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Selig gets his man in Rob Manfred. And with it, his final triumph.

Aug 15, 2014, 8:11 AM EDT

In the end it went the way Bud Selig wanted it to go: a unanimous vote for his hand-picked successor in Rob Manfred. The protest candidacy of Tom Werner and the potential compromise candidate in Tim Brosnan are now reduced to historical footnote. No matter what happens in the final five months of Selig’s tenure, and no matter what ceremonies and held and what honors and gifts are given to him as he leaves office, Manfred’s selection as the next commissioner is Selig’s final triumph.

Final of many, actually. Say what you will about Bud Selig, but after driving baseball into the ditch by helping foment the 1994 strike, he learned that he couldn’t simply impose his will on the game of baseball. He needed to deal. He needed to compromise. Both with the players and the other owners. And occasionally politicians and media executives. No one thinks of Bud Selig as a charismatic leader. Many like to talk about him as if he is a failure. But can you name a thing that he has wanted and not gotten in the past 15 years or so? Or, at the very least, a thing he hasn’t wanted that he has, nevertheless, been able to spin as his own personal victory? I can’t.

He got what he wanted by abandoning the aggressive and confrontational approach which catapulted him into office in the first place. He led a coup against his predecessor, Fay Vincent, and declared war on the MLBPA. When he lost, he changed. Not many people with his power survive such losses. Even fewer manage to change and find success. Bud did. And he dragged 30 team owners along with him, despite the fact that team owners tend to be a non-learning, non-compromising lot by nature. He got them to play by his rules and as a result baseball has flourished and has been free of labor difficulties for the better part of two decades.

The candidacy of Red Sox CEO Tom Werner to succeed Selig can only be seen as the old guard — many of Bud’s old friends, actually — trying to take things back to where they were in 1994. Jerry Reinsdorf and seven other owners who wanted to take a harder line with the players union. Or with dissenting owners. Or with anyone, really. Owners who were not fans of Selig’s mode of consensus or, at the very least, not fans of not getting their way like they used to. Owners who do not appear to be big fans of a powerful commissioner like Bud Selig has become. They wanted to deny him the right to name his successor, which is what Rob Manfred’s candidacy was all about. They wanted to end a state of affairs in which they follow the commissioner’s lead rather than dictate to him like they used to do before Bud Selig came along. In putting up Wener, they were trying to impose their will, like Bud used to do in the heady days of pre-strike Major League Baseball.

But, as has so often been the case for the past 15 years or so, Bud Selig’s opponents were playing checkers while he was playing chess. At some point on Thursday afternoon, after Manfred had continued to fall one vote shy of victory following several rounds of balloting, Bud Selig was seen talking to his old friend but current adversary, Reinsdorf, in a hallway at the owners meetings. And then, a couple of hours later, Rob Manfred was elected on a 30-0 vote. The opposition either fought off or bought off, but gone either way. Selig got what he wanted. Because Selig always gets what he wants. He knows how to do that now. He could probably do it in his sleep.

As of right now, 30 owners of major league baseball teams have decided that Bud’s Way is the way of the future. They may sour on Rob Manfred later, or give him problems that they can’t really give Bud, but for now they have agreed that Selig’s consensus-building approach should continue on, even if Bud Selig has decided that he doesn’t want to anymore. They have abandoned their objection to Selig essentially naming his heir.

And by doing so, they have ensured that Bud Selig’s reign will become Bud Selig’s dynasty.


  1. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    Just as departing US presidents and governors sometimes issue some pardons as they head out the door, perhaps Mr Selig will reconsider, and right the wrong of Armando Galarraga being denied his 2010 perfect game. He has the power to correct the call on the 27th out, but does he have the heart?

    • tearlw - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:08 PM

      Maybe while he’s at it he can undo the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees and give those titles to the Red Sox.

    • johnnysoda - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      It’s been four years. Let it go, man.

      • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 18, 2014 at 4:05 AM

        So what exactly is the statute of limitations on righting a wrong?
        In 1912, Jim Thorpe won the Olympic decathlon. A year later, it was learned he’d earned a few dollars playing semi-pro baseball and the IOC stripped him of his gold medal. In 1983, long deceased, he was reinstated as champion and his children were given a facsimile medal.
        Had the ump’s error been on any call besides the 27th out, I’d say leave it alone, since there’d be no way to know what would have happened. But it was on the 27th out and should be fixed.

  2. tearlw - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:06 PM

    Meh. There’s worse things in the world than MLB’s new commissioner being Bud Light. Zing!

  3. Old Gator - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:14 PM

    Thanks Bud. Now good riddance.

    • bigharold - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:44 AM

      Not so fast….

      The good thing id “Bud” is gone, .. the bad news is his primary henchman is now capo di tutti capi of MLB.

      Can’t wait for the next CBA negotiation to start.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM

        Better than having Werner do that.

    • stex52 - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:21 AM

      We may find, as we often do, that the next politician in line is worst than the last one.

      But I’m willing to take my chances. Go away, Bud.

  4. raysfan1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    Craig, you stiffed us with no ATH today. I went into snark withdrawal. I demand a refund on my subscription fee!

    • historiophiliac - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:41 PM

      And we only got one lousy pic on Twitter from his family outing too!

      • natstowngreg - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:03 AM

        Guess he survived the rides. He didn’t seem all that sure.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM

        I was really hoping for a hilarious (but benign) ride catastrophe or trampling by children — which would be such a Craig way to go.

  5. xbam1 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    his legacy huh? fans cant wait to forget about this guy…its not even funny…

    • renaado - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:02 AM

      Should it supposed to be funny? A legacy is still a legacy, and what he have done in the past shows it… Bud Selig helped internationalized Baseball to those countries who haven’t even seen or know it yet, yes, he changed the game… Some has its ups and downs some of it have flaws. Everyone of us makes mistakes and I can’t deny that to what Selig has done too… We tend to think up ahead without knowin or acknowledging it’s “could be” flaws … That what we’ve done is a mistake and for other people to think negatively of it on what they do, when what these people only wanted is what’s probably good for the game. Selig have done more for the good of Baseball than what other commissioners in MLB never have done, some might think otherwise but it is surely what I have in mind…

      Selig’s legacy will live on, and no one will ever forget on what he has done throughout…

      • tearlw - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:53 AM

        Well said.

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:26 AM

        You’re a man of good words renaado, and I can’t deny that.

        But, about the internationalizing the game of baseball part… Could you mean about the WBC tournament? If so, I think it’s just more on the money he is after at rather than promoting the game. Anyone can pretty much tell, though.

      • renaado - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        “If so, I think it’s just more on the money he is after at rather than promoting the game. Anyone can pretty much tell, though.”

        How so?

      • Ayase Yano (綾瀬市 矢野) - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:09 AM

        Come on, it’s pretty obvious. Can’t you see some of the early MLB regular season games are sometimes played at places where baseball had gained ground already, especially here in the Dome at Tokyo. They go to areas where they can get a lot of people to watch them play in order to gain money. If they want to promote it then they’d better start introducing or show there games at places where baseball is the most uncommon.

        Don’t get me wrong though, I love the WBC. Just saying that Selig-san is just probably going for the money instead of fully promoting it.

    • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      And, Craig is contributing to Bud’s “legacy” (and Craig’s own, too) by being a PR flak and not telling us that this vote, the unanimous one, was a final one for PR consumption only, and produced by arm-twisting by Bud.

  6. paint771 - Aug 14, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    And I’ll just say it: this is the final stamp on a legacy that I believe may be the strongest of not just any commissioner of baseball, but any commissioner in any of the North American major sports. As much crap as we give Bud Selig, and as imperfect as the sport is (and will always be), he will probably go down in history as the greatest commissioner ever. And, I think, rightly so.

