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

Selig gets his man in Rob Manfred. And with it, his final triumph.

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In the end it went the way Bud Selig wanted it to go: a unanimous vote for his hand-picked successor in Rob Manfred. The protest candidacy of Tom Werner and the potential compromise candidate in Tim Brosnan are now reduced to historical footnote. No matter what happens in the final five months of Selig’s tenure, and no matter what ceremonies and held and what honors and gifts are given to him as he leaves office, Manfred’s selection as the next commissioner is Selig’s final triumph.

Final of many, actually. Say what you will about Bud Selig, but after driving baseball into the ditch by helping foment the 1994 strike, he learned that he couldn’t simply impose his will on the game of baseball. He needed to deal. He needed to compromise. Both with the players and the other owners. And occasionally politicians and media executives. No one thinks of Bud Selig as a charismatic leader. Many like to talk about him as if he is a failure. But can you name a thing that he has wanted and not gotten in the past 15 years or so? Or, at the very least, a thing he hasn’t wanted that he has, nevertheless, been able to spin as his own personal victory? I can’t.

He got what he wanted by abandoning the aggressive and confrontational approach which catapulted him into office in the first place. He led a coup against his predecessor, Fay Vincent, and declared war on the MLBPA. When he lost, he changed. Not many people with his power survive such losses. Even fewer manage to change and find success. Bud did. And he dragged 30 team owners along with him, despite the fact that team owners tend to be a non-learning, non-compromising lot by nature. He got them to play by his rules and as a result baseball has flourished and has been free of labor difficulties for the better part of two decades.

The candidacy of Red Sox CEO Tom Werner to succeed Selig can only be seen as the old guard — many of Bud’s old friends, actually — trying to take things back to where they were in 1994. Jerry Reinsdorf and seven other owners who wanted to take a harder line with the players union. Or with dissenting owners. Or with anyone, really. Owners who were not fans of Selig’s mode of consensus or, at the very least, not fans of not getting their way like they used to. Owners who do not appear to be big fans of a powerful commissioner like Bud Selig has become. They wanted to deny him the right to name his successor, which is what Rob Manfred’s candidacy was all about. They wanted to end a state of affairs in which they follow the commissioner’s lead rather than dictate to him like they used to do before Bud Selig came along. In putting up Wener, they were trying to impose their will, like Bud used to do in the heady days of pre-strike Major League Baseball.

But, as has so often been the case for the past 15 years or so, Bud Selig’s opponents were playing checkers while he was playing chess. At some point on Thursday afternoon, after Manfred had continued to fall one vote shy of victory following several rounds of balloting, Bud Selig was seen talking to his old friend but current adversary, Reinsdorf, in a hallway at the owners meetings. And then, a couple of hours later, Rob Manfred was elected on a 30-0 vote. The opposition either fought off or bought off, but gone either way. Selig got what he wanted. Because Selig always gets what he wants. He knows how to do that now. He could probably do it in his sleep.

As of right now, 30 owners of major league baseball teams have decided that Bud’s Way is the way of the future. They may sour on Rob Manfred later, or give him problems that they can’t really give Bud, but for now they have agreed that Selig’s consensus-building approach should continue on, even if Bud Selig has decided that he doesn’t want to anymore. They have abandoned their objection to Selig essentially naming his heir.

And by doing so, they have ensured that Bud Selig’s reign will become Bud Selig’s dynasty.

 

Royals pay tribute to late Yordano Ventura during spring training opener

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 12: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on August 12, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.

Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).

A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.

The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:

A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.