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December 5, 2005
DALLAS, TEXAS - World Baseball Classic Press Conference
BUD SELIG: Good afternoon. Pleasure to be here today. I want to take this opportunity to thank the players and the clubs for their cooperation, and their commitment to the event. And I want to acknowledge the members of the MLB Enterprise board who are Jeff Wilpon, Chuck Armstrong, David Montgomery, Tim Brosnan, of course as well as Bob DuPuy. I know that Don Fehr from the Players Association would like to have been here but unfortunately he can't because he's conducting their meetings with the players in Las Vegas. Actually, he's much smarter than I am; I'm going back to Milwaukee where it's zero, so what the hell, how smart I am. I've said this to a lot of you before, but watching that video brings it all back again. This is going to be the most important International BAseball event ever staged. First time in our great history, the game's best players that you're going to hear today are going to compete for their home countries. The Classic is going to grow the game internationally, will bring in new fans, open up new markets, and increase the talent pool of the players.
Another point I'd like to make that I've said to people, for years, I used to hear, typically back in the '70s, the '80s, '90s, why have you guys been so slow internationally? The other sports, other forms of entertainment have gone right by you. Why don't you work out a partnership arrangement with the Players Association and do things together? Well, this time, particularly with the efforts of Paul Archey and Gene Orza and everybody involved, we've done that. And the result will be something I know that some people have had some trepidation. After next March, the bandwagon, I can assure you, will be full. This is a very big day for sport and a very, very crucial one.
So far as you're going to hear later, more than 177 players representing all 30 clubs have agreed to compete in the tournament. And I want to say that again. All 30 clubs, I know there's some skepticism about that. (Looking at Gene Orza, laughing) And good, Gene, thank you. Gene is the only one that showed a little emotion. The rest of you sat like a bunch of stiffs. You can laugh a little bit, it's all right. (Laughter.)
The list that you have in front of you does not include those players that are going to compete in the Asian pool; those players are going to be named later. I also want to announce that Tommy Lasorda who has managed teams to two World Series championships and a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics, which as he often said is his proudest accomplishment, is going to serve as the ambassador for the World Baseball Classic. As a spokesman for the tournament, Tommy will increase awareness for the event and help develop and promote the game around the world. He's not able to be here for this press conference but he will arrive later and be made available tomorrow. The one thing that I can be sure of today, he will not be short of words or conversation.
So this is, really, I'm very proud of everybody that has worked on this and two of the driving forces behind the event are Paul Archey of our office and Gene Orza of the Players Association. They are going to give the updates on the organization of the event and they will go into greater detail about the list of players; and Gene, has done a remarkable job of getting the players and next March, there will be a lot of people who will be very grateful. I'll very grateful to both of you, and it's my pleasure to introduce Paul Archey. (Applause).
PAUL ARCHEY: Thank you, Commissioner, for those kind comments. But I should also add, I mean, this really has been an endeavor throughout the Major League Baseball offices and the Players Association. Every single person in our offices have been involved in this, and worked hard. We've got a lot more work to do but it is an effort of the entire organization.
What I'd like to do, just take a few minutes and provide you a quick review of some of the details that we've already talked about. I'll do that quickly but then also try to give you new information about the tournament that I know I've seen or talked to many of you about or seen written or speculation. A couple things.
One, I'm just going to do the top line here, I'm not going to get into a lot of detail on some of it because your press pack will include those details, and if you would just look through that and you can take that with you. Also, the Asia pool, we're going to provide very limited detail on the Asia pool because there's an announcement taking place later this week about events taking place in Japan. So we'll leave that, we won't steal all their thunder.
First, a quick review of the countries and the teams that are invited. This is a tournament that includes 16 countries, we consider the top 16 baseball-playing countries in the world with global representation. The A pool that will compete in Tokyo, Japan will include China, Taipei, Japan and Korea. Pool B out of Arizona, and the games in Arizona will be split between Chase Field and Scottsdale, but the teams competing in those games in that pool are Canada, Mexico, South Africa and the United States. Pool C in Puerto Rico; Cuba, Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico. Gene will give you a few more details about Cuba and that situation in a few minutes.
