For over two decades, Bud Selig has run baseball in his way, reshaping the game to a point where his fingerprints are on almost every phase of the game. New stadiums? Bud. New playoffs? Bud. New economics? Bud. Even labor peace and the drug testing program are part and parcel of Selig's reign.
While not a dictatorship, he's never had a strong number two or a clear successor in place. His longtime consigliere, Bob DuPuy, was little more than a standby lawyer with little standing inside the game. After DuPuy left in 2010, his position wasn't filled.
While MLB and the so-called "Office of the Commissioner" run effectively, the lack of a clear replacement, especially considering Selig will turn 79 at the end of this month, is surprising. With just over a year left in his reign, allegedly, baseball has no one ready to take over in the way that the NBA does for David Stern. Of course, we must also remember that few knew who Roger Goodell was before he got the job, though he'd been an important league functionary for decades. Similar people will be similarly solid candidates in baseball.
While some toss out candidates that remind us that many think the commissioner is the advocate for the game, such as Peter Gammons, Bob Costas or George Will, those names likely won't even make it to the long list. Even qualified candidates like Paul Beeston or Rick Levin might have a hard time getting much consideration. The hard part isn't finding qualified candidates, but finding candidates that will appeal to the fractious group of owners. And let's be clear—the commissioner works for the owners.
In fact, it's not clear that baseball has even begun looking for a replacement. While MLB would not comment on any search plan or committee, there is no clear indication that such exists. If Selig is going to show someone new the ropes, time is running out. With the help of Maury Brown, a longtime observer of Bud Selig's business at his site, The Biz of Baseball, we help MLB narrow down the field.
Here's our top ten candidates to replace Bud Selig and why.
Will Carroll is the Lead Writer for Sports Medicine at Bleacher Report and was one of the first internet-first writers to be a member of the BBWAA. Maury Brown is the president of the Business of Sports Network, which includes BizofBaseball.com. He is also a contributor to Baseball Prospectus and Forbes.com.