Major League Baseball has gone through many changes since Bud Selig became commissioner in 1992. Selig’s tenure has featured the initiation of the current playoff format, interleague play and the World Baseball Classic. There have also been dark moments such as the steroids scandal and the 1994 players strike.
In the future, sports writers will debate whether Selig’s impact on baseball was positive or negative. However, if there’s one thing that’s more certain, it’s that Selig will eventually retire from his role. This leads to the following question: Who will be the next commissioner of Major League Baseball?
The position has many job requirements, and according to Kevin Kaduk, Editor of Yahoo! Sports’ Big League Stew, there are different qualifications depending on the perspective.
“For owners, the next commissioner will have to be the big money generator that Selig has been,” says Kaduk. “For players, he’ll have to work at least reasonably well with the head of the players’ union and also make sure that the dollars keep rolling in, so that the split pot will always be big.
“For fans, he’ll have to be more attuned to the history and well-being of the game than Selig gives the appearance of being,” Kaduk continues. “This includes everything from enforcing and strengthening baseball’s drug policies to getting the game back to a place where it’s still accessible to the average fan.”
There will always be a list of candidates and while Kaduk would like MLB to consider someone who’s not associated with the league – similar to Gary Bettman coming over from the NBA to run the NHL – he feels the owners will prefer to go with “one of their own.”
One candidate Kaduk suggests is Bob DuPuy, MLB’s President and Chief Operating Officer. DuPuy has held this position since 2002 and has been involved in most of the league’s legal issues since 1989. Kaduk points out that DuPuy “knows how everything is run” and would be easily approved by the owners.
A possible darkhorse candidate is Bob Bowman, President and Chief Executive Officer of MLB Advanced Media.
“[Bowman] turned MLB Advanced Media into a gigantic cash cow for the league with both MLB.com and now the MLB Network,” explains Kaduk. “For as stuck in its ways as MLB can be, it’s definitely ahead of the three other ‘big’ leagues when it comes to making money on the Internet and through cable, so the owners might tab Bowman to ensure it stays that way.”
It may be too early to discuss possible candidates since Selig will be hanging on to his position a little while longer. His current contact was set to expire at the end of this season, but has since been extended to the end of the 2012 season. When extending his contract, it was clear the owners wanted Selig to stay on.
As noted in an MLB.com article by Barry M. Bloom, Oakland Athletics owner Lew Wolff even went as far as telling Selig “You can’t retire until I expire.” However, there are those who feel Selig will step down in 2012.
“I generally like Selig and I think he even knows he can’t do this for much longer,” says Kaduk. “If he feels the time is right and that baseball is in good hands – I really do believe he loves the game just as much as most of us – he’ll step aside.”
As 2012 approaches, baseball fans can expect more lists of candidates from experts and writers. Whoever takes over will have the daunting task of supporting MLB’s continued growth. Bud Selig will have spent 20 years of his life ensuring the league’s development. Fans, owners and players hope the next commissioner will do the same.