MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

Who can possibly replace Bud Selig?


Don’t know! And neither does ESPN’s Jayson Stark. But Stark does have an excellent lay-of-the-land piece up today. What makes it good is that, unlike all of the “it should be George W. Bush, it should be some broadcaster, it should be some famous person” chatter that always comes up, Stark actually discusses what the job entails and why those flashy choices are mostly nonsense:

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.

It is not a Great Leader/Ambassador of Baseball position like people came to think of it as until relatively recently. The Commissioner is not tasked with the popular perception of the game beyond what that means for the bottom line. What actually happens on the field in any specific way is, at best, a secondary or tertiary concern. The job is about making money for the owners. Period.

Now, it’s not quite as cynical as that all sounds given that, to make money for the owners, the Commissioner has to make sure fans’ butts are in seats and in front of televisions. And he has to make sure the players are happy and wealthy enough to avert labor stoppages. Within that there are all manner of things that may seem Ambassadory and Great Leadery. But at the end of the day, if the owners aren’t happy, the Commissioner is gone. His job is to be the CEO of a group of 30 allied businesses and a couple of major broadcast and marketing subsidiaries.

Which is why, as Stark notes, some famous person is highly unlikely to get the job or even to be seriously considered. The only type of people who could possibly do it are people who used to lead broadcast networks, perhaps. Stark mentions NBC’s Dick Ebersol and ESPN’s George Bodenheimer. I think someone like that could probably do it if the owners are convinced that broadcast and online expertise are going to be the critical issues going forward. But even if that’s so, there are some in-house options like Bob Bowman of MLBAM who could provide some of that as well. None of them, however, strike me as people who would want to have to sit at a table and actually endure someone like Jeff Loria.

In reality, I think the most likely candidates are the ones Stark mentions from within the game. Current team owners and/or team presidents or people who have worked in MLB’s executive offices already. It’s not a sexy list, but it’s not a sexy job either.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.