Tom Werner ‘disappointed’ after commissioner vote
BALTIMORE — Red Sox chairman Tom Werner emerged from a crowded owners’ room at the Hyatt Regency at about 6 p.m. Thursday and said he was pressed for time because he wanted to return to Fenway Park for a party for his daughter, who is getting married in two days.
Werner, 64, interviewed for two days to become the next commissioner of Major League Baseball, but in the end, Bud Selig’s right-hand man for many years, Rob Manfred, 55, prevailed with a unanimous 30-0 decision after a closed-door meeting among owners.
MLB executive Tim Brosnan removed himself from the voting process early in the afternoon.
On the initial ballot, Manfred received 22 votes, one short of the three-quarter majority needed.
“Of course I’m slightly disappointed, but it was a healthy couple of days,’’ Werner said. “I was able to share my thoughts about how to move the game forward in a bunch of new areas. I think people were receptive to my ideas and we, at the end, voted unanimously to go forward with Rob. I’ll do everything possible to support him.’’
Werner said, “In the end, I think Rob will make a great commissioner.’’
Werner said he was not in the room for much of the discussion on the candidates, nor was Manfred, who said he did not know why the eight owners who voted for Werner changed their minds.
“I did this in a way of vetting a lot of ideas of how I thought we should move the game forward and there was always a feeling I’m doing this because I care about the game, but I also care about the Red Sox, so going back to Fenway right now,” Werner said.
The teams that appeared to be in Werner’s corner, according to a major league source, were the Angels, Athletics, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Reds, Nationals, White Sox, and Red Sox. Two league sources indicated the Nationals were the team that pushed the vote to Manfred, then everyone else came aboard.
“Basically, it was a hard-fought contest and Rob won and it was a unanimous vote in the end and we’re all going to support him,” Werner said. “I felt good about the dialogue and the constructive ideas that came about as a result of that dialogue. I think Rob agrees with me.”
Red Sox principal owner John Henry championed Werner’s candidacy, and was on board with the ideas Werner brought to the table.
“I’ll be surprised if Rob doesn’t incorporate some of those ideas,” Henry said.
Asked if he was disappointed, Werner said, “This is a tough job and I was prepared to do it, but we also found a good guy to do it. I’m very supportive of Rob and we’re going to move forward together as an industry.”
According to one league source, Werner made an excellent presentation on Wednesday, accentuating pace of game, expanding the game internationally, attracting a young fan base, and adding new media to enable fans to get games on iPhones and tablets more abundantly.
“I think there’s a huge amount of consensus [among owners] about certain types of effort to move the game forward,” Manfred said.
“The [selection] process provided a great opportunity for the candidates to talk about issues they saw in the game, and maybe more important, to get feedback from the clubs to see where they want to go.”
The New York Times reported that Werner was questioned about revenue sharing by, among others, Bill DeWitt, owner of the Cardinals and chairman of the commissioner search committee. The Red Sox are opposed to what they believe are excessive amounts of profit they have to share every season.
Werner would have had to divest himself of Red Sox ownership had he been elected commissioner. Manfred will take over as the 10th commissioner of baseball when Selig steps down in January. Selig will be 80. Manfred attended Cornell and Harvard Law School and was promoted to CEO of Major League Baseball last September.
“I am tremendously honored by the confidence owners showed in me today,” Manfred said. “I have very big shoes to fill.”
Selig, who grew baseball to an $8 billion industry, never campaigned for Manfred, but Manfred was his hand-picked successor.
“There were differences of opinion, but in the end we came together,” said Selig, who took over as interim commissioner in 1992 and has the second-longest tenure behind Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1920-44). “There is no doubt in my mind [Manfred] has the temperament, the training, the experience,”
Reinsdorf, who started the process of contesting Manfred’s candidacy, said in a statement, “While Rob may not have been my initial choice for commissioner, the conclusion of a very good process was to name Rob as the person best positioned to help baseball endure and grow even stronger for the next generation of fans.”
Those contesting Manfred thought he was not tough enough on labor issues. Negotiations on a new CBA in 2016 should begin over the winter.