About that MLB racial hiring practices report

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Earlier today we posted the AP story regarding the diversity hiring report card which is issued by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida each year. Every year we’ve posted it it results in a bit of a controversy, so I wanted to say a few things about it.

The report itself is based on sheer numbers. They put a grade on it, but that’s subjective. The numbers, however, are the numbers. Major League Baseball only has three managers who are either black or Latino. That’s a fact, not a judgment. The front offices are overwhelmingly white and male, and that’s a fact, not a judgment. You can feel about that however you want to feel, but you can’t argue with the fact that baseball is run, primarily, by white men.

What I’m interested in is the why of all of that. My view of it is that it’s a good example of the difference between institutional racism and what people tend to think racism looks like.

A lot of people assume racism in business/sports/whatever does not exist unless it’s guys wearing hoods or flying Confederate flags. That’s what most people think of anyway, I suspect, when they think of racism. Jim Crow. De jure segregation. Drinking fountains and the like.

Obviously, Major League Baseball does not do that. It once did, decades ago, but not anymore. If you talk to or know decision makers, you know that they are mostly good and decent people who, when asked, will tell you that they believe in equality and opportunity for all. And I believe that they believe that when they say that.

But values and practices are different things. People in positions of authority do what most people do. They hire based on familiarity, relationships and innate, sometimes unconscious preferences and comforts. Guys who went to the same colleges they went to. Who have the same backgrounds they have. Who are able to take low-paying internships like they did because they came from wealthy or privileged backgrounds like they did.

When asked, decision makers will talk about it as hiring people with whom they have a good connection or with whom they communicate well, but it’s, without question, a self-selected group based on some vague notion of comfort and familiarity, consisting of factors that select for a certain sort of people whether it’s obvious or not.

It’s mostly a matter of people relying on networks which are themselves filled with bias, some overt, some harder to discern. “I knew John from Princeton’s statistics program, and he’s a good egg, so I’ll hire him!” But how did both you and John get into that program in the first place? And what selected you two for it? And who was selected out? And, having known John over the years in baseball, who did he know and who else did you know in order to form your network? And how much of that is about merit as opposed to old boyism?

Again, this is not conscious racism in the way we often think of it, but the net effect of all of this is small biases becoming, exponentially, big rifts. A lot of decisions that are individually defensible, but which in the aggregate select for a certain group of people who share a certain group of traits. Men. White men, primarily. And that trickles down to the lower level front office hires and the managerial hires.

So this report comes out each year and it slams MLB. And it results in a discourse in which some people accuse Major League Baseball of being racist and some people deny that vehemently. Both sides are right in a lot of ways.

There are no hood-wearing, Confederate flag-flying racists or a men-only sexists in MLB anymore. Those guys are long dead and gone. But, at the same time, there are biases in place that, however benign they seem, result in a pretty homogenous MLB front office and managerial culture. A lot of white Ivy League dudes with analytical backgrounds who are comfortable with a lot of white former players who get along well with white Ivy League dudes to take the reins of a team in the dugout.

Whatever the case, it’s racism. Institutional racism. Mostly unconscious racism. With racism being a concept which is may more expansive and pernicious than how it’s popularly portrayed and thought of.

Major League Baseball has done a great job of getting rid of the overt racists and sexists over the years. But it still has to grapple with the systems and unconscious biases in place that lead it, still, in 2017, to having homogenous front offices and dugouts. That, rather than the accusations and the defensiveness which often ensue, is the proper takeaway from this annual report.

Olson blasts two HRs, Acuña has 4 hits as Strider, Braves overpower Phillies 11-4

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

ATLANTA – Given a seven-run lead in the first inning, Atlanta right-hander Spencer Strider could relax and keep adding to his majors-leading strikeout total.

“That game felt like it was over pretty quick,” Strider said.

Ronald Acuña Jr. drove in three runs with four hits, including a two-run single in Atlanta’s seven-run first inning, and the Braves beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-4 on Sunday night to split the four-game series.

