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Jerry Reinsdorf is leading the charge against anointing Rob Manfred next commissioner

May 23, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

Reinsdorf, chairman of MLB team Chicago White Sox and NBA basketball team Chicago Bulls, smiles as he participates at the 2010 Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills

When the owners created the committee to search for the next commissioner, I noted that this was something of a middle finger to Bud Selig’s clearly preferred plan of anointing Rob Manfred his successor. Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times confirms that pretty darn clearly today.

Schmidt reports that Manfred’s candidacy — or, at the very least, his coronation — is being opposed by Jerry Reinsdorf, the Chicago White Sox owner. It’s surprising inasmuch as Reinsdorf has always been Selig’s number one ally among owners. Now, however, he’s working behind the scenes to thwart the one thing every king would like to have, and that’s the right to name his heir. Seems that Reinsdorf thinks this is a democracy!

“What I have said about Rob is none of your business,” Mr. Reinsdorf said in a telephone interview, interjecting an expletive.

Mr. Reinsdorf said he “had never said a bad word about Bud,” who he said “was the game’s best commissioner.” But he said that he believed that the owners — not Mr. Selig — should be in charge of picking the next one.

Or, as Schmidt characterizes it, Reinsdorf’s case is that “unlike owners who have hundreds of millions of dollars invested in their teams, Mr. Selig has no ownership in the game after he retires.”

All of which is understandable. And a nice reminder that, no matter what people like to think about the Commissioner of Baseball, he is not a leader as we usually think of that term. He’s just a CEO who answers to a powerful board of directors and serves at their pleasure.

  1. dan1111 - May 23, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    Selig’s not even out the door, and already fireworks are starting. Without his strong leadership, the next few years might be very interesting and unpredictable.

    The article also notes that Reinsdorf is a major advocate of taking a hard-line approach with the players’ union.

    • stex52 - May 23, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      Strong? Oh, you must have missed the headline. We are talking about Bud Selig. He of the multi-year committees to solve problems.

      • dan1111 - May 23, 2014 at 11:25 AM

        I’m not a fan of Selig (apparently my comment gave the opposite impression, though, based on the score).

        However, he is surely a strong leader of the MLB organization. The organization pretty much does what he wants, and we never hear about any discord in the ownership group. If there are opposing camps or competing opinions, we never hear about them (until now, when he is retiring).

      • stex52 - May 23, 2014 at 11:59 AM

        Didn’t mean to sound harsh to you. A huge non-fan of Bud’s. And I actually think he is more of a tool than a strong leader. But point made.

      • natstowngreg - May 23, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        IMHO, Bud is neither strong nor a tool. I think he’s been an effective leader, given (as Craig notes) the Commissioner’s limited powers.

        Think of the Commissioner’s job as herding 30 cats. Yes, we don’t hear much hissing or meowing from them; more like contented purring. That’s because Bud tends not to lead owners where they don’t want to go (pardon the double negative). And, because MLB is making lots of money. Unfortunately, keeping the cats purring has meant putting off things like the A’s stadium and the MASN contract.

        As for Reinsdorf, we shouldn’t underestimate the threat he poses. He was one of the key owners behind previous work stoppages. Rob Manfred helped Bud achieve labor peace (something I’ve found interesting since, as an owner, Bud helped lead the charge against the MLBPA). Chances are good that Reinsdorf is looking for a Commissioner to help him reopen the owners vs. players battle.

      • jwbiii - May 23, 2014 at 2:46 PM

        Selig rules by consensus. This way, every decision that he makes makes most of the owners happy because they agree with him and they feel empowered. That is how he keeps his job. That and they’re making money. Where this management strategy fails is when there is no consensus among the owners, as has been the case with Oakland’s stadium/sewage problem and MASN.

  2. sportsdrenched - May 23, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Kind of seems like a Dick move, but I agree with what Reinsdorf is saying.

