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Selig gets an image makeover

By KEVIN KELLY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 20, 2002

Despite remaining relatively quiet the past few months, Bud Selig appears to be on quite a public relations roll.

Not only was a potentially devastating work stoppage avoided when players and owners agreed on a collective-bargaining agreement in August, but a playoff format that the commissioner presented to owners in 1993 has resulted in the first all-wild card World Series.

"We took a fair amount of criticism, but I always felt it was unreasonable," Selig said. "When you change baseball or any other social institution, people often react slowly and badly.

"But, I am glad with the way this worked out."

Until the Giants and Angels advanced to the World Series this season, only the 1997 Marlins and 2000 Mets had reached the last stage in baseball's postseason as wild cards.

The Angels finished with the fourth-best record in baseball but were second in the American League West to the A's. The Giants finished 21/2 behind the defending champion Diamondbacks in the National League West.

Oakland and Arizona lost in the division series to the wild-card teams.

"Both of the teams have earned the right to be in the World Series," Selig said. "Nobody can say, "Well, they don't deserve it,' because they really do.

"The system has worked just like it was designed and I'm thrilled about that."

* * *

MUCHO MACHA: A's bench coach Ken Macha has been a busy man the past two years.

The 52-year-old, considered one of the best managerial candidates around, has interviewed with eight teams -- Angels, Blue Jays, Reds, Pirates, Cubs, Mets, Brewers, Devil Rays -- about their managerial vacancies and been hired (so far) for none.

"You'd certainly like to find a place that is the right fit and a place where you're going to have success," said Macha, who played 14 seasons in the majors, has coached for the A's, Expos, Angels and managed in Boston's minor-league system for four seasons.

"There's a plan out there somewhere and hopefully it's the right place. I'd say, yes, (the interest) has been flattering. But it's a product of the success we've had in Oakland."

THE TRAMMELL INFLUENCE: So frustrated with the Tigers' direction that he once asked to be traded, Detroit outfielder Bobby Higginson has changed his tone now that Detroit has hired Alan Trammell as manager.

"I'd refuse to leave," said Higginson, who has three years remaining on his contract and a no-trade clause.

The outfielder believes Trammell, whose professionalism has been noted repeatedly by former teammates, will bring the right attitude.

"It all starts with the manager," he said. "And I think they've got the right guy now. I'm not saying that we're going to contend right away, but I know we can be a lot better than we have been.

"I know that Tram will keep stressing that you have to play the game right. And I think we've got enough young players on the team that he can teach them the way it's supposed to be done."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Cardinals undoubtedly missed Scott Rolen's glove and bat in their NL Championship Series loss to the Giants. Those who batted fifth, Rolen's spot in the order, went 5-for-22 with no extra-base hits or RBIs. ... The Rangers, during a round of organizational meetings, identified Arizona centerfielder Steve Finley and catcher Damian Miller as potential free-agent targets. Buck Showalter, recently hired as manager, had both with the Diamondbacks. ... Phillies catcher Mike Lieberthal, who had a reconstructive knee surgery last offseason, had arthroscopic surgery on the same right knee after he stepped awkwardly out of a golf cart recently. Lieberthal signed a three-year, $22.5-million contract extension last season.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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