Thursday, January 29, 2015
Monday, January 26, 2015
Sunday, January 25, 2015
While I agree that banning shifts and the implementation of a clock (instead of simply enforcing rules on batter and pitchers) aren’t needed, this is a little over the top.
(Edited after posting my comment too quickly. Jim)
Posted: January 25, 2015 at 05:46 PM | 475 comment(s)
Friday, January 23, 2015
I let the machine pick up, and was more than a little bemused to hear this: Rob, this is Commissioner Selig. I read your column on ESPN and wanted to talk to you about it. When you get a chance, please call me at …”
Selig clearly had a print-out of my ESPN.com column at hand, probably with the offending passages highlighted by a flunky. And he spent the next half-hour or so simply going through the passages, and telling me exactly how I’d gotten each one so horribly wrong. A few times, I tried to interject with my questions. He wasn’t having any of it, not even a little. I think it’s probably safe to say that Selig didn’t respond, or really react at all, to a single thing I said. He was the High Commissioner of Baseball, Lord of Lords, and I was nothing.
When finally he’d finished haranguing me, I believe he did sign off civilly. But it’s certainly the most frustrating conversation in my professional life, to this day. And I probably was less well-disposed toward Selig than I’d been before.
I probably became even less well-disposed a few weeks later, when the word came down from above: Lay off Commissioner Bud. Oh, I wasn’t told I couldn’t criticize him. Just that I couldn’t do it with such obvious relish.
Still, seemed petty at the time (and still does). I wasn’t the only one, either. I know other writers who’d gotten calls from Selig, and I know other writers who’d been told by their bosses to take it easy on the poor old Commissioner.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I hope nobody gets arrested at the party.
This week’s quarterly meetings for the 30 MLB owners will double as a retirement party for Bud Selig, whose 23-year tenure as commissioner officially ends Jan. 25.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
“The problem is that most of the guys who were commissioner, I think, really don’t want to say anything because they’re inhibited,” he says. “Because I’m older and I don’t really give a damn, I am willing to take a point of view on it and tell you what I think. I’m not running for office, and I don’t particularly care what people say about me in the papers anymore.”
Posted: October 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM | 12 comment(s)
Monday, October 06, 2014
I usually like Will Leitch’s stuff. I don’t like this piece. Commissioners aren’t all-knowing, omnipotent deities.They are men managing complicated, high-profile *businesses*. In Selig’s case, despite some errors along the away, he’s done a tremendous job juggling the business and PR sides of his job. He’s been able to do so because he holds real power. To strip his replacement of such power would not be an improvement.
So maybe it’s time to think about changing the job description? Joe Sheehan, one of the founders of Baseball Prospectus and now the author of the Joe Sheehan Baseball Newsletter, posited recently that baseball should install a second leadership figure in a position he calls chief baseball officer. This person would be the public representative of the game, what we imagine a commissioner to be, alongside the actual commissioner, who would remain the money-printing officer he’s become in all major sports.
In baseball, this second person would deal with pace of game, with PEDs, with expansion, with discipline, with instant replay. In the NFL, it’d be rule changes, pass-interference calls, player safety. In the NBA, defensive rules, three-point-line distance, shot-clock changes, and so on. Ideally it would be someone younger, with a connection to the game but maybe not of the game — think Theo Epstein rather than Tony LaRussa, Cris Collinsworth rather than Tony Dungy, Stan Van Gundy rather than Pat Riley (so yes, Costas, you can apply). This person would be in charge of game play — the gentle tending of the game and its place in American life — solely. He would have nothing to do with the financials whatsoever. Think of it like the church-state separation that exists between the editorial and advertising departments of a newspaper. (Well, the church-state separation that used to exist, anyway.)
Posted: October 06, 2014 at 08:20 AM | 28 comment(s)
Sunday, August 17, 2014
PLEASE, please, please tell me Selig didn’t make people watch him poop.
