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Volume 21 No. 2
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MLB restructuring hastened by sudden Bowman departure

Major League Baseball intends to complete by late January the next phase of its organizational restructuring, hastened in part by last month’s departure of longtime executive Bob Bowman.

Bowman’s exit, formally announced in November, took on a new light after a late December report in The Wall Street Journal detailed a history of workplace misconduct by the longtime baseball executive. It cited a shoving incident at last summer’s All-Star Game in Miami and another episode of verbal abuse involving a senior-level co-worker in late October.

In the story, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged he asked Bowman to leave based on concerns about his behavior. Sources close to the league office said there were several reasons Bowman’s misconduct was not publicly disclosed in the original November announcement, which merely said the digital innovator elected to not renew his contract with MLB at year’s end, citing in part the majority equity sale of BAMTech to the Walt Disney Co.

Among those reasons: Manfred was sincere in his praise regarding Bowman’s contributions to MLB; Bowman voluntarily agreed to leave; and the nature of Bowman’s conduct, while still offensive and intolerable, differed from the sexual assault incidents being detailed through the growing #MeToo movement.

Since Bowman’s departure, many MLB employees have undergone online anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training, though those efforts are said to have been contemplated prior to this issue coming to light.

Bowman’s leaving also presented something of a dichotomy within baseball. Internally, it has represented a seismic event given the length and impact of Bowman’s 17-year tenure in baseball. Externally, though, the news of Bowman’s departure was essentially a one-day story in mainstream press circles given he was not a household name to many fans.

The league is now determining the individual functions and personnel that will report to a newly restructured senior leadership team that includes deputy commissioners Tony Petitti and Dan Halem, executive vice presidents Chris Marinak, Noah Garden and Chris Park, Chief Communications Officer Pat Courtney, Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, and Chief Financial Officer Bob Starkey.

Among the particular areas to be determined is how various segments of MLB Advanced Media will be divided between Petitti, Garden, Marinak and Park. Some areas in MLBAM that had parallel functions from those in the commissioner’s office, such as human resources and legal, will also be consolidated. The league is scheduled to have its next set of owners’ meetings Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Los Angeles, and it is possible many of the additional staffing decisions will be made by then.

MLB’s reorganization also stems in part from a four-month review of baseball’s operations conducted last year by management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Manfred has long intended to create a more streamlined framework for league operations and end historical divisions between the commissioner’s office and entities such as MLBAM and MLB Network.