Who Should Be The Next Commissioner Of Baseball?

Hannah Foslien

Bud Selig says he's definitely retiring in early 2015. (Yes, we have heard this before.) If he really does it this time, who should replace him?

Since we still have more than 24 hours until the next Cubs baseball game, I thought it would be a good time to examine this question: Who should replace Bud Selig as commissioner of baseball?

Bud says he's retiring after next year:

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig is adamant he will finally retire on January 15, 2015. Selig has previously announced and cancelled retirement plans, but by turning down a contract extension it seems to be a more committed decision this time.

Selig turned down a five-year contract extension, insistent in his intent to retire after the 2014 season, at the age of 80.

However, the Commissioner Who Cried Wolf has done this before:

Bud Selig says he plans to retire as baseball commissioner in three years -- and he really means it this time.

"My contract is going to be over. I'm going to be 75 years of age. I want to teach -- I've already had some great offers -- and want to write a book," Selig said Friday.

Selig has repeatedly said in the last two years that he intends for this to be his final term as commissioner.

The date on that article? December 1, 2006. And he said it again only a little more than a year later, in a January 17, 2008 article:

Selig, 73, commissioner since 1992, said "unequivocally" he will leave office after the 2012 season. That would make him baseball's second-longest-serving commissioner behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who had the job 24 years (1920-1944).

So you'll excuse me if I'm not sure I believe him this time, either. Selig will turn 80 in the middle of next year (he was born July 30, 1934). He'd need to serve until September 21, 2016 to become the longest-serving commissioner, surpassing Judge Landis.

The job of commissioner has changed since Judge Landis' time. Landis was hired by the owners to help clean up the sport after the Black Sox scandal, and was given sweeping "best interest of baseball" powers, which he used frequently. In modern times, with baseball now a huge multi-billion dollar business (and clearly "interstate commerce", no matter what the 1922 Supreme Court Federal Baseball ruling held), with a contract with a powerful players' union and megadeals with TV networks providing the bulk of baseball's income, the commissioner is more of a CEO than someone simply making rulings.

The 2006 article linked above suggested these possible replacements:

If Selig really does leave, former Chicago Cubs chief executive officer Andy MacPhail, Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten, San Diego Padres CEO Sandy Alderson and Boston Red Sox president Larry Lucchino would be among the possible candidates to succeed him.

Obviously, some of those men no longer hold the positions they did in 2006. Further, I don't see any of them as possible successors; MacPhail's star has fallen and the others seem quite content in their current positions.

Some have suggested former player and manager and current MLB executive vice president Joe Torre as a successor to Selig. But in early 2015, Torre will be almost 75 years old; he'd be nothing more than a placeholder for a couple of years while MLB moguls search for a younger man.

Rob Manfred is another executive VP of MLB, who as an expert in labor relations deals frequently with the MLBPA, and is fairly well-respected, and in his 50s. But I'd think MLB's owners would want someone a bit more high-profile.

Honestly, I can't think of anyone up for this role, after Selig has held the position for more than 20 years, who has a high enough profile and also the leadership skills to take baseball forward into the 21st Century. Perhaps Bob Bowman, currently president of MLB Advanced Media, might be someone qualified. MLBAM has done well with the AtBat app for mobile devices, although baseball still has to get out of its 1970s mindset (held there by Selig, primarily) and end the television blackouts.

So I'm not going to put a poll on this post. Instead, make your own suggestions in the comments. Because maybe, possibly, probably, Selig is serious about retiring this time.

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