Yes, the Joe Torre talks are still dragging on, as the L.A. Times keeps hanging on every sign out of the Dodgers’ front office — the latest being that Selig and MLB have granted the McCourts and Ned Colletti an exception on the minority candidate rule for this go-round, which is specious at best and something particularly noxious at worst, regardless of whether there is actually a better quality candidate than Torre (there isn’t) and the move wasn’t telegraphed from the get-go. We’re all assuming already that Torre will be wearing #6 on the bench in Chavez Ravine next year.
This does reek of Matt Millen and the Lions getting slapped for a few hundred grand for hiring Steve Mariucci as coach a few years back without adhering to the Rooney Rule — and the reason given by MLB for the Dodger waiver cites team VP Jamie McCourt as progress of minority hiring (plus a couple of assistant GMs), if your idea of minority hiring revolves around nepotism (owner’s wife isn’t a stretch, folks.) But is this exemption part of a bigger problem in baseball?
Possibly, but not through coaching hires alone. Here are the minority managers, comped from memory (please let me know if I’ve omitted anyone):
- Ozzie Guillen, White Sox
- Willie Randolph, Mets
- Dusty Baker, Reds (he’s one of the good ol’ boys now, he gets jobs he doesn’t deserve)
- Manny Acta, Nationals
- Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins
- Ron Washington, Rangers
- Cecil Cooper, Astros (2008 will be his first season)
I got 7 out of 30 teams, which isn’t horrific, but could be better on the Latino end, considering the influx of players from Spanish-speaking countries that MLB has made its stock in trade at this point. That’s a bigger issue for MLB right now than the managerial interviewing rules (not diminishing their importance, though): trying to attract non-white kids and athletes to the sport, considering the low percentages of black players (caused by lack of playing facilities for youth in inner cities, expense of equipment, and the 17-point-something scholarships per team for NCAA baseball). MLB made a conscious decision to invest more money in other countries, forgoing the goal, if not the spirit, of program such as RBI.
Additionally, the retirement of Bill Stoneman as the Angels’ general manager elevated Tony Reagins to the second black GM in the league and the third minority overall (counting the Mets’ Omar Minaya.) At least they’re making front office progress, even if Reagins is probably a glorified stand-in for Mike Scioscia, who will likely be making a lot more of the personnel decisions while Reagins makes the numbers work.
The NFL’s Rooney Rule currently assists in giving us Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Romeo Crennel, Marvin Lewis, and Romeo Crennel — and Ozzie Newsome in the front office as the Ravens’ GM. It’s a bigger deal to the NFL, considering the majority of its players are black, and also because the NFL is the American pastime right now.
But we can look at it this way — these two professional organizations are doing a hell of a lot better than the NCAA and its paucity of minority coaches in Division 1-A — which is seven out of 119.