Major League Baseball may need to replace its commissioner when Bud Selig’s current term expires in 17 months. Or, it may not. Over the past decade or so, the 78-year-old has suggested retirement more often than most aging boxers, only to keep plugging ahead each time.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark wrote an in-depth article to evaluate names that might come up – in a search process that apparently has not begun.
One thing appears sure. A person from outside of baseball’s inner circle would seem to have almost no chance of succeeding Selig.
The 30 owners are not going to select anyone they cannot control. This is not a ceremonial job, though. It is the CEO of a huge, highly-profitable, complex, though somewhat dysfunctional corporation of $8 billion in size.
For example, those excited about the potential of a Bob Costas getting the job should heed Stark’s characterization of such an outsider’s chances as “you might as well be a Martian.”
Many of the names popular with fans have no experience running a company and for that reason would be a bad choice. Experienced baseball men such as Joe Torre and Tony La Russa would seem to lack the business acumen needed for the role. Further, I believe there is a significant difference between being an employee, albeit a high-profile one, and an actual stakeholder.
Just as Selig rose to the top over two decades ago after leading a club, the Milwaukee Brewers, my bet is on his successor coming from the current ranks of owners and club presidents. Stark mentions a number of such names, but sees no clear leader among them.
Say what you want about Selig, but he has kept the money train rolling for his employers. I have often been among his critics for prioritizing revenue generation ahead of the fans, but he knows what his bosses want and for the most part, has delivered through some very challenging times.
For that reason, Selig will be extremely difficult to replace. 24 of the 30 owners would need to approve his successor, which means it would not be surprising for this Bud to once again stay on past his self-imposed shelf life expiration date.
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