Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, here Thursday to preside over a meeting the major league owners, took time to sing the praises of Jim, Bill and Bob Pohlad for the great job they did in building Target Field, one of the best ballparks in the game.

"You've got to give the Pohlads an enormous amount of credit," Selig said. "They are truly one of baseball's great ownerships over the last couple of decades. I don't think people quite understand because they're quiet, they're unassuming, but they are one great ownership, no question about it."

Selig said the only sad part is that their father, Carl Pohlad, didn't live to see the ball park open. Carl died in 2009 at age 93.

"Great story, great story," Selig said. "My only regret, and you'll understand this, is that Carl wasn't here to see it. I wish he was here to see it."

While there was talk in the past of moving the franchise or losing it through contraction, Selig said he always believed the team would survive in the Twin Cities. The commissioner said he wasn't surprised nearly every Twins home game so far this season has sold out.

"I can't say I'm surprised," Selig said. "You know I have a lot of faith in this market. We had to go through a lot of tough situations, as we did in Texas and everywhere else. But the ballpark is just magnificent. They've been a marvelous organization and a terrific team. This is a major league city with a great organization and that's the way they're performing. It's an unbelievable ballpark."

Selig said all the representatives of the major league teams who had dinner and a tour at Target Field on Wednesday evening praised every phase of the ballpark.

"The Twins and everybody involved in [building Target Field] ought to be very proud because they did a remarkable job," Selig said.

Selig said that not only are the Twins drawing well but, despite the recession, he believes the clubs will collectively outdraw last year.

"The revenues have gone up," Selig said. "When I took over as commissioner [in 1992], they were $1.2 billion. This year they'll be over $7 billion. What an amazing story."

Selig said he definitely plans to retire after the 2012 season.

"A lot of people don't think I'm going to leave, but I hope to leave after 2012," he said.

Nebraska wanted in

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany also was in town for a meeting that included Pacific-10 Commissioner Larry Scott, Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi -- who also is chairman of the Big Ten athletic directors -- and representatives of the Rose Bowl. Delany doesn't look for any further Big Ten expansion in the near future now that Nebraska has been admitted.

Apparently Nebraska made the first move in applying to get into the Big Ten. And once the Cornhuskers applied, Delany said it took about a month to get them in.

"We're working very hard to integrate Nebraska into the Big Ten," Delany said. "We're in the process of doing that and should have that done in the next 30 days or so."

Asked to how the divisions will be decided, Delany said: "Athletic directors understand competition, balance, competitive fairness [and] rivalries, so they're going to be working closely together. We've had a couple meetings, and we'll have a couple more. I expect that they'll arrive at a very balanced and fair outcome. I wouldn't be surprised to see it unanimous or close to unanimous. We probably have looked at 12 different divisions.

"Our presidents will decide in December whether or not there's another step or not. We're in the process of bidding out the television rights to that [championship game] event, and that will probably happen this fall."

Delany didn't see the Big Ten going to nine conference games in football in the near future, but one thing that might force that move is the big-money schools having to pay to attract nonconference opponents.

The Big Ten commissioner didn't see the 18-game conference basketball schedule being extended. But he did say that on the table is a possible Big Ten hockey championship, once another school adds hockey as a sport. Five conference schools now play the sport: Minnesota and Wisconsin in the WCHA, and Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.


• One edge the White Sox have over the Twins is in starting pitching. In the past 58 games before Thursday, Chicago's starters had a 32-13 record and an impressive 2.83 ERA.

• New Twins closer Matt Capps was not tendered a contract by the Pirates after coming up with 26 saves last year. The Nationals signed Capps for one year at $3.5 million, but he qualifies for arbitration next year and could get a big raise.

• It was Federal Judge Michael Davis who had the idea of a baseball and law seminar entitled "Batting Eighth," to be held Friday as part of the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference being held this week. Issues to be discussed at the Target Field Champions Club by a panel of experts will include the Curt Flood reserve clause case, black players integrating baseball and other subjects.

• The Gophers football team has three players who already have graduated: quarterback Adam Weber, tight end Collin McGarry and kicker Eric Ellestad. Several others will graduate in the spring.

• The Gophers basketball team will have three walk-ons this season: former Henry Sibley player Chris Halvorsen, a 6-8 forward transferring from Valparaiso; 6-2 guard Eric Stark of Grand Rapids and 6-7 forward Dominique Dawson, who was on the team last season.

• The contract former Bloomington Jefferson and Kansas center Cole Aldrich signed is expected to be worth $8.4 million, according to the NBA rookie scale for a player picked 11th in the first round.

• The New Zealand Herald reports that ex-Gopher Rick Rickert is looking for a new team after his citizenship application was denied. Rickert was set to play with the Tall Blacks of the New Zealand Basketball League if he could obtain citizenship, but they couldn't sign him as an imported player.

• After signing an offseason contract with the Rams, former Vikings defensive tackle Chris Hovan was placed on the injured reserve list because of a back injury. To fill the spot, the Rams signed Chanhassen native and former Stanford center Tim Mattran. Mattran was on the Rams roster a year ago.

• Former Vikings lineman Adam Goldberg is beginning his fifth season with the Rams. The Vikings play at St. Louis for their preseason opener at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. •