Bud Selig hopes to have a new baseball commissioner soon
BALTIMORE - Bud Selig's farewell tour continued Tuesday at a soggy Camden Yards, where that night's game between the Yankees and Orioles already had been postponed by torrential rains before his visit.
"Little did I think I'd be flying into a monsoon," Selig said. "I knew we were in trouble when we left the airport and the freeways were closed."
Not a good omen for Selig, who hopes to have the next commissioner decided on by the end of the quarterly owners' meetings at the nearby Hyatt Regency. The 30 owners will vote Thursday on the three finalists -- Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, along with the two in-house candidates, COO Rob Manfred and executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan.
But all indications suggest the debate leading up to the vote could be more turbulent than the Baltimore weather. Manfred is Selig's choice, but there is a faction that prefers Werner, who is one of their own. Brosnan is seen as a compromise candidate, but a strong choice nonetheless for his success with lucrative TV and licensing deals.
Perhaps knowing that, Selig would not confidently say that the process would yield the next commissioner by the end of this week. A candidate needs 23 of the 30 votes to be named Selig's successor.
"While I think I have pretty good political instincts . . . I don't want to make any predictions," Selig said. "It should be a fair process. We have a 48-hour period that we'll look at things. A lot of other people are making predictions. I'm staying out of that business -- mainly because I don't know."
This is uncharted territory for MLB, because Selig has held this job since he took over as acting commissioner in 1992. As Selig pointed out Tuesday, most of the current ownership group has never done anything like this. And he wouldn't say what might happen next if his successor is not agreed upon Thursday. Could the list of candidates change?
"I haven't thought about that," Selig said. "We have an election. We have a process to go through. I want to go through it. There's no sense in me sitting here and engaging in hypotheticals. We're sort of on new ground. Let's see what happens."
As for Selig's preference, he cited the importance of a candidate to have a "sincere passion for the game" and "understanding that whatever you do, you must do in the best interests of the sport." Also, patience wouldn't hurt. With Tuesday being the 20th anniversary of the 1994 strike that killed the World Series, Selig looked back on how that "painful" time resulted in a better future.
"It was heartbreaking," Selig said. "But it's led to 22 years of labor peace. Nobody ever thought it was possible. Sometimes in life, you have to go through certain things to get where we are. But it's led to record revenues, record attendance . . . So labor peace has been very important."
As for the scenario that Selig could stay on as commissioner, he shot that down again.
"It's time for baseball to move on," Selig said. "I'm done."