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December 10, 2008
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Good morning, everybody. I'm Harold Reynolds with MLB Network, launches January 1, and we are here to have a conference about the second edition of the World Baseball Classic. Mr. Dupuy, I told you it wouldn't work the first time, and it worked like a charm.
BOB DUPUY: Your apology is accepted.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: I'll give you a few bullet points. We are here this morning to talk about this obviously, and these gentlemen will answer questions at the end. Try to keep it to World Baseball Classic. I know you are dying to ask Derek questions. Maybe he'll answer. We'll see.
The MLB Network is very excited to be one of the broadcast partners, and our first broadcast will be March 7 when Italy takes on Venezuela in the Rogers Center in Toronto. March 5th, defending champion Japan taking on China.
Here is a videotape to take us back to the inaugural games in 2006 of the World Baseball Classic.
It's exciting stuff. The thing that was so interesting, the last couple of years, there was so many players that wanted to play in this. Last time I don't think they had enough time to really understand what was going to happen and get themselves ready. Now, guys have been getting prepared to play starting in March and coming into Spring Training ready to go.
I think it is going to be even better this time around. It starts off with an international flavor, the first round will be Tokyo, San Juan, MÃ©xico City and Toronto, and then the final rounds return to the U.S. playing in Miami, San Diego, and the Championship will be March 21, 22, 23 in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. Keep that on your map. It's going to be exciting.
We have some exciting individuals here who are going to tell you about their involvement in the World Baseball Classic. To my immediate left is Paul Seiler. He is the president of USA Baseball. He'll tell you more about that.
Next to him is Davey Johnson, 2008 U.S. Olympic team manager, and he's been managing in the big leagues for a lot of years. He will be managing the club.
Next to him is the captain of the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter, nine-time All-Star.
Next to him, Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda.
Next to Tommy is Bob Dupuy, who is the president and COO of Major League Baseball.
Next to Bob is Donald Fehr, executive director of Major League Baseball Players' Association.
Next to Donald is Harvey Schiller, president of the National Baseball Federation.
Next to him is Doyle Pryor, assistant general counsel for Major League Baseball.
Next to him is Paul Archie, senior vice president of business operations for MLB.
In the front row is Felipe Alou, who is going to be managing the Dominican Republic. Got your work cut out. The U.S. will be ready this time.
It's going to be great. It's going to be a lot of fun.
Let me start this off, our first speaker is Mr. Bob Dupuy, MLB president and COO, and he'll tell you more about the World Baseball Classic.
BOB DUPUY: Thank you, Harold, very much. On behalf of Commissioner Selig and all of us at Major League Baseball, we are excited about the second version of the World Baseball Classic, which we think will build on the very exciting first version.
I have a few things I want to say before I do a data dump on you. The first is, the 30 clubs, I want to thank them very much for their support. Like Harold, some of them were skeptical the first round of the WBC. But given what transpired and given the boost he gave to the game, the clubs have been uniformly supportive of it.
Second I want to thank the players, represented by Derek here today, for their enthusiasm and participation.
Third, I want to thank Don Fehr and the MLBPA for partnering with us both in the first WBC and now the second one, and showing what, in fact, a cooperative relationship between our offices and the Players Association can do in terms of growing the game internationally.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank Harvey Schiller, the president of the IBAF for his unwavering support of this event, and the IBAF, for its support and its participation, as well. And of course, USA Baseball, Mike Gaski and our manager, Davey Johnson, for committing to give the time and energy up to what is going to be a spectacular baseball international event.
As you may know, more than half of the proceeds from the World Baseball Classic will again go toward national team prize money, and the majority of that, in fact, goes to fund the grass roots efforts in all of these countries in terms of growing the game of baseball.
That is particularly important and integral to the growth of baseball internationally, given the absence of baseball from the 2012 Olympic Games.
And, again, in terms of data, as you know, the inaugural WBC was a larger success than we had even anticipated, even the optimistic people in our group had anticipated. More than 740,000 fans, which is comparable to the winter Olympics from 48 states and 15 different countries attended the games in the first WBC. It was broadcast by 48 different organizations in 205 countries and territories, and in ten different languages.
The 2009 version is going to build on that. And, in fact, as Harold mentioned, we are very excited that the MLB Network that is going to launch on January 1, together with ESPN, will broadcast every single one of the 39 games of the WBC. So our fans will be able to watch all of the games on ESPN and the MLB Network.
