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

48 Comments

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.

 

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
10 Comments

The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.