This release came in this afternoon from MLB:
Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig formally announced today that he will retire upon the completion of his current term, which runs through January 24, 2015.
Commissioner Selig said: “It remains my great privilege to serve the game I have loved throughout my life. Baseball is the greatest game ever invented, and I look forward to continuing its extraordinary growth and addressing several significant issues during the remainder of my term.
“I am grateful to the owners throughout Major League Baseball for their unwavering support and for allowing me to lead this great institution. I thank our players, who give me unlimited enthusiasm about the future of our game. Together we have taken this sport to new heights and have positioned our national pastime to thrive for generations to come. Most of all, I would like to thank our fans, who are the heart and soul of our game.”
Commissioner Selig will announce shortly a transition plan in preparation for his retirement, which will reorganize centralized Major League Baseball management.
Selig has led Major League Baseball since September 9, 1992, when, as Chairman of the Major League Executive Council, he became interim Commissioner. He was unanimously elected Baseball’s ninth Commissioner on July 9, 1998.
Last year Selig indicated that his time as Commissioner would cease with the end of the current term. Selig has been extended twice at the request of the owners, who are very comfortable with him at the helm. And why shouldn’t they be? Since the 1994 strike, Selig has presided over more labor peace than the other three big leagues, while overseeing an unprecedented economic expansion (for baseball, at least). If we’re looking at the job Selig has done in terms of protecting The Lodge’s interests, he deserves an A. When it comes to other aspects of the game (drugs, replay and technology, rules), Selig hasn’t fared nearly as well.
Despite being left hanging by Selig on the San Jose matter, Lew Wolff continues to steadfastly support his fraternity brother.
“This is absolute confirmation of what I was hoping might not happen.”
Wolff has been consistent in saying that he prefers to act in the interest of the game first instead of his own (the A’s), a stance that keeps The Lodge out of potential infighting but frustrates A’s fans to no end.
Unlike the NBA and NFL, which had successors to David Stern and Pete Rozelle (Adam Silver and Roger Goodell, respectively) groomed for years, there is no obvious frontrunner to succeed Selig. It could be someone within baseball’s upper echelon, whether it’s Selig’s current right-hand man Rob Manfred or a respected former team executive like John Schierholtz. The selection of a new commissioner will require a 3/4ths vote – just like a franchise move – and any number of candidates could potentially have enough votes against them to prevent approval. As we know from Selig’s previous endeavors, he likes to show unanimity among the owners, but it’s hard to see how that will happen because of their divergent markets and circumstances. Selig could form consensus because he showed neutrality to them, often to the point of indecision in some extreme cases. It’s not clear that any other nominee will do the same, and no owner wants the job.
Selig has indicated that the executive level will undergo a reorganization, which makes sense. During Selig’s tenure more power has been consolidated within his office than at any other time in baseball’s history. In 1999 the league presidents were eliminated, and a few years ago COO Bob DuPuy was unceremoniously let go. If the owners don’t trust Selig’s power with anyone other than Selig, then it may be best to to redistribute those powers among multiple individuals. Plus, if The Lodge wants to go with someone who can be a figurehead for the owners and technocrats inside baseball, then the safest path may be to restructure the job so that not so much power is vested within the Office of the Commissioner.
It would seem that Selig will leave the A’s-Giants mess to his successor, except for some choice quotes from a CBS Radio interview with John Feinstein, in which he called the Coliseum a “pit”:
“It’s a pit,” Selig said. “It reminds me of old County Stadium and Shea Stadium. We need to deal with that. I’ve had a committee working on it for two or three years, and there’s no question we’re going to have to solve that problem.”
But hasn’t the committee been working on it for a long time? What’s the hold-up?
“We have, John, but I’ll tell you it’s far more complex,” Selig said. “Look, you have one team that wants to move and the other team doesn’t want them to move, and it’s a very complicated situation. Before I leave, I’m satisfied we’ll work out something.”
We’ve heard assurances from Selig before, so this one carries little weight. Then again, who knows? Selig’s hallmark is his deliberate nature. If the point is to wait to provide a solution that’s satisfactory to Giants and A’s ownership, then on his way out the door makes sense. That said, there’s an awful lot of inertia in this story. I’d be surprised if Selig had this all settled before the end of his term. He still hasn’t come to a good compromise between the Orioles and Nationals over the latter team’s television rights.
Let’s just say that I’m not holding my breath.