COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Major League Baseball has concluded two days of meetings with no action on the proposed sale of the Houston Astros, and commissioner Bud Selig said he was confident the game was holding its own in the shaky economy.
"I told the clubs I feel pretty good today. There are a lot of encouraging signs given the economy and given what's happened in the last 90 days," Selig said. "I really think the last three years, given everything that's gone on, baseball has really, really proven its popularity.
"I was concerned three or four years ago. This is a sport where you need families to come a lot. I feel good. We have great races for the most part. We are at 55.5 million this morning. Pretty good."
According to figures compiled by Baseball Reference.com, average attendance was down about 100 per game through Wednesday night, with 16 of the 30 franchises showing increases.
Selig said the Astros sale wasn't even addressed by the owners. He announced Monday that the vote to approve the sale for $680 million from Drayton McLane to Jim Crane was going to be delayed. He said his office was doing its due diligence and wouldn't comment further.
Selig also declined to talk about the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers sought bankruptcy protection in Delaware in June, blaming Major League Baseball for refusing to approve a multibillion-dollar TV deal Frank McCourt was counting on to keep the troubled franchise afloat.
Selig did address the release by the Colorado Rockies of minor leaguer Mike Jacobs, who received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball for taking a performance-enhancing substance. Jacobs, the first player suspended by Major League Baseball for a positive HGH test, said he took human growth hormone to overcome knee and back ailments.
"We have a program in place and it did what it was supposed to do," said Selig, adding he wants to get the rule to apply to major leaguers, too. "We don't duck the issue."
Rob Manfred, MLB executive vice president, labor relations and human resources, said baseball has looked carefully at what other sports are doing in the area of drugs.
"All sports have the same problems and the same issues," Manfred said. "We've made a proposal on blood testing for HGH and we'll see how it turns out."
HGH testing was one of the items under negotiation between the NFL and the players union as the sides put the finishing touches on the 10-year labor accord they reached last month to end the lockout.
Selig also said he still believed in the annual amateur draft, but that spending was a concern.
At a dinner Wednesday, Selig was caught off guard when Hall of Fame chairman Jane Forbes Clark unveiled the Allan H. "Bud" Selig Center for the Archives of Major League Baseball Commissioners.
The new, permanent addition to the Hall of Fame library features a private research space that celebrates the role of the Office of the Commissioner and pays tribute to the nine commissioners who have guided Major League Baseball since Kenesaw Mountain Landis was named the game's first one in 1920.
"When Jane announced it, I cannot tell you how much it meant to me," Selig said. "It was extremely emotional."