There is a "growing sense of inevitability" among MLB officials that the job to succeed Commissioner Bud Selig "will end up going to Selig's right-hand man," MLB COO Rob Manfred, according to Brian Costa of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Sources said that Manfred has the "backing of roughly 20" MLB owners. While a formal vote is still likely months away, a "clear rival to Manfred has yet to emerge." Seven owners were "tasked with leading the search for Selig's successor." Sources said that the succession committee has "interviewed Manfred and two other league executives." The "other interviewees" are MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman and MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan. One source said the committee has also "formally interviewed at least two other candidates from outside the commissioner's office." A source added that Giants President & CEO Larry Baer "has had informal discussions with the committee about the job but has yet to make himself a candidate." One "potential candidate from outside MLB" is Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger. A source said that Iger is "currently discussing the ground rules under which he would become a candidate, as he is wary of vying for a job that Manfred appears likely to win." In selecting Manfred, MLB would be "following the paths of the NFL and the NBA, which have both chosen deputies of their previous commissioners to fill their top jobs." Manfred has "led negotiations" with the MLBPA in an era "marked by labor peace and soaring franchise values." But some team execs question whether Manfred has the "marketing savvy to grow the game" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/23).
A TIME FOR REFLECTION: Pirates Owner Bob Nutting, who is part of the succession committee, said that he "couldn’t help but reflect on how things have changed for his team" as Selig spoke yesterday at PNC Park. Nutting: “Absolutely tremendous progress has been made, and Pittsburgh has been one of the many beneficiaries of re-leveling the baseball field. Certainly, there’s much more competitive balance than there was 10 or 15 years ago. We need to continue those opportunities." Nutting added, “You look at expansion, the playoffs, the wild card, how the game’s moved globally, economically and financially. You look at this franchise, where this franchise was at one time and how it’s been able to hang on. And it takes more guys than Bud. I think he’s done a very fantastic job, really, overall in pushing this game forward, forward, making sure the newest generation is involved and engaged. Keeping the oldest generation involved and engaged, as well" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/23).
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was presented with the '14 Green Sports Alliance Environmental Leadership Award last night in Santa Clara, Calif. Bettman was cited for his work in establishing NHL Green in '10 and promoting sustainable business practices across the league. Bettman accepted the honor via video and said, "We are at the beginning stages of a long journey, but we remain committed to environmental efficiency." Previous recipients have been MLB Commissioner Bud Selig ('12) and Christina Weiss Lurie ('13), the former wife of Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie. The award comes one day after the release of the NHL Sustainability Report. The study offers data and details the energy and environmental issues affecting hockey. Bettman in the report, which took years to produce and aggregate data, said, “Major environmental challenges, such as climate change and freshwater scarcity, affect opportunities for hockey players of all ages to learn and play the game outdoors.” NRDC Senior Scientist Allen Hershkowitz, who consulted on the report, said, “No other sports league has ever produced a sustainability report." He hopes the report will serve as a "wake-up call" to the industry. Hershkowitz: "It will move through the supply chain of hockey and it’s global marketplace. The biggest industries -- food, auto, paper, telecom, plastics, and others -- all of these industries are vendors and sponsors of the NHL. Hopefully, they will see this as an issue, and will try to address it in their businesses as well. The NHL is showing the business case that will lead the way" (THE DAILY).
The NFL this season is "set to use the Fox Sports ref-cam technology that has been a major success" in Australia's National Rugby League, according to Chris Garry of the Brisbane COURIER-MAIL. It is the ref-cam's ability to "broadcast raw emotion that has thrilled" NFL and Fox Sports execs. Fox Sports Head of TV Channels Gary Burns said, "The NFL have come to us. They are interested in the technology and want to see more. They feel it could be a good fit for them and bring the NFL action closer to the fans" (Brisbane COURIER-MAIL, 7/20). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Kavitha Davidson wrote the cameras are a "big hit among rugby fans who are now given intimate viewing angles, especially of interactions between players and officials." In addition to the "up-close spectacle of players visibly reacting to calls," the ref-cams would be "useful to hear refs' explanations" of calls on the field. NHL referee Wes McCauley wore a GoPro camera during the league's outdoor Rangers-Devils Stadium Series matchup at Yankee Stadium last season (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 7/21).
IS THIS A GOOD IDEA OR NOT? CBS Sports Network's Allie LaForce said, "NFL referees are already under so much scrutiny, now we're going to get the view that they have. ... They're going to get crushed. They're going to get absolutely crushed and they're already crushed enough. I think it's a terrible idea. I like that the audience can be right in the game and get the feel that they're actually on the field, but this is too much access.” CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb: “I actually think it will have the opposite effect that you think. Fans will actually see the point of view of the referee, and you’re like, ‘Wow, that was really, really hard to tell exactly what happened there.’” LaForce asked, “Who is going to want to go to a game now if you can have access to the referee and 100 other camera angles at home watching your TV?” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 7/22).ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "All this does is add another viewer-friendly angle. If you're a ref, I would even argue if you see what my job is like, you will be even more impressed with how hard it is." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said the NFL will "like featuring it strictly for the fans in the stadiums trying to enhance that viewing experience and bring it up to par with watching games from home" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/22).