The global makeup of our game continues to be displayed on the field in Major League Baseball. On Opening Day in 2008, 239 foreign-born players were on the 30 Major League club's Opening Day rosters. In addition, more than 47% now of the players in MLB organizations were born outside of the United States, coming from 35 different countries and territories around the world. Again, showing the global reach of the game and defying the logic of those who think that baseball is not an international sport that belongs in the Olympic Games.
Six of the 18 starters in this year's All-Star Game are foreign born, and a total of 23 players on the two rosters were born outside of the United States.
The WBC is part of our effort to expand the game around the world. As the game has grown increasingly popular, we have the platform this past season, featuring the first-ever exhibition game in China between the Padres and China.
We opened the season with regular season games in Japan, this time featuring the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and played two games in Tokyo in March. Regular season games are being played in MÃ©xico and Puerto Rico, and exhibition games in Cuba, China, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. We think Major League Baseball has, in fact, demonstrated a commitment to bring the game to international venues.
A further example of that, as Harold mentioned, all four of the venues in the first round are located outside of the United States.
I encourage you to watch all 39 games either in person or on MLB Network or ESPN. Thank you.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Our next speaker is Donald Fehr, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
DON FEHR: Thank all of you for being here.
The development of the highest possible level of international competition in baseball has long been a goal of the Players Association, or perhaps more appropriately, of the players. They have wanted to do it. They have wanted to develop the form in which it would take place and have the competition be between teams representing countries.
It took us a while to get to this point, but over the last several years, culminating in the first event in 2006, the level of cooperation and effort that we had been able to generate with Major League Baseball with the International Baseball Federation and our other partners around the world in Japan and Korea, throughout the Americas, and also in Europe, has really been quite extraordinary.
I think anybody that witnessed the 2006 event would have to say that it really was a wonderful event. Perhaps, as Bob said a moment ago, unexpectedly so. Nobody knew quite what to expect. But what happened, I think, is that the competition overtook the skeptics, overtook the business people that were concerned about the number of tickets that were going to be sold and the number of jerseys that were going to be on fans' bodies in the stands.
What basically happened was that the competition itself proved that the event is meaningful and played baseball in a really extraordinary way.
Since then, we have had an enormous amount of interest from the players. There were 486 players who participated in the last event, of which, I believe, about 235 were from Major League Baseball. This time as of today, we have more than 600 players who have signed agreements indicating that they would like to be considered to play, and we expect that we are going to have quite a number of additional ones before we get to the point of the rosters being selected.
People have asked me, people in the Olympics have asked me, what the future of this event means. I think I am sort of prejudiced. I really believe, and everybody involved in this event does, the Commissioner does, Bob does, most of the players do, people who have worked on it at our office in Major League Baseball, believe that before too long, before the end of this next decade is out, this will be regarded as the equal, if not the superior, of any international sporting event in the world. And it will be quite extraordinary when that happens.
So I would just like to thank all of you for being here and express my appreciation, as Bob did, to all of the folks at Major League Baseball, the Players Association office, the players, the clubs, our partners at the IBAF and around the world for helping to make this event the kind of extraordinary occurrence that I think we all expect it to be. Thank you.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Harvey Schiller, president of the International Baseball Federation.
HARVEY SCHILLER: Well, first, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the USA team, Davey Johnson, and others, for winning the bronze medal in Beijing this year. That was quite an accomplishment, and it was a great tournament. It also included so many players who participated from their respective countries in the previous World Baseball Classic.
We at the International Baseball Federation are extremely proud of this event. We fully sanction it. It has expanded the opportunities for so many of our countries. We are also expecting that in future years, in 2013 and beyond, that there will be more and more countries represented as members of our federation.
It has been a completely cooperative environment, and we are proud of the joint agreements that we have being able to move forward in anti-doping and in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Association for this particular tournament, as well as the financial resources that have helped to build the game.
We just had the experience in China, and we had every team win at least one game out of the eight teams that were represented there. That ranged from China, where Major League Baseball has done such significant work in expanding the game around the world. So we, again, are completely supportive of this event.
We believe it will help us return to the games in 2016 and we appreciate you following all of this in the future. Thank you.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Doyle Pryor, assistant general counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association. Did I get that right?
DOYLE PRYOR: Yes, sir. Thanks, Harold.
