Who can possibly replace Bud Selig?

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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.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.