  3. Rich Stowe - May 23, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    the commissioner works for the owners, so it only makes sense that they pick the next one – or at least agree on the choice

    • spursareold - May 23, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      EXACTLY. He is an EMPLOYEE of the ownership cartel.

    • dcarroll73 - May 23, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      That is certainly the system as it now “works”. Would someone please explain to me again any reason for the antitrust exemption when that is the case? The owners should have it explained to them in rather nasty terms that they have a choice to make a.) a commissioner chosen by some reasonable mix of ownership, player, and fan opinion, or b.) loss of your anti-trust exemption (and the resulting pile of legal issues.) Why should a billionaire club get to operate an industry worth a bundle and of major interest to tens of millions of Americans without the same limits that we have placed on other industries? Many a lot of their extortion of communities across this country to finance stadiums with public funds would end right along with that anti-trust exemption?

      • gloccamorra - May 23, 2014 at 11:57 PM

        The Commissioner’s Office does, in fact, have extraordinary powers to impose on the owners. A commish would be smart not to use them, and resort to consensus as Selig has done.

        The owners can’t release or dismiss a Commissioner during his contract without a government backlash endangering the anti-trust exemption, but they can let him go when his contract runs out. Selig has done the best job of staying in power by exercising that power on trifles and getting consensus agreement for the big stuff.

  4. [citation needed] fka COPO - May 23, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    I’d also add that some think Reinsdorf is pulling this power play because he doesn’t have the same pull with Manfred that he does with Selig. So it may seem he’s “standing up for the owners”, it could also be self preservation.

  5. mikhelb - May 23, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    To be fair, it was expected that something like this would happen, remember that Selig along Reindsdorf were part of the movement creates to fire the last independent comissioner baseball had, because they feared another fiasco like the one they had just experienced with the collusion scandal.

    Selig was an owner and was somebody who would do anything to protect his interests and those of his friends, he was a comfortable candidate for the owners, someone like them taking the stearing wheel of MLB.

    Selig, during his tenure, made sure to bury the colusion scandal, the cocaine trials, all of the steroid allegations of the 1980s and 1990s died until José Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodríguez and others were used as scapegoats to try and leave a “clean slate” regarding the PED years.

    For a country which loves to rewrite history to fit the narratives of the political agendas, surely Selig knew what to do and how to do it… has anybody ever noticed how the colour barrier is mentioned ad-nauseam every year, but no mention of why, how, when and by whom it was instituted, it just wouldn’t fit in MLB’s version of the truth.

  6. Old Gator - May 23, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    I do hope we have a composite Game of Thrones, the Borgias, I, Claudius, Spartacus and Macbeth rolled into one to keep us entertained this year while the owners and wannabes circulate like horsemeat in a dog food plant. Popcorn? Check! Let the games begin!

    • happytwinsfan - May 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      To keep the game welcome in the hearth and heart of the public realm, baseball needs a prince who is unhesitating, yet efficient in his cruelties, Cesare Borgia!

    • stex52 - May 23, 2014 at 12:02 PM

      Could be fun. I would especially like it if they all turn out dead in the end.

  7. yahmule - May 23, 2014 at 11:05 AM

    Oh what a shame. It appears Bud’s lackey didn’t inherit his skeevy talent of failing upwards.

    • Old Gator - May 23, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      It’s called the Peter Principle. And we won’t know whether it affects Manfred or not until all the dust has settled and the blood has caked.

    • stex52 - May 23, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Don’t be premature, They have barely started sharpening knives. They should nominate W first. You know, kind of like throwing a rabbit into the wolf pen to warm them up.

  8. nottinghamforest13 - May 23, 2014 at 3:03 PM

    Why wouldn’t a black man be given the opportunity?

  9. racksie - May 23, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    As a Twins fan I have had my issues with Bud. You know, contraction and all. And I think him leaving is good because the longer he stays the more wild card teams we will have apparently. But who are the other realistic candidates? I love the idea of W being tossed in for sport. And I know someone who dealt with Rob Manfred on a daily basis and says he is a really nice guy. So basically the owners would crush the guys soul.

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