Friday, August 15, 2014

Thoughts on the next commissioner

Rob Manfred, Bud Selig's No. 2 for years, will
become the commissioner in January with Selig's retirement.

Rob Manfred, Bud Selig's top assistant and labor liaison,  is the commissioner-elect.

I don't trust him.

I wouldn't trust anybody who can get a supermajority of votes from the owners. The owners are not concerned with "the best interests of baseball." They are concerned with how to extract and retain the highest possible amount of money from those of us who are interested in baseball. That is their highest priority, and the commissioner doesn't stay commissioner if he strays from that priority. (See the brief tenure of Fay Vincent.)

Manfred's highest public profile as Selig's chief operating officer came through his role in the Alex Rodriguez suspension, an accomplishment that certainly didn't cover him with glory in my view.

At that, Manfred is almost certainly the best choice of the three finalists, one of whom dropped out before the owners started voting Thursday. That there was a sizable bloc backing Tom Werner, one of the Red Sox ownership troika, should be an embarrassment.

Apparently the Werner supporters opposed Manfred because (gasp) Manfred actually cuts deals with the players union. There are owners -- notably Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox -- who are unhappy that baseball has had two full decades of labor peace and are itching for a nuclear winter. This is, to be blunt, the dumbest idea in sports management since Gary Bettman.

It's hard to believe that Selig, who I used to refer to as "interim commissioner for life," is really leaving the job. I won't miss him. Manfred, I expect, will be Bud 2.0 -- and while I don't particularly like that, I also know that there were worse alternatives.

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