Round Up the Unusual Suspects: Moneyball Nerds Squeeze Out Blacks & Latinos from Baseball Jobs
October 28, 2016, 04:30 PM
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From the New York Times:
Where Are Baseball’s Minority Managers? Sports of The Times By MICHAEL POWELL OCT. 27, 2016

CHICAGO — Gary Jones came jogging over during a cool, autumnal batting practice at Wrigley Field. An athletic-looking man with a thin trace of a gray-flecked mustache, he is the infield and third-base coach on the Cubs’ roundhouse punch of a World Series team.

I mean to take nothing away from this fine moment by asking: Do you still dream of being a manager?

I ask because this 55-year-old man is a 15-year minor league manager with a winning record and multiple titles to his name. He has won four Manager of the Year Awards in the minors. Then he moved upstairs with the San Diego Padres and won three organizational awards for excellence in player development.

He whistles softly. “I mean, I haven’t thought about it for a while,” he said. “As the years go by, you kind of put it on the back burner. But I’m not going to say the door is closed.”

I have left out a salient detail here: Jones is a black man. And Major League Baseball remains a sport sliding backward in this regard. Last year baseball had one Latino and no black managers.

Now it has one Latino, the newly hired Rick Renteria of the White Sox, and two black managers, Dusty Baker and Dave Roberts.

Roberts is probably more Japanese or Okinawan than he is black. He’s a military brat like Tiger Woods. His father was a Marine and he was born in Okinawa.
Those two men guided their teams, the Washington Nationals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, to the playoffs.

Twenty-seven non-Hispanic white men manage major league baseball teams.

A year ago, I asked Commissioner Rob Manfred about the dearth of nonwhite managers. As recently as 2009, baseball had 10 black and Latino managers. Manfred advised me to take the long view.

“There is a certain cyclical nature,” he said. “There are peaks and valleys.”

A year later baseball is still lost in that valley. …

This situation only gets worse in the front offices. There is not a single black or Latino in the positions of chief executive or president of a club. Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport issues an annual report on racial and gender hiring. The most recent report offers sad findings and a few oddly generous grades. It lists baseball as having four general managers who are “people of color.” This number curiously includes Jeff Luhnow of the Houston Astros.

Luhnow’s father and mother are white; his father was an advertising executive who moved to Mexico City. A year later, his wife gave birth to Jeff. He attended an American school in Mexico City and learned to speak fluent Spanish. This is great life experience, and he is a fine executive.

He is not, however, Latino or a “person of color.”

This doesn’t come up in the article, but one obvious reasons is that the Moneyball revolution in statistical analyses has made baseball more cerebral, raising the IQ demands on both field managers and, especially, front office staff.

For example, Theo Epstein, the general manager of the Chicago Cubs, is a Yale grad who never played sports beyond high school, but was made general manager of the Boston Red Sox in 2002 at age 28. He’s a grandson of one of the Epstein twins who together wrote the most famous line in screenwriting history, when at the end of “Casablanca,” Rick shoots Major Strasser and then Captain Renault orders his minions to … [spoiler alert].

But Epstein is a practically a tobacco-chewing baseball lifer compared to the L.A. Dodgers’ general manager:

Farhan Zaidi (born November 11, 1976) is a Canadian-American sports executive of Pakistani descent. He is currently the General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Zaidi was born in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and raised in the Philippines after his family moved to Manila when he was 4 years old.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. He briefly worked for the Boston Consulting Group and the Sporting News website between MIT and Berkeley.

While at Berkeley, he read the book Moneyball and it changed his life. He saw a job posting for a baseball operations position with the Oakland Athletics and sent out his resume, beating out 1,000 other applicants for the job.

Zaidi is one of two Muslim executives in Major League Baseball. He is the first Muslim general manager of any American professional sports franchise.

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