- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Editor's Note: This column originally ran last week. It has been updated based on news that Rob Manfred has been named to be the next MLB Commissioner.
Major League Baseball's owners might have had more unanimous votes under commissioner Bud Selig in the past 20 years than the Politburo, which says a lot about Selig's unique ability to wrangle and cajole and convince. MLB isn't structured in a way that makes for strong central authority, and yet Selig built consensus.
The fact that the next MLB commissioner and Selig's successor, Rob Manfred, didn't have unanimous support on the first ballot could be the first sign of the significant challenges that him.
If you think U.S. presidents have a difficult time governing without the backing of the House or Senate, you have an idea of what Manfred will face as Major League Baseball moves toward the expiration of its current labor agreement at the end of the 2016 season. Manfred will have to try to forge a new labor agreement while also dealing with in-fighting between owners. Incidentally, this was the recipe that led to the players' strike of 1994.
And beyond that, the to-do list seems to grow by the day for Selig's successor.