    He has managed the neat trick of making MLB one of the most competitive free markets for players but also one of the most reliably profitable for owners. It’s a sport that both lets successful franchises wallow in cash but is also one of the most competitively balanced around. And he has done that while both respecting the game’s history and moving it into the future.

    $9 billion annual revenue for a sport that, let’s face it, isn’t necessarily well suited to the contemporary American marketplace. Maybe it doesn’t have the sudden blue chip stock status of NBA teams, but being an MLB owner is basically like buying into a money printing machine. And, at the same time, the players have been consistently rewarded as well. You can carp around the margins, but being a major league baseball player is about as good as you can get short of European soccer, in terms of salary, player choice, and protection. While, at the same time, boasting the best player development system in sports, supporting the league average guys, supporting international talent (or developing it), and not ruining college baseball to boot.

    We talk so much about steroids, but it’s easy to forget that baseball has, by far…far, far, far…the most progressive and strict testing regime in sports, and is almost certainly one of the cleanest. You HEAR about infractions so much in baseball precisely BECAUSE it takes it so seriously, and in that sense the perception of it is a victim of its own success. It’s a kind of confirmation bias. The more you test and punish the more you push stories of the offenders – which means the more you both clean the sport and raise the profile of its uncleanliness. Alternatively, you go the way of other leagues and just don’t care and so nobody else does.

    He’s managed rule changes, instant replay, wild cards, expansions/retractions, and adding technology in a way that has been APPROPRIATELY thoughtful and slow in a game that fetishizes its history and traditionally. But ultimately, he’s done so in a way that was not disruptive (bitch fests that last a week don’t count), didn’t screw with competitive balance, and was basically accepted quickly by all parties. He’s expanded the game internationally to an extent that other leagues only dream of. Again, not perfect, but when you think of the state of baseball outside of MLB, compared to the state of other sports outside of their respective major leagues, it’s incredible how thriving it is – and, again, that wasn’t a given. Baseball by all rights SHOULD be dying. It’s not as international as soccer, not as big money as football, not as soaking up of youth talent as basketball. And yet, it’s holding strong.

    And, of course, 21 years of labor peace and uninterrupted baseball.

    There will be impending TV and territory battles that will be hard to square. The pitcher injury problem is going to wind up a live wire and a huge issue. We are losing the black community in America. The Hall is a mess. There still exists a weird indentured servitude for no service time players. Some stadiums are crumbling, some franchises dicey, some owners a-holes, some contracts ridiculous. Like any against-the-rules endeavor, the cheaters will always be trying to stay one step ahead of the law, and will often succeed – you will never be conquering steroids, will always be chasing. I get all that.

    I have no idea if Manfred will be good or was even the best candidate. But it sure seemed like the opposition to him wasn’t based on huge support for Werner but rather as a protest vote that the owners don’t get to swing their dicks around as much as they did in the 80s. Which, frankly, is better for everybody – owners included. If Manfred’s election means that the owners get one final lesson that they need to work with, not against, the players and that they need to court consensus, not controversy – well, that’s one final feather in Bud’s cap.

    The sport is as fair, as profitable, as competitive, as entertaining as it’s ever been.

    It’s damn hard to not give Bud Selig credit for that.

    • bigharold - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:53 AM

      “The sport is as fair, as profitable, as competitive, as entertaining as it’s ever been.”

      That has a lot more to do with baseball being baseball. The owners can’t kill it, .. the players can’t kill it, … hell, even the agents can’t kill it.

      I think baseball is where it’s at today not because of Bud Selig, or even so much as in spite of of him .. but regardless.

      • paint771 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:30 AM

        Do you know the top three sports in the first half of the twentieth century?

        Boxing, baseball, and horse racing.

        The top three in the second half?

        Football, baseball, and motor sports (NBA would come in close 4th I believe).

