SBD/August 15, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Inside The Vote: Manfred Finally Elected After Several Teams Moved Away From Werner

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Many viewed Reinsdorf's group as much anti-Manfred as pro-Werner
MLB "averted an embarrassing impasse Thursday night" when league COO Rob Manfred was elected over Red Sox Chair Tom Werner to replace Commissioner Bud Selig, according to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Manfred "was stuck on 22 votes for hours ... and at about 6 p.m. ET, earned the full support." Manfred's biggest competition "was overcoming a contingent" led by White Sox Chair Jerry Reinsdorf and Angels Owner Arte Moreno, who supported Werner. When it was "clear it was Manfred or an impasse that could lead to chaos, the owners opted for stability," with the Brewers, Rays and Nationals eventually switching to Manfred (USA TODAY, 8/15). In N.Y., Ken Davidoff cites a source as saying that the first vote "went 20-10 in Manfred’s favor ... and when the next vote went 21-9, that took Werner off the ballot, as per the parameters that a candidate needed at least one-third of the ballot to stay alive." At that juncture, the vote "turned into a yes or no on Manfred." That "underlined the reality" that the Reinsdorf group "stood as much anti-Manfred as pro-Werner." Manfred "got 22 yeses in his first-go-round, then down to 20, then back up to 22," with the no votes cast by the D-Backs, Red Sox, White Sox, Reds, Angels, A's, Blue Jays and Nationals. The Brewers and Rays "had voted against Manfred earlier in the process" before changing their votes. The Nationals "flipped on the sixth ballot, giving Manfred the 23 votes he needed and avoiding a stalemate the current commissioner clearly did not want." Selig then "ordered a symbolic seventh vote in which the teams supported Manfred unanimously" (N.Y. POST, 8/15). Also in N.Y., Madden, Thompson, O'Keeffe & Vinton cite an owner as saying that the election "took as long as it did because Werner refused to withdraw even after he failed to receive the requisite 10 votes on the first ballot" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/15).

ELECTORAL INSIGHT: FOXSPORTS.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported particularly after Manfred "moved to within one vote of the required 23, Selig helped the sport avoid what would have been a disastrous stalemate." Not long before the ballot that "ultimately established Manfred as the victor, Selig stood outside the meeting room" talking with Cardinals Chair & CEO Bill DeWitt -- who led the succession committee -- and Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino. Selig also talked with Reinsdorf. Once Werner’s supporters "knew they couldn’t block Manfred, they accepted the outcome with dignity, in a manner that should minimize rancor as the sport moves forward" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/15). On Long Island, David Lennon writes the anti-Manfred faction "ultimately caved, but they had made their point" (NEWSDAY, 8/15). Werner said that he "did not make any deals during the voting process that enabled Manfred to get the necessary 23rd vote." Werner: "It’s not that there was any arrangement made, but I think that we also agree on the constructive ideas" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/15). CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Heyman cited owners as saying that the candidates "spoke of several of the same objectives ... the slow pace of game was one hot topic -- but Manfred's background likely ultimately won the day." He "had the support of committee chair DeWitt, the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Giants and also several small-market teams, making it seem a bit like a fait accompli he'd be the guy" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/14).

WERNER'S PLATFORM: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL's Daniel Barbarisi notes Werner "based his candidacy on modernizing the game and broadening its appeal, focusing on speeding up play, bringing in younger fans, and expanding baseball's international footprint." He said, "Of course I'm slightly disappointed, but I think it was a very healthy couple of days, and I was able to share my thoughts about how to move forward in a bunch of areas." Reinsdorf said, "There were a lot of Tom Werner fans. It was a tough call." Barbarisi noted the election of Manfred, "Selig's choice, validates Selig's tenure as a success in the eyes of MLB's owners" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/15). Red Sox Owner John Henry said, "There was a lot of support for Tom. One third of the industry thought he'd be a great candidate. In the end, we came together. I think (Manfred) will be a great commissioner. I'm told (Werner) wowed the search committee with his presentation. I'd be surprised if Rob didn't incorporate some of his ideas" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/14). In N.Y., Bill Madden reports Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston, Reinsdorf’s "closest ally, was floated to the owners as a possible replacement for Manfred as the chief labor negotiator if Werner was elected and had every reason to want the vote dragged out to the next owners meeting in November where anything could happen" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/15).

