Sports Business Journal puts a list together each year naming the most influential people in sports business. The new one is out and Bud Selig is pretty darn high on that list: number 2.
Now, number one and number 16 happen to be my bosses, so I don’t want Bud getting too big a head about all of this (Will Bud return my calls now? I’m pretty sure he has to based on the rankings), but that’s a pretty amazing showing for the head of Major League Baseball. A league which has long been maligned when it comes to business savvy and all of that.
But SBJ is right here: Selig pretty much kicked butt and took names this year, be it throwing Frank McCourt to the curb to seeing revenues go up again to getting a collective bargaining agreement in place without any blood on the floor. At least any of his own.
Other baseball heavy hitters on the list: John Henry and Hal Steinbrenner. MLB Executive VP of Business Tim Brosnan. MLBPA honcho Michael Weiner. MLBAM head Bob Bowman.
People still like to use the tired old line about Selig being a car salesman, but the league is a long way from the days when small business owners with small vision were in charge. It’s just an incredibly sophisticated enterprise these days, and there are a lot of really competent people running things.
Which is boring for a blogger like me, but it is great for the league.
On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.
We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.
Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:
Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.
Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.
Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.
I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.
“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.
Four. More. Years.