And finally in Florida, Pool D; Australia, Dominican Republic, Italy and Venezuela. Those are the 16 territories and countries that will be presented.
The format, quick review, the format is four pools of four. It's Round Robin play so six games in each pool. The top two teams will advance out of each pool to the second round. The second round will be played, the winner of Pool B will play in Anaheim and that's the top two out of each pool. The second round for Pools C and D will remain in Puerto Rico at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The top two out of each pool will advance to a semifinal and final in San Diego will that will be a one-game elimination and loser-go-home.
The dates, Round 1 will start on March 3rd in Tokyo. The Asia pool will start four days prior to the games that will start in the United States for obvious reasons; the winners of the Asia pool need to travel to the United States. That will begin on March 3rd. The pools in the United States and Puerto Rico will begin on the 7th of March.
Round 2 will begin on March 12th. That's in Anaheim and San Juan with the finals in San Diego, semifinals being on the 18th and the finals on the 20th.
Team camps and team sites, first a word on training camps themselves. Major League players will report to their Major League club as they normally do, excluding the Asia pool and I'll speak to that in a second. But they will report to their Major League clubs. Many of those that will participate in this tournament will report early, the clubs will open their camps early to allow them to come and work out if they so wish but they will report straight to the Major League club.
They will be required to report to their national team camp on February 26th, if you're competing in the Asia pool, and March 3rd if you're competing in any of the other three pools.
So again, players will report to their Major League club, work out there in spring training and report to their national team to begin workouts on March 3rd to prepare for the tournament.
Each of the national teams that will play in Arizona, Florida or Puerto Rico, excluding Cuba, will be matched up with a Major League club. Again this is in your press kit and I'm going to go through each one. They will be matched up with a Major League club where they will train there at that facility for the three or four days. Then some have already scheduled exhibition games, I think all teams will end up scheduling exhibition games against Major League clubs, the schedule that is, again, included in your kit.
Rosters, a couple things to point out about rosters and to clarify, there's been a lot of speculation on that. Rosters will be 30 players, a minimum of 27 but a roster of 30. Teams will be allowed at least 13 of those will be pitchers and three of those must be catchers.
There are some limits that we've placed on the maximum number of players that can be selected from Major League clubs and again for obvious reasons, we don't want to deplete or take 18 players off of one 25-man roster from a club so they can't compete in spring training. But those rosters or those limitations will be no more than 10 players off of a 25-man roster and that 25-man roster as of August 31st of '05 and then no more than 14 players of a team's 40-man roster can be selected.
WBC, I will use our discretion when looking at players who are chosen. There's no hard rule but we don't want to take a team's eight pitchers from any one team or all three catchers, so we'll look at position as national teams are selecting players and use some discretion in that regard.
Playing rules. Major League rules will apply. We'll play the American League rules, we'll have wood bats, the DH will be used, there will be some modifications. Those modifications include things like pitching rules, tie-breakers, as you go see if you do the math on the pool play, you could have ties and see who would advance.
Mercy rule. All of those rule changes or modifications will be subject to consideration by the technical committee.
The technical committee for the tournament, there's really in effect two arms of that committee, if you will; one that will deal with policy and the other that will deal with game enforcement. The policy portion of that committee will be made up of representatives from page or league baseball, Major League Baseball Players Association and the IBAF and representatives from Japan and Puerto Rico because of the event taking place there. The game operations, which will handle the enforcement of those rules on site, we'll have a representative from every team that will participate in that part of the committee. However there will be three members from each game, one from Major League Baseball, one from the Players Association and a member from another country not involved in that game that will help enforce the rules.
Uniforms. I just want to give you a quick glimpse of the uniforms for the tournament. We're very happy to have Major League Baseball's on-field licensees continue to take part in this tournament and supply these teams with a unique look to a uniform while also maintaining the national team look. So real quick, just wanted to go through a quick glimpse of some of the teams and what those uniforms will look like. But again, we're very happy to the fact that New Era Majestic and Nike are participating with the World Baseball Classic.