I'm going to give a little bit of background about the tournament organization, the tournament schedule, the tournament rules, and a little bit about the tournament financing and prize money and that sort of thing. Then we'll turn it over to Paul Archie to provide more details about the rest of the tournament organization.
The Players Association and Major League clubs jointly have formed a corporation known as the World Baseball Classic, Incorporated, or WBCI. WBCI is the organizing body of the World Baseball Classic tournament, and it is jointly governed by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Our partners in this are also the Japanese Professional Baseball League, the Korean Baseball Organization, and their respective players associations, in addition to the IBAF, which is the sanctioning body and represents all of the national baseball federations that have been invited to play.
The teams themselves who are participating are the teams that are put together by the national baseball federation of each participating country or territory.
World Baseball Classic, Incorporated sets the policy and directs the operation of the tournament, but we also have the steering committee which represents all of the national federations and meets periodically to advise WBCI in all aspects of the tournament's organization and tournament policy.
Turning to the 2009 tournament, the participants that have been invited and have accepted our invitations to participate are the same 16 teams, 16 countries and territories, that participated in the 2006 tournament. We do have plans that we have announced to expand the tournament in 2013 to include more than 16 teams.
But this year the participants will be, again, Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba. And in the case of Cuba, we must obtain a license from the U.S. government in order for the Cuban Team to play; that application is pending, and we anticipate approval of that application very soon.
The Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, MÃ©xico, the Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Africa, the United States, and Venezuela.
As it was in 2006, the format of the tournament is essentially three rounds. The 16 teams will be divided into four pools for round one, and they will play -- and this is a change from 2006. It's an important change that we think will enhance the tournament to a large degree. Instead of playing a round-robin tournament in the opening round and in round two, the teams will play a double-elimination tournament so that when your national team has lost its second game, you go home.
There are a couple of reasons why we made this change. One was to avoid the situation where we had the tiebreakers that we all puzzled about in 2006, and to make sure that the games are actually decided and the tournament is actually won on the field, and to make it clearer to everyone how the tournament proceeds.
By making it a double-elimination tournament, it's going to, we think, make the games more exciting for everyone. Because every single game is going to matter. The first game that you lose is going to have a consequence, and it's going to put you into an elimination bracket. That means that every game you play thereafter is a potential elimination game.
Every game in that elimination bracket is an elimination game. Every game in the winner's bracket is a potential game to put you down in the elimination bracket. In the final game where two teams from each bracket, from each round will proceed into the next round, although those two teams will both advance, we have structured the tournament so that the winner of each round will receive approximately twice as much prize money as the team who comes in second in each round, and will be seeded ahead of the team that comes in second.
So every game in every round is going to matter, and we will eliminate all of these things about runs scored and differentials and tiebreakers and those sort of things. The game will be decided on the basis of who wins and loses on the field.
After round one, we will proceed into round two with eight teams in round two. That also will be double-elimination. Then we go into the semifinals with four teams, and that will be a single-elimination. Then, of course, the finals on March 23 to determine the champion.
The venues for round one will be in Tokyo on March 5, and it will be the Asian clubs, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and Korea will play from March 5 through March 12. Then Pool B will begin in Mexico City. Pool C in Toronto, Canada, and Pool D in San Juan/Puerto Rico. Pool B in Mexico City will include Australia, Cuba, MÃ©xico, and South Africa. Pool C in Toronto will be Canada, Italy, and the U.S., and Venezuela. Pool D in San Juan/Puerto Rico will be the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama, and Puerto Rico.
After round one, the eight teams who advance will play rounds two in San Diego and in Miami, and here is where we have instituted another change. Instead of teams from the winner of Pool A playing the loser from Pool A in round two, we will cross over the winners and losers from the various pools in round one so that you won't have quite as many games where teams play each other over and over again as we did in 2006.
Round two will be held in PETCO he park in San Diego March 15-19, and Pool 2 will be in Miami in Dolphin Stadium March 14-18.
The final four teams will move on to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles where the semifinals will be played March 21 and 22, and the finals, March 23.
The teams are going to be selected initially by the national federations of each country or territory. Provisional rosters will be initially made up of up to 45 players. Players have been signing up to -- they signed a player participation agreement indicating interest to play in the tournament. As Don pointed out, we had almost 600 players that have signed up so far.
