Major League Baseball has a new commissioner.
Rob Manfred, a long-time league executive who was promoted to chief operating officer (COO) at the end of the 2013 season, was voted by the league's owners to succeed Bud Selig.
MLB's official Twitter feed confirmed the news:
MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred elected the 10th Commissioner in MLB history. pic.twitter.com/AB1TOdsEdy— MLB (@MLB) August 14, 2014
Tom Werner, a chairman of the Boston Red Sox who served as another finalist, seemed content despite the loss, via ESPN's T.J. Quinn:
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
ESPN's Jeremy Schaap and Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann noted some interesting facts about the new quartet of major American sports commissioners:
With Bettman and now Manfred, 2 of the 4 commissioners of the preeminent leagues are Cornell Industrial and Labor Relations alumni.— Jeremy Schaap (@JeremySchaap) August 14, 2014
With Rob Manfred as commissioner of baseball, MLB, NBA & NHL now all have attorneys as commissioners. Makes sense given rise in sports law.— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) August 14, 2014
The league's 30 owners delegated in Baltimore, and unsurprisingly considering the weeks of debate and disagreement prior, they appeared to hit a standstill after the first ballots were counted.
According the SportsBusiness Journal's Eric Fisher, Manfred was one vote shy of the 23 needed:
Word is that Manfred still a vote shy of passage. The Reinsdorf block holding firm— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) August 14, 2014
The "Reinsdorf block" refers to powerful Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who was long believed to have supported Werner.
But just when it seemed the meetings were going to bleed deep into the night, a majority decision was made. Perhaps, as Fisher noted, some owners knew they weren't going to get their way and opted not to delay the inevitable:
So was the potential threat of being here all night what it took to get the last vote? Owners were only in for half hr after last break— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) August 14, 2014
The final vote count, via the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin, seems to agree with that train of thought:
I'm told final vote on Manfred was 30-0. One last win for Selig.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 14, 2014
Of course, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post added, unanimous doesn't always exactly mean unanimous:
Final vote 30-0, but Manfred begins knowing he was far from unanimous choice, which only makes unifying owners going forward more difficult— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 14, 2014
Still, while there is sure to be plenty of debate over the final decision, many were quick to applaud the owners' choice, noting the future of baseball is in good hands.
ESPN's Karl Ravech and Bleacher Report's Scott Miller provided their thoughts:
Congratulations to Rob Manfred elected new MLB commissioner. Brilliant negotiator, progressive thinker. Solid relationship witb players.— karl ravech (@karlravechespn) August 14, 2014
Rob Manfred triumphing as next Commish is a good day for baseball. That Tom Werner even got this close is a complete & utter travesty.— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) August 14, 2014
The Seattle Times' Larry Stone pointed out another positive:
For those hoping for continued labor peace in baseball, Manfred's election bodes well. Has been able to work productively with union.— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) August 14, 2014
According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Manfred has been the league's chief negotiator since 1998, and labor peace has remained since the infamous 1994 lockout that forced the World Series to be canceled.
That's a fantastic track record.
Don't forget about Selig, either, who succeeded in getting his handpicked predecessor the job:
And with that Selig's monster record in internal politics remains secure. Huge win for him, too— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBJ) August 14, 2014
Many will scoff about that fact, but if the NBA is any indication, it was a good move. Long-time commissioner David Stern groomed his deputy, Adam Silver, to take over following his retirement, and the difficult transition has gone about as seamless as possible.
Hopefully Manfred takes a few minutes or seconds to enjoy this moment, because it's only going to get more difficult as we move forward.
From the controversy of the "it matters" All-Star Game to the ongoing MASN negotiations to keeping labor peace, he already has a lot on his plate.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Good luck, Robert.