Jim Rice

Great Moments in Hypocrisy: Jim Rice Edition

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There is nothing sadder — in any walk of life, not just baseball — than hearing older people claim that the kids today just don’t do things the right way and how back in my day it was better and all of that jazz.

Such a stance simultaneously suggests narcissism, arrogance, ignorance and pessimism. “Only I and my friends did things properly,” such people are saying. They’re also saying, however, that they pay no attention to new developments in the world and that, inevitably, things will always grow worse over time rather than better, which runs directly counter to most developments in human history.  And more than anything, such statements always — always — reflect more poorly on the person uttering them than they reflect on those whom he or she is deriding.

With that in mind, I give you Jim Rice:

“The game is still the same (but) the players have changed. There are no fundamentals in the game anymore.  That’s why I really enjoyed the game was because of the fundamentals. We had to do fundamentals. If you didn’t know the fundamentals, you weren’t playing … I don’t want to [get back in the dugout] because guys are not subject to change.  If you went back to giving guys one- or two-year contracts, it’s a different story. When you give guys five-, six-, seven-, 10-year contracts, they don’t have to change. Their money is in the bank. And if the thing doesn’t go right, who do they blame?”

Just so you know, Jim Rice (a) is sixth all-time in grounding into double plays, having led his league four straight years in his prime; (b) was a poor defensive player; and (c) most damningly to his above comments, once signed a seven-year contract, making him the highest-paid player with the longest contract in all of the game at the time.

Why the interviewer for that article didn’t ask Jim why it was OK for him to have poor fundamentals and receive long-term contracts but it’s not OK for players today to do so is beyond me. For that matter, I’m baffled why he didn’t even ask Rice to offer some evidence regarding how fundamentals are lacking in today’s players.  To the contrary, I suspect that if we were able to quantify such things, today’s players would be found to be far more athletic and fundamentally-sound than players of the 70s.

Not that I’d expect Rice to realize how foolish he sounds.  He’s just the latest person to claim that the world is going to Hell in a hand basket.  Funny how it never seems to actually get there.

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.