Why aren't there more minority third base coaches?


Baseball is about 40% non-white (i.e. black, Hispanic, Asian). Third base coaches are 23% non-white.  First base coaches, in contrast, are 67% non-white. Michael S. Schmidt writes about it in the New York Times.  It’s interesting and reasoned reading, but if you think I’m not going to blockquote the most provocative passage from it, well, you’re just not that familiar with my work:

Current and former minority coaches and managers said they had noticed the disparity for years, but none attributed it to overt racism. Instead, some of the former coaches, along with diversity experts, questioned whether race may be playing a more subtle role, with minorities routinely funneled into a job at first base that is less demanding than the one at third.

“It’s very easy for them to put the minority at first base, to say we have a minority and we hire minorities,” said Al Bumbry, a black former player who was a first-base coach for the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.

I don’t purport to be an expert when it comes to these matters, but I’m always skeptical of mass media stories about race that start with statistics and search for explanations for them as opposed to those stories starting with documented questionable attitudes or practices and then analyze the impacts.*  Sometimes weird things happen in small samples (and we’re only talking about 60 coaches here). I’m more interested in knowing what has happened before and how we got where we are.

And there is some of that in the second half of the article. Particularly Bobby Valentine’s quotes about how friendship explains an awful lot about a manager’s choice of coaches. I imagine there’s all manner of other noise going on here that suggest explanations apart from first-level racial discrimination for the disparity in numbers.

At the end of the day, though, who the hell wants to be a third base coach? There’s hardly anyone more maligned than those dudes.

*Not that I discount statistical analysis as a means of gaining insight on racial matters. I just think that any meaningful discussion of that sort of thing is best suited for (a) larger sample sizes than professional sports provide; and (b) academic literature as opposed to a 1,500 word story in a daily paper.

Theo Epstein on sportswriters: “The life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself…”

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 07:  Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein stands on the field during batting practice before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field on October 7, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Rick Morissey of the Chicago Sun-Times published an article on Sunday giving a bit of insight into Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. When Epsten was younger, he dabbled in sportswriting, but quickly realized the trade wasn’t for him.

As Morissey details, when Epstein was 19 years old writing for Yale’s student newspaper, he wrote an article suggesting the school’s football coach should be fired during what would become a 3-7 season. Epstein was told during the meeting that one writer would defend the coach and one would call for his job. “It was a lesson in the way that the world of journalism sometimes works. It was an eye-opener for me. I regret it, and I’ve happily moved on.”

Epstein continued, “I realized I didn’t want to be a sportswriter when I was interning with the Orioles back in ’92, ’93, ’94. I did do a lot of media-relations stuff, and I saw that the life of a sportswriter is pretty lonely. You kind of work by yourself, sit there by yourself in the press box, go back to the hotel bar. Not to generalize.” He added, “But I really respect writing and respect sportswriters.”

He’s not wrong, and he seems to have found his calling as a front office executive. His Cubs are back in the World Series for the first time since 1945.

Jason Kipnis injured his ankle celebrating the pennant with Francisco Lindor

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 17:  Jose Ramirez #11, Francisco Lindor #12, Jason Kipnis #22 and Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians celebrate after defeating the Toronto Blue Jays with a score of 4 to 2 in game three of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 17, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
1 Comment

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis tweeted on Sunday, “Got a little too close to [Francisco Lindor] during the celebration!! Freak accident but should be good to go by Tuesday! #cantkeepmeoutofthisgame!”

Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, manager Terry Francona said Kipnis is dealing with a low ankle sprain, but he’s expected to be ready to go when the World Series begins on Tuesday. Kipnis went through fielding drills on Sunday.

Kipnis is hitting .167/.219/.367 with a pair of homers and four RBI in eight games this postseason.