Back in 1999, then-Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig hit baseball with a brush back pitch.
Selig issued a mandate, nicknamed the "Selig Rule," demanding every team to consider minority candidates "for all general manager, assistant general manager, field manager, director of player development and director of scouting positions.”
By 2013, MLB was being recognized as a game-changer in diversity. Dr. Richard Lapchick of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida once more praised the sport of baseball in his annual Racial and Gender Report Card.
"Major League Baseball continues to achieve high marks on the issue of racial hiring practices," Lapchick wrote.
He also gave props to the sport’s improved gender hiring practices.
"As he nears retirement, one of the legacies of Commissioner Bud Selig is that he recognized the need for diversity in baseball long ago," Lapchick wrote. "MLB continues to make real progress in the areas of inclusion and diversity."
Lapchick definitely wasn’t referring to the manager position.
These days, it appears that MLB teams have stolen a page out of the current political climate by sneak dissing Selig by saying: #WhiteManagerLivesMatter.
Despite the way MLB has boasted about being leaders in gender hiring practices and ethnic diversity in the front offices -- and Lapchick wouldn’t have given them props if they weren’t actually accomplishing these changes on some larger scale than the other major sports -- in 2015 the numbers don’t support that.
Something is still not adding up and Selig’s Rule may be working behind the scenes, but baseball’s most visible leadership positions confirm an obvious reality; the “old boys network” is still alive and stagnating the pipeline of talent to MLB managerial gigs.
Major League Baseball has 30 teams.
27 of those teams have white managers.
1 team has a Latino manager.
Currently, two vacancies are with the Nationals and Dodgers, with one current interim manager in Boston.
I could say something cliche such as “I’m going to leave this here” or “Let that sink in,” but those numbers deserve more than the average hot take. When Black/Latino managers who’ve led teams deep into the postseason can’t get a sniff at a gig, you have to wonder how minority candidates who have coaching experience such as Dave Martínez, Bo Porter, Sandy Alomar, Jr., Joey Cora, DeMarlo Hale, Roberto Kelly and Tony Pena must feel. They probably feel like they are in a time warp and see signs that say “Whites Only.”
Porter, a rare African-American skipper, had the Astros managerial position snatched from his clutches in 2014, just as the team was blossoming into playoff material. Porter had put his blood sweat and tears into helping the Astros break a streak of three consecutive 100 game-losing seasons and because of “philosophical” differences with upper management, after 300 games, Porter was replaced by A.J. Hinch, a white manager with even less experience. Hinch managed Arizona from May 2009 until July 2010, when he was fired after a 31-48 start.
This past Friday, the Seattle Mariners announced the hiring of former player Scott Servais, a former Major Leaguer with ZERO managing or coaching experience. He joins Robin Ventura of the White Sox, Walt Weiss of the Rockies, Brad Ausmus of the Tigers, Mike Matheny of the Cardinals and Craig Counsell of the Brewers on the “No experience needed” fast track.
Meanwhile, guys like Ozzie Guillen, who won a World Series, Dusty Baker, who led three teams to the postseason and Willie Randolph, have to be burning up inside when they hear that someone who’s never ran a team gets a gig normally given to someone like them.
And guess what?? Twitter noticed:
NPB: 12 teams & 1 Latino manager. MLB: 30 teams & 1 Latino manager. Neither has an African-American skipper, but only one claims diversity.— Yakyu Night Owl (@YakyuNightOwl) October 19, 2015
New #Mariners manager Scott Servais has never managed or coached at any level. No one even blinks; such hirings becoming almost the norm.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) October 23, 2015
In a highly competitive, results-based business such as Major League baseball, it appears that teams are going to do whatever they want to get ahead. MLB and diversity be damned. The Brewers and the Marlins made “internal” managerial hires to get around the Selig Rule this season.
To be fair, some guys such as Jerry Manuel and the recently fired Lloyd McClendon did get their second chances. But those chances are few and far between. Then again, the Cubs dumped Rick Renteria, a Spanish-speaking manager, who did nothing wrong, for Joe Maddon (although in searching for that elusive playoff berth, the Cubs’ hiring of Maddon was an upgrade from Renteria. He’s a Top 5 skipper with a World Series appearance and a reputation for doing more with less.).
Are these guys caught up in the matrix, or teams just don’t want to deal with a guy who’s managed before? Maybe GM’s, and other front office folks, want to have more control over on-the-field decisions. After all, the front office is notoriously the last contributor to get credit when a team is successful. Also, Baker is 66. He’s an old school manager who has been criticized for being stuck in his ways along with ignoring sabermetrics, the type of analysis GM’s these days are proponents of.
The questions that needs to be asked is, are the hires by design, with intent to systematically exclude certain people ? We’d hope that it’s purely coincidental and teams simply believe that the man they hired is the best person for the job because of talent.
Familiarity is also a factor in hiring one of the “faces of your franchise,” cultural or otherwise. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto exemplified this when the team announced the hiring of Servais.
"Through the course of the 20-plus years I've known Scott, I've come to see him as one of the most complete, well-balanced and inclusive baseball people in the industry," Dipoto told MLB.com. "I've been fortunate enough to call him a teammate as a player, while also having worked closely with him as an organizational leader in both Colorado and Los Angeles.
"He is a communicator with strong baseball acumen and leadership skills. I truly believe his strong character and career experiences as a player, coach and executive have prepared him for this opportunity."
Dipoto’s comments could be a cause for concern for those waiting for a call to be interviewed.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow admitted that he felt more comfortable from a cultural perspective, with Hinch, whose career path was similar. "He's well-rounded -- understands my perspective," Luhnow said.
It was definitely a jab at the outspoken Porter, who had an old school swag and no front-office experience.
In any case, we may hear of another shutout of Black and Latinos when it comes to prime gigs like the Dodgers opening. It has been reported that former Major Leaguer and Fox Sports TV personality Gabe Kapler is one of the guys who could get that Hollywood gig replacing recently fired Don Mattingly.
That’s bad for a league that is already batting below the Mendoza line with diversity at managerial positions.