According to a troubling report from Rachel Bachman and Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal (subscription link), former MLB Advanced Media chief Bob Bowman was forced out of his position after multiple incidents of workplace misconduct.
Bowman left the entity in early November, not long after majority rights to a spun-off entity (BAMTech) was sold to Disney. MLB’s digital media arm has long been lauded as an industry leader that has generated massive revenues for the league and its member organizations.
The story is loaded with explosive details that could conceivably have broader ramifications within the league office. MLB Advanced Media has long been a separately operated entity with its own headquarters, though allegations against Bowman — in some cases dating back to over a decade — are said to have made their way to the commissioner’s chair.
Bowman is reported to have engaged in a variety of concerning actions during his tenure, including “propositioning female colleagues, allegedly conducting consensual relationships with subordinate coworkers and cultivating a culture of partying and heavy drinking with employees outside the office.” A few other particularly concerning episodes are detailed yet further in the report. Bowman is reported to have shoved an executive in the Red Sox ownership group this past July. MLB Advanced Media is also said to have hosted a party at the 2016 All-Star Game that included entertainment consisting of “alleged escorts.”
In comments to the Journal, current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged that an October incident — in which Bowman is said to have engaged in verbal abuse of someone within his office — represented “the culmination of a variety of issues that had gone on over a period of time” and “precipitated” a mutual decision to part ways. Bowman, meanwhile, admitted that his own “personal flaws” led to “inappropriate behavior.”
Whether there could be further repercussions is not clear at this time, but some of the allegations — especially, those involving sexual harassment and other such issues — are deeply concerning and could seemingly be of ongoing importance. More generally, the report suggests questions about the league’s priorities. Significant profits have already been logged despite the problems that evidently existed under Bowman. Most recently, it has been widely reported that each MLB club is slated to receive an approximately $50MM payout from the BAMTech sale.