While taking pains to credit White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf for a long history of minority hiring (“no one does it better”), former New York Times baseball columnist turned
blogger independent journalist Murray Chass takes a dim view of the former’s unsuccessful attempts to install TV producer/Red Sox co-owner Tom Werner as MLB’s new commissioner. “If Rob Manfred’s victory over Reinsdorf’s puppet candidate will plunge the owner into an abyss of absence from baseball matters,” writes Chass, “the owners couldn’t have given Bud Selig a better going away present.”
After Manfred, as the owners’ chief labor negotiator, achieved an unprecedented three consecutive labor contracts without a work stoppage (five strikes and three lockouts had preceded them), Reinsdorf (above) accused Manfred of being too soft on the union and made it clear that he wanted to renew the battle for a payroll cap that the owners failed to get in 1994. He ignored the fact that the two decades of labor peace had created an unprecedented growth in industry revenue to $9 billion and sent values of the owners’ franchises, including his own, skyrocketing.
He failed miserably on Thursday in his brazen attempt to prevent Manfred from taking Selig’s seat in the commissioner’s office. “Jerry was so over the top on this one,” a high-ranking official said after the owners’ meeting. “He had no chance. There was never a race here.”
No controlling owner has been around as long as Reinsdorf. If he ever had any usefulness, he has outlived it. If he succeeded at anything with his Werner initiative, it was in conning The New York Times into thinking that Werner actually had a chance to win.
“Tom Werner emerges to create race for commissioner,” said a headline on the Times’ web site Aug. 6, touting Werner’s candidacy. At that time, Werner had five votes, three fewer than he needed to block Manfred, who had 20 votes, three fewer than he needed for election.