Ticket information. Tickets will go on sale one week from today for all pools of the tournament, excluding Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico tickets will go on sale actually two days earlier, December 10th. You can order your tickets and get ticket information on-line at WorldBaseballClassic.com. Starting with the initial sale, you can buy tickets in strips. Individual game sales will not go on sale until January at a date to be determined later. But tickets will go on sale beginning Monday, December 12th.
Now I'd like to introduce Gene Orza, who probably needs no introduction, chief operating officer of the Players Association who will give you some other interesting news about the tournament, including some things that I think all of you would like to hear about, players.
GENE ORZA: Thank you, Paul. The Commissioner opened his remarks and during the course of his remarks said some nice things about me. I noticed the tiles in the roof are not falling down. (Laughter.) So let me test the thesis and say something nice about him, too, and that is that it's clear to me that despite all of the effort that's gone into this, and this is potentially a terribly exciting event for me and for a lot of other people, it would not be possible without the commitment of not only his personal goodwill, but the resources at his disposal that we received from Commissioner Selig in this matter. Whatever success this endeavor has at the end, and we all hope it is truly successful, the major portion of that credit will have to go to Commissioner Selig for the commitment that he's given to it and committing so much of the resources of the clubs to this effort. Don't tell Don Fehr I said that. (Laughter.) But as Henry Kissinger once said about a foreign policy initiative: It has the added advantages of being entirely true. (Laughter.)
My principal purpose here is to talk about players, but there are a couple of preliminary comments I want to address. There has been some speculation in the press about the status of Cuba. We have applied for a license with the Office of Foreign Assets Control. We are fairly confident that the administration will approve that and approve it soon. It is no secret, or perhaps it is an unguarded secret but we have had some discussions with the Cubans that make us feel very, very confident that the Cubans will play. Some of you may have read in the newspapers that Mr. Castro has indicated a desire on his part to have his Federation play against, among others, the Americans. We hope to accommodate him, and we are pretty confident that the Cubans will play. I do not think that is a serious impediment to the tournament at this point. I believe the Cubans will play, but give us some more time to work on that particular aspect.
There's been an equal amount of speculation about the so-called drug policy that the endeavor is a subject and it is of course a typical Olympic-style event. The International BAseball Federation, the IBAF, has endorsed and sanctioned that tournament, and this tournament would not be conducted under the rules of the IBAF without under the rules of the Olympics and other international events as it relates to drug testing.
Some Major League Major League Baseball players have competed in international events in the past and have been subject to Olympic-style testing. That will be the case here. Players that make the eligibility list that are required to be filed on January 17th will be subject of competition testing and as soon as the competition begins, those players on the actual roster, the 30-man rosters, will be subject to testing under a heightened regime of testing, all in accordance with WADA and Olympic rules. So there really is no question about the applicability of standard and uniform Olympic anti-doping rules through this tournament. All of the players are aware of it and the tournament will be conducted, as I say, with the IBAF in charge of the administration of those anti-doping rules of the Olympics and the World Anti-Doping Association.
There's been some confusion about eligibility of who can play in this tournament. There's been some rumors or some press coverage suggesting that we have bent the rules in some fashion to enable players who otherwise could not play in the tournament to play for various countries or territories participating; that is not true.
Basically what we've done is we've adopted the Olympic rule which is he essentially if you can get a passport, you can play for the country that you can get the passport from. Many, many athletes have dual citizenship rights or entitlement to passports from more than one country. That will be the case in any large universe of athletes and that is true in Major League Baseball. We have made some tweaks in the system only in the following respect. Only because the essential universe of players is Major League Baseball players we thought it was unfair to have two similarly-situated players, with respect to their ancestry and one can qualify to play for his country and another can't, only because of another country's more liberal rules on citizenship. For example to use a concrete example, the Italians have very literal citizenship rules. Some people suggest that if you once ate a pizza you are eligible for an Italian passport. I can say that because Italian; you can't say that to my face if you're not. By the same token there are a number of countries that have very, very rigorous citizenship rules or qualifications for passports, rules on qualification for passport that would make it unfair for that player to not play for a country that he has an equal association and even a greater one, going back a few generations which might be the case with Australia or Italy. So what we try to do is level out the eligibility requirements by allowing certain requirements besides eligibility requirements, besides simply being able to get a passport. If your parents were born in a given country, if your parents were permanent residents of a given country, things like that. But none of these rules as I know it affect the eligibility of any of the major players in this event. All of the individuals who I'm aware of participating in with a handful of exceptions are eligible for passports in countries for whom they have chosen to participate and indeed if that that were not the case, that issue would have to be revisited in terms of their eligibility. Eligibility is not really much different from what is in the Olympics and people should be aware of that.
