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Selig: Cards' fan support is proof sport is doing well

St. Louis fan support for the All-Star Game is an indication of the game's innate strength, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig told the nation's baseball writers Tuesday morning.

"Just driving around St. Louis the last couple of days, everywhere you go, it's all red," Selig said on the morning of the 80th All-Star Game at Busch Stadium Tuesday night. "It's like the Red Sea. The interest here is remarkable."

Selig noted that overall attendance at baseball games this year is down only by percentage points compared to last year, despite the impact of the lingering recession.

"I think we're having a remarkable year in many, many ways," Selig said. "This may be our greatest season. Our great franchises are sold out."

He said he wasn't surprised the Fan Fest drew huge crowds over the weekend in downtown St. Louis.

"You expect that," Selig said. "St. Louis is a remarkable, remarkable baseball town."

Other evidence of the game's strength, Selig said, includes the fact that President Obama would be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday night.

"No matter what you think politically, left or right, it's a big thing," Selig said of Obama's appearance. "The players will enjoy it, the fans will enjoy it. It's another testament to this sport.

"It means a great deal to the sport and what we're doing."

At other points during his 50-minute meeting with reporters, Selig said:

He wasn't concerned about questions regarding attendance and configurations for new ballparks in New York for the Yankees and Mets, and said he welcomed the advent of new stadiums like Busch Stadium -- replacing the cookie-cutter Busch that closed in 2005 and resembled other 1960s-era parks in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

"They all looked the same, felt the same -- they were lousy," Selig said. "I used to joke that if you had too much to drink the night before, it took you half an hour (at the ballpark) to figure out where you were."

Baseball owners were not working together -- the players union uses the word, "collusion" -- to hold down player salaries.

"The average major-league player makes, what is it? Three million two," Selig said. "I rest my case. They can say what they want to say. I wouldn't waste my breath responding to that."

Manny Ramirez' 50-day suspension for drug use is proof the game is properly testing for steroid use.

"It proves the program is working, and that nobody is above the law," Selig said. "It was the only positive test, and we've given out 2,400 (this year)."

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