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Current ballplayers think a lot of white catchers would make good managers one day

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David Laurila of FanGraphs asked a bunch of major leaguers a really good question: which current players do they think would be or could be future managers?

Laurila asked 20 players and/or managers and they listed 31 different players. Many named a handful. A few — A.J. Ellis and Dustin Pedroia — were listed by multiple respondents. David Ross was named, like, a gabillion times.

The most striking thing about the list: the overwhelming majority of the potential candidates are white guys. A ton of them catchers. The non-white/U.S. players mentioned: Adrian Beltre, Alex Cora, Jose Molina, Henry Blanco, Melky Cabrera (?!) and Russell Martin, who is mixed-race.

Which isn’t to say that anyone here is racist or prejudiced or anything of the sort. The guys the interviewees listed, I am certain, were just those they know well or know well enough to weigh in on their qualifications as managers. Indeed, it’s worth noting here that, with only a couple of exceptions, those asked the question were white too. Given how clubhouses and baseball friendships often break down along racial and ethnic lines themselves, the fact that they named guys like themselves is not shocking or malevolent or anything of the sort. If the 20 interviewees were Latino or black, I’m sure the breakdown would be somewhat different too. If you were asked to name the three people you’d be most likely to ask drive you to the airport, your answers would likely be people of your own race as well. That’s just how informal relationships tend to go in our society.

It’s still nonetheless telling, because a lot of baseball hirings are made on the basis of personal relationships and familiarity too.  Front office people hiring people they know best. The ones with whom they are the most familiar and about whom they are least uncertain on some personal level. But then you remember that front offices themselves are overwhelmingly white. And then you remember that almost every single manager in the game is white too, and you start to realize that it’s not really an accident.

Again, given how so many baseball relationships break down along racial and ethnic lines themselves, it’s not shocking or malevolent or anything. But it’s certainly illustrative of how a certain historical selection of people in power can lead to a perpetuation of similar people being in power, even with the most benign of current intentions. And that, in turn, speaks to how important it is for Major League Baseball to increase diversity up and down organizations so that these patterns will not be perpetuated rather than relying on empty and toothless proclamations like “The Selig Rule” and the like.

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.