I'm now going to talk about some of the players that are participating in the event, have agreed to participate in the event. Say some because it's obvious this events has had a snowball effect, more and more players are signing on to participate. In my office I would be amazed right now if there were not three or four or five additional players who are saying, Gene, in light of what's happened, I'd like to play, too. Put my name down on "the list" of people who have agreed to participate.
As Commissioner Selig indicated, I'm not going to mention any of the players participating in Pool 1 in deference to our Japanese friends who are promoting the Asia pool, they are going to make a separate announcement about the players participating for Japan and others in the days ahead and so will we. This list that I'm about to go over with you does not include any of the individuals playing for Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei or China.
All of the players who you are about to see understand another tournament rules, simply because you've agreed to play does not mean the Federation is going to take you. There will be a Federal investigation, some of the names you will see will not play for their national federations but all of these players understand simply going in, because you have agreed to play does not mean you will make the final 30-man roster and finally as any endeavor of this size and particularly one involving this sport is subject to whims in some cases of the baseball gods. There are some individuals here who are rehabbing and believe that they will be ready to play come this spring. There are other individuals who are uncertain about that but want to be associated with the event and have signed on to that end. And indeed unfortunately there will be individuals who will say, yes and are perfectly healthy today but something might happen early on in their regular spring training which begins before this tournament does and that might otherwise warrant reconsideration of their capability of playing in the tournament. But with that caveat, let's slow show a list of some of the players, as I say who have agreed to play. I'm not going to read all of these names to you. I'll give you a chance to focus on the lists.
I might have a comment or two on some of these players, Bobby Abreu has agreed to hit 25 home runs in this tournament instead of the 24. We have a Rookie of the Year? Jason Bay, Barry Bonds -- don't go too fast beyond Barry Bonds. Let that soak in for a while. Craig Biggio who qualified to play for Italy has decided to play for the United States and that's Italy's loss, I'm certain. Mark Buehrle, champion of the Chicago White Sox. Giovanni Carrara had dual citizenship and chose to play for Venezuela. Roger Clemens, and Randy Hendricks -- Roger has not decided what he's doing for next season but he does want to be associated with the event and indeed if his decision is to come back next year and play, he will play in the World Baseball Classic. Roger has been a principal and great supporter of the event and we are all really grateful for that. I have Johnny Damon, the great Johnny Damon will make my office very happy since all the women love him. (Laughter.)
Eric Gagne is an interesting case. Eric Gagne initially you may have read was very critical of the World Baseball Classic but through a process of understanding more about it, he then issued several months later a statement saying he was looking forward to playing for Canada.
There are some players I should add who have injuries that other clubs have been allowed to bring to our attention and suggest that perhaps the players should not play in the tournament to not exacerbate an existing injury. Eric is one of those and considering his status right now and the WBCI, the group to which is committed to the determination of a player who otherwise might be injured but Eric Gagne indicated he wanted to be associated with the tournament and he has agreed to play subject to -- he understands, a review of his personal circumstances. Ken Griffey, Junior has agreed to play. I see what happened to the list here -- at the end you say Jason Isringhausen who has played and Vladimir Guerrero, how would you like to be the Dominican manager trying to figure out where to put Vlad. Between Isringhausen and Jones, there is one name alphabetically that is not there, further illustration of how this is an ongoing process, but you can add the shortstop for the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter to that list.
Andruw Jones, of course, Chipper Jones, Todd Jones is an interesting case. He called up before any of the details were in and said, Gene, "I want to be on the list to play in the World Baseball Classic, at least give me consideration." I said we'd be pleased to do that.
