I feel ya', George.
Last week, HBO's Real Sports aired this from comedian, George Lopez.
Lopez lamented on the lack of diversity of Major League Baseball, not out on the field, but in the dugout. He called it, The Brown Ceiling.
The Brown Ceiling refers to the highest point Latinos and Blacks are 'allowed' to participate on a MLB team. "They let us pitch. They let us hit....They'll even let us help out with the real jobs.... Hitting coaches. Pitching Coaches. They'll let us do almost any job. Almost."
What job is that?
As of today, there are two managers of color in the league. Lloyd McClendon (Seattle Mariners) and Fredí González (Atlanta Braves). Two out of 30 in a league that boasts over 37% of Latino and African-American players. There were five during the 2014 season, according to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (T.I.D.E.S.).
Chris Rock went in on Major League Baseball a few months ago as well, an honest segment that ripped into the sport, one which Lopez expands upon by discussing coaching hiring practices, dismal to say the least with only two managers of color currently in the League.
The numbers aren't much better in the front office of baseball teams around the league. There are currently five General Managers of color: Dave Stewart (Arizona Diamondbacks), Farhan Zaidi (Los Angeles Dodgers), Ruben Amaro, Jr (Philadelphia Phillies), Jeff Luhnow (Houston Astros) and Al Avila (Detroit Tigers).
Zaidi is the first Muslim GM of a pro sports team in America (according to T.I.D.E.S.) and earlier this month, Al Avila made history becoming the first Cuban-born GM in Major League Baseball.
When you look at the numbers, they're paltry. Baseball has gotten very good at recycling. McClendon's job could be in jeopardy this year with the Mariners falling far below expectations and his GM, Jack Zduriencik, under fire. Earlier this season, González was thought to be on the hot seat, but he just signed an extension through 2016 with an option for 2017.
If McClendon is out the door, that "head honcho" number that George Lopez referred to will be down to one. The next question to ask then is how soon will he get another chance? As is often the case with GMs, the manager position trends one of two ways: recycle a "name" or new and fresh.
Perhaps baseball is thinking new is better. Currently, there are eight MLB managers with 1 year or less experience. 15 managers have less than five years experience. The common trait among these men? The box they check on documents: White (Caucasian). One name not among them? Sandy Alomar, Jr.
Yes, you guessed it – he's Latino.
As Lopez points out, González "spent 17 years as a coaching apprentice before he finally got his shot". 17 years of bumping up against that “Brown Ceiling” before the opportunity availed itself. For comparison, Buck Showalter has been a major league manager for 17 years...with four different teams.
Anthony Salazar of SABR Latino says, “To say that there are no qualified prospective managers of color is outrageous. In fact, this seems to completely ignore the Commissioner's On-Field Diversity Task Force that was created by prior commissioner Bud Selig.” Salazar added, “It certainly begs to question, what are MLB general managers and presidents thinking when they look to hire managers?”
So what is it going to take for guys like a Sandy Alomar, Jr or other assistants of color to get hired? One way, Salazar says, will be for players and fans to hold “positions of authority” more accountable. “We are in a period of time where diversity, equity and inclusion means everyone gets a fair chance, not just those with privilege,” says Salazar.
As George Lopez said in closing his segment, “Baseball, we love you....But it doesn't always seem like you feel the same way.”
And as he said to us:
@ShadowLeagueTSL no matter what shade , truth is truth , I appreciate the message !— George Lopez (@georgelopez) August 19, 2015
I feel ya', George. I feel ya'.