MILWAUKEE -- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he could sense some relief from his predecessor after Bud Selig delivered his Hall of Fame induction speech on Sunday.
Two days after Selig was inducted with the Cooperstown Class of 2017, Manfred was in Selig's hometown. He dropped by Miller Park as part of his annual tour of MLB cities, meeting with club officials and Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
"It is a lot of pressure," said Manfred of Selig's speech. "It's an amazing honor. You know, sort of recognition of a career during which he accomplished so much. I'm sure that the pressure to strike the right tone in your speech is substantial.
"I thought he did really well. I thought he delivered a nice speech. I thought the content was great. He recognized a lot of different constituencies in the game, including Mike Weiner and the [MLB Players Association]. I thought it was really well done."
Selig's 18-minute speech covered his life in baseball, beginning with his Milwaukee Braves fandom during the 1950s and covering his bid to return Major League Baseball to Milwaukee during the late 1960s, his tenure as Brewers owner and his 22 years as the ninth Commissioner of the sport.
Today, Selig holds the title of Commissioner Emeritus.
"I thought the single thing [about Selig's tenure as Commissioner] that will be the most important in terms of the history of the game, the course of the game, is what I think of as the daily double," Manfred said. "He managed to reform the economics of the game while achieving labor peace. If you think about that, that's a real trick, right? Particularly in an industry that when he took over had never managed to make an agreement without a labor dispute. To make the kind of agreements that actually changed the economics of the game while still building a relationship that allowed us to keep the game on the field the entire time.
"Those two together, you can't take them apart. I mean, they're the same issue, right? Those two together are really an amazing accomplishment."
Manfred visited a day after a non-waiver Trade Deadline dominated by pitching. Although the likes of Yu Darvish and Sonny Gray were on the move, as were a slew of late-inning relievers, hitters mostly stayed put.
Some prospects exchanged hands, of course, but many more remained home as teams put more and more value on young, controllable talent. That has been the mantra in Milwaukee, where general manager David Stearns engaged the A's in talks on Gray but was unwilling to part with the sort of top-level prospects it would have required to get a deal done.
"It's a product of a broader change that's gone on in the game," Manfred said. "If you look at the age of our rosters, particularly the rosters where clubs have won, they are younger. They are significantly younger, actually, than they were a decade ago. As a result, clubs realize, whether you're big, small or in between, you have to have that core of homegrown talent. You can't go out and build a team in the free-agent market. It's not because there aren't appealing free-agent players, it is because clubs have adopted approaches where generally they have extended their control by doing multiyear deals with their very best players."
Many of Major League Baseball's division leaders used the Deadline to fortify already strong teams. Thirteen of the 30 teams entered play Tuesday with winning records, including six of 15 in the National League.
Does that bother Manfred?
"What I would say is this: We've had a couple of teams, at least, that really had outstanding first halves," he said. "The math just works out that when you have teams play at that winning percentage, and you have more than one of them, you're going to have more teams with losing records. I really see it that way. We haven't had multiple teams with that strong a half in a while."