ISSUES AROSE DURING THE PROCESS: In N.Y., Michael Schmidt wrote about Wednesday's candidate presentations under the header, "Inside The Ballroom: Scenes From Baseball's Election Battle." It was "not surprising that there were some contentious moments as the three candidates spoke." Reinsdorf "went on the attack during Manfred's presentation" and the candidates reportedly submitted letters of recommendation for the position. Werner "wanted to include such letters as part of his presentation" and he presented notes from former Fox Senior Exec VP David Hill and former NBC Sports Group Chair Dick Ebersol. MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan, who was a candidate for the position but withdrew prior to Thursday's vote, "had a letter from ESPN, and Manfred had his" from MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman and MLB Network President & CEO Tony Petitti. Werner during his turn to speak "was verbally confronted" by DeWitt, who "asked Werner pointedly where he stood on revenue sharing." Brosnan "did not use notes or a PowerPoint presentation" during his address and "spoke of his passion for baseball." Two owners who said that they "were not supporting Brosnan said that they were impressed by his speech." Several owners said that Selig "was in the room for all three presentations and that made things a bit awkward." In one of the "sharper criticisms, several of the candidates said that there needed to be more transparency about how deals are made between the commissioner and teams." An owner: "Everyone was trying to be respectful of Bud, but it was awkward" (NYTIMES.com, 8/14). The N.Y. DAILY NEWS' Madden, Thompson, O'Keeffe & Vinton report Manfred's two letters of recommendation "led Reinsdorf to suggest that Manfred had created a conflict of interest, since Manfred could be responsible for how much Bowman and Petitti are paid." Manfred "countered that Petitti and Bowman have long-term contracts with the league and that their compensation is determined by committee, and so they had nothing to gain by supporting him." A second confrontation "arose Thursday when the Manfred opposition proposed that the members of the executive council (two of whom are Reinsdorf and ... Henry) have their terms extended." The owners "overwhelmingly rejected that proposal" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/15).

BRIDGING THE AISLE: CSNBAYAREA.com's Ray Ratto wrote there is "a split in the ownership that Manfred will have to spend his time repairing." But he "can’t get any of it done without developing a coterie of owners around him who will be what Jerry Reinsdorf was for Selig over all but the last few years of their relationship." Manfred's first duty "will be to paper over the divisions in the ownership" before the next CBA negotiations (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/14). ESPN.com's Christina Kahrl wrote Manfred "is seen as the aspiring guardian of Selig's legacy, the palace candidate who's supposed to perpetuate Selig's commitments." Those "lining up behind Werner ... made for an odd assemblage." The Werner candidacy "wasn't just some juvenile stunt, and it reflects a bigger problem -- not just with the 30 owners, but in the candidates and what they reflect." This "might be best boiled down to the 'vision' thing" (ESPN.com, 8/14).

REACTION FROM MLB EXECS: Orioles Owner Peter Angelos said Manfred "has a way of getting things accomplished and so there are great expectations." Angelos: "Is he perfect? No. No one's perfect. But I think he'll do a sterling job and I think he'll follow successfully in the path of the retiring commissioner" (NEWSDAY, 8/15). More Angelos: "There was a long delay before the 23rd vote came in, but it did come in, and it was expected it would come in" (Baltimore SUN, 8/15). Yankees President Randy Levine: "There’ll never be a commissioner like (Selig). He’s revolutionized the game, and I think Rob is going to try and continue and expand that" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/15). Astros Owner Jim Crane: "I’m not saying what camp I was in, but the guy is commissioner by unanimous vote, let’s put it that way. I wasn’t a bit upset with the selection. All three of the guys were qualified, they just have different qualifications. All the guys were good. Closed ballots, so nobody knew who was voting for who" (CHRON.com, 8/14).
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