— -- Former Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said today his feelings haven't changed about the lifetime ban that was imposed on former player Pete Rose, even though new commissioner Rob Manfred says he is going to take another look the punishment.
Rose, who based on what he did on the field would be in the Hall of Fame, was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on games when he was a manager. He formally requested last month that the ban be lifted.
"I still have the same strong feelings," Selig, who retired in January, told ABC's Jonathan Karl in an exclusive interviewfor "This Week" at spring training in Mesa, Arizona. "That gambling rule has been on the books for forever, and the job of a commissioner is to always, under all circumstances, protect the integrity on the sport."
During his nearly 23 years as commissioner, Selig repeatedly refused Rose's requests to have the ban reviewed.
Selig speculated that Manfred's premise on evaluating Rose's case "is the same as mine."
"He's the judge and he'll have to make whatever judgment he makes," he said, but "the facts haven't changed."
While steroids in baseball still generate headlines from time to time, Selig said the game has never been cleaner.
Selig was to be a temporary commissioner when he took over on an interim basis in 1992. Instead, his tenure was the second-longest in Major League history, taking baseball through the dark years of labor strikes and the steroids era, towards a much more profitable future.
"My greatest joy came No. 1 in the economic reformation of the game. We couldn't go on the way we were in 1992," Selig said. "We had 25 teams that really couldn't make the playoffs no matter what -- even if they were extremely well-run.
"We have better competitive balance than ever," he said.
Baseball's latest rule change is that batters must remain in the batter's box between pitches. Although the rule is designed to speed up the pace of the game, some players have blasted the move.
Selig, however, dismisses criticism, and points to an era when games typically did not last more than three hours.
"[Hank Aaron] constantly reminds me that in his 23-year career he never got out of the batter's box," Selig said. "There was a game last year -- the Yankees and Tampa -- 1 to nothing and it took three hours and 28 minutes ... it drove me crazy. I'm home watching it and I'm just so angry by the end of the game I can't see straight."
After a lifetime in America's pastime, Selig said he has never been more confident about baseball's future. Now, he's heading to Madison, Wisconsin where he'll write his memoirs.
"It's going to be the story of my career from 1960 to the present," he said. "One thing about being a commissioner, you're in every arena, and I guess I'm going to try to tell that story the best I can."