Major League Baseball’s owners have gathered in Baltimore to vote on a replacement for Commissioner Bud Selig, who is slated to step down in January. They’ll get together Wednesday morning for the candidates’ presentations, go to Wednesday night’s Orioles-Yankees game and eventually vote Thursday afternoon after another go-round with the candidates.
The run-up to the vote has been contentious, with Selig’s hand-picked choice greeted by growing opposition from a number of owners. Here’s what you need to know about the race to replace Selig, who has been running MLB since 1992 (though he was not formally elected commissioner until 1998).
How many votes are needed?
The winning candidate needs to pull 75 percent of the vote, or at least 23 of the league’s 30 owners.
Who are the candidates?
The search committee has submitted three candidates for consideration.
Rob Manfred: Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer is Selig’s hand-picked successor. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Manfred is backed by the New York Yankees and several other big-market teams and is assured of 20 votes. His supporters, per Nightengale, point to the fact that Manfred helped shepherd 19 years of labor peace with the players’ union and spearheaded the league’s tough drug-testing program. His detractors — Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf (Selig’s close friend) and Los Angeles Angeles owner Arte Moreno among them — “believe that Manfred has given too many concessions to the players union and want the next commissioner to be more confrontational,” the New York Times reports.
Tom Werner: The chairman of the Boston Red Sox previously led the San Diego Padres’ ownership group and was a highly successful television producer. Nightengale reports that the Werner camp believes he has 11 solid votes, with eight still undecided. Werner’s supporters — with the Red Sox, Reinsdorf and Moreno leading the charge — say that his years as a producer of shows such as “The Cosby Show” and “Roseanne” make him “the visionary that baseball needs,” Nightengale reports. In other words, a commissioner who could reverse MLB’s sagging television ratings and stagnant attendance. Werner’s detractors say he was terrible as Padres owner and that he’s too beholden to the Red Sox.
Tim Brosnan: MLB’s executive vice president of business has supporters who believe he “has unparalleled business acumen and is a stronger inside candidate than Manfred,” Nightengale reports. But Brosnan probably doesn’t have the votes and he’ll “swing his support to Werner” if his candidacy fails, Nightengale says.
What happens if none of the three candidates reaches the 23-vote threshold?
According to Nightengale, “the entire group will instruct the search committee to keep looking.” Richard C. Levin, the former president of Yale who met with the search committee “and was supposed to be the fourth candidate on the ballot” before pulling out, and Stephen Greenberg, the league’s former deputy commissioner (though he told USA Today that he isn’t interested), could be alternate candidates, according to Nightengale. The New York Times lists Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg as possibilities, as well.