There is no question Rob Manfred can be a very good commissioner, as Tim Brosnan would have been, and so would Bob Iger had baseball been willing to look outside their house…
Manfred is not going to have the hammer [Bud] Selig held over owners, and utilized like Lyndon Baines Johnson. Which is why, as the storm fronts collide between now and 2016, he needs Bill DeWitt to hold together the center. DeWitt was approached early on about throwing his name in for Commissioner, and he declined. But he now may be the most important owner, successful, decent, rational…
Want people to watch past the sixth inning? Limit rosters to 11 pitchers and eliminate the exhausting, boring tic-tac-toe matchups in the last three innings which, among many things, never allows us to see a David Ortiz or Joey Votto bat against a righthanded pitcher in those final innings. Want to cut back on the replay challenges? Start spending the money to develop umpires (read “As They See ‘Em” by Bruce Weber) to understand why there are so few young umpires coming along. Want some younger demographics? Try Giancarlo Stanton and Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw as the faces of the game and stop talking about the good ole days…
there are issues Tony Clark and the new leadership want addressed, from travel (how ‘bout them getaway night games) to ballpark and even visiting clubhouse health issues in some cities. Both clubs and the union want to re-address the draft and international signing issues. The union does not want the draft in any way tied to free agency. Small markets want better balance between won-lost and revenue standings, so that top five markets like the Astros and Cubs are rewarded for poor performance, while well-run franchises the Rays, Athletics and Indians are punished…
Manfred needs a strong, respected leader like DeWitt to step forward, keep perspective and focus his fellow owners on what they have, not what each owner thinks he should have for his own fiefdom.
[Giancarlo] Stanton, according to [Jeffrey] Loria, isn’t going anywhere… If Loria has to backtrack and Stanton does go elsewhere, it likely will be the final nail in his ownership’s coffin. Jeffrey loves the game, he may well have saved baseball in Miami, and now he has a very difficult task moving it forward in a city easily distracted from one star-laden team at a time.
Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, liked by one evaluator to a Ron Gant who can play center field, will soon sign, for somewhere from $40M to $70M. The Yankees are big players… There are two side issues involved here. One is that MLB is studying how Cuban players get out to Mexico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, etc., and who and what is involved in cases that are likened to human trafficking.
The second is a concern some teams have about the calcium Cubans get in their diets. Both Jorge Soler and Jose Iglesias have been sidelined by stress fractures, and one club official says, “any Cuban player we sign in the future will have his bone structure and diet closely monitored. We worry about milk and all calcium intake.”
The District Attorney
Posted: August 17, 2014 at 11:16 PM | 54 comment(s)
Friday, August 15, 2014
This blogger has some good info.
“Jerry was so over the top on this one,” a high-ranking official said after the owners’ meeting. “He had no chance. There was never a race here.”
This is Reinsdorf’s swan song, I suggested, his last hurrah. “Yes, it is,” the official replied.
No controlling owner has been around as long as Reinsdorf. If he ever had any usefulness, he has outlived it. If he succeeded at anything with his Werner initiative, it was in conning The New York Times into thinking that Werner actually had a chance to win.
“Tom Werner emerges to create race for commissioner,” said a headline on the Times’ web site Aug. 6, touting Werner’s candidacy. At that time, Werner had five votes, three fewer than he needed to block Manfred, who had 20 votes, three fewer than he needed for election.
If those vote totals represented a race, it was a race between the tortoise and the hare. However, a person who attended the owners meeting in Baltimore Thursday said, “There was never a race here.”...
Although the balloting was conducted secretly, with ballots placed in envelopes, Mark Attanasio of Milwaukee and Stuart Sternberg of Tampa Bay were believed to have switched their votes. Sternberg and Attanasio were the only owners besides Werner whom the succession committee, chaired by Bill DeWitt Jr. of St. Louis, had interviewed. They appeared before the committee at their own request.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Rob Manfred fell one vote short of the required three-quarters majority on the first ballot Thursday to become the new baseball commissioner, a person familiar with the balloting told The Associated Press.
Manfred, baseball’s chief operating officer, received 22 votes and Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner got eight, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.
The third candidate, MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan, dropped out just before the start of voting.
When the lords of baseball take to a Baltimore boardroom today to vote on a new commissioner, the least-heralded candidate will carry into the election a most unbecoming title: King of the Blackouts. Much of Tim Brosnan’s candidacy, in fact, rests on his turning baseball into a $9 billion-a-year monolith as executive VP of business on the back of fat television contracts that leave fans all over the country unable to watch the very sport he’s in charge of selling to the public.
