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Volume 24 No. 115
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Rob Manfred Officially Elected Next MLB Commissioner, Will Succeed Bud Selig On January 25

MLB owners Thursday night in Baltimore elected Rob Manfred as the league's 10th commissioner after an all-day meeting that required a half-dozen votes to a break an impasse. Following rival finalist and MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan backing out of the race just prior to voting, Manfred prevailed over Red Sox Chair Tom Werner after a pro-Werner voting block led by White Sox Owner Jerry Reinsdorf finally relented. The final ballot was a symbolic 30-0 vote for Manfred, giving him a clear mandate to boost interest in a healthy sport that is still fighting to build relevancy in a fast-changing media and entertainment landscape. “I am tremendously honored by the confidence that the owners showed in me. I have very big shoes to fill,” Manfred said in reference to retiring Commissioner Bud Selig. Manfred will formally take over on Jan. 25 upon the expiration of Selig’s current contract. During much of Thursday, Manfred’s support vacillated between 20-22 votes, just short of the required 23 needed for election. Among the key teams helping breaking the impasse were believed to be the Brewers, Rays and Nationals. Reinsdorf in a statement praised the open debate that led to Manfred’s election, even as he again made little efforts to hide his feelings. “While Rob may not have been my initial choice for commissioner, the conclusion of a very good process was to name Rob as the person best positioned to help baseball endure and grown even stronger for the next generation of fans,” Reinsdorf said.

GETTING ON THE SAME PAGE: After a late afternoon recess, Selig could be seen having a private conversation with Reinsdorf. Less than an hour later, Manfred had finally prevailed in securing election, providing a major political victory for Selig and his favored candidate. “There were differences of opinion, but in the end, we came together,” Selig said. “There is no doubt in my mind Rob has the temperament, the training, the experience.” To that end, the election of Manfred is widely seen as a choice favoring a continuity of the Selig era that has seen record revenue, attendance, stadium development and franchise values. Yankees President Randy Levine said,  “There will never be a commissioner like (Selig). He’s revolutionized the game. I think Rob is going to try to continue and expand on it.” Manfred is expected to receive a three-year contract, as per the minimum term for commissioner in the MLB constitution.

BROSNAN EXPLAINS WITHDRAWAL: Brosnan late Thursday said he withdrew his candidacy when it became clear he had only the Reds among his supporters. “I care too much about the game and really wanted the process to be as efficient as it could be,” he said. Both he and Werner acknowledged they were disappointed in not prevailing themselves, but each said they looked forward to rallying behind Manfred. “The last two days have been productive because we’ve been able to share a number of ideas about the game and how to improve it and modernize it,” said Werner, who will remain with the Red Sox. “I think Rob agrees with many of the ideas that I espoused, and I am very confident that we are going to see some things, such as improved pace of play.” Added Brosnan, whose future now appears more uncertain, “We’ve had a great run under Commissioner Selig, and I look forward to a continued great run under Commissioner Manfred. Of course I’m disappointed (about not getting job). I wouldn’t have gone through this if I didn’t think I could do it. But we’re in the middle of a great run as an industry, and I look forward to that continuing.”

SUPPORT FOR MANFRED: The Manfred election, not surprisingly, generated a positive reaction from the MLBPA, with which Manfred has developed a productive relationship. “Personally, I have known Rob for more than 15 years, and I’m confident that his vast experience in all aspects of the sport will serve his commissionership well,” said MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark. ESPN President John Skipper made a similar statement, saying “I am confident he will be an outstanding commissioner and I look forward to working with Rob to build upon Commissioner Selig’s outstanding legacy.”