Derek Lee, Al Leiter, same situation as Todd Jones. Let me see, Pedro Martinez, as you probably heard, has a toe injury which he thinks he will recuperate from, he desperately wants to play for the Dominican Republic. He has agreed to play, health permitting. David Ortiz, let's go through the next line together with Ortiz. When I did the Dominican lineup, Wily Lo Pena was batting ninth, not sure how that will work, very powerful Dominican team. Albert Pujols is coming up on the next line, you got Manny Ramirez has agreed to play.
And Alex Rodriguez, you will see a blank name next to Alex. Alex is going to play in the tournament and I know from personal conversation with him, he wants to play for the Dominican and he wants to play for the United States. He went so far as to ask me that if one team got eliminated could he play for the other at the same time. It's a difficult decision, I know he's brooding about it as we speak, but Alex is going to be playing in the World Baseball Classic. Jim Rollins, one of our earlier supporters of the tournament. Marco Scutaro, Venezuela and Italy, I think he is most likely going to play for Venezuela. John Smoltz is apparently a dual-eligibility player. John, to my surprise, is eligible to play for the Italian team; that famous Italian dish, Smoltz, I've never heard that word. Mark Teixeira, active within the union itself promoting the World Baseball Classic; and Miguel Tejada, Jason Varitek, Jose Vidro, Omar Vizquel. Billy Wagner who will move directly from the World Baseball Classic into leading the Mets into the World Series next year, is going to be a fascinating process for Mr. Wilpon, and of course on the final list of truly great players, Vernon Wells, Dontrelle Willis, he's become a virtual spokesman for the tournament, he is signing on as is David Wright, Carlos Zambrano and the great Barry Zito. All of these Braves are going to need some chiefs and Paul Archey will now talk about the managers of all of these great players.
PAUL ARCHEY: One of the most appealing aspects of this tournament is sitting around the office or talking about these lineups and these teams and Gene mentioned the Dominican lineup and the U.S., the Venezuelan lineup, Puerto Rican lineup, it's all very fascinating and everyone has their opinion. But there will be 16 people who get the chance to field those lineups for real and to be manager, and with so many great players, obviously you have to have a staff that is equally up to the task and to show how competitive this tournament will be, I think we have a great staff of managers for teams.
As you can see from the 16 countries, eight of these countries have managers with Major League experience in some way, shape or form from Jim Lefebvre, managing the Chinese team; Manny Acta, the third base coach for the Mets managing the Dominican team, Jose Oquendo, there are a number of Major League experienced managers. Five other managers come from -- will come from the individual's country where they also play professionally or at a high level and managers such as the great Sadaharu Oh, the all-time home run champion in Japan.
Finally there are three managers that have not been named to date. We will reduce that number by one here in just a second, but with that, I'd like to invite up three members from USA baseball who have some important announcements, Bob Watson, who is the general manager of team USA, Paul Seiler, the executive director and CEO of USA Baseball and Mike Gaski, the president of USA Baseball.
BOB WATSON: Good afternoon. It is indeed a pleasure to be standing before you on this occasion. This is a great, great feeling standing before you because I get to be one of those guys that helps put this thing together. And as you saw the names of some of the participants, the guys that want to play, and this is a who's who, it's an All-Star Team, basically, All-World Team. It just makes me feel good. Fortunately back in 2000, I helped put together a U.S. team that won a Gold Medal, and if we can do something like that again and bring a medal home for us in this World Classic, it would be just outstanding.
You talk about teamwork, you talk about management. We feel that we have a young man, even though his hair is gray, we are going to bring up a man that we think can lead us to that goal of winning, and that is going to be Buck Martinez. Buck, will you come up? (Applause.)
BUCK MARTINEZ: Thank you very much, Bob. And I'd like to thank the Commissioner for being here today and certainly for all of you coming here today. In watching that introductory video I tell you what, I'm ready to play right now. It's a phenomenal honor and I'd certainly like to thank Paul Seiler and Paul Archey and Gene Orza and Bob Watson and everybody involved for extending me this honor, because it truly is an honor to be involved in such an outstanding platform for baseball.