        I get what you’re saying, but it’s an easy trap to fall into – the thing I like is popular not because it’s popular but because it’s inherently awesome and I’m so smart for liking it. But honestly, baseball has had every single minefield of any other major sport. So what are the mines? List them out:

        1. Steroids / cheating
        2. Competitive balance
        3. Labor issues
        4. Injury / dangerousness (concussion etc)
        5. Competition with other sports for $, youth, etc.
        6. TV

        I’d almost list racial integration if you’re going back some, or globalization if you’re going forward some, but during my lifetime that seems about right.

        Am I missing one? I am not asking that rhetorically. The major issues baseball has had to face from say the 70s on, what are they? From the 90s on?

        However you slice it, I think that list above is pretty good. And, my point is: Bud took every single one of them on, pretty directly, over his tenure (also: apply them to those other sports I mentioned and see which ones killed or are killing each other sport). And by and large, his solutions seem have both advanced the sport and held pretty well. Again, one can carp about this or that – All Star games count?! Pete Rose? Instant replay was deployed in a way that proved sort of annoying in its first implementation? The A’s coliseum?

        You can carp about all that. And yet, “The sport is as fair, as profitable, as competitive, as entertaining as it’s ever been.”

        In terms of legacy, hard to not keep returning to that.

    • tearlw - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:12 AM

      The best commissioner in any of the North American major sports? Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue, and David Stern did more for their sports than Bud did for baseball. Hell, Landis was a tool of the first order, but without him there might not have been a baseball (at least as we know it today).
      And, of course, 21 years of labor peace and uninterrupted baseball would have been 34 years of labor peace and uninterrupted baseball if it wasn’t for Bud.
      The best you can say about Bud, besides the fact he truly loves the game, is that he learns from his mistakes. Unfortunately, he makes them first. Fight the union/keep peace with union. People like home runs/people don’t like records being broken fraudulently. Radical realignment/let’s just move the Brewers over (and eventually the Astros). Payoff Angelos so we can move the Expos to DC/screw that guy. Abolishing the American and National league offices and presidencies/actually he never fixed that one.
      I don’t hate him or the job he’s done, but that apologia on his behalf is a little hard to choke down.

      Good job Bud. You did the best you could. Feel free to watch the games in the stands, but no more press conferences. Ever.

      • SocraticGadfly - Aug 15, 2014 at 9:26 AM

        And, all three were even more dictatorial than Bud.

    • paint771 - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:33 AM

      Anyway, to those wanting to be cynical about it, just one thing to say: We’ll see how he looks in 20 years when we’ve had a few more commishs under our belt. Be careful what you wish for.

      Man, if I had the video editing ability to have Bud Selig’s face superimposed on Anna Kendrick there…

  7. mikemj - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    Legacy = complete and total failure. What was once the national past time is just like any other sport now.

    • renaado - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:19 AM

      “What was once the national past time is just like any other sport now”

      It’s the change of culture… Since when was it Selig’s fault he changed the national past time?

    • spursareold - Aug 15, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Baseball was already a secondary sport when Bud took over. The NBA and NFL were both MUCH more popular, even in the 1990s.

  8. paul621 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:23 AM

    I know some people don’t like him, but in MLB history Selig is a top-10 commish. No argument.

    • bigharold - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:57 AM

      Hilarious, .. I’m in the top 10 of brothers in my family.

    • Bob Loblaw - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      top-10 when he was the 9th…LOL.

    • paul621 - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      I was really hoping for some impassioned rant about how there’s no way he makes the top 10. You people are letting me down!

  9. deep64blue - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    Selig’s dynasty – ugh makes me sick 😦

    The game has so many problems he has created – the incentives to tank, the crazy restrictions on spending when revenues are going through the roof, the pace of the game etc etc.

    Not sure any of the candidates yesterday appreciated the problems baseball has right now.

  10. tbutler704 - Aug 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

    Hyman Roth is the only one left….because he always made money for his partners.

