Blog Entry

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

Posted on: January 16, 2010 12:48 pm

The game of baseball needs direction. Bud Selig has been maligned for most of his tenure as commissioner, and while he has done some good things for the game, he is often a lame duck or a puppet for the owners. In effect, Selig has been the commissioner since 1992, even though he was only officially given that title in 1998. Selig owned a team, the Brewers, before becoming the commish. There is no basis for his election, and he has not proven to be capable of leading baseball effectively.

Under Selig's leadership the game has become a richer business, but the biggest problems that face the game today are largely swept under the rug. With the game being as popular as ever, the players are signing bigger contracts, the owners are making more and more money, and the fans are being ignored. I don't think Selig understands the common fans perception. Sure, we love to watch because we love the game itself, but it is tougher and tougher to watch and follow the game. It is tougher and tougher to bring our sons and daughters to the games, due to both cost and integrity issues. 

There are 2 major factors that are making the game more difficult to follow, and in turn pass along the enjoyment to our children.

The first factor is the steroids and drug testing. This issue has been around for the duration of Selig's tenure, and for his part in it all Selig's choice was to sweep everything he knew under the rug. Selig chose to protect the owners money, rather than protect the sanctity of the game. Witness what we have now, some of the most sacred of records in American sports are tainted and stained by drug abusers. These players probably didn't take the steroids to break records, that was simply a ancillary bonus for these guys on the road to making more money. I really don't think Bonds, Arod, McGwire or any others really thought to themselves, "Hey, if I take this stuff I could be the best player to ever play the game". I think more likely, they figured that if they took the stuff that they could put together a few great years, and hit the ultimate payday. Once it happened, the notoriety and adulation was addictive, so they couldn't stop. From there it was an epedemic, players trying to keep up with each other, and before you know it most of the players are trying something to get an edge.

The second issue is the broadening gap in the level of competition among the teams. I know Selig will say that there is a cap, with the luxury tax supposedly helping the lower revenue teams, but that is a convenient way of sweeping the issue under the rug again. Consider that 6 of the top 8 most valueable teams made the playoffs last year. The 2 that didn't were the Mets, who had the 2nd highest payroll, and the Cubs who had the 3rd highest payroll, so they sure tried.

Selig will point to isolated cases where lower income teams have made the playoffs(ie the 2008 Rays) as a means of proving that the current structure is working. In a very short period of time, teams can have young, homegrown talent come up and compete at a high level and have a short run at the playoffs, but compare that with the top revenue teams. These teams are loaded every year, consistenly competitive, and their fans are constantly engaged. The higher revenue teams will pay top dollar and take the top talent from the lower revenue teams and in a very short time, return that team to the bottom of the league for an extended period of time, where the top team stays on top. This type of activity ensures that the top 8 to 10 teams have a shot to win a championship every year, while the other 20 or so have no shot in most years.

Contrast that with the NFL where every team has as good a chance to make the playoffs as another. I am not saying that at the beginning of the season that every NFL fan thinks that their team will make the playoffs, but certainly the feeling is that the turnaround could be much quicker. The NFL has only 6 current teams that haven't made the playoffs in the last 5 years, with the longest current streak at 10 yrs(Detroit and Buffalo). MLB has 10, with 7 of those teams exceeding the longest current NFL streak, and the longest being a distant 28 years!!

The opposite argument states that the higher revenue owners are spending the money that they make, putting that money back into the team for the benefit of the fans. This is true, except for the fact that it is great for the fans of the top 8 teams, not for the game as a whole. Often this becomes a debate about the Yankees or Red Sox, and how they have the right to spend freely if they want. I agree, but I also think that the commissioner has an obligation to the fan base as a whole to put the most competitive product out there. Well run franchises will rise to the top, but then it will come down to people making franchises better, rather than the mighty dollar. The Yankees will always be able to spend more, they are worth $1.5 billion. They pull from a market that has 16 million people. I don't fault them that at all.

