Dilbeck: The “geeks” and “nerds” have taken over the Dodgers

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Back when the Dodgers hired Paul DePodesta as their general manager the Los Angeles columnists decided that the best and smartest reaction to him would be to make calculator jokes, call him a geek, a stats guru and basically be those stereotypical jackasses in school who liked to shove stereotypical nerds into lockers. Or, I should say, fictional stereotypical jackasses and nerds because the way they behaved and the manner in which they described DePodesta did not actually reflect how anyone acts in real life. The whole thing was like that Simpsons episode where Homer went back to college and fought with the dean and made fun of nerds and all of that. A comedy writer’s idea of what a dumb person thinks about a given milieu.

That was a long time ago, of course. T.J. Simers is now retired and even Bill Plaschke has decided to focus his brand of buffoonery on targets other than sabermetrically-inclined baseball executives. Still, we have Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times doing the heavy lifting with respect to the Dodgers’ latest hire, general manager Farhan Zaidi:

The nerds have officially taken over the world. Just give into it. All those guys who used to sit in the back of the classroom with their black horn-rimmed classes, pocket calculators and clothes their mommies picked out?

They run things now. They’re making the decisions and signing the paychecks. All those years spent cozying up to the jocks and the popular kids just wasted . . . The Dodgers have formed their very own Geek Squad.

There’s everything you could want in there. Proudly owned ignorance of numbers and stats. References to calculators and “gurus.” The stuff about nerds and geeks referenced above. It’s like time hasn’t gone on. Like the industry which Dilbeck covers hasn’t evolved into something a lot more complex than the one he wishes it was. It’s almost as if Dilbeck has either completely missed what baseball is all about these days or simply rejects it or revels in his inability to understand it.

In any other industry, such an out-of-touch view of things would put someone’s job in jeopardy. It’s still cool in sportswriting, though.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”