LOS ANGELES -- As the baseball players union considers possible strike dates in response to the absence of progress in the labor negotiations and the possibility that owners could unilaterally implement new work rules after the World Series, commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday that six to eight clubs could go out of business if the current economic system is not changed.
"I would say six to eight can't exist another year, another year and a half. We're talking about the immediate future," Selig said during a luncheon meeting with editors and reporters of the Times. "There's a lot of clubs that simply can't survive the status quo."
In continuing to paint a bleak economic picture if the competitive and revenue disparities are not addressed, Selig also said that the survival of those clubs hinges strictly on a change in the system because he is through trying to "prop them up" on his own with loans from baseball's central fund or his own financial connections.
"Baseball has $4 billion of debt, the bankers are nervous and the losses are very real. You know how serious the problem is when six to eight clubs are for sale, including the Angels."
At Dodger Stadium on Thursday night, union leader Donald Fehr said he had never heard Selig claim six to eight clubs could go under if the system isn't changed and refused to say whether he believed that.
Fehr added that he would be "willing to hire a neutral party to grade" whether the union or the owners have been more aggressive in pursuit of an agreement.