The provisional 45-man rosters will be announced January 19, and the provisional rosters are subject to WBCI approval in order to make sure that we don't violate our rules on how many players can be selected from a single Major League club or a single Major League organization. We don't want to overburden a particular Major League club by selecting their entire starting lineup to play in the World Baseball Classic. We have tried to spread it out a little more evenly.
Final rosters consisting of 28 players, which must include a minimum of 13 pitchers, will be announced on February 24. The next day, players will begin playing Spring Training games still with their Major League clubs. Shortly thereafter, they will be reporting to the national team training camps where they will play exhibition games for their national team against Major League clubs.
Again, the WBCI has final approval over the final rosters. The rules and regulations are set by a rules and regulations committee where Major League Baseball has two representatives. The Players Association has two representatives, and the national federations are represented by a representative appointed by the IBAF. They will be making rules and regulations recommendations to the WBCI who will ultimately set the rules.
At each game there will be a game operations committee consisting of a member appointed by Major League clubs, one appointed by the Players Association, and one appointed by the IBAF who will oversee the conduct of each game to make sure it is operated in accordance with the tournament rules.
The rules will be the official baseball rules with a few modifications, and similar to the modifications we had in 2006. As you will recall, because of the fact that the tournament takes place in March, we do not want to overuse pitchers, so there will be maximum pitches per game and pitch limitations.
In 2006, the pitch limitations were 65 for round one, 80 for round two, and 95 pitches for the semifinals and finals. There are some suggestions that those limitations may be increased, and the rules committee will be meeting next week to discuss potential tweaking of the rules for the 2009 tournament to see if it makes sense to make adjustments to any of these.
There will also be mandatory rest provisions for the pitchers, the number of days between each appearance that they will be required to rest so that we don't overuse the pitchers in March.
These rules on pitch limitations will also apply to players pitching in the Classic Team's exhibition games.
Umpiring. This year, at the request of the national federations, we have instituted a change. There will be a four-man crew for each of the first round and second round games, and a six-man crew for the finals and semifinals.
But 50% of the umpires will be Major League Baseball umpires, and 50% of the umpires for each game will be international umpires. The international umpires have been supplied by the IBAF, and they will come from professional league umpires in Japan and Korea and from other countries that are experienced umpires in IBAF international tournaments.
The international umpires have already been through a training and orientation project, and the reports we have are that everyone is quite satisfied with the level of umpiring skill that was demonstrated during these training exercises.
Drug testing. Under international rules, the national federation is the testing agency responsible for insuring that our tournament is compliant with the world anti-doping code, and they will be in charge of conducting WADA-compliant drug testing both in competition and out of competition to comply with the world anti-doping code in all respects. Testing is coordinated by the IBAF.
In order to allow players to prepare a little more than they were able to prepare in 2006, they will report earlier this year for Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers playing in the World Baseball Classic will report on February 14; that's a mandatory reporting date for pitchers and catchers in the WBC, and voluntary reporting day for other pitchers and catchers. Pitchers in the Classic will report on February 17 on a mandatory basis, and all others will report on a voluntary basis.
Asian players will report to training camps in Asia on February 14 if they prefer not to fly over here for Spring Training and then fly all the way back to Asia for the tournament.
A total of $14 million has been guaranteed in this year's tournament as prize money to be awarded, depending upon how the national teams finish in the tournament. Last time the prize money was in the $8 million range. This year, we are confident that we are going to be able to increase it and guarantee a total of $14 million.
That prize money is used by the national federations, at least half of the prize money that each team wins is required to be used to develop baseball in their country.
I'll turn the rest over to Paul.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Paul, you can sit there if you like, or do you want to come up? I wanted to give Doyle a little extra time to talk because there are a lot of rule changes that were really important. I'm going to move everybody else through; you can count on that.
Go ahead, Paul. It's all yours.
PAUL ARCHIE: May be hard to believe, but I do have a couple of things to add to that.
First, just want to point out that this year, a couple of highlights, the national teams will play a comprehensive schedule against Major League Baseball clubs at both Major League clubs here in the U.S. and against the NPB clubs in Japan.
In all, I believe there are 44 games. It creates some interesting matchups. The USA team, you'll see from your schedule, will play the World Series champions, Philadelphia Phillies, as well as the New York Yankees. You have the Blue Jays playing Team Canada; Venezuela playing the Tigers featuring three of their players. So some very interesting matchups throughout the Spring Training schedule.
