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Who can possibly replace Bud Selig?

May 8, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York Reuters

Don’t know! And neither does ESPN’s Jayson Stark. But Stark does have an excellent lay-of-the-land piece up today. What makes it good is that, unlike all of the “it should be George W. Bush, it should be some broadcaster, it should be some famous person” chatter that always comes up, Stark actually discusses what the job entails and why those flashy choices are mostly nonsense:

But here is the most important thing you need to remember: Nowadays, the commissioner of baseball isn’t the commissioner of The People. He’s the commissioner of 30 people — the owners. Period.

It is not a Great Leader/Ambassador of Baseball position like people came to think of it as until relatively recently. The Commissioner is not tasked with the popular perception of the game beyond what that means for the bottom line. What actually happens on the field in any specific way is, at best, a secondary or tertiary concern. The job is about making money for the owners. Period.

Now, it’s not quite as cynical as that all sounds given that, to make money for the owners, the Commissioner has to make sure fans’ butts are in seats and in front of televisions. And he has to make sure the players are happy and wealthy enough to avert labor stoppages. Within that there are all manner of things that may seem Ambassadory and Great Leadery. But at the end of the day, if the owners aren’t happy, the Commissioner is gone. His job is to be the CEO of a group of 30 allied businesses and a couple of major broadcast and marketing subsidiaries.

Which is why, as Stark notes, some famous person is highly unlikely to get the job or even to be seriously considered. The only type of people who could possibly do it are people who used to lead broadcast networks, perhaps. Stark mentions NBC’s Dick Ebersol and ESPN’s George Bodenheimer. I think someone like that could probably do it if the owners are convinced that broadcast and online expertise are going to be the critical issues going forward. But even if that’s so, there are some in-house options like Bob Bowman of MLBAM who could provide some of that as well. None of them, however, strike me as people who would want to have to sit at a table and actually endure someone like Jeff Loria.

In reality, I think the most likely candidates are the ones Stark mentions from within the game. Current team owners and/or team presidents or people who have worked in MLB’s executive offices already. It’s not a sexy list, but it’s not a sexy job either.

  1. katra2logic - May 8, 2013 at 5:44 PM

    Anybody who has an IQ > 12 and a blood alcohol < .12 Cheers :-)

    • okwhitefalcon - May 8, 2013 at 8:51 PM

      Anyone who has the balls to stand up to the players union and abort the 40 year pregnancy by rape which is the DH.

      • historiophiliac - May 8, 2013 at 9:56 PM

        Wow, yeah, rape and introduction of the DH are EXACTLY the same thing. I mean, that is in no way offensive hyperbole. You totally weren’t being a dick there by suggesting being sexually assaulted against your will is the same as padding your offense.

      • okwhitefalcon - May 8, 2013 at 10:20 PM

        How about..

        “Anyone who has the wherewithal to abolish a 40 year old novelty”.

        Feel better?

        Now chill the fuck out, or be offended – you’re choice.

        And I’m obviously pro choice.

      • historiophiliac - May 8, 2013 at 11:23 PM

        Wow, clearly a first-class feminist. That makes it O-KAY!


      • okwhitefalcon - May 9, 2013 at 12:03 AM

        I’d be proud to have a female gyno take over as commish if she would perform the necessary surgery to prevent the unwanted outcome of a forced upon action that resulted in the demon spawn that is the DH.

        Now if you feel like acting like PETA at a fur convention (again) – you’re gonna need a helluva lot of spray paint because the female gyno commish may prefer presiding in a full length mink.

  2. dirtydrew - May 8, 2013 at 5:46 PM

    How about one of those talking dummies ventriloquist use, like on 70’s tv. Even a talking dummy could have decided if the A’s can move to San Jose in 4 years.

  3. felixthebat - May 8, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    When I saw this post at first I did a double take because I figured this MUST be a joke headline…but I see you’re actually serious.

