INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) – Baseball commissioner Bud Selig supports revised congressional legislation that would suspend players for a half-season following a first failed steroids test.

Selig said negotiators for owners and players have made progress in talks but still haven’t reached an agreement on a new drug deal. The length of the initial penalty appears to be the biggest obstacle.

“While it’s preferable for us to solve our problems, if this goes ahead, then I said I’d support it, and I will,” he said Wednesday during a news conference after his annual address to major league general managers.

Selig also maintained his opposition to using instant replay to review umpires’ calls, even while acknowledging that during the postseason there were “some incidents that certainly need to be looked at.”

“If you get into instant replay, you’re going to have games that just go on endlessly. And that isn’t in anybody’s best interest,” he said. “And where do you stop and where do you start it?”

Much of his news conference was devoted to steroids. Sen. Jim Bunning, a former pitcher who is in the Hall of Fame, introduced legislation along with Sen. John McCain that calls for a half-year suspension for an initial positive, a one-year ban for a second failed test and a lifetime ban for a third. The bill, which would apply to Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and baseball’s minor leagues, urges leagues to wipe out records achieved with the help of performance-enhancing drugs.

Selig said he was willing to examine that after a new drug agreement is in place but also said there was little likelihood records would be erased.

“There’s been a lot of innuendo, there’s been a lot of finger-pointing, there’s been a lot of accusation, but with no empirical data to support it,” he said.

Selig compared allegations of steroid use with those made by Sen. Joseph McCarthy toward alleged communists in the 1950s.

“There’s got to be fairness, and there’s got to be decency here,” Selig said. “And if I’m overprotective of players, which some say I am, so be it. Then that’s what I’ll be.”

Under the plan agreed to earlier this year, players are suspended 10 days for an initial positive, 30 for a second, 60 for a third and one year for a fourth. Selig proposed in April that the penalties be increased to 50 games for a first offense, 100 for a second and a lifetime ban for a third. In September, the union countered with 20 games for the first positive and 75 for the second. After that, it would be up to the commissioner.

Earlier this week, Bunning and McCain changed their initial penalty from one year to half a season.

Twelve players have been suspended for 10 days each this year under the major league program, with Rafael Palmeiro the most prominent.

“I think 50-100 and lifetime is eminently fair,” Selig said. “I don’t even begin to understand how anybody could not think that that was fair.”

The union did not respond to Selig’s comments.

In the negotiations, the union said it would agree to testing for amphetamines, which some say is a bigger problem in baseball than steroids.

“We’ve made some progress on a lot of issues. But progress in the end is when you have a deal,” Selig said.

On other topics, Selig said:

– There will not be a vote on the sale of the Washington Nationals at next week’s owners’ meetings in Milwaukee.

– He was pleased the Los Angeles Dodgers were considering making Kim Ng the first woman to be hired as a major league general manager and that minor league umpire Ria Cortesio could be promoted to Triple-A. “It’s something that nobody 25 years ago would ever have thought possible. In this day and age, life is changing.”

– The New York Yankees would not balk at providing players for next year’s inaugural World Baseball Classic. “I think as far as I am concerned that we have all 30 clubs.”

– Major League Baseball should consider the proposal by Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin to have a roster minimum in September when active roster limits expand from 25 to 40.

– The Florida Marlins need to push forward on stadium financing efforts. “They’re struggling and, hopefully, they’re going to get something done. They need a new ballpark.”

– He is not worried about turnover in the Dodgers’ organization under Frank and Jamie McCourt. “Everybody wants to do the best for their franchise. I know the McCourts do, too. I’m sure that they’ll get the train on the track. I don’t have any great concerns today.”

AP-ES-11-09-05 1824EST

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