Craig Calcaterra

FILE - In this April 11, 1947 file photo, Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses at Ebbets Field in the Brooklyn borough of New York. Robinson's widow said Major League Baseball has yet to fully honor her husband's legacy. "There is a lot more that needs to be done and that can be done in terms of the hiring, the promotion" of minorities in the sport, Rachel Robinson said Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 during a Q&A session with TV critics about "Jackie Robinson," a two-part PBS documentary airing in April.  (AP Photo/John Rooney, File)

Study: MLB teams could do better hiring minorities, women

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Major League Baseball teams could do a better job of hiring minority candidates for managing and GM posts or women for VP and other administrative positions, according to an annual report released Wednesday.

The study is overseen by Richard Lapchick of The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida and is similar in scope to those he conducts examining other leagues.

Baseball teams were given a grade of C-plus for racial hiring practices for managers.

Three of the 30 skippers in the majors are minorities: Dusty Baker of the Washington Nationals, Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves. There were 10 as recently as 2009, according to the report.

Noting also that only four current general managers are minorities, Lapchick said in a telephone interview: “Baseball needs to re-emphasize the importance of having a diverse … (group of) people running the game.”

Last week, Baker mentioned by name some minority candidates “out there that aren’t even getting a sniff. I think about Jackie Robinson – there’s probably times when Jackie wouldn’t be pleased right now very much.”

Asked why there are black candidates not being considered for managerial jobs, Baker replied: “Hey man, I’m not hiring. I’ve got my thoughts, but don’t ask me. You’ve got to ask those that are doing the hiring.”

The grades given to MLB’s central office – an A-plus for racial hiring practices and B-minus for gender hiring practice – were far better than at the club level. As for female candidates, teams received an F for hiring vice presidents, a C for senior team administration positions, and another C for professional administration.

“In terms of opportunities for women,” Lapchick said, “there’s a lot left to be desired.”

He thinks MLB should make clubs include minority and female candidates in the interview process for all VP and senior administrative roles.

“That would dramatically change things,” Lapchick said.

“From my point of view, if they can influence the clubs to have a mandatory, diverse pool of candidates for senior administrative positions, that’s going to make a major difference,” he said.

Lapchick praised MLB for being the best major sports league when it comes to “bringing in minority- and women-owned businesses as vendors at the league and team level.”

Overall, MLB was given a grade of A in racial hiring and C/C-plus in gender hiring, similar to 2015. There was a small increase in the score for racial hiring practices, from 90.4 to 90.5, and a small decline in the score for gender hiring, from 74.4 to 74.3. The combined grade of B was the same as a year ago.

The study also found that baseball’s 2015 amateur draft had the highest percentage of black players taken in the first round – nine of 36 players, 25 percent – since 1992.

On this month’s opening day 25-man rosters, 8.3 percent of players identified themselves as black or African-American, the same percentage as a year ago.

Online: http://www.tidesport.org

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

Freelancer Ian Quillen in Washington contributed to this report.

This version corrects team Fredi Gonzalez currently manages to Atlanta Braves in 4th paragraph.

Family of man killed at Turner Field in a fall from the upper deck sues the Braves, MLB

Turner Field
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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the family of the fan who fell to his death from the upper deck at Turner Field during a game has filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta Braves and Major League Baseball.

Gregory Murrey, 60, from Alpharetta Georgia died during the seventh inning of the Yankees-Braves game on August 29. Witnesses reported that Murrey stood up to boo Alex Rodriguez when he came to the plate as a pinch hitter. Murrey fell from Section 402, which is at the top of the stadium, behind home plate into the area where players’ families sit.

The suit, filed in state court in Fulton County, accuses the Braves and Major League Baseball of disregarding fans’ safety by putting up a guard railing that is only 30 inches tall. The complaint alleges that the height is 12 inches short of the industry standard.

Murrey is not the first fan to die in a fall at Turner Field. Since 2008, three people have died after falls at Turner Field, one of which was ruled a suicide.

Meet the Yankees’ replay challenge guru

Two technicians work in a booth during a preview of Major League Baseball's Replay Operations Center, in New York, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Less than a week before most teams open, MLB is working on the unveiling of its new instant replay system, which it hopes will vastly reduce incorrect calls by umpires. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
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The New York Times has an interesting profile on Brett Weber, a coaching assistant for the New York Yankees who handles a lot of different jobs. He pitches batting practice, warms dudes up, charts pitches, works in the analytics department and a lot of other things. His most important job, however, is reviewing every play in Yankees games in real time and calling Joe Girardi in the hotline if and when he thinks a call was missed on the field. He’s the Yankees replay guru.

Weber, the Times notes, is good at his job. The Yankees challenge fewer calls than any other team but get calls overturned at the highest rate in baseball. Yankees players and officials credit Weber for his good eye and quick draw to the hotline for that.

But the story also sort of reveals the central problem I always had with replay: the fact that it’s a challenge system in and of itself.

As Andrew Miller, who is quoted in the story, notes, Weber gives the Yankees a strategic and competitive advantage. Which really shouldn’t be the result of a system designed to correct wrongs. Gamesmanship in the form of challenges and losing challenges and all of that was something detractors like me worried about years before the system was put in place and it would appear that, yes, some teams come out ahead of others as a result of the challenge system. That this occurs is stupid and inexcusable.

The story also shows us, by giving us a peek at Weber’s video setup and approach, how easy it is for a single person to assess whether or not there was a missed call and to intervene in a timely manner. Why, then, can’t a fifth umpire do this? Baseball always said it was unworkable to do that, but there seems to be no basis for that claim. If Weber could do it, so too could an umpire. Except he’d be looking at it impartially rather than as a means of gaining a strategic advantage like Weber is.

It’s nice that the Yankees have a Brett Weber. It’s dumb that all of baseball can’t have one in equal measure.