    Q: Who can possibly replace Bud “Joyless Wonder” Selig?

    A: ANY living animal species with a pulse + a general disdain for all baseball fans who are not also multi-gazillionaire team owners.

    Does that answer your question?

    I’ve been a baseball fan for 40+ years now, so I’ve been around long enough to see a few loser commissioners in my time (looking at you, Bowie Kuhn!) but Selig is by far the WORST. Cannot wait for this waste of planetary oxygen to kick it so we can get someone–ANYONE–to replace this arrogant, self-serving, mean old fossil.

    Thanks for asking.

  4. cackalackyank - May 8, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    One has to understand the specificity of the question as asked. “Who can possibly replace Bud Selig?”, not ‘Who can/should be the next MLB Commisioner’, or ‘The next MLB commisioner will PROBABLY be one of these people’. So to speak to the actual question asked….I offer my left pinky finger. I do not use it a lot, and I can’t imagine a scenario in which it would do less good for MLB than Bud Selig has. Meaning ANYONE could replace Bud Selig.

  5. thesmedman - May 8, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    How about some women? Someone who’s been involved in overseeing major sports programs?

  6. Giasone Milano Di Roma - May 8, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Whoever will implement geographic realignment, universal DH, and allow the A’s to move to San Jose will have my backing.

  7. DJ MC - May 8, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    I strongly disagree with the concept that the idea of a commissioner of baseball as guardian of the game is a modern construct. All you have to do is look at the list of commissioners to see that it isn’t a very accurate view.

    Start with Kennesaw Mountain Landis. A well-known judge brought in for the dual purposes of changing the public perception of the game in the wake of the gambling rumors of the 1910s and putting the final say on matters within the sport in one independent person instead of more-malleable league presidents.

    After him:

    A senator (Happy Chandler)…a sportwriter (Ford Frick, also a league president)…an Air Force general (Spike Eckert)…an attorney for the NL (Bowie Kuhn)…an Olympics organizer (Peter Ueberroth)…a president of Yale (Bart Giamotti, also a league president)…and an executive with Coca-Cola (Fay Vincent, also the deputy commissioner).

    It looks more like the idea that the commissioner should be someone particularly comfortable with the owners didn’t come around until Bowie Kuhn, and has never been a requirement.

    Of course, that is all in the past. Most of those guys didn’t have to deal with the breadth of both the sport as a whole and the issues within that exist today. I can see the owners looking for someone who would view their interests as their primary goal.

    The one thing I don’t see is going for another owner in the job. That only happened in the first place due to Selig’s coup d’etat, and I don’t know if the owners 1) could justify it again and 2) could agree on a candidate.

    I think George W. Bush makes sense from an outsider’s perspective. He has national prominence, executive experience within the business, political and sports worlds, and the direct connection of being an owner back in the 1990s. Obviously he would be controversial, and may not be willing to be solely the mouthpiece of the owners, so they may not want to go in that direction with the sport in generally a good place. Another big scandal, though, and it may happen.

    On the inside, I could see the owners going for someone like Joe Torre. He has experience from both the player and management sides, through essentially the entire modern history of baseball labor struggles. He has national prominence from his management of the Yankees, and experience with putting out fires in the media and managing big personalities.

    Both of those choices would seem to fit in with the historical and modern roles the next commissioner will need to balance. I don’t think there’s any real favorite now, but if I were required to make a choice it would be that Torre ends up in the role, but the owners make Bush turn it down first.

  8. tonyc920 - May 8, 2013 at 8:31 PM


  9. sabertone22 - May 8, 2013 at 9:05 PM

    A monkey!

  10. proudliberal85392 - May 8, 2013 at 10:43 PM

    Anybody else.

  11. pellypell - May 8, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    Bob Costas.

  12. anxovies - May 9, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Exhume Kenesaw Mountain Landis. He will be smarter and more effective than Selig. And more photogenic.

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