“Getting a lead first is big, especially when you get that big of a lead,” Strider said. “… When we’re putting up runs, my job isn’t to be perfect. My job is to get outs.”

Following the game, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced right-hander Michael Soroka will be recalled to make his first start since the 2020 season on Monday night at Oakland.

Matt Olson hit a pair of two-run homers for Atlanta, and Strider became the fastest pitcher in modern history to reach 100 strikeouts in a season.

“It’s incredible,” said Acuña through a translator of Strider. “Every time he goes out to pitch it seems like he’s going to strike everybody out.”

Acuña hit a run-scoring triple in the fifth before Olson’s second homer to center. Acuña had two singles in the first when the Braves sent 11 batters to the plate, collected seven hits and opened a 7-0 lead. Led by Acuña and Olson, who had three hits, the Braves set a season high with 20 hits.

Strider (5-2) struck out nine while pitching six innings of two-run ball. The right-hander fired a called third strike past Nick Castellanos for the first out of the fourth, giving him 100 strikeouts in 61 innings and topping Jacob deGrom‘s 61 2/3 innings in 2021 as the fastest to 100 in the modern era.

“It’s cool,” Strider said, adding “hopefully it’ll keep going.”

Olson followed Acuña’s leadoff single with a 464-foot homer to right-center. Austin Riley added another homer before Ozzie Albies and Acuña had two-run singles in the long first inning.

Phillies shortstop Trea Turner and left fielder Kyle Schwarber each committed an error on a grounder by Orlando Arcia, setting up two unearned runs in the inning.

Strider walked Kody Clemens to open the third. Brandon Marsh followed with a two-run homer for the Phillies’ first hit. Schwarber hit a two-run homer off Collin McHugh in the seventh.


Michael Harris II celebrated the one-year anniversary of his major league debut by robbing Schwarber of a homer with a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the second. As Harris shook his head to say “No!” after coming down with the ball on the warning track, Strider pumped his fist in approval on the mound – after realizing Harris had the ball.

“He put me through an emotional roller coaster for a moment,” Strider said.


Soroka was scratched from his scheduled start at Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday, setting the stage for his final step in his comeback from two torn Achilles tendons.

“To get back is really a feather in that kid’s cap,” Snitker said.

Soroka will be making his first start in the majors since Aug. 3, 2020, against the New York Mets when he suffered a torn right Achilles tendon. Following a setback which required a follow-up surgery, he suffered another tear of the same Achilles tendon midway through the 2021 season.

Soroka suffered another complication in his comeback when a hamstring injury slowed his progress this spring.

Acuña said he was “super happy, super excited for him, super proud of him” and added “I’m just hoping for continued good health.”

Soroka looked like an emerging ace when he finished 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 2019 and placed second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting and sixth in the NL Cy Young voting.

The Braves are 0-3 in bullpen committee games as they attempt to overcome losing two key starters, Max Fried (strained left forearm) and Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) to the injured list in early May. Each is expected to miss at least two months.

RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who gave up one hit in two scoreless innings, was optioned to Gwinnett after the game to clear a roster spot for Soroka.


Phillies right-hander Dylan Covey (0-1), claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 20, didn’t make it through the first inning. Covey allowed seven runs, five earned, and six hits, including the homers by Olson and Riley.


Phillies: 3B Alex Bohm was held out with hamstring tightness. … LHP José Alvarado (left elbow inflammation) threw the bullpen session originally scheduled for Saturday. Manager Rob Thomson said there was no report that Alvarado, who was placed on the injured list on May 10, had any difficulty.


Phillies: Following an off day, LHP Ranger Suárez (0-1, 9.82 ERA) is scheduled to face Mets RHP Kodai Senga (4-3, 3.94 ERA) in Tuesday night’s opener of a three-game series in New York.

Braves: Soroka was 1-2 with a 4.33 ERA in eight games with Triple-A Gwinnett. He allowed a combined four hits and two runs over 10 2/3 innings in his last two starts. RHP Paul Blackburn (7-6, 4.28 ERA in 2022) is scheduled to make his 2023 debut for Oakland as he returns from a finger injury.