I fear that our younger generation will pay the price for the short sighted way the game is being run. No longer can you follow a player on your favorite team for years and years. These players are typically gone year to year. It is rarer and rarer to see a good player stick with a team for more than a few years. Secondly, you fear that your kids might actually follow and idolize a player today, when tomorrow it will be revealed that the player was using drugs, as baseball has failed to deter HGH users with blood testing to this day.

In Costas, you have an unbiased fan of the game. Costas shares many of the fans true love of the game of baseball, has the credibility with mostly everyone affiliated with the game, and seemingly would be able to make decisions in the best decision of the whole sport, not just one group. Costas possesses the skills to connect with the average fan of the sport, unlike Selig.


Since: Mar 5, 2011
Posted on: December 9, 2012 12:17 pm

Costas as Commish?

Bob, like Chris Berman and Keith Olbermann, was best when he was somewhat under the radar.  That's no knock on these guys, they're talented and pretty interesting to listen to, most the time.  But there's something about becoming a star that changes things.

I wouldn't want Bob as MLB-C because he'd spend official time trying to de-bunk (?) all these great legends of the game, like Merkles's miscue (1908), Mantle's record tap-measure shot (565') at Griffith (DC) in '53 and Ruth's called World Series home-run at Wrigley in '32.  A commissioner should have an appreciation for the color which such events / stories add to the sport.  I don't think Bob has it.

Since: Dec 7, 2012
Posted on: December 7, 2012 8:00 pm

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

Can someone please share their thoughts on the idea of appointing a public official to serve as a completely independent and impartial commissioner and someone who would take into account what the fans think/want and not just serve the owners interests. I am not suggesting that this is a good idea, I would just like to know why it would or wouldnt work. Thanks.

Since: Dec 22, 2009
Posted on: January 19, 2010 12:01 am

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

I don't know why there are so many here jumping on this Bob Costas bandwagon. He is a broadcaster. nothing more, nothing less, and a pretty mediocre one at that. I really can't listen to his long winded sermons about some athlete he has little in common with. What baseball needs more than anthing else is P-A-R-I-T-Y!!!  Having a commissioner with close baseball ties or a person growing up worshipping Mickey Mantle is not gonna cut it.

Someone here must knows the laws governing the baseball monopoly and how to change them. If you try to please the owners you will get nowhere so you have to bring in someone who can bring George Steinbrenner and other big market owners to their knees to fix the disparity between markets. The owners are rich and fat due to this monopoly, not from their ownership and management skills. Why compete if you don't have to? Is this what we want to teach our children? How to cheat and get away with it?

Since: Oct 23, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2010 6:32 pm

No, MLB doesn't need priggish, pedantic Costas

Holier than thou and smarter than thou Bob Costas is a constant irritant.  Whenever he appears on my TV screen, I grab the remote and change the channel.

The first commissioner of  baseball was a retired federal judge named Kenesaw Mountain Landis.  He was a stern character - one of the last hard men.  He was hired to deal with the 1919 Black Sox scandal without a drop of mercy.

If we want baseball to be fun again, why not Bill Clinton.  Or if we want to be more serious, how about retired federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani.

