There’s a new trend in Major League Baseball, and it is not a good one.
The Chicago Cubs hired Joe Maddon, the former Tampa Bay Rays’ manager, last week. The Minnesota Twins had an opening, too, and replaced Ron Gardenhire with Paul Molitor, the former Twin.
Maddon’s hire makes sense. He’s a veteran skipper who has had success. Molitor’s hiring, however, should make aspiring Black and Hispanic candidates feel concerned.
While a great player, Molitor has no managerial experience on any professional level. But he gets the job over qualified Blacks?
That’s a new trend in MLB, hiring guys who have never managed. Some have never even been a coach on any level.
Here’s more evidence. Brad Ausmus somehow got the Detroit Tigers manager’s job although he never coached or managed anywhere. That’s three jobs that Black candidates did not even get serious consideration, and whites who had never managed were rewarded with jobs.
The first hint that baseball would turn to hiring managers of no experience occurred in 2008, when Mike Matheny was named manager of the St. Louis Cardinals to replace Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa. It took six years for that dramatic move to happen again, but it’s back and in full force.
Of course, the disturbing part about it is that Black former players who want to manage have not received the same opportunity to be included in this trend.
Here’s the ugly truth: There’s only one black manager left in the MLB ranks. One. That’s Lloyd McClendon of the Seattle Mariners. McClendon had a good first year, just missing the postseason in the final week of the season.
There were three African American managers when the 2014 season started. But Bo Porter was fired by the Houston Astros and Ron Washington resigned from the Texas Rangers for personal reasons.
And often, even when Black candidates are offered a major league job, it is with a team with little prospect for success, essentially meaning they are set up to fail. That’s what happened to Porter in Houston. The Astros wanted him to win with very little talent. How little talent? At one point, Alex Rodriguez was making more in a season than the total Astros payroll.
Considering how many Latin players are in baseball, it’s just as scandalous that there is just one Hispanic manager in MLB: Atlanta Braves’ skipper Fredi Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was able to survive despite a bad year and the team firing its general manager in September.
With Maddon gone from Tampa Bay, the Rays need a new manager. Dave Martinez, their longtime Hispanic bench coach, is the no-brainer choice for the job. But he has not landed it, despite knowing the organization and personnel. Rather, the Rays have opened up the job and are looking at a number of candidates to replace Maddon.
It would be alarming if Martinez does not get this job. He has done it the right way: served as a coach, learned the managerial job from the inside and worked his way up. That’s the way guys used to become managers.
To exclude Blacks and Hispanics from the hiring practices—this new trend and the traditional way—reeks of biases that have no room in baseball.
Let’s hope new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is taking notice. . . and that change happens. Soon. It’s only right.
Rob Parker is a Detroit-based sports columnist who was the first Black sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press and New York Newsday. Parker also co-hosted a radio show “Parker and The Man” for a decade and worked for ESPN for eight years.