I think we are seeing right now how baseball has become such an international sport, with all of the great stars that have played in the Major Leagues, and we are seeing them from all different parts of the world now, and now we are going to have a chance to see them play in one unique tournament. I tell you, it's a tremendous honor to be involved. I think as you saw from the list of the players, it's going to be some pretty good teams and certainly having the opportunity to have Cuba involved when Mr. Castro pointed out that he's gotten players that can replace Jose Contreras and El Duque, he'll have an opportunity to match his team up against one of the world's best.
Certainly, we all know the strengths of Ichiro Matsui, Tad Igucci from Japan. We have seen the Koreans perform very well and we have seen players from Mexico and the Dominican and Puerto Rico become superstars in the game, maybe the biggest superstars.
I was fortunate enough to play in a Caribbean series in Puerto Rico and I played several years in Puerto Rico, two years in Venezuela. I understand how important this opportunities is to those countries, and to the players that represent those countries. So this is a marvelous opportunity to, again, showcase the great games baseball. I just can't think everyone involved in the selection process for this opportunity enough.
We have gone to sort out our coaching staff, and I am thrilled to announce some of the members of that coaching staff here today. Very experienced staff, a lot of Major League experience and name recognition, and I think it's something that we have put together as staff that we think will be able to put together a 30-man roster that will be as good as any roster ever assembled.
And one gentleman that happens to be with us today, I'm very pleased that he is here to make this announcement is Marcel Lacheman, who will serve as the pitching coach, and he has extensive international experience, tremendous Major League experience, and certainly may be one of the most important parts of our coaching staff. Because there is a challenge in the pitching end of it, as you all know, playing in March, obviously we are not going to have complete games like Ozzie Guillen had in the playoffs, but we will have to do a good job of making sure everybody gets their work in, everybody is prepared to perform well, and we utilize everybody on the staff.
The rest of the staff that we have finalized to this Davey Johnson will serve as the bench coach. He has obviously had international experience with Team USA in the past, Major League manager, former All-Star player and another great asset to the staff. It gets better as well, too. The hitting coach, a gentleman, Reggie Smith who has been involved in USA, Team USA for a long time. Reggie is very excited, as you know, having been in these situations. He loves representing his country and he loves working with the best players in the world.
And the fourth coach that we have brought on board is Ken Griffey, Senior, and he will be involved with us, obviously helping with the outfielders and Ken Griffey, Senior, as well, very anxious to get involved and we are continuing to fill out the coaching roster, but that's as it stands right now. As you can see, it's a very, very experienced, very accomplished coaching staff that I'll be thrilled to work with.
But I can't tell you how excited I am to be in this position. It is going to be a showcase for baseball that we've never seen before. And I think baseball in general is riding the crest of a wave of a post-season that was out standing in 2005, and there could not be a better way to kick off the 2006 season with the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Thank you very much. (Applause).
Q. For anybody who wants to speak on the subject, maybe Paul and Gene, for the clubs, the Americans, the Dominicans where the assumption is that every player invited is good enough to make the team, will there be 30 invitations or will there be maybe 35 with five cuts, how will that be done?
GENE ORZA: Initially, the way the process worked is we asked each of the participating federations to submit lists to us of the individuals whom they would be interested, not more than 60,65. Some of them only gave us 48, 53, whatever the number. So those are the individuals we went out and asked after notifying the clubs and giving them an appropriate period of time to suggest possible rejections to the player. In the sense, there has already been an invitational list.
Under the rules of the tournament on January 17, the teams must submit their eligibility list. Those are the individuals who are eligible to play in the World Baseball Classic, to the extent the individual is not on that list he cannot play because he did not make "the cut," to use the term, these are very difficult decisions in that regard. That eligibility list will kick in, the initial phase of WADA testing and up to 24 hours before the event, March 3, that 60-American person, 50-person team can be widdled down in any fashion the federation chooses.
I do not believe after talking to the Federations you're going to see 60 players named on the 17th. I don't think you're going to have more than 35, 40 players named in more than a month prior to the tournament. I think most of the Federations have some idea of how they are going to put the teams together and have enough players to meld that team together and you'll see that very, very little cutting of the players will happen.
Q. Paul, there was some question at the GM meeting, maybe you could clear it up, what are the specific rules, the pitch limits and innings people can play?
