Selig visits Angels, praises Trout as next star

Selig visits Angels, praises Trout as next star

ANAHEIM -- Derek Jeter debuted in 1995, and Bud Selig was still new on the job then, about three years removed from starting on as Acting Commissioner and three years away from officially being elected the ninth Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

This year, they'll both retire, and the symmetry wasn't lost on the Yankees' captain.

"He kidded me at the All-Star Game -- 'We sort of came in together and we're going out together," Selig recalled. "And it's true."

So perhaps in some way, Mike Trout is to Jeter as Rob Manfred is to Selig. Manfred will step in as the new Commissioner when Selig retires in January, and many have identified Trout as the one who will replace Jeter in a different, more conceptual way -- as the new face of baseball.

"We're lucky in this sport," Selig said when asked of the popular narrative linking Jeter and Trout. "We have great young players. And as sad as it is to see Derek go, we go through this every generation. Mike Trout is special. He's been great on the field and is just as great off the field. So, if he is the coming icon of this next generation, I'd be very, very happy."

Selig strolled through Angel Stadium on Wednesday, as part of a farewell tour that has him stopping at all 30 Major League ballparks to speak with members of the organization and address the local media. He watched a video presentation honoring his career, was on the field when the Angels donated $25,000 in his honor to the local RBI program and the Boys & Girls Club and admitted that he's "looking forward to my retirement."

Selig, who turned 80 on July 30, wants to write a book, and he plans to start teaching history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University and "somewhere in Arizona" by February. Asked to reflect on his tenure, Selig glowed about bringing competitive balance to the game "like we never had before" and called retiring Jackie Robinson's number in 1997 "the most powerful and important moment" of all.

"I've enjoyed this," Selig said of a farewell tour he's about halfway through. "It's my great way to say goodbye."

Selig's visit to Orange County comes in the midst of some uncertain times with regards to Angel Stadium's future and the city of Anaheim's involvement in it.

Nearly one year ago, the Angels and Anaheim officials reached what appeared to be a resolution, with a tentative agreement that would involve owner Arte Moreno paying the roughly $150 million in renovations needed at the ballpark -- in its 49th season -- for the right to lease the surrounding land for developmental purposes at $1 per year.

But Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait believes the parking lot is too valuable to lease to the Angels for that price and commissioned an appraisal in May, one that stated that the surrounding land was valued at $225 million with the stadium and $325 million without it.

Since then, the two sides have basically been at a standstill. The Angels are still "kicking the tires" on other locations like Tustin, Calif., Irvine, Calif., and City of Industry, Calif., a source said, and they're wary of getting too deep in negotiations with city officials in Anaheim because elections are on tap for November.

But the last year the Angels can opt out of their current lease is in 2019, which means a potential new ballpark would have to be ready by the start of the 2020 season. So they need a resolution with the city of Anaheim soon.

Selig, however, doesn't sound like he'll get heavily involved.

"I have great faith in their ability to do what's best for this franchise over the long haul," Selig said. "Arte has kept me abreast of things. We have things to talk about, and we certainly will do that. To continue to remain competitive, they have to do what they think is in their best interest. And I certainly understand that."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.