BALTIMORE - The man long assumed to be the next commissioner of Major League Baseball ended up being elected to the position late Thursday afternoon. However, it was a rougher ride than expected for Rob Manfred to get there.
Manfred, MLB's chief operating officer, was chosen by a 30-0 vote by major league owners over Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner at the owners' quarterly meetings at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency. Manfred will become the sport's 10th commissioner on Jan. 15 when Bud Selig retires after 22 years on the job.
The unanimous vote is misleading, though. It took all day for Selig to do what he does best, which is to build a consensus among the owners, before Manfred got the necessary three-quarters of the votes -- 23 -- to get elected.
After MLB vice president of business Tim Brosnan earlier in the afternoon, Manfred twice received 22 votes to Werner's eight.
The Washington Nationals flipped from Werner to Manfred and Selig then had Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf convince the rest of the owners to make the vote unanimous. Reinsdorf was the biggest opponent to Manfred, believing he has not been tough enough in collective bargaining negotiations with the Major League Baseball Players Association over the years.
Before being promoted to COO last September, Manfred was MLB executive vice president of labor relations for 15 years.
During that time, he negotiated three CBAs without a work stoppage. Baseball has had an unprecedented 19 years of labor peace since the 1994-95 players' strike. The current CBA expires at the end of 2016.
"The biggest thing in the game is labor peace," New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said. "The game has grown so much once both sides were able to open better lines of communications and work together. Rob certainly has had a lot to do with that and we're optimistic it will continue with him as the commissioner."
Keeping labor peace will continue to be one of Manfred's primary objectives.
"The most important part of good labor relations is good ongoing communications between both bargaining parties," Manfred said. "It's not about making friends. It's about making sure the other side knows where you are coming from."
Though Selig never acknowledged so publically, it was quite obvious that Manfred was his hand-picked successor. Thus, the 80-year-old Selig was thrilled to see his protege ascend to the MLB throne.
"There is no doubt in my mind he has the training, temperament and experience to be an outstanding commissioner," Selig said. "I think he is a great choice and will continue to move the game forward."