The fact that baseball owners revere this – that a sport hemorrhaging young fans actively chooses to black out local television games across the country in order to protect the supposed sanctity of the local TV deals that go into the billions – speaks to a certain tone-deafness. Consider the hilarity of the rogue candidate for commissioner, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, selling himself as the person who will spread the game best. The impetus behind Werner’s candidacy is the Red Sox want to tilt the revenue sharing of their huge TV deal even more in their favor….
Surely, of course, baseball could find a way to package all of its games to all of its fans in the sort of fashion that eventually brings back whatever business it might lose in the short-term. The league’s gravy train chugs along too well for MLB to actively derail it.
So it’s going to take some fans and a judge who believes the current rules are anticompetitive and that “clubs in each League have entered an express agreement to limit competition between the clubs – and their broadcaster affiliates – based on geographic territories. There is also evidence of a negative impact on the output, price, and perhaps even quality of sports programming.”
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Manfred, man: Why should we not?
Whether it was Peter Ueberroth in 1984, Bart Giamatti in 1988, Fay Vincent in 1989 or Selig in 1992, all the [recent] previous baseball czars ascended to the top job by unanimous vote of the owners.
You would have thought that would be the case this time as well, with Rob Manfred, Selig’s No. 2 man, waiting in the wings after having been the point man for the most impactful commissioner ever…
And apparently, for the vast majority of owners, it is.
But a few, most notably Selig’s longtime closest friend in baseball, Chicago White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, don’t think Manfred is the right man for the job. They haven’t said why. They only say they want someone else, in this case Tom Werner, a part-owner of the Red Sox, or possibly Tim Brosnan, MLB’s vice president of business… And so there will be debate. The search committee, headed by St. Louis Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, has presented the owners with the three candidates — Manfred, Werner and Brosnan — and on Wednesday, the candidates will make their cases before the owners. Then on Thursday morning, the owners will split into three groups of 10 each for question-and-answer sessions, followed by the vote…
An informal survey of owners has Manfred with 21 likely votes — the Yankees, Mets, Orioles, Indians, Royals, Tigers, Twins, Rangers, Mariners, Marlins, Phillies, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Rockies, Astros, Braves and Rays. Werner has seven — the White Sox, Red Sox, Brewers, Angels, Blue Jays, A’s and Diamondbacks. And Brosnan has one — the Reds — because of his close friendship with Cincinnati owner Bob Castellini. The Nationals owners, who owe their stake to Selig, are also believed to be leaning toward Manfred.
Reinsdorf has to know Werner could never be elected. (“We would really hold ourselves up for ridicule and embarrassment,” said one team exec in regard to Werner.)
But if Reinsdorf is able to hold seven teams in place and force a stalemate, that would serve his purpose just as well… If no one is able to secure the necessary 23 votes for election, the process could get put off until the next owners’ meeting in November, giving Reinsdorf’s group additional time to come up with an alternative candidate…
the stakes are just as high here for the outgoing commissioner.
As another club exec said: “If we don’t come out of there Thursday with a new commissioner, it will be absolutely devastating for Bud.”
Saturday, August 09, 2014
“I want to send the message that I’m not sending any messages!”
In light of reports that there was a bit of a tiff between commissioner Bud Selig and his longtime compadre, White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, regarding the succession committee naming a new commissioner, Selig issued the following statement Friday:
Since discussions began in January about formulating an orderly process for selecting the next Commissioner, I have stated both privately and publicly that my desire was to conduct a thorough, thoughtful and discreet search that includes the input of all 30 Major League Clubs. The seven-member Succession Committee, which was named on May 15th and has been chaired with distinction by Bill DeWitt, has accomplished this goal while working independently to get to the point we are today. While Bill has kept me well-informed, the results of this process are a reflection of the Committee’s work alone, and I have not promoted individual candidates.
As we approach next week’s vote, I will continue to encourage Clubs to voice their opinions within the confines of this process. Reports of personal animosity between Jerry Reinsdorf and me—or any other alleged disputes between owners regarding the process or the candidates—are unfounded and unproductive. I respect the ownership of our 30 franchises and have complete faith that the process will produce an individual that all in Baseball will be eager to support.
for his generous support.
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