andy pettitte getty

Jon Heyman once again falsely accuses Andy Pettitte of changing his testimony in the Clemens case

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Jon Heyman has a silly and superfluous column up today in which he attempts to turn a couple of random recent news stories involving PED-associated ballplayers into some big trend piece about PEDs in baseball.  He references two guys — Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi — whose PED stories are years old, and then name-checks Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon.  But heck, even he’s only half buying it:

 It seems half the positive news so far regards folks with positive tests. Technically, that isn’t true. But it does seem that way.

Whatever. Everyone’s gotta write a column. It’s not even the worst one we’ve seen from a famous national writer today.But it does contain one passage which is as odious as it is wrong, and Heyman should know better:

Meanwhile, the Yankees are waiting on former HGH user Andy Pettitte, who is due to tell them any day whether he’d like to return for what promises to be a substantial raise from the $2.5 million he made last year after he announced his comeback in spring training.

That’s no surprise. He performed very well on the field after he came back, much better than he did in the courtroom, where he testified he couldn’t really recall whether Roger Clemens told him he had used HGH only one day after testifying Clemens did, in fact, tell him he used HGH.

Odd that he recalled a 10-year-old conversation one day, then couldn’t remember the same 10-year-old conversation the next day on the stand.

This is flat wrong.  The “Pettitte changed his testimony” line was widely parroted (including by Heyman himself) last spring when Roger Clemens was acquitted.  Some even went so far as to accuse him of perjury.  But as I demonstrated the very day it happened, Pettitte did nothing of the sort. He didn’t change his story. Not one bit. You can read the details of that here. The short version: Pettitte was consistent for years. The prosecution overreached, mischaracterized what he said and tried to contort it to its own ends, but Pettitte’s story never changed.

Heyman should have known this then.  He should definitely know it by now. The fact that he still clings to the idea that Pettitte lied under oath or changed his story is repugnant and demands a retraction.

A-Rod will be back on Fox for the playoffs

Alex Rodriguez
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Alex Rodriguez made for a shockingly good analyst during last year’s playoffs. He’s clear and concise and is able to criticize players without being a jackass. That’s key, as so many current and former players who spend time doing analysis seem loathe to call out a player despite the fact that that’s what they’re there for.

Fox obviously liked what they got out of A-Rod, because he’s coming back:

Now, if they can refrain from hiring Pete Rose and if TBS brings back A.J. Pierzynski, tuning in to the pregame and postgame shows may actually be worth your time this October.

Blame Baseball’s copycat behavior for its lack of diversity in the executive ranks

Rob Manfred
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Following on yesterday’s stuff about baseball’s marked lack of diversity in the executive ranks comes a Ken Rosenthal column which digs into it a bit.

I might observe that, while, Rosenthal is right on all of the facts, there is a whiff of pushback in the story. As if MLB folks were hearing the criticisms Murray Chass and others have leveled in recent days about the lack of women, minorities and other candidates who don’t fit the “30-something MBA from an Ivy League school” mold of so many of today’s top execs and wanted to get some points out there. The league’s search firm is examined and there is a bit of “well, here is an exception; and here are a few more . . .” to it. Which, hey, that’s fair. Like I said, Rosenthal has his facts right and treats the issue seriously.

I think Rosenthal’s best bit, however, is the point he hits on at the end, when he says “homogeneity is dangerous in any industry, particularly when bright people are excluded.” That’s probably the key word to think about when you think about baseball’s hiring practices. “Homegeneity.” Baseball has a distinct lack of women and minorities in key positions, but I don’t think it’s because baseball is maliciously racist or sexist. Rather, it’s because baseball is acutely prone to copycat behavior that breeds homogeneity.

Everything about baseball culture, from the first day of a player’s minor league career-on and from the first day an intern is hired to get coffee for an assistant general manager is about not being different. About not sticking out. About emulating successes. You may mess up or you may fail, but if you do it while going about your business the way other, successful people went about theirs, you’ll be way better off than if you did things differently or stuck out.

This is true of all industries to some degree, but it seems far more prevalent in baseball. It’s a smaller world with fewer opportunities than business at large. It’s a more conservative world in terms of temperament. It’s one where you’re far more likely to have a reporter ask you about why you did something than, say, the accounting industry. It makes people afraid to take chances and makes people far more likely to do what that last successful guy did than to go out on even the shortest of limbs.

Not that things don’t change. Indeed, today’s preference for 30-something MBAs is radically different than the old model of hiring some old “baseball man” to run baseball operations. But it only came to the fore after the sabermetric and analytical model forced its way into the conversation with success and/or efficiencies that were impossible for even the crustiest old baseball man to ignore. That said, it was a transformation that was so difficult and radical that it was literally turned into a book and a movie and led to a decade and a half of arguing. A philosophical change which may have been casually noted in another business and then quickly emulated played out like some sort of cultural civil war in baseball circles. Change came, yes, but it wasn’t easy.

But here we are again, with the old baseball men replaced by the “Moneyball” disciples, who have become the new normal. A normal which one deviates from at great risk in baseball’s conservative world. I don’t believe that baseball’s homogeneity in the executive ranks is a function of bad people who believe bad things making bad decisions. I think it’s about fear and conformity more than anything else. Now there is a fear that not hiring that Ivy League MBA is the radical and perilous move. And if that Ivy League MBA was one who worked under another Ivy League MBA with another, all the better. And the easier we can sell him to fans as “the next Theo Epstein,” well, the better. And it sure would be easier to do that if he looked like Theo Epstein! Comps are the lingua franca of old baseball scouts. They’re the lingua franca of baseball decision makers too.

Whatever the causes, the net effect of all of this is no different than if there were virulent racism and sexism in the hearts and minds of baseball’s decision makers. It’s the same rich white boys club that maliciousness and bigotry could’ve created, even if it was created via more benign means. If baseball’s leaders truly believe that diversity in their leadership ranks is important — and I believe them when they say they do — they need to attack the problem of its homogeneity in the same manner they would if there was something malicious afoot. They need to stop throwing up their hands and saying “well, that’s what clubs do” or “that’s what our search firm gave us” and make achieving diversity a goal with an action plan, not just a goal which is merely stated.