Over the last 14 years, we have been much more aggressive in marketing and promoting the game. When I first became interim commissioner in 1992, Major League Baseball's total revenue amounted to $1.2 billion. This past season we reached $5.2 billion.
Our business partners certainly have played a significant role in helping us grow the game so successfully. ... Our philosophy when establishing relationships is to seek out the "best in brand" companies that both share our passion for the game and want to collaborate their assets to help market our sport.
TV ratings have been down, but based on factors such as attendance and sponsorship, would you say baseball is in another golden era?
This is baseball's golden era. The game has never been more popular, and that conclusion is reached through every conceivable measure of comparison [record revenue of $5.2 billion, all-time attendance record of 76 million last year, new labor deal through 2011]. All of this was achieved in a year that also saw three new television agreements; long-awaited stadium deals in New York [for both the Yankees and Mets], Washington, Minnesota and Oakland; the successful rollout of the World Baseball Classic; and the seventh different World Series champion in as many years.
Baseball's version of the World Cup, the World Baseball Classic, drew positive reviews. How do you market that the next time around?
The Classic in every way exceeded our expectations, [and] as with anything new, you take time after the fact to review what has happened. ... We are working with our WBC partners, the Major League Baseball Players Association, on this exercise. Overall, the World Baseball Classic was a great success, and we are putting our energies into making plans and looking forward to a second tournament in 2009.
What is MLB's position on marketing Barry Bonds' likely final push to break Hank Aaron's all-time home-run record, given Mr. Bonds' link to the league's ongoing steroids controversy?
Our sponsors continue to show unwavering commitment to Major League Baseball. As to Hank Aaron's regular-season home-run record being broken, when and if we arrive at such a time, [MLB] will acknowledge the record in an appropriate manner.