In case you missed the first couple of times, all 39 games will be broadcast on ESPN and the MLB Network this year. So all 39 games nationally in the United States. Along with all of that, the games will be broadcast globally in over 200 countries. So these games will be seen all over the world.
Worldbaseballclassic.com was launched this week, a new web site that will have the latest updates, brackets, and all of the latest news, as well as buying tickets. Along with that, tickets are on sale this week. We just launched our public sale of tickets for strips, strip sales to all of the rounds available on worldbaseball.com or MLB.com to buy those tickets. Single-game tickets will go on sale in mid-January.
We are very excited about the response that we have had from fans and business partners, and we are looking forward to a great Classic.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: We have a special announcement. I'm going to call Mr. Bob DuPuy back up for a special announcement.
BOB DUPUY: This is a real treat for me, and one of the reasons why the first WBC was the success that it was the terrific work of Tommy Lasorda as the global ambassador for the WBC. It's my distinct privilege and honor to announce that Hall of Fame manager, two-time World Series manager, winner with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the manager of the Olympic gold medal team in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Tommy Lasorda, will once again serve as the global ambassador for the World Baseball Classic.
In that role, he will serve as a spokesman to increase awareness of the tournament, and he will promote the event. He will continue as he's done throughout his entire career to grow baseball globally.
There's not a better person, frankly, to do this, than Tommy Lasorda. In his 59-year baseball career, Tommy has visited 22 countries promoting the game of baseball. He has managed or played in 14 of the 16 nations, and has visited Italian restaurants in all 16. (Laughter.)
He is an iconic baseball figure known worldwide. Just last week, Tommy was honored in Los Angeles by the Emperor of Japan, and was given the Order of the Rising Sun, which is a real honor bestowed because of his efforts to grow the game of baseball in Japan and to help bridge the differences between the United States and Japan with regard to baseball.
During his six-decade career, Tommy has met seven U.S. presidents, and he was asked by President George Bush to serve as a delegate to the U.S. National Day in Ichi, Japan in 2005.
It is fitting that the semifinals and finals are going to be played in Los Angeles at the home of the Dodgers. The Dodgers, along with Tommy and the prior ownership, Peter O'Malley and the current ownership, the McCourt's, have been preeminent in helping to grow the game internationally. It is certainly my pleasure to introduce baseball's answer to Sara Lee; there is no one who doesn't like Tommy Lasorda. (Applause.)
TOMMY LASORDA: Thank you very much, Bob, for that wonderful introduction. Appreciate it very much.
My purpose in this Classic is to bring people to see it played. What we did the first time, was I covered the four areas plus the final. In other words, I went to Tokyo and I went to Phoenix, and then I went to Orlando and Puerto Rico, and making people aware of how big this thing was going to be.
When we went to San Diego, where the final games would be played, through the press, TV, that day, we sold 28,000 tickets for the final games in San Diego.
We feel we are going to get more people this year, because now they know what it's about. I think it's going to be interesting. I think it's going to be exciting, and I think it's going to be very, very competitive.
Each of the countries feel that they can win it. We believe that we can win it. That's what our purpose is, of course, and I'm going to start very soon telling everybody in the world how big this Classic is.
I'm honored that they selected me to do it, because anything I can do for my country, I'm always ready to do it. It's a privilege and an honor to be selected as the ambassador. So when you guys come and see me, I would appreciate you saying Mr. Ambassador. (Laughter.)
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Appreciate that.
All right, it's time to meet some of the players and talk to Paul Seiler, president of USA Baseball, and introduce the gentlemen that will be representing the U.S.
PAUL SEILER: Mr. Ambassador, congratulations.
The first announcement we are excited to make is our manager who will lead the USA team in 2009, Davey Johnson.
As a player, a player who understands, as a former player, understands the athletes we are going to be dealing with, what's at stake. A 13-year Major League career with Baltimore, Atlanta, Philly, and the Cubs, made his Major League debut in 1965 and went on to become a four-time All-Star at the Major League level. Played in four World Series, winning two of them; a three-time Gold Glove winner.
Obviously his credentials as a player speak for themselves.
As a big league manager, 1048 wins in 14 seasons at that level. In 1986, his Mets won 108 games and beat the Red Sox for the World Series title. In 1997, he was the AL Manager of the Year after leading the Orioles to the AL East Division title. He was also inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1997, and he's one of ten managers to be placed on the new veteran's committee ballot for possible induction into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
As USA Baseball manager and patriotic to that regard, he's been involved with USA Baseball professional national team since 2005. He served as the manager for our 2005 team that competed for the IBAF World Cup in Holland, and was manager of the pro-Olympic qualifying team in 2005 that qualified the United States to be one of 12 teams to go to Cuba to try to qualify for the Beijing games in 2006.
