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MLB receives overall C+ in racial, gender hiring practices

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) As Major League Baseball celebrates the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, a diversity report finds that the league could do a better job of identifying and hiring minority and female candidates for top decision-making levels.

The annual report card released Tuesday by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida shows a drop-off from a year ago in MLB’s racial and gender hiring practices. Major League Baseball received a B in racial hiring, a C for gender hiring and an overall C+ grade this year.

The league scored an 82 in racial hiring, down from 90.5 last year, and went from a 74.3 in gender hiring to 70 this year. Overall, MLB scored 76, which is down from 82.4.

“It’s always discouraging when the numbers decrease,” said Richard Lapchick, the report’s primary author. “We are always looking for things to get better and to break new records each time.”

MLB often celebrates its diversity among players, even as it struggles with race in its front offices. The league continues to be overwhelmingly white and male at the managerial level, and the same holds true for team front office positions, where people of color and women have found it hard to break through.

At the team level, MLB received an F in racial hiring practices for managers. Out of 30 skippers, Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dusty Baker of the Washington Nationals and Rick Renteria of the Chicago White Sox are the only ones of color, down from a high of 10 minority managers as recently as 2009. The study also gave a C grade at the general manager level, where there are four men of color running teams, a slight decline from the high of five.

“So we are close but still below in the GM category and just way below in the managers category,” Lapchick said.

For gender hiring practices at the team level, the study gave MLB a D+ at the senior administrator level and a C- at the professional team administrator level.

The grades in racial and gender hiring at the league office level, however, were much higher. Former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and successor Rob Manfred have made diversity hiring a point of emphasis.

MLB received an A- in racial hiring practices, where people of color make up 28.1 percent of the central office professional staff. The league office received a C- for gender hiring practices, with women making up 29.3 of its workforce.

Of the executive level positions (VP level or higher) in the central office, 15 are held by people of color and 20 by women, according to the study.

Dan Halem, the chief legal officer for MLB who also oversees human resources and diversity, acknowledges the league could do better in diversity hiring but believes initiatives put into place under Manfred’s watch will see the numbers improve over time.

Instead of just following the Selig Rule that requires teams to interview a diverse pool of candidates for jobs, the new approach is to make certain there is more diversity at the lower levels, in hopes of improving the pool of candidates when higher level positions such as general manager come open.

“It’s a work in progress,” Halem said. “The commissioner, when he became the commissioner in 2015, made diversity in all of these areas one of his top priorities. He put together a lot of well-funded programs in the last couple of years to try to do better.

“But it’s going to take a little bit of time before we really see results from these programs in actuality.”

Laphick applauds the effort MLB is making to improve the diversity numbers at the league office level, but says something needs to be done sooner rather than later to improve the abysmal showing at the team level.

“They have to figure out a way that it extends to the club level because clearly it’s the club level that has the less positive numbers both in terms of race and gender, particularly in senior leadership positions,” he said. “There has to be some type of program instituted that will help those numbers spike faster than they have been spiking.”

Online: http://www.tidesport.org

The Nats want Trea Turner to attempt 75-80 stolen bases this year

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When it comes to cliche spring training stories, we talk a lot about “Best Shape of His Life.” Sometimes we talk about the “[Pitcher] has been working on a changeup” or “[Hitter] has made an adjustment to his swing” stories too. Then there’s the “we’re really going to focus on fundamentals” quotes managers love to give in February and March. They’re evergreens. 

Another one in that category is the “we’re going to run more” or “we plan to be aggressive on the base paths this year.” You hear that from at least one or two managers every spring. I imagine because, like the fundamentals one, it deals with something over which they have at least some moderate control. It’s a good quote.

We’re hearing it from Nats training camp this year with respect to one particularly speedy player in Trea Turner. From Mark Zuckerman at MASN:

Davey Martinez called Trea Turner into his office this week and told the speedy shortstop he wants him to attempt more stolen bases this season. How many? Let’s just say even the ultra-aggressive Turner was taken aback.

“Yeah, he gave me a number,” Turner said. “And I was like: ‘Wow, all right.’”

Martinez later revealed to assembled reporters that he thinks if Turner “attempts 75-80, we’ll be in great shape.”

Turner led the National League with 43 stolen bases on 52 attempts in 2018. The year before he attempted 54, which was his career high. Only only four players have attempted 80 or more stolen bases in the past ten years, so yes, 75-80 would be quite the escalation.

Which is not to say it’s silly. On a very basic level, yeah, if he is stealing bases more often, even without changing his basic approach, the Nats WILL be in great shape because it’ll likely mean that he’s on base more, and that’s good. If it’s merely a matter of him being more aggressive in the same number of times on base, well, let me know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I guess it’s nice to have goals, though.