The United States is on a problem-solving roll, but who knows how long that will last.
If we move quickly there’s probably just enough time to settle the next big issue facing humanity before Congress shoves another stick of dynamite up its collective rear end and threatens to light the fuse. Again.
So let’s the rest of us turn our attention the most compelling question now facing our nation: exactly who should replace Bud Selig as the next Commissioner of Baseball?
In the tradition of John Hodgman on “The Daily Show” I will take the lead here, cut to the chase, and solve that problem for everyone.
And you’re welcome.
There is only one person who is the obvious perfect choice to lead Major League Baseball into the mid-21st century: New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson.
Alderson has already helped shape the modern history of baseball, and he is a student of the game who fully understands its legacy and its future.
After graduating from Dartmouth College, Alderson joined the Marines and served a tour of duty in Vietnam before getting his law degree from Harvard Law School. He worked at a private law firm in San Francisco for five years before being asked to become the General Counsel for the Oakland A’s in 1981.
Alderson was made General Manager of the A’s in 1983 and over the next fourteen years he rebuilt Oakland’s crumbling minor league system while winning four Division titles, three American League pennants, and the 1989 World Series. He brought ex-player Billy Beane into the A’s front office and promoted Beane to Assistant GM in 1993.
This was about the time Sandy Alderson, faced with new ownership’s mandate to cut costs, began exploring sabermetrics and discovered the undervalued statistical attributes of specific players whose contributions could key team wins. He also mentored Beane in the new math, who eventually became Oakland’s GM in 1997.
In 1997, Sandy Alderson’s next challenges came as Vice President of Baseball Operations for the Commissioner’s Office, a position he held for seven years. During his tenure Major League Baseball expanded its outreach to Latin America and consolidated control over baseball’s umpires in a legendary confrontation.
In 1999 the umpire’s union revolted against a series of conforming changes the Commissioner’s Office wanted to make in the game’s umpiring. Disparate strike zones and separate crews for each League, among other things, were creating inconsistencies in applying the game’s rules.
That’s when the umpire’s union decided to respond with a power play against Major League Baseball: mass resignations to bring the games to a halt. So fifty-four umpires submitted their resignations to the Commissioner’s office.
In a brilliant, and now legendary, move Sandy Alderson immediately accepted every umpire’s resignation and began planning to hire replacement umpires.
After much legal maneuvering most of the umpires were rehired, but the Commissioner’s Office gained tighter controls over insuring consistent officiating of the game. Umpires, who used to work for either the American or the National League, now worked for Major League Baseball.
Alderson moved on to become the GM of the San Diego Padres and, in 2010, was named the General Manager of the New York Mets– his current job.
There’s little doubt the challenges faced by the next Commissioner will be daunting.
Up front first is the implementation of long overdue instant replay protocols which are needed to keep the game’s integrity in tact. At the same time, the aggressive marketing of baseball and ensuring that media contracts and other revenue streams continue to increase are critically important to owners.
Greater inclusion of international players at the Major League level, specifically from Latin America and Asia (and the increased marketing that will bring) are important to the game’s future. And more aggressive prevention of the use of performance enhancing drugs among players is a critical goal– which includes actively anticipating newly developed drugs and supplements.
That’s a lot.
But Sandy Alderson has the experience, the creativity, and the leadership skills to take on those challenges and become an effective and legendary Baseball Commissioner. So let’s get it done before he signs a contract extension with the Mets.