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July 11, 1999

Sandy Alderson

Pat Gillick


Q. The question, I guess, for both of you, the last time the game was here was '61, and it was just a game. Now obviously it's expanded to a 3, 4, 5 day extravaganza. Will you comment on that, is that good for baseball? Do you think the focus is a little bit off the game? What's your thinking on that?

SANDY ALDERSON: Well, I think from a fan perspective it's enhanced the game tremendously, because much of what has been added has been to the fan's benefit; the Fanfest, the celebrity hitting contest. I think this has had appeal to the average fan. It has gone beyond window dressing to supplement the All-Star Game and provide a runner up to the game, itself. I think it's a tremendous benefit to the city, having the additional days, and having the initial focus. So from that standpoint I think it's been great.

Q. Could you address that?

PAT GILLICK: Yes, I agree with Sandy. I think it's turned into an event, and I think that's positive for baseball.

Q. How does it feel to follow Costner and Matt Damon up there?

SANDY ALDERSON: It's a little lonely. I thought it was a screen test, I don't think I'm passing at the moment. The Future's Game today provides a nice prologue to the Pan Am Games that come up later in the month. The fact that we're having this game today and it's structured along the lines of an international event, I think underscores where the game is going. The Pan Am Games later in the month, of course, will involve professional baseball players for the first time with a view toward qualifying for the Olympics. So the Futures Game today as well as in the Pan Am Games, which Pat has been intimately involved, really I think is an indication of where baseball is going in the next decade.

Q. Within that context, what do you feel like -- what's the role of this game and the Pan Am Games, all those things in terms of sort of creating a world stage for baseball and building the international plan that you've talked about?

SANDY ALDERSON: I think No. 1, the Futures Game is really a way of illustrating the international aspect of the game that already exists. We have players from, I don't know how many different countries, that will be represented here today. So there's a tremendous amount of internationalism in the game already that goes beyond just the obvious countries of Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. We'll have players from Europe as well as Asia and so forth. The second thing, as far as the Pan Am Games are concerned, I think it's part of an evolution of those games that has been seen in other sports, where participants have become more professional, rather than amateur. I think the Olympic Games themselves are looking for the best athletes in those respective sports. We are all about growth overseas, and one of the ways that we'll see that growth is by a continuation of baseball in the Olympics, itself, because that's how the grass root programs are funded in most countries. If a sport is not within the Olympic movement, then it doesn't get funding, and it doesn't get the kind of grass roots promotion that it needs. So we want to insure that we continue to be part of the Olympic movement. But beyond that there's a tremendous opportunity for world competition among the very best baseball players. We're just kind of taking the first step this year with non 40-man roster players. But it would be very easy to expand the annual or I guess semiannual trip to Japan into an international competition that was organized around countries, rather than leagues. So I think we're within a very short time of having something similar to a World Cup. And all of this is kind of a workup to that possibility.

Q. Just for some of us woefully uninformed, when is the Pan Am Games, where is the Pan Am Games, and the professionals that will play, they obviously won't be from the Major Leagues, but what level?

PAT GILLICK: The Pan Am Games will be in Winnipeg from the 25th of July through the 2nd of August. At the moment it's a nine-country tournament. And there will be nonrostered 40-man players. So we've got a pretty good cross-section from not only the Triple-A and Double-A level, we have a couple players from A, but predominantly these are Triple or Double-A players. In fact, seven of the players on our Pan Am team are participating in the Futures Game today, Mulder, Penny, Riley, Kennedy, Bergeron, Berkman and Romero with the World Team. We actually have seven players who will be in this event and some of them are actually going on on the 14th to the Double-A and Triple-A All-Star Game and continue on to Tucson for our training period. So to answer your question, it's nonrostered 40-man players, but a combination of players with outstanding potential in the future and a combination of players who have had Major League experience. We think we have a good cross-section of people who aren't on the Major League rosters.

Q. Over the years a lot of clubs have been traditionally reticent to turn loose of their premiere players to play in events such as this. Where has that gone to get you to this point where clubs are -- I know there's still a case of a few where they don't want players playing. How has that come around?

PAT GILLICK: I think that the Commissioner's Office and Major League Baseball, as Sandy has said, has tried to increase the presence of Major League Baseball worldwide, and I think that this is finally beginning to sink in that this is an international sport and should be played at international level. So there's been a lot of, if you want to say, jawboning going on between Major League Baseball and between the Pan Am Committee with the different levels at the organizational level, both the general managers and the farm directors, and I want to say on behalf of the Pan Am Committee, both our Steering and Selection Committee, that for the most part we've had tremendous response, tremendous cooperation from the organizations, and so we're quite happy with where we are right now, because as Sandy mentioned, this is our first shot at putting together a professional team. We went from ground zero and we're quite happy where we are at the moment. And now we're sort of like, excuse me, ladies, we've been pregnant for a while, and ready for the baby to start, hopefully at the end of the week.

