, and commissioner Bud Selig envisions an even rosier
financial future.

"As I told the clubs today, we're on a great high here," Selig
said Thursday following the conclusion of a two-day meeting in
which owners discussed, among other things, ways to speed up games.

"When you look at the final numbers and you see what's
happened, it's remarkable. There are times, honestly, when I have
to pinch myself to make sure all of this is happening. ... Growth
and revenue, growth and profitability; it's just been really,
really good."

And with attendance up, and Major League Baseball also making a
concerted effort to expose its product to other parts of the world,
Selig is confident the game will continue the trend next season,
and beyond.

"I'm putting myself on the spot here, but I'm very hopeful to
draw 80 million-plus, and I think our revenues will continue to go
up," Selig said of 2008, later adding that he's "very proud" of
the growth.

"We started at $1.2 billion, and I can remember waking up in
'93 and '94 and '95 and thinking how are we ever going to get to $2
billion? So here we are at $6 billion, 75 million. And if we just
keep doing our work, stay out of controversies, keep the focus on
the field, we'll get to numbers someday that will be stunning. And
these are stunning."

The commissioner said there was nothing new to report on talks
to have the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres play two
exhibition games in Beijing in March, a recommendation that instant
replay be used to help umpires with some calls, or George
Mitchell's investigation into performance-enhancing drugs in
baseball. Selig still expects Mitchell's report to be released
before the end of the year.

Owners heard a presentation on pace of games from Jimmie Lee
Solomon, executive vice president for baseball operations in the
commissioner's office.

Solomon said last week during general managers meetings in
Orlando that to speed up games, baseball was considering limiting
when a hitter could step out of the batter's box between pitches,
restricting the number of times a player could visit the mound, and
limiting the number of players allowed to visit the mound.

"Obviously I have a lot of concern about the length of our
World Series games, playoff games, regular-season games," Selig
said. "We're going to work on that over the course of the

In addition to enforcing existing rules, the commissioner said
consideration will be given to adding new rules.

"We just need to speed things up a little bit for everybody's
best interest," Selig said.