Monday, January 19, 2015

More money than brains

Out with the old, in with the new: Bud Selig and Rob
Manfred, outgoing commissioner and incoming commissioner.
Bug Selig, for years derided in my print column as "interim commissioner for life," is in his final week as commissioner. Rob Manfred, selected last summer as his successor, takes over on Jan. 25.

As part of the new era, the owners last week replaced almost all of the executive committee. The only holdover of the eight members is Bill DeWitt (Cardinals). Jim Pohlad of the Twins is one of the new members. Prominently displaced are last summer's three most vocal advocates of somebody other than Manfred for commissioner: Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox), John Henry (Red Sox) and Bob Castellini (Reds).

And, bizarrely, Fred Wilpon of the Mets was made the head of the finance committee.

Putting a pal-victim of Bernie Madoff in charge of the money is just deliciously stupid. Wilpon baked the expected returns from his Madoff "investments" into the Mets financial planning, and six years after the scam came to light, the Mets finances are still creaking.

Ah, the internal politics of baseball ownership. Baltimore was supposed to get the 2016 All-Star Game (the location generally alternates between leagues), but the Orioles and Washington Nationals are embroiled in a bitter dispute over how to divide the local television money. MLB (meaning Selig) is on the Nationals side, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos took the issue to court, and now the 2016 game will be in San Diego.

Selig is to be paid $6 million a year for life as "commissioner Emeritis" -- a title announced last week by Manfred that echoes the title for the retired Catholic pope. Meanwhile baseball is insisting in court that it cannot possibly raise the pay of minor leaguers to the level of minimum wage, and the Mets -- Mr. Wilpon again -- are reportedly extorting salary kickbacks from minor leaguers by charging them $1,000 to participate in "voluntary" workouts.

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