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Why political bloggers should stick to politics

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I read a lot of political blogs and think a lot of political thoughts. And despite the fact that I often pretend to be a flaming commie, I’m actually a fairly middle-of-the-road guy. I mean, I lean left on many things and I’m pretty far left on a lot of social issues, but I have an inherently small-c conservative disposition and I’m farther right on a lot of other things than you may imagine based on the stuff I stay around here. If there’s a label for guys who would legalize soft drugs and gay marriage and put the screws to big business and the finance industry while simultaneously relaxing or repealing many gun laws and imposing fairly severe budget austerity, I haven’t seen it. Just a political mutt I guess.

But I know this much: for all of my personal political hangups, I don’t presume to know enough about either politics or policy to write intelligently about it for general consumption. No matter how strong my feelings on, say, health care or the budget debate, I won’t lay it on you here, partially because it’s not what you expect when you come here, but mostly because I just don’t have the depth of knowledge or insight to make it worth anyone’s while.

Would that political bloggers feel the same way about sports!  Like, say, Conor Friedersdorf. Who I like an awful lot as a political blogger, but who has an absolute batsh** crazy post up over at the Atlantic about how to fix sports in light of our collectively shrinking attention span. Here’s his baseball suggestion:

Presumably I’ll never persuade purists to eliminate a whole inning. So I’ll offer my next best suggestion: allow managers one opportunity per game to borrow an out or two from a later inning. So it’s the bottom of the third. There are two outs, with men on first and third. Your batter strikes out. And you can decide to borrow an out or two in order to try and drive in those runs… but it’s going to cost you, because once the current inning ends the opposing manager gets to decide at his leisure when to charge you that out or two. Yes, this would make it harder to compare players from different eras. But let’s be honest. Steroids and changing ballparks have already robbed us of that.

I’m not sure what part of “one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ballgame” Friedersdorf doesn’t understand. But given his small-c conservative tendencies, I am rather shocked that he would actually propose with a straight face — at least I think a straight face — something so inherently radical for a sport that values tradition more than just about any institution you could name.

There’s a lot going on in politics right now, Conor. You go take care of that and just leave the sports to us, OK?

Murray Chass rightfully nails Major League Baseball on minority hiring

Rob Manfred
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When Murray Chass lays off his vendettas against the people he feels have wronged him, he’s still capable of making some sharp points. Particularly when he’s working in his old bailiwick of the business of baseball.

On Sunday he wrote a blog post about minority hiring in baseball. As in, the nearly complete lack of it, at least in front offices:

Manfred has talked a better job on minority hiring than he has performed. He has created a pipeline program through which members of minorities are supposed to be able to advance into major league front office positions. However, no role models seem to exist as inspiration for younger employees.

In Manfred’s 20 months as commissioner, clubs have hired or promoted 19 high-ranking executives. Eighteen of the 19 are white males. The lone minority is Al Avila, the Tigers’ general manager.

Chass reports that Rob Manfred and, in the past, Bud Selig have leaned on clubs to hire friends or trusted lieutenants but claim they have no power to tell clubs who to hire when it comes to minorities. It’s pretty dang good point.

Moving beyond Chass’ points, it’s worth observing that one way baseball could better populate the executive ranks would be to hire more minorities in entry-level positions. What a better way to become a friend and crony than to have, you know, been there a long time? The game has had a horrible track record in doing this, however, for one simple reason: it pays crap wages for all but the highest of executive positions, pushing away candidates for whom money is, in fact, an object to pursuing a dream in baseball which, by demographic necessity, favors the rich and thus favors whites. Earlier this year MLB launched a pipeline program aimed at getting more minority candidates into entry level MLB jobs. That’s a good start to addressing the problem, but it’s going to take years for that to bear fruit, assuming it ever does.

Back in June Kate Morrison and Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a four-part series regarding this very issue, and it’s well worth your time. Among the points made is one that, given his vendettas, Chass surprisingly didn’t make himself: sabermetrics is partially to blame! Go read Kate and Russell’s work on that, but the short version: front offices want MBA/STEM types now, not people with athletic backgrounds. People with those degrees have expensive educations and, in turn, cannot afford to take pennies to work in baseball when they can make far more in other industries, thereby continuing to favor the rich and the white.

I don’t think Rob Manfred or Bud Selig before him or the people who run major league baseball teams are bigots. I don’t think that baseball, as a whole, wants to keep minorities out of top jobs. Chass doesn’t make such a claim either and he, like I, noted the pipeline program.

But baseball is a business rife with cronyism and nepotism which leads those in power to hire friends and relatives, thereby keeping the executive class overwhelmingly male and white. Baseball has shown that, when it wants to, it can lean on teams to make certain hiring choices. Will it do the same to push for greater minority representation in management ranks? Or will it continue to throw up its hands up and say “hey, that’s on the clubs?”

Tim Tebow hits a homer in his first instructional league at bat

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets hits a home run at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Because of course he did.

It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt.  The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.

Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.