Select Owners Lobbying For Werner To Block Manfred As Next MLB Commissioner
Red Sox Chair Tom Werner has "emerged as a formidable challenger" to MLB COO Rob Manfred, who "until recently had not faced a significant competitor" in the hunt to succeed Bud Selig as Commissioner, according to Michael Schmidt of the N.Y. TIMES. Werner is "being supported by a small but influential group of owners who are strongly opposed to Manfred and desperately trying to find a way to block him." Those owners -- led by the White Sox' Jerry Reinsdorf, Red Sox' John Henry and Angels' Arte Moreno -- have "largely failed over the last year to come up with an alternative candidate to Manfred who appealed to other owners." But in the "past month, Werner’s candidacy has gained traction." Werner’s supporters now are "contending they have enough votes to block Manfred’s candidacy when the first votes are taken next week." After "initially thwarting Manfred, Werner’s supporters are hoping that the process will become chaotic and other owners will come over to their side." The emergence of Werner is "the most recent twist in a process that has not gone as Selig had hoped." Reinsdorf and Selig, two "longtime friends, are now dug in against each other, recruiting other owners in a baseball trench war over Manfred’s candidacy." An MLB source said, "The next eight days will be about Bud versus Jerry. Bud is dismayed." Schmidt notes Selig is "believed to want Manfred to succeed him so he can continue to have influence at the highest level of the sport." Reinsdorf and Moreno believe that Manfred "hasn’t been tough enough on the players union in its recent negotiations." Some owners have contended that Manfred "does not have the business skills or experience to tackle the sport’s biggest challenge: the size of its fan base" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/7). Asked about the names of the candidates, Selig said, "The list is accurate" (AP, 8/6).
FRIENDS UNTIL THE END: Reinsdorf said of his perceived rift with Selig, "I'm tired of people saying I'm in some sort of feud with Selig. That simply is not the case. Why do people say we're fighting?" He added, "I talked to Bud (Tuesday) and he told me, 'I don't have a favorite.' So if he's neutral, and I'm for one guy, where is the dissent?" Reinsdorf said that no matter the results of the election, it will "not affect his relationship with Selig." USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale noted Reinsdorf and Selig have "been best of friends for more than 30 years, and although they certainly have disagreed on issues over the years, it hasn't affected their relationship" (USATODAY.com, 8/6).
APPROACHING THE FIRST CUT: The N.Y. TIMES' Schmidt notes a candidate for the commissioner job needs 23 of 30 teams to vote for him to be elected. Werner’s supporters "are hoping" the Nationals, A's, D-Backs and Reds will "be part of the initial group that blocks Manfred" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/7). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy notes Werner "aced his first interview with the search committee and will have another hour to present his case in Baltimore" next Wednesday. If Manfred "fails to get the necessary votes on the first ballot, Werner has a chance." Owners "like to hire one of their own as commissioner." However, late Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner "despised Werner, and his sons are still in power." It stands to reason that the Yankees' brass "would be reluctant to support the candidacy of a Red Sox owner" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/7). In Dallas, Gerry Fraley notes Selig "can count on" the Rangers' support when his successor is chosen next week. Based on Selig's "chummy relationship" with co-Chairs Ray Davis and Bob Simpson, it will "be an upset if the Rangers do not support Manfred" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/7). USA Today's Nightengale said, "A lot of guys want Manfred. Several people love (MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan), but they don't have enough votes." He added, "They want things to keep going the way they are. I don't think they want anybody to ruffle the feathers. They really don't and it was always going to be someone on the inside. ... I think (Manfred) would be more of a clone of Selig. That's who Selig wants and he's been his right-hand guy forever." Nightengale: "It's the TV side where all the money is. If you want to branch out and do something a little different with TV, (Werner's) your guy. ... First ballot when they start voting, I'd say it's probably 65% Manfred, 25% Werner and then Brosnan. I think the dark horse here is Werner in a compromise pick" ("Dennis & Callahan," WEEI-FM, 8/6).
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW: In Ft. Worth, Stefan Stevenson writes, "Whatever you think of Bud Selig and the job he has done during his long tenure, there's no disputing the current success of the league." Selig presided over "multiple performance-enhancing drug scandals, but said the league has never been cleaner." Selig: "We have the cleanest clubhouses we've ever had, and I'm grateful for that." He is "thrilled with the success of replay this season, but expects a few tweaks for speed" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/7).