  11. irishlad19 - Aug 15, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    Paint771, you stated the case for Selig well.
    He’s not a lovable guy, lacks charisma, but when you look at his body of work over twenty years, outlined well by you, he did an excellent job.
    I believe the NFL will eventually suffer serious legal and societal decline due to injury issues, concussions/early dementia primarily. Hockey will have similar issues, and the NBA will remain a niche favorite but not a national obsession.
    Baseball will continue to be a fan favorite (look at the Little League playoff frenzy going as we write)–IF the owners aren’t stupid enough to kill the golden goose. They need to let the new Commissioner find a way to speed up the game (a strike on a player who steps out of the box twice unnecessarily?), and let a team like Oakland move to a city like San Jose, but those are solvable problems, unlike concussions.
    Wish the new guy well, and give Bud credit for a job well done.

  12. devilsmetsgiants - Aug 15, 2014 at 7:21 AM

    No one benefitted more from PEDs than Bud Selig. Not Bonds, not McGwire, not Sosa. The long ball returned interest to the game and Selig just needed to sit back and allow television to make it rain all over him.

  13. hojo20 - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:36 AM

    Good, now please go away to the nursing home, Bud.

  14. simon94022 - Aug 15, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    Bud has always been a public relations disaster, but on substance a hugely successful commissioner.

    Then again, the weird expectations that surround the office of Commissioner of Baseball pretty much ensure that anyone holding the job will be widely disliked. The only Commissioner in my lifetime who had a favorable media image was Bart Giammatti, who wrote poetry and died before having a chance to actually do much.

    • natstowngreg - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      Guess it’s time to put the “Bob Costas for Commissioner” campaign signs back in the closet.

      Once again, MLB reminds us that the Commissioner of Baseball is the CEO, accountable to the 30 franchise holders. Not some mythic Oracle, accountable to some “best interest of the game,” which is different for each fan.

      By the naive standard of some fans, any Commissioner must fail. By the real-world standard Bud had to meet, he was successful.

  15. tackandcover - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Bud, who with the help of a Republican Governor, screwed the taxpayers of southeastern WI out of $500 million (and counting) in taxes for a new playpen for his baseball team. The tax that will never end. He did to MLB what he did to WI taxpayers. The care salesman got you all.

  16. yahmule - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    Bud Selig: Gone, forgotten.

  17. jsala02 - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Don’t come visit Houston, Bud, you have zero friends here with Drayton McLane gone.

  18. Bob - Aug 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    Not sure what’s worse: Selig’s lackey as commissioner or the stooge of Jerry Reinsdorf/Red Sox ownership.

    For all the supposed good Selig did, there was always at least two things he did that were worse. Jeffrey Loria has owned not one, but two different franchises. If we stopped at that fact right there, that would be enough to paint Selig’s legacy as an overall bad one. There are no good deeds that overcome that.

    But I don’t have time or energy to list all of Selig’s buffoonery.

  19. jrob23 - Aug 15, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Bud was so bad. Sadly, he will probably make the Hall of Very Good someday. The list of his failures is impressive. Only good things can happen going forward.

  20. ducksk - Aug 15, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    Et me tell you this, the business side of running MLB an incredibly tough job. Many of you wouldn’t last 5 minutes. Hate the commissioner of every sport because your jealous or stupid. Bud is the man. The man. An incredible businessman and BB MAN.. Great mix. I salute him. Very tough job, well done. Perfect? No, only the idiots that are stupid and jealous could be a perfect commish. GFY

    • tearlw - Aug 15, 2014 at 11:49 PM

      “No, only the idiots that are stupid and jealous could be a perfect commish.”
      Pure poetry.

      I’m not sure the critics of Bud Selig are upset because he wasn’t perfect. In fact, I’m sure that’s not the reason. They may have whole lists of reasons, but that’s not on any of them.

      PS: It’s you’re, not your. Just FYI GFY PDQ ASAP EIEIO SNAFU TARFU FUBAR.

  21. ndrick731 - Aug 17, 2014 at 2:10 PM

    Is Selig going to hand down his blinders to this loser. 10 years from now baseball will be irrelevant.

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