The Old Boys Club

 

On May 17, 2016, Freddie Gonzalez was relieved of his duties as manager from the Atlanta Braves organization.

69 years ago, Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier in Major League Baseball. In 2015, 41.2% of players in the MLB were non-caucasian. From this, it appears that diversity in baseball is an issue of the past. However, there is a developing trend in the MLB that many fans are unaware of.

In 1999, the “Selig Rule” was introduced into the MLB which mandated that teams should consider hiring minorities in front office positions. This was enacted due to the fact that only about 3% of front office employees were minorities (women and visible minorities). On the surface, the Selig Rule appears to have been effective, as this percentage had risen to 20% by 2013. However, the mandate has not materialized in managerial positions.

Ken Rosenthal from Fox Sports has reported that 28.5% of players on opening day rosters were in fact Hispanic. Ideally, that would be reflected in at least a quarter of MLB managers being Hispanic as well. Managers and upper management should reflect the diversity of the players as baseball becomes more diverse.

On May 17, 2016, Freddie Gonzalez was relieved of his duties as manager from the Atlanta Braves organization. The Braves had the worst record in the MLB, and the manager in these situations is usually the first one to go. Unfortunately, with that, now only two of the thirty managers in the MLB are visible minorities.

Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner, has acknowledged the lack of diversity in the ranks of baseball and referred to 2016 as a “year where our numbers are down.” However, there are vast amounts of qualified African-American and Hispanic coaches who seem be ignored. Not only this, but there has been a plethora of recent hirings of white managers with little to no experience.

Craig Counsell in Milwaukee, Brad Ausmus in Detroit, Kevin Cash in Tampa Bay, Paul Molitor in Minnesota, Matt Williams in Washington, Mike Matheny in St. Louis, and Matt Weiss in Colorado were all hired with minimal coaching experience. They were streamlined to these positions through “special advisory roles”. On the other hand, current and former African-American managers like Bo Porter, Ron Washington, Dave Roberts, and Lloyd Mclendon paid their dues in the minor leagues and served as bench coaches prior to being promoted.

One of the most memorable managers in MLB history is Ozzie Guillen. He is famous for his passionate press conferences where many profanities were uttered and things always seemed to go awry. As entertaining as his antics were, his actions are representative of the common stereotype of Hispanic managers in the MLB.

Check out this video of his rant in 2008 about the media in Chicago.

In a sport that respects “the code” and its traditions more than anything else, there is apparently little room for brash attitudes and big personalities. However, the conflict of old versus new school seems to be completely racial; where Hispanic players that play with emotion and exuberance are criticized, while only white traditionalists that play humbly are honoured.

Many Hispanic players developed their talents in less formal environments, where bat flips and excessive celebration is part of the fun.

Current Atlanta Braves pitcher Bud Norris was quoted last season, saying, “We’re opening this game to everyone that can play. However, if you’re going to come into our country and make our American dollars, you need to respect a game that has been here for over a hundred years.” The quote itself carries xenophobic undertones. These undertones are reflected by the old school views and hiring practices within the MLB. From the outside looking in, it seems like the MLB is an Old Boys Club with very few minorities actually getting a seat at the table.

In a league dominated by predominately white ownership, this so-called “down year” seems to be a disturbing example of white managers being streamlined to positions over qualified minority candidates.

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