SBD/September 30, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Coonelly Not Planning To Rejoin MLB Office; Talk Continues On Selig's Successor

Selig will reorganize MLB's management team before he retires in '15
Pirates President Frank Coonelly said that he has "no plans to rejoin" MLB's league office after Commissioner Bud Selig retires in January '15, according to Rob Biertempfel of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. Coonelly previously was MLB Senior VP & General Counsel of Labor. His job with the Pirates could "serve as a proving ground for another prominent position in the commissioner's office." Selig said that he will "reorganize MLB's management team before he leaves office" (TRIBLIVE.com, 9/28). In Boston, Nick Cafardo writes Red Sox Chair Tom Werner "could emerge as a top candidate to replace" Selig. Werner was on the search committee that "produced Selig and is popular among owners, which is a big part of the battle" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30). In San Diego, Nick Canepa writes Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino "would be an ideal commissioner," but is "probably too intelligent and visionary" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/29). The BOSTON GLOBE's Cafardo notes one thing owners are "pondering as they begin to sort through who will replace" Selig is "whether it’s time to turn to an African-American commissioner." Cafardo listed Baseball HOFers Hank Aaron and Dave Winfield, White Sox Exec VP Ken Williams, and former U.S. Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell as other possible candidates (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/30). 

MILWAUKEE'S BEST: In N.Y., Mike Lupica wrote "no commissioner in professional sports has done a better job over the past 20 years" than Selig (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/29). Lupica said, "History will be Selig's ultimate judge. He's fine with that but until history sorts this out, if you can't see the job he's done for the sport you might maybe want to think about getting tested yourself" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 9/29). In K.C., Sam Mellinger wrote Selig was a "very successful commissioner." Selig’s failures "have been largely institutional, and baseball’s recent successes are largely covered with his fingerprints." He has been a "very effective commissioner who took over an injured sport and leaves it thriving" (K.C. STAR, 9/28). In Toronto, Richard Griffin wrote, "No matter how many positives Bud Selig’s supporters are able to point to ... the fact is that in the eyes of many fans, Selig’s legacy will forever remain the cancelling of the ’94 World Series and presiding over the Steroid Era." But that is "misleading" in some ways. Selig has "played a hugely underrated role in trying to right baseball’s foundering ship." Selig’s contributions "have been positive if you understand and keep in mind that in this day and age 'the best interests of the game' are only about the best interests of ownership." Selig’s "strength and what is often overlooked is the passion he has for the game and his respect for the players and fans." Griffin: "Granted, it’s a low bar when comparing the relative merits of baseball’s nine commissioners through the years, but Selig ranks near the top" (THESTAR.com, 9/28). Agent Leigh Steinberg in a special to FORBES.com wrote under the header, "Selig Resurrected Baseball As A Profitable Business" (FORBES.com, 9/29). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick wrote, "From his start, Selig demonstrated that the only best interests worth serving were those of his enablers -- the teams’ owners." To that "exclusive interest, Selig was a superstar." There is "so much to choose from as representative of Selig’s negligent tenure" (N.Y. POST, 9/29).

FADED GLORY: In N.Y., Jonathan Mahler wrote MLB "has never been healthier," so why does it "feel so irrelevant?" The league "seems simply to have fallen out of the national conversation." The last time MLB "felt front and center, culturally speaking, was the 1998 home-run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa." Mahler: "We all know how that turned out. What happened -- is happening -- to our national pastime?" MLB's "never-ending nostalgia trip has made it an inherently conservative sport, one that’s forever straining to live up to its own mythology." Expansion also "helped ensure that baseball would become a largely regional sport." Economically, this "has been great: local TV deals are where the money is." It has been "good for fans, too: They can now watch their hometown team play most of its games." But the "downside is that only a handful of franchises can claim any sort of national profile." MLB's stars "haven’t really managed to transcend their local markets," but baseball "has also failed to sell its young stars to the broader public" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/28).
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