SANDY ALDERSON: If I could add one thing. I think there are a couple of other aspects to this, No. 1, I think the ownership of Major League clubs recognize the importance of the international growth of the game last year, adopted a resolution in support of an international emphasis, and the Pan Am Games are one aspect of that, as were the opening day in Mexico, the games in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Cuba series and so forth. The other thing that has happened is that what we were able to do is put together a group of people to oversee the Pan Am Games, including Pat, Bob Watson, manager and coaching staff, Buddy Bell, Marcel Lacheman that have tremendous credibility in the game. I think that has allayed a lot of the fears that some clubs have had about allowing some of their best prospects to go, particularly in the area of pitching. It's a very delicate situation, not only in terms of what they're going to be doing, but getting them out of a routine and so forth. So I think the success we've had in acquiring players for this effort has been to a large measure having Pat and Bob and the field staff and others together to make this effort. The other thing we've done is try to involve everybody. We had a Steering Committee that was made up of a number of club members, so it's been an industry-wide effort.

PAT GILLICK: One thing to add, I'd like to say, someone asked me about the difference between the college players and professional players about their commitment. And I think there's a very strong commitment by the professional players because I think you have to realize that the college players would be on a summer break when they would be playing in the Pan Am Games, and these players have actually taken time away from work to do another job for their country. So the commitment by the players that we have on this team, I think, is very strong. So I think that has sent a positive note, not only to the Selection Committee, but also to our field staff.

SANDY ALDERSON: One last thing that I might mention, Pat wears the USA hat and I wear more of an international hat. And Major League Baseball did undertake an effort to insure that every country with players under contract with the Major League clubs would have an opportunity to use those players in their international competition, whether it's in the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg or the European Championships in Italy. It's like anything else, some players are not available because of injuries, some players don't want to compete, whether they're being asked by the United States or another country. But baseball has really committed itself to supporting baseball internationally, not just the U.S. team, or the Canadian team, but every team that's looking for players. And that's been through a partnership with the International Baseball Association. And again, this is our first effort at it. But we're relatively happy with the way that clubs have cooperated with all national teams, not just USA.

Q. You'll see clubs cooperating with, for example, the Dominican, clubs giving up 17-year-old players and letting them go?

SANDY ALDERSON: That's correct. Part of the process several months ago was being allowed to review the coaching staffs for each country to ensure that they had the credibility that was necessary for clubs to have the confidence to let their players go. But by and large, we haven't had any problem of that sort at all. So we've learned some things that we'll do a little differently next year, or during the next competition. But by and large things have gone very well.

Q. Sandy, you mentioned that the ultimate goal is to have a World-Cup-type competition. Is that within the Pan Am Games structure or do you have to create a whole new set of international competition and guidelines?

SANDY ALDERSON: The Pan Am Games are nothing more than the America's qualifier for the Olympic Games, they don't hold any special importance other than that. The final two teams, the two finalists for the Pan Am Games qualify for the Olympics, that's why it's so important. But other than that, it has no sort of transcending importance. I think that probably what will happen is that the World Cup idea will sort of gestate in parallel to the Olympics, will continue on both tracks, and some years the Olympic represents the World Cup and other years might stand alone. These are all hypothetical and just my thoughts. The other thing to keep in mind is that the Olympics represent the entire world, and so they have to have representatives of every continent. So it's possible, given the way baseball is played, that some of the really great countries of the world will generate a lot of very talented baseball players who won't be represented at the Olympics, which would suggest that a World Cup kind of approach would at least be a good supplement to the Olympic competition. By the way, the World Cup is not sort of the ultimate goal, it's one of the ultimate goals, because we want to develop the game not just at its highest level but also at the lowest level. Develop the game on a grass roots basis, so that the game is being played more widely and will lead ultimately to an even stronger world competition.

Q. Major League Baseball committed actively to seeking that sort of competition or are you suggesting that it's just going to develop?

SANDY ALDERSON: Oh, no, we are interested in promoting that idea, rather than just waiting for it to happen. But again, it will depend -- there are several steps between that and where we are now, and one of the steps, of course, is to get clubs involved in the Olympics with nonprofessionals, that's the first step. There are other problems associated with the Olympics, not the least of which the Summer Olympics are right in the middle of the baseball season. The National Hockey League essentially closed down during the Winter Olympics to participate, and we don't know whether we'd be prepared to do that. So there are logistical issues that need to be dealt with on the long-term.

End of FastScripts….

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