He was a bench coach on our 2006 World Baseball Classic team. In 2006, he managed the U.S. team that was one of two spots coming out of the Americas, Cuba, Canada, Dominican, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama. You can see the depth of that tournament. Not only was one of the two teams to come out of the Americas, but beat Cuba in the finals in Havana, in front of 45,000 obviously pro-Cuban fans, Latino Americana, to put the United States in the Beijing games.
He also managed our 2007 team of World Cup players that went to Taiwan, beating Cuba for the title, the first such title for the United States since 1973, ending a streak of nine consecutive World Cup titles for the Cubans. The World Cup happens every other year, so you can do the math. That's an 18-year string that was broken with Davey Johnson as our manager.
Finally, he led the U.S. team to a bronze medal win this past summer in Beijing, beating a very, very strong Japan team, not only once but twice in that tournament, to take the bronze medal for the United States. Obviously his professional and playing credentials speak for themselves.
Anecdotally there's a few things you need to know. One, he's a patriot who cares about his country. Coming to know Davey over the course of the last several years, one of the causes he's very involved in and very supportive of is the Wounded Warriors battalion of the United States Marine Corps. working with those Marines wounded in combat, giving time to that cause to raise money for the servicemen who protect our country.
I called him this morning at 7:30 and said, Skip, you want to get some breakfast? He said, I ate around 4:00. I don't know if it's because he was up because his biological clock is set for 7:00 East Coast like we all are.
But the fact is, he's managing at 4:00 laying in bed wondering about what players we will pick on the team, who is batting lead off, who is batting second, do we ask somebody of All-Star caliber to bat ninth, etc., etc.
The final point, and this is a perfect example of his character and attitude and desire to win. As the video was playing earlier here today and we were sitting here kind of turned. It got to the end and Japan was celebrating that first Classic in 2006 and they were shouting about, Let's party, and the champagne. And abruptly turned his chair and gave it a, Hmph.
We are proud to announce Davey Johnson as manager our 2009 club. Davey?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Thanks, Paul. Really nice introduction. First, I'd like to thank my daughter, Dawn. She was due to give birth today, but she gave birth two days ago to my granddaughter, Sierra. Otherwise I wouldn't be here, so I thank her a great deal.
Bob Watson contacted me in 2005 and said he wanted me to work for the U.S. baseball team. I said, Man, that's a great honor. I didn't realize what that goal was, is to have me manage against every country in the world. I don't think I've missed anybody, have I, Paul?
It's been a great experience, been a great run. Being in Europe and managing against a team like Russia, it was the kind of experience -- we beat them 11-0, and we were shaking hands at home plate, and this big, tall Russian came up and called me, Skip.
I looked up at him and I said, Igor. I had met him in Vero Beach when he was playing for the Dodgers. I think Tommy cut him or something. He was over there. About 6'4". It's an horror to represent your country, and it's a thrill. It's really a joy to be a coach on the 2006 World Baseball Classic team.
I just don't think we were ready, very much ready. I don't think anybody knew what to expect. I think the biggest thing, I think a lot of the pitchers had not had enough throwing and they were not prepared and we didn't come into that format very well prepared.
I am happy to say I think there's been a lot more talk among the players. Talking to Derek and talking to a lot of the other players, it seems like there is much more interest coming up this year, and there's much more of an attitude of, I want to be on that team, we have payback to do.
I think it's going to be very exciting format and tournament. I'm looking forward to getting things started. We are already starting to make phone calls and talk to players and find out that interests. So, again, it's a great honor for me and I'm looking forward to the challenge. Thank you.
PAUL SEILER: One more obviously very important announcement. As well, as we put what we hope to be the gold medal winning team together.
As we begun to talk about players and building this team, when you talk about players, if you're around scouts which many of us in sport are, many times, you hear a lot of different adjectives to describe players. He's a gamer, plus arm, he's a monster, and animal, he's a 70 this or a 50 that. I don't know if you ever hear the word obvious, obviously.
As we sat down and began to have conference calls and meetings about putting this team together, the first question is, Well, where do we start? A lot of those conversations began or had included the word, Well, obviously, or isn't it obvious, or it's obvious that, you start with Derek Jeter.
