Commissioner Sandy Alderson?
I get this question asked a lot, and three years ago I would have said yes. But a lot’s happened since then and today I don’t even see him being among the top five contenders.
There was a great article on this topic about three months ago by Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, who begins by saying that after so many previous occasions over the years in which Bud Selig has hinted at retirement only to stay on, he won’t believe Selig will actually hang ’em up after 2014 until he sees it.
“The sport needs this sort of clear, forceful, no-wiggle-room pronouncement for one obvious reason: The commish’s history is filled with previous occasions when he has said he plans to retire at the end of his contract — only to keep right on commissioner-izing. So even though this time feels different and more people than ever believe he really does mean it — this time for sure, no kidding — the skeptics remain. And they’ll always remain until Selig, now 78, removes every shred of doubt. If that’s even possible.”
Stark then hypothetically asks, “What are the odds the next commissioner will be someone who doesn’t currently work in baseball?”
He gives a blow by blow accounting that ultimately goes on to disqualify the following contenders:
• Bob Costas, sportscaster
• George Will, columnist
• George Bodenheimer, executive chairman, ESPN, Inc.
• Dick Ebersol, former chairman, NBC Sports
• Rick Levin, president of Yale
• Kent Conrad, former senator
• George W. Bush, former president
Bob Costas and George Will have always been popular with the fans and their names often come up as potential baseball commissioners. However, they have no chance in my opinion. Yes, the baseball commissioner is supposed to protect the integrity of the game and those two would be great at it. But the reality is that the commissioner’s main job is to protect the profitability and revenue growth of the game, as well as ensuring healthy bottom lines for every individual major league team and their constituencies.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but decisions in baseball are driven by profit margins and not integrity. Or better yet, here is how Stark sums it up:
“But here is the most important thing you need to remember: Nowadays, the commissioner of baseball isn’t the commissioner of The People. He’s the commissioner of 30 people — the owners. Period.”
As far as Baseball Insiders who could be options, Stark composes the following list:
• Rob Manfred, MLB executive VP
• Tim Brosnan, MLB executive VP
• Bob Bowman, CEO, MLB Advanced Media
• Joe Torre, MLB executive VP
• Tony La Russa, special assistant to Bud Selig
• Sandy Alderson, Mets GM
• Paul Beeston, Blue Jays president/CEO
• John Schuerholz, Braves president
• David Montgomery, Phillies president/CEO
• Dave Dombrowski, Tigers president/GM
• Mark Shapiro, Indians president
• Derrick Hall, Diamondbacks president/CEO
• Stan Kasten, Dodgers president
• Terry McGuirk, Braves chairman/CEO
• Larry Baer, Giants president/CEO
• Mark Attanasio, Brewers chairman
• Andy MacPhail, former Orioles/Cubs/Twins exec
I don’t ever see the role of commissioner falling into the hands of a former player who was once active in the Players Union, so scratch that idea. The thought of Torre or LaRussa may sound nostalgic and have a nice ring to it in theory, but they don’t fit the mold of the commissioner’s other underlying responsibility which is to have a hard line against the lofty demands of the players union.
Of the GM crop, I’d say John Schuerholz and Mark Shapiro have a leg up on their competition including Sandy Alderson. In fact, Schuerholz is my favorite for the job followed by Rob Manfred who has tremendous political clout, and then Shapiro in that order.
Whomever owners do decide on to replace Selig, will require a super majority which means a minimum of 24 votes out of 30 owners and not just a simple majority. That may end up being more difficult than selecting a new Pope. So dont expect a billowing cloud of white smoke to appear anytime soon. There will be much debating and gnashing of the teeth amongst the 30 teams before someone everyone can live with emerges.
I don’t think Sandy is that guy.