Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Generation

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

New Generation

Article excerpt

Crazy, isn't it, that it took hours of backroom politicking for baseball's owners to finally realize how good they've had it under Bud Selig and that Rob Manfred, his No. 2 man, was the right choice to be the next commissioner. This should've been a no-brainer but, whatever. Avoiding another strike in 2016 is what matters most and Manfred raises the owners' collective IQ.

That's why he deserved the job, and why it made no sense for eight owners to try to block the process Thursday. The election was deadlocked for most of the day, as Manfred, who needed 23 out of the 30 votes to win the election, was stuck at 22. The impasse ended only after White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf dropped his support for Tom Werner, the Red Sox's chairman who sought the job on the strength of his background in the TV industry.

The war between the two factions boiled down to a single, philosophical choice: labor peace versus increased revenue. Manfred has had a strong relationship with the players' association and is best equipped to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement in two years. Werner, on the hand, boasted the skills to maximize baseball's enormous gains in TV revenue.

That was no small consideration. The game now generates nearly $9 billion a year, mostly due to national and regional network deals that have enriched every franchise. No one is in danger of going under. But Manfred's election delivers a powerful message to the union about preserving the goodwill that's kept baseball strike- free since 1994.

Reinsdorf and Werner and the rest of the insurgents apparently forgot that the owners have historically been crushed every time they've gone to the mattresses with the union, and that anyone who can navigate around another street fight should be sitting in Selig's chair starting in January.

There's disturbing talk that the union has become radicalized in the post-Michael Weiner era. The group is now headed by Tony Clark, a former player who despite his obvious intelligence, is not a lawyer and has no expertise in labor relations. Clark has surrounded himself with other former major-leaguers who believe Weiner may have given away too much in the last CBA and will be looking to retake lost ground.

Making Boston's Werner the next commissioner would've only hardened the players' belief that the owners were hunkering down for a conflict. Manfred, on the other hand, has always gotten along with his counterparts in the union and is better positioned to seek compromise in the years ahead.

Really, why would the owners vote for drastic change when the game is so healthy, so flush with cash, and seemingly so stable? The Ivy-educated Manfred has worked with Selig since 1998 and has overseen every major decision since then. Manfred is driven and intense; less of a people person than an enormously competent COO. …

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