After MLB owners voted for a lockout to pressure players into accepting their terms, commissioner Rob Manfred has all eyes on him. This wasn’t helped by his insincere letter trying to call this lockout a good thing. MLB players are especially mad at this letter.

(Note: The MLB website has removed all pictures on players’ profiles, so a lot of MLB players made that their picture on social media.)

While I could write some long blog about the history of labor relations, union busting, and other underhanded methods employers use to control their employees, I won’t. What I am going to do is rank the commissioners of the big four US sports (and the NCAA) from best to worst.

1. Adam Silver

Adam Silver is much better than Rob Manfred
Photo Credits: USA Today

Part of the reason Adam Silver is number one is nothing has really gone wrong during his tenure. Yes, Covid sucked, but the NBA handled it pretty well. Players hated the bubble, but fans enjoyed it and it was the best the NBA could do. At the same time, Silver doesn’t interject himself trying to be the face of the league but suspending guys every week to “Defend the Shield” or whatever.

However, there is one thing Adam Silver has done that cements his number one spot: he has shed the “mafia boss” persona that plagued David Stern. Frozen envelopes, league sanctioned rigged series, and Tim Donaghy. While a lot of that is still associated the NBA, Silver has at least tried to keep the NBA’s shady side in the shadows.

2. 50 Feet of Crap

Adam Silver is far and away the best commissioner, so it’s hard to have someone else at number two.

3. Roger Goodell

Photo Credits: AP

Surprise pick for number three. Given “Deflategate,” “Protect the Shield,” and seeming “spin the wheel of suspensions” creating weird punishments for players. However, as other commissioners were forced to do things, they stumbled. The NHL lockouts, MLB lockout, and COVID really hurt the other commissioners, but Goodell came out reasonably well. Last year, all 256 NFL games were played with no cancellations. While the Super Bowl had its first rating under 40 since 1990 and its lowest since 1969, the league is still going strong.

4. Rob Manfred

Should Rob Manfred be lower on this list?
Photo Credits: MLB

Prior to 2020, Rob Manfred had a strong case to be number two. Similar to what has helped Adam Silver look so good, no news is good news. However, the last two years have gone to shit. The handling of the Astros Sign Stealing Scandal, the fumbled introduction of video replay, juicing then un-juicing balls (and using juiced balls in primetime games), the Covid delay last season. It’s all come down the pipe at the same time, and the owners voting for a lockout and Rob Manfred supporting them doesn’t help.

5. Gary Bettman

Gary Bettman is, by far, the worst professional commissioner. There has been a cancelled season under his watch, along with two other lockouts. In addition to the lockouts, Bettman has some weird obsession with bringing hockey to the south. I get expanding the game, but don’t do it at the expense of fans in traditional hockey markets. I don’t think Atlanta, Arizona, Carolina, and Florida should have teams over Hartford, Quebec City, Winnipeg, and Minnesota. (I understand Hartford is a tiny market and Winnipeg and Minnesota got teams back, but the point stands.) I understand league revenues have gone up, but at what point is it not worth it?

6. Mark Emmert

I know he’s not a “professional commissioner” but the “NCAA President,” but I’m including him because he sucks. Say what you want about the other guys, but none of them have fought to avoid paying their players entirely. Mark Emmert is the worst and I will not be taking questions at this time.

Should Rob Manfred be lower? Let me know on Twitter, and check out Belly Up to stay up to date on the MLB lockout. And if you want to hear more of my thoughts on Mark Emmert, check out Tailgate on the Quad, with new episodes dropping Thursday morning.

Listen to “Tailgate on the Quad” on Spreaker.
About Author


Growing up in the northeast, college football wasn't exactly played in my house. That all changed when I went to the University of Alabama. I immediately fell in love with college football, and took that love to Belly Up Sports where I became the college football department head. One upside of being from Massachusetts is I have seen a lot of success in terms of sports, and fell in love with all sports at a young age, so I will dip my pen about pretty much anything. I also make graphic content for the site.

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