There has been a lot of talk lately about baseball’s diversity problem. The front offices and top executive ranks are filled with likeminded people of a particular demographic: white men from affluent backgrounds from Ivy League schools.
This isn’t just liberal pinkos like me discussing it. Major League Baseball itself has cited diversity in its management ranks as a top priority. To its credit, the league itself believes this to be a problem. And a lot of effort, unfortunately fruitless so far, has been spent talking about how to fix it. I contend it has been fruitless because MLB is trying to fix a problem without appreciating its true cause.
Today, however, Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella explained why baseball’s front offices are a rich white boys club. He didn’t mean to, but he did so. And he did it quite succinctly. It only took him one tweet. It came in response to a question from someone asking for career advice for a recent college graduate with college baseball analytics and operations experience:
“Don’t worry about the money,” because baseball’s entry level jobs pay horribly. That, in turn, forces away everyone who actually needs to make a living and pay for the expensive education baseball front office jobs demand these days. Which, in turn, leaves all of the entry-level baseball jobs for people who can afford to not worry about money. Rich kids who, demographically speaking, skew white.
I don’t believe that baseball teams discriminate when it comes to the candidates they are considering. Their parsimonious compensation practices do it for them, preventing a ton of qualified candidates from even bothering to apply given that they’ll be expected to work for free or something close to it for a long, long time.
Baseball is a private business and it can pay its entry level employees whatever it wants to, of course. But if they do, they shouldn’t scratch their head about why they have such a diversity problem. One of their top people just explained it in fewer than 140 characters.
The Reds acquired utilityman Darnell Sweeney from the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports.
This is the second time that the Dodgers have traded Sweeney. The club sent him to the Phillies along with John Richy in August 2015 for Chase Utley. The Phillies sent him back to the Dodgers this past offseason with Darin Ruf in exchange for Howie Kendrick.
Sweeney, 26, made his major league debut in 2015 with the Phillies, hitting a meager .176/.286/.353 in 98 plate appearances. With Triple-A Oklahoma City this season, he hit .227/.290/.412 in 131 PA. While Sweeney’s bat hasn’t proven to be anything special, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions, so his flexibility will make him useful at some point.
Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.
“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”
The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.
Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.