In the surest sign we have that Bud Selig truly is retiring as commissioner of Major League Baseball, Rob Manfred has been named as his successor when Selig's contract expires in January, MLB announced:
MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred elected the 10th Commissioner in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/AB1TOdsEdy— MLB (@MLB) August 14, 2014
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports provides results from the final vote:
Final vote in Rob Manfred's favor was 30-0, source confirms @BillShaikin report.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) August 14, 2014
Pace of the game will be an issue addressed according to Mark Zuckerman of Comcast SportsNet:
Giants president Larry Baer says improved pace of play is going to be major priority for Rob Manfred. Other candidates also stressed it.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) August 14, 2014
MLB has gone through a long process to ensure the next commissioner maintains the sport's status quo of labor peace and record-breaking revenues. Based on that criteria, Manfred was a natural choice for the job.
Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal reported on July 22 that Manfred was one of three candidates formally interviewed and came out of it as the overwhelming favorite:
Sources: Rob Manfred, Tim Brosnan and Bob Bowman have all formally interviewed for the MLB commissioner’s job. Manfred heavily favored.— Brian Costa (@BrianCostaWSJ) July 22, 2014
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on August 6 that MLB narrowed down the list of finalists to Manfred, MLB's chief operating officer; Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice president of business; and Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.
Brosnan, according to his bio on MLB.com, has held his current post since 2000 and "oversees all domestic and international business functions of Major League Baseball's Office of the Commissioner."
However, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that Brosnan pulled himself out of the running before the official vote from the owners, leaving it down to Manfred and Werner:
Tim Brosnan drops out before mlb commish vote. Now down to rob manfred and tom werner— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) August 14, 2014
ESPN's TJ Quinn and The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo provides Werner's take on the final decision:
Werner in defeat: "I really feel great about the whole thing." Says he ran because he cared about the game. Wanted to share ideas on future.— T.J. Quinn (@TJQuinnESPN) August 14, 2014
Werner stressed pace of game, getting a younger audience into baseball among a few bullet points.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) August 14, 2014
Werner's history is more diverse than Manfred's and Brosnan's. He started out in television by co-founding The Carsey-Werner Company. He has been involved with Major League Baseball since purchasing a stake in the San Diego Padres in 1990.
In addition to his work with the Padres and Red Sox, Werner has also spent the last four years as the chairman of Liverpool Football Club in the English Premier League.
Manfred has worked with Major League Baseball dating back to the 1994-95 strike when he served as outside counsel on behalf of the owners. He took a full-time job with MLB during the 1998 season.
While Manfred was seen as the heavy favorite, Werner picked up steam late in the process. Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe wrote on August 12 that Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno and Red Sox owner John Henry were behind Werner.
Reinsdorf, Angels owner Arte Moreno, and our own Henry are pushing for Werner. Reinsdorf believes Manfred has been too soft on labor. And owners often like having one of their own (Selig owned the Brewers) as commissioner.
Werner dazzled the MLB search committee in his interview/audition back in July when he was adamantly insisting to the Globe that he was not a candidate for commissioner.
It seemed that Manfred was on the path toward becoming Selig's successor in September 2013 when the commissioner appointed him as MLB's chief operating officer. Selig raved about Manfred's understanding of current business practices and labor relations when making the announcement, via MLB.com:
Rob has tremendous institutional knowledge and first-hand experience with many of our most complex matters, including labor, revenue sharing, competitive balance and the most comprehensive drug program in American professional sports. I am pleased that I will work with him even more closely in the near future.
In addition to his history of working with Selig, Manfred played a role in negotiating MLB's most recent television contracts with Fox Sports, TBS and ESPN that will bring the league $12.4 billion in revenue through 2021.
Is Rob Manfred the right choice to succeed Bud Selig?
Manfred did raise the ire of the MLB Players Association during the Alex Rodriguez suspension and subsequent appearance on 60 Minutes.
According to Michael O'Keeffe and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News, the union claimed he "violated the confidentiality provision of baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement and undermined the integrity of the arbitration process by appearing on the CBS news magazine show."
Despite that hiccup, relations between the union and owners have never appeared to be stronger. Revenues continue to grow and salaries are higher than ever, with the average player making $3.39 million in 2013.
Manfred knows the ropes, having spent 16 years working with Selig and being in negotiations involving owners and players. All indications are that this should be a smooth transition for not only him, but also the league.
This marks a huge moment in MLB history, and it will be exciting to see how Manfred fares in his new role. As long as he is able to keep labor peace and grow the sport, everything else is icing on the cake.
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