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Welcome Commissioner Rob Manfred - This Is Sports Zone

On Sunday, January 25th 2015, Rob Manfred became the tenth commissioner in Major League Baseball history, succeeding Bud Selig. His appointment was unanimously approved by the owners back in August, after being baseball’s Chief Operating Officer since 2013. He has worked with baseball in some capacity since 1987, first involving collective bargaining, then serving as outside counsel to the owners during the Players Strike of 1994. He joined baseball on a full-time basis in 1998, serving as the Executive Vice President of Economics and League Affairs. Manfred negotiated baseball’s first drug testing agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association in 2002, and represented the owners in negotiations with the MLBPA when forming new collective bargaining agreements in 2002, 2006 and 2011.

In his role as COO of baseball, he oversaw the investigation into the Biogenesis scandal of 2013 that led to the suspension of 13 players, including Ryan Braun and Nelson Cruz, and had a major role during the appeal of Alex Rodriguez that consumed much of baseball’s offseason last year. He has also overseen all traditional functions of the Commissioner’s Office, including labor relations, baseball operations, finance, administration and club governance. Still, a seven-man search committee, headed by Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., eventually presented a slate of three candidates to the Executive Committee: Manfred, MLB’s executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. Brosnan dropped out after the initial vote, which saw Manfred receive 22 of 30 votes, while Werner didn’t receive a single vote in the recount which cemented Manfred’s appointment. Both pledged their support for the new commissioner when it was over.

Manfred’s first act as commissioner was to overhaul baseball’s hierarchy, replacing seven of the eight members of the Executive Counsel, with Cardinals general Bill DeWitt the lone holdover. The new members are Yankees general partner Hal Steinbrenner, Twins owner Jim Pohlad, Rays owner Stu Sternberg, Rangers co-chairman Ray Davis, Pirates owner Bob Nutting, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. They replace White Sox board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, Red Sox owner John Henry, Reds owner Bob Castellini, Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Royals owner David Glass; though Glass was named head of baseball’s business committee, and Wilpon head of the finance committee. New Padres chairman Ron Fowler was also appointed to head up the labor committee.

But Manfred’s main goals will be to continue to find ways to market baseball to the younger audience; those who have disillusioned with longer games and less offense in the post-steroid era. Manfred cause a mini-uproar by advocating for the banning of the overuse of defensive shifts that have become popular in recent seasons, while issues such as speeding up the pace of games, the end of the current labor agreement in 2016, and the need for an international draft as opposed to the current system of bringing foreign athletes to the majors will be among his top priorities, as well as the ongoing fight against performance enhancing drugs and a possible ruling on the reinstatement of Pete Rose.

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