Since: Mar 7, 2009
Posted on: January 18, 2010 3:47 pm

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

Bob Costas and Peter Gammons have a passion for baseball and wonderful ideas on how to make the game better, they have as much chance of being commissioner as, say, Condoleeza Rice has of running the NFL. Baseball is both a huge business and an insular, old boys' network, and it takes a unique set of skills to convince 30 entities with such disparate interests to agree on anything of substance. For all the romanticism about a "strong, independent" commissioner, you can bet the owners are going to hire someone who makes them feel comfortable and represents their interests. The outsider approach didn't work very well with Peter Ueberroth (collusion) or Fay Vincent, who was forced out in 1992 and now revels in his role as Selig's unofficial critic-from-a-distance. So while a hip, visionary, former S&P 500 executive in a pin-striped suit would be a more commanding presence than Selig at future Senate steroid hearings, we can't see Jerry Reinsdorf and David Glass buying into that concept. Baseball will look within it's lieutenant's that Selig has right now 1. Bob DuPuy---DuPuy, MLB's president and chief operating officer, is a relatively below-the-radar presence to the average fan. But as Selig's former lawyer and trusted confidant, he is the commissioner's most indispensable lieutenant and the man who makes the trains run on time.That wildly successful operation? DuPuy hired Bob Bowman, the man who runs it. DuPuy has a hand in licensing, marketing and baseball's dealings with Capitol Hill, and he's played a role in the labor talks, the umpire negotiations and the drug-testing agreement. If any other significant issue arises -- from the Florida stadium issue to the debate over how baseball should honor when he passes Hank Aaron on the career home run list -- it's sure to cross his desk.DuPuy is accessible and media-friendly, and he has excellent relations with the clubs and productive dealings with the union, which has learned that he usually delivers what he promises. And like MacPhail, he would have Selig's seal of approval     2. Andy MacPhail  Folks in Chicago don't look so fondly on MacPhail, who stepped down in September after two playoff appearances in 12 years as Cubs president. Amid the doleful postmortems, he went to work as a pivotal player in baseball's labor negotiations -- doing enough to earn a seat at the table when the new five-year deal was announced during the World Series.MacPhail's father and grandfather are Hall of Fame executives, so he has the historical pedigree. And while the players' association respects him for his sensible and dogged approach to collective bargaining, he has experience running a small-market club in Minnesota and a bigger one in Chicago. His front-office colleagues in Minnesota still talk about him in almost worshipful tones.Most important, MacPhail is not a self-promoter, and Selig has a high regard for him. Don't discount that as a factor.   3.Robert D. Manfred, Jr. is one of five Executive Vice Presidents of Major League Baseball reporting directly to the President and the Commissioner. His areas of responsibility include Labor Relations and Human Resources. He is responsible for the relationship between the Clubs and the Major League Baseball Players Association, as well as the Human Resources functions of the Commissioner's Office.

Since: Jan 18, 2010
Posted on: January 18, 2010 1:04 pm

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

Yup!  Sure Costas would be great, with his EGO & big head he'd be the perfect pick for that bunch of misfit owners.

Since: Feb 7, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2010 9:08 pm

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

Greeny states that it is his dream job. I think he and Costas are similar, pretty much respected journalists that are passionate about the game of baseball. I can't argue with your comments at all, but I do think that Costas has more global recognition and would probably garner more overall respect in that position. Thanks for reading, and commenting. 

Since: Jan 17, 2010
Posted on: January 17, 2010 8:42 pm

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

Well if announcers work and dead doesn't disqualify then I think we need to make Harry Caray and Jack Buck co-commissioners.  I don't know if they are going to make better decisions than Bud but it will certainly be entertaining!

Since: Dec 22, 2009
Posted on: January 17, 2010 8:19 pm

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

Almost laughable even though you are serious. Costas is nothing more than a commentator, especially with a New York slant which is the last thing a commissioner should have. East Coast people like him but to most he just blows hot air.

What is needed is someone to bring some sort of parity to baseball, close to what the NFL has. The NBA and its gangsta atmosphere is another model to steer clear of. Baseball is a monopoly favoring large markets. I believe Congress could somehow regulate baseball but I am pretty sure they don't have the brains to do it correctly.

It's ridiculous every year big market teams attempt to buy a championship. What organizational skills are there in that? Is that what being competitive is all about? I went to zero Reds games this year. They cannot put a competitive team on the field with the payroll they can afford and management doesn't have the baseball skills to bring home a winner. Unfortunetly, owners cannot be fired. So every year it's a race to see how close to .500 the team can be while making a profit. It's more about money than winning.

Since: Dec 19, 2006
Posted on: January 17, 2010 7:38 pm

Baseball needs Bob Costas as commissioner

If Bud Selig could be commissioner this long, than being dead no longer disqualifies any candidate...

I like the Ripken idea to some degree...but I have reservations about someone who is so private and "clean."  There are always skeletons in the closet.  I would rather have someone with a few zits.

I don't know who they will end up picking (I hope to God it's someone smarter than Bush), but one thing that would not surprise me would be that they deliberately float someone shocking (e.g. Canseco) as a cover for their plan to bring in another owner lackey in the Selig mold.  The owners are not going to give up their control over the office of the commissioner.

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