For everybody as a part of this selection committee for Team USA when we began to have these conversations, it is obvious; that is our adjective to describe the leader of the team in 2009, returning member of our 2006 World Baseball Classic team, and the guy that is very obvious to us as where we needed to start to put this, as I said, hopefully gold-medal winning team together.
The leader of our team, our starting shortstop, Derek Jeter.
DEREK JETER: I did not know I was speaking. (Laughter.)
I'll just reiterate what Harold said earlier, and Bob mentioned it, as well. I think when the World Baseball Classic first started there was a lot of skepticism, especially on behalf of the players, if I want to be honest with you. No one knew it was going to work and no one knew if they wanted to play and if it would take away from the season and Spring Training.
Then when we had the opportunity to get on the field, every player to a man was so excited to represent that country. Obviously I have not had an opportunity to represent our team in the Olympics, and this is the closest I'll ever get. But there is a lot of pride here.
Now you hear all of the players talk in the last three years, and everybody is asking about playing in the World Baseball Classic.
So I thought by coming here I might have a pretty good chance of making the team,(laughter) especially sitting next to Davey. So I hope it worked. But I look forward to seeing everyone. I think everyone is pretty excited about this. Thank you.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: We'll open up to questions. And if you can, try to stick to the World Baseball Classic.
Q. The ticket sales, they went on sale a while back. How are they going, and what are your projections for this year surpassing the 740,00 from the first time around. And of the 600 players, how many are we anticipating coming from MLB this year?
PAUL ARCHIE: Yeah, first on ticket sales, as I mentioned, we just launched ticket sales. It's a little early to make any determination from that of how it's going to compare to 2006. But after two days, we are very encouraged by what we have seen. And the number of players that come from Major League Baseball or those organizations, I think in 2006, I think approximately 250 were professional players under contract.
Not all of those were 25- or 40-man roster, but I think it was around 250 the first time, and it will probably be close to that again.
Q. Prior to the 2006 WBC, Commissioner Selig discussed the injury issue, described it as a bogus issue. I'm wondering based on what occurred in 2006 with the WBC and all of the studies since then, do you still consider that to be a bogus issue?
DON FEHR: Doyle just reminded me that I think we had fewer players on the disabled list opening 2006 than we did the year before or the year after.
All I can say about it is that we have done everything we can to make sure that the players are prepared, they are trained, and that the risk of injury is not any greater than it is during the regular season. We will make sure we watch it. We have special rules in effect, such as the pitch count, that work in that direction.
BOB DUPUY: And by bogus, what was meant is that a players is as likely to get hurt in Spring Training or the off- season, and if they are properly conditioned, that there should be no additional risk of injury to the players participating in the event.
Plus, we have tweaked the rules with regard to who is eligible. If someone has surgery during the off-season, they are not eligible, period, or if they were on the DL for a certain period of time during the prior season. So we have taken the additional precautions to make sure that the players who do come to the event are in good shape.
Q. On the tweaking of the camps, my recollection was that early reporting dates were voluntary in 2006, and I would like to address it to Don and Bob, how you came about changing the mandatory reporting dates. I would like Derek also to address how he thinks that will help preparation for Team USA this year.
DON FEHR: Well, let me just respond briefly. If you want to know the details as to how the discussions took place, my suggestion is you talk to Doyle and to Paul afterwards.
All I can tell you is that we have looked at the calendar and we looked at what happened with the preparation last time and said, Can we find some additional time, and will everybody agree to it, and the answer was yes and yes.
BOB DUPUY: It's easier when you insist that things are mandatory. Providing flexibility and providing variability just leads to confusion. If you have fixed dates, it makes life easier.
Q. And preparation, people have said that Team USA was not particularly prepared last time. How will this help?
HAROLD REYNOLDS: The question is, with people participating, there's been a couple of people that come up and say the players were not ready. How do you rectify that going into this year? And was that a problem before.
DEREK JETER: I think players nowadays, they start working out extremely early, way before they get to Spring Training in the first place.
I think it's only going to help. Any time you can get going a little bit earlier.
But I think players nowadays, there really is not much of an off-season. You basically show up in Spring Training in shape anyway. I think it's a great thing, and you can get going and organized a little bit earlier. Hopefully it will help.
HAROLD REYNOLDS: Thank you all.
End of FastScripts