PAUL ARCHEY: As I mentioned, those rules have not been determined as of yet. All of those modifications, the pitching limits, we've discussed those at length and in great detail, but those will continue to be developed through the policy arm of the technical committee. At some point in the not-too-distant future, we would be announcing those rules. Those are still being discussed at that technical committee level. That would include, certainly there will be pitch limits and pitching modifications, pitch limits and days' rest as part of that.
Q. For position players, are there limits, as well, or not necessarily?
PAUL ARCHEY: Position players, again, those things will be discussed, but that's not one that we focus more on the pitching rules.
GENE ORZA: I know there was reports of position players limitations. We doubt a lot of the Federations will agree to it. I don't think we'll have position limitations as such.
Q. Just so we're clear here, are these guys going to be subjected to the exact same drug testing standards that the Olympic athletes are subjected to?
GENE ORZA: Yes. This is Olympic-style sponsored and WADA-sponsored testing. The IBAF would not sanction it unless it could have the testing that it is allowed to have; the same testing with the same frequency for the same substances in the same laboratories.
Q. Does this testing then count as the testing that would be applied in the Major League Baseball, what you've just bargained?
GENE ORZA: No.
Q. You'll have separate testing for this and then for the Major League players; correct?
GENE ORZA: This is an independent event and testing.
Q. Just a question on the rosters, when as you divvy out the Major League affiliated players undermine or Major League contracts, will we find some teams that will have more Major League players and others that won't? How does that even out? For example does Team USA, will it have a higher percentage ever Major League players than other teams will?
PAUL ARCHEY: Well, I think there will be definitely a number of teams in the tournament that will have almost complete rosters of Major League players. If you look at the 16 teams, we anticipate somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 Major League players. Obviously that averages out to about five per Major League club on the 25-man rosters.
One of the things that I alluded to earlier was that we will as we look at how those players are dispersed, we recognize that there are players who may be more important to a particular team, and when you reach those limits. For example, Andruw Jones from the Atlanta Braves, if they are at ten limit and he has not committed, he's probably more important to that Netherlands team than taking another position player and adding him to the U.S. We will try, if that occurs, look at it as the governing body of the tournament and try to equal that out a little bit and give those countries who have less Major League players a chance to get that Major League player.
Q. For players who would test positive in this tournament for a substance does --
GENE ORZA: No. The answer's no. (Laughter.)
Q. That's also prohibited by the new Major League agreement, would a positive test for this tournament for that substance incur discipline in the Major League program?
GENE ORZA: You want me to repeat the answer? No. (Laughter.)
Q. I know it's still early in the process, but have any assurances been made to the Cuban delegation that the number of players that come will also return to Cuba? (Laughter.)
GENE ORZA: Ed Wynn (ph) used to carry around an 11-foot pole in Hollywood for what no one would touch with a 10-foot pole. I'll let Paul handle that.
PAUL ARCHEY: I like Gene's answer; no.
Q. In your pool, you're going to have a chance to go up against Canada and another ex-Blue Jay, what's it be like going up against them?
BUCK MARTINEZ: Ernie Whitt and I were platoon-mates for so long in Toronto, it will be a special opportunity to get back and be competitive again. I know Ernie has been involved with Team Canada for a number of years and certainly looks forward to another opportunity, and he's been up against Team USA in the past and he's got a pretty good team as well, so. I think everybody, especially north of the border, will be looking forward to that game as I will.
Q. This question is for the Commissioner, Mr. Selig. Year after year at the conclusion of the World Series, the announcer always refers to, in this case, the Chicago White Sox as the "World Champions," and I'm wondering if your mind with the advent of a tournament like this one if that title still applies?
BUD SELIG: Well, this takes the sport to another dimension, there's no question about it. Do I still believe the World Series is the World Series? I do.
But there's no question that this -- I think this is going to be so big that, I guess that will be better answered in the years to come because I think this is going to take the whole international level of our sport to heights that we can't even imagine today. And while the World Series to me will always be the World Series, we're moving into a new era today, there's no question about that.
Q. I think this is for Paul, for Asian players who are on Major League rosters, it sounds like it might be several weeks before they join their Major League team. Is this a concern?
PAUL ARCHEY: That's a good point and I skipped over it earlier. The Asian players who are on Major League Baseball rosters are not required to report to their Major League club; they can report directly to the national team.
