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Who is Bud Selig’s successor?

Sep 27, 2013, 9:40 AM EDT

mystery man

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in Bud Selig’s retirement announcement yesterday is who will take his place following the 2014 season. So who’s it gonna be?

While people like to speculate about big names or political figures — Bob Costas! George W. Bush! — such speculation, if made seriously, evinces a lack of understanding of the job of commissioner. It’s not a political or p.r. position, even if there are some elements of that involved. It’s also not a job that an outsider can or should be considered for. Baseball tried that with Peter Ueberroth and Fay Vincent, each of whom came from corporate America (Ueberroth’s intervening years were spent organizing the 1984 Olympics) and each were failures who lost support of the men who hired them: baseball’s owners.

Selig’s success as commissioner was largely attributable to the fact that he was always in tune with what his 26-30 owners wanted and felt. He was one of them, after all, and he knew what was important to them. He kept in constant communication with them and when he wanted to get something done he worked them like crazy, building a consensus before acting. The man never fired before aiming and never picked a fight without knowing that the majority of the owners had his back.

You can bet your bippy that those who will be in charge of choosing the next commissioner will have that at the front of their minds. If, for no other reason, than because Selig himself will probably be involved somehow. With that in mind, you can further bet your bippy that the next commissioner is already employed by Major League Baseball or one of its clubs.  Some guesses along those lines:

  • Rob Manfred: Executive vice president of MLB

Manfred is Selig’s right-hand man when it comes to labor issues, crisis management and all other things that requires a trusted fixer. He is like Roger Goodell was to Paul Tagliabue or Adam Silver to David Stern. A man who will be sure to carry on the same management style of a predecessor who left a tremendously large mark. Open question as to how much trust baseball’s other owners have in him given that, unlike Selig, he can’t pat them on the back and say “I know, I was there too once, you know,” but if Selig wants Manfred to be his successor, you figure it will happen.

  • Robert Bowman: CEO of MLB Advanced Media

If the owners want a forward-thinker to lead them into the future, Bowman could be their man. As the man who basically created baseball’s entire digital presence — and the copious financial benefits thereform — the MLBAM boss has an argument for the job couched in progress and vision. The downside of Bowman’s case: he really doesn’t deal with the owners in significant day-to-day ways his current role and there is no sense as to whether he’d have their confidence. Remember: when I talk about leading owners into the future, I’m talking about leading them into the late 20th century for the most part.

  • Sandy Alderson/Dave Dombrowski/Stan Kasten/Derrick Hall

None of them specifically, but that class of guy. A team president or high-ranking executive who has both experience in working with ownership and the league’s overall executive structure but who also is considered a forward-thinker. Someone whose baseball and business of baseball bona fides are beyond question. Again, whether all owners would support such a person is an open question — some may consider it odd to have someone they feel should be their underling as a commissioner — but when you think about it, the commissioner does answer to owners, so the dynamic should not be terribly odd.

At this point, of course, we’re just speculating. And we probably will be up until Bud Selig’s successor is chosen. We won’t have a public search process. Indeed, I feel like we will simply have the decision announced like the next pope or something.

  1. padraighansen - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    A couple of thoughts:

    First, Rob Manfred is by far and away the best choice – for anything. If you don’t believe me, just ask him. He’ll tell you he’s the best. In all seriousness, Manfred’s got a massive ego – and I’m not sure someone with that high of an ego is the right person for this job.

    Second – it will never happen, but I think Mark Attanasio, who is the Managing Partner of the Brewers, would be a phenomenal choice. Like I said, it will never happen – but it’s someone who grew up in New York as a Yankee fan, lives in LA, has made Billions as an investor, and owns a small market club. And if you talk to baseball people, the respect they have for what he’s done in Milwaukee is off the charts, and their respect for him is immense.

    Of that list, Sandy Alderson seems like he could easily be the guy.

    • gloccamorra - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:39 PM

      Sandy has a bit of an ego too.

  2. fatjamie - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:03 PM

    Joe Torre? He’s done everything else, why not let him run it all?

    • rpearlston - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:42 PM

      But he’s done just about everything ON THE FIELD and in the booth. Where’s his front office experience? Shouldn’t a commissioner, in any sport, have front office experience?

  3. crackersnap - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Considering that there is not a single aspect of the MLB Front Office that has even the least aspect of doing anything for the best interest of baseball FANS as its charter, all of our guesses should have absolutely nothing to do with how we might enjoy that selection.

  4. shadowcell - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    and on the third day of deliberations, the College of Owners sent up wafting white smoke and someone emerged to announce “HABEMAS COMMISIONARIUS,” and the world welcomes Commissioner Selig II

  5. professorperry - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Here’s what I want to know: What, exactly, is a bippy? I need a better understanding of the stakes before I place a wager.

  6. bbk1000 - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Mr. Potato Head….better looking…..better dressed…probably knows more about the game….he can have his game face on in one moment and in another he can smile like a fan…..

    The original Mr. Potato Head could actually give a family of two a nice side dish…perhaps twice baked, with sour cream, bacon and cheese…..

  7. sugarray1 - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:37 PM

    Sandy Alderson has NO CLASS WHATSOEVER. He is a liar and a cheater, just ask HOF Rickey Henderson. Alderson was GM when the A’s were juicing in the bathrooms of the Oakland Coliseum. Sandy Alderson is a hypocrite and just the kind of man that MLB needs no part of!

  8. daheadlee - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    I understand Mariano Rivera might be looking for a job!

  9. klownboy - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Someone who will stand up to the MLBPA and make more $$$ for the league and its players at the same time. I’d say Hank Aaron but he may be a little old for the job.

  10. rpearlston - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    How about someone who has done just about everything else in baseball, and is a Hall of Famer – Pat Gillick.

  11. gloccamorra - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    I expect an “acting” commissioner will be chosen, like Selig was, before they hand the permanent job to anybody. No reason to rush into a defined term when a quick hook might be necessary. The owners will settle on a search committee with the power to pull the plug on any acting commish if he’s not working out. The Commissioner’s Office staff will handle the bulk of the job while deferring to the committee for the important stuff, even after an acting Commissioner is in place. A final decision could be years off.

  12. jtpercell - Sep 28, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    Here is another list of potential commissioners:

  13. leftywildcat - Sep 28, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Any former player who became an owner would be a good candidate.

    A very good former player who became a good owner would be a very good candidate.

    The only one who comes to mind is Nolan Ryan.

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