From some of the discussions I've had with clubs and general managers, I think most of them expect those players really to report to spring training maybe early, and then go over to Asia.
But it has not really been addressed as a concern in my discussions, and we recognize that they still will get the player back with at least 11 days before the start of the season, and so long as they are assured that they are doing the workouts, I think they are comfortable with that. I think most of them will report to their clubs.
Q. This will probably be for Gene. Obviously a huge number of stars that you listed here, are we to assume that there are still negotiations going on with players whose names might not be up there; so does that mean players have already said no, like a guy like Mariano Rivera?
GENE ORZA: I would not classify it as a negotiation, but I suspect there will be further discussion about that and that discussion in turn will produce initial players.
You should not interpret the list that you've seen as an indication that the people who are not on that list will not play. In fact, more likely they will play or will agree to play because that has been the trend so far; people responding to the request, their view, overwhelming majority is yes, I want to play.
So if somebody is not on that list but you think he should be, the odds are great that he will want to play, and, in fact, there will be an announcement in the future. But I would not characterize it as a negotiation. It's a discussion with an individual. A lot of players, perhaps Mariano is one, is waiting to see what happens with his teammates on the Yankees or in Panama. Rafael Furcal was involved in a negotiation, I don't know what his view is yet, but we'll have those discussions as we go along. There will be more players here.
Q. Obviously this tournament is a source of great national pride for Cuba, if Castro has already said so; do you feel that same fervor will be displayed for the Americans? Does it mean as much to the Americans as the Cubans?
BUD SELIG: I think you will see a high level of interest in all of the countries, and yes, I do. I think you see it in the Olympics, you see it in other things and this is even a sport with players who are more from -- yes, I think there will be a very intense level of interest in America, there's no question about it.
BUCK MARTINEZ: I'd like to second that. All of the players I've talked to regarding the World Baseball Classic there was a lot of uncertainty about it initially but everybody that I spoke to that has had Team USA experience, whether it was Olympic experience, or as we heard from Roy Oswalt firsthand during post-season, representing your country is something that you can't enjoy in any other venue.
And I think once this list of names gets out among the players themselves, as Gene mentioned earlier, it will be a snowball effect going down the hill of players sitting home saying, "Maybe I should be involved in that." When you look at a team, when you look at the voices and you've heard the comments of the players in the video, Tejada and Pujols and Abreu, Carlos Delgado, Roger Clemens, that's pretty impressive. And when they see the list of players who are made commitments to this tournament, the World Baseball Classic, it will snowball. The Americans will feel as motivated or as motivated as any team in the entire field.
Q. Gene, what are the circumstances that led Mike Piazza to play for Italy?
GENE ORZA: I should have mentioned that but I skipped over it. It's a good lesson, there's a moral to that story. He qualified to play in both Italy and the United States. Of course, if he wished to sign on for the United States, if not the greatest hitting catcher of all time, USA Baseball would have accommodated him. I had a conversation with Mike and he said: "Gene, thank you, I'm interested in playing, what do you think is better for International BAseball, if I play for the United States or if I play for Italy? Maybe Italy will need more help. What do you think in terms of the level of competition?"
Quite frankly, put aside the fact that I'm an Italian, I think in those terms, you're probably better off playing for Italy.
"Well, all right, I'm signing up for Italy." He just thought what was good for International BAseball was something that he wanted to be a part of, and the best role that he could play in doing something good for International BAseball, given this opportunity, was to sign on for the Italian team. If he makes the team, I think they will be pretty good. (Laughter.)
Q. How tough was it to get Barry Bonds on board and what was the process?
GENE ORZA: Well, I really can't speak to that very much. We had a pretty good ally in Bobby Bonilla working for the Players Association. And I think a lot of the credit has to go to Bobby and most of the credit goes to Barry. He wanted to play from the beginning. From the first time Bobby spoke to him, he said: "Barry is going to play, he has concerns about his knee, but if he's okay, he'll play. I don't think it was very hard. Bobby really is the better source for that information. He certainly didn't reflect to me that it was that difficult of a negotiation, as Jack would put it.
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