On Diversity: Baseball and Its Fans Fall Short

Adam Jones was subject to racism at Fenway Park earlier this week. (via Keith Allison)

I was finishing up the edits on this article about baseball’s annual diversity scorecard when the Baltimore Orioles arrived at Fenway Park this week for a series against the Red Sox. If you’re reading The Hardball Times, chances are good that you’ve already heard what happened: racist jeers directed at Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, a bag of peanuts thrown in his direction, and the resulting angry controversy.

Racism in America is alive and well, but to hear about such an aggressive display of it at a baseball game was jarring, and made me question what I’d written for this piece. How could I advocate for diversity in the major leagues when this is what these diverse bodies are subjected to? How can MLB continue to sing the praises of its diversity initiatives when words and actions like these are allowed in its ballparks?

The fans responsible for the racist taunts and the attempted assault were escorted from the park, but that hardly seems like enough response. Banning them from the ballpark, as one fan was, seems like it will be hard to enforce. How do you make sure one fan doesn’t enter the building? After the game, Jones said he thought the perpetrators should be heavily fined upwards of “10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand. Something that really hurts somebody.” Buster Olney, in his blog for ESPN, wrote that MLB “could declare war on the kind of language that was directed at Jones” by including an intolerance of abusive language in the pregame announcements.

Jones and Olney are not the only two to offer up theories about how to combat racism at a ballgame; the internet is overflowing with thoughts and ideas. The simple thing is to say that people should not yell racist slurs at professional athletes. People should not yell racist slurs at anyone. People should not throw things at professional athletes, of color or otherwise. People should not throw things at anyone.

There’s a common refrain, whenever sportswriters deviate from their traditional coverage: “stick to sports.” It’s a problematic phrase on a lot of levels but, most critically, what these “stick to sports” people fail to recognize is that culture, sports and politics are inherently entwined, like a mess of Christmas lights brought up from the basement. Sports are a reflection of our broader society, in ways that make us proud and in ways that shame us so deeply we pretend they don’t exist.

Racism is deeply rooted in our culture; it will not be fixed by having yet another white sports blogger write about how “events of this nature” will not and should not be tolerated. I have little desire, and even less ability, to police the morals of the anonymous internet masses. To that end, I have no solutions to offer, no groundbreaking perspectives to share; I simply seek to look at some of the information shared in the latest Racial and Gender Report Card so that we may better understand the circumstances in  baseball today.

Two weeks ago the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports released its annual Racial and Gender Report Card for Major League Baseball. The report card is packed with useful information about the current state of MLB, but is released to little fanfare, likely because it does not often reflect well on the major leagues. This year, you need only read the opening line (“The 2017 Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card (RGRC) was released today and showed decreases in both racial and gender hiring practices”) to understand that despite its initiatives MLB has continued to struggle with diversity throughout its organization. The overall grades; a B in racial hiring practices, a C for gender hiring practices, and an overall grade of C+, should not surprise most baseball fans.

This is not an instance of, say, cursing Norichika Aoki on every at-bat and covering your eyes each time he makes a play in the outfield, only to look at FanGraphs and realize he had a 146 wRC+ in the second half of 2016. Oh no. The power of the Report Card is that it reinforces the lack of diversity that is on display in every Sunday Night Baseball game, every broadcast shot of the dugout, every press conference. It serves to confirm everything you’ve seen, and everything you’ve read, about the need for greater diversity within all levels of baseball.

It’s worth acknowledging that, within all these negative trends, the game “has reached unprecedented levels of diversity (42.33%) on non-DL active Opening Day rosters.” That figure represents more than a 10-point jump since UCF first began recording these numbers in 1991, and can be largely attributed to the growing percentage of Latino players. However, it’s important to note that the percentage of African-American players has dropped steadily since 1991, and that the 7.7 percent of African-American players on Opening Day rosters represents a continuing downward trend.

The report card does cite “promising signs for a future increase in African-American players in MLB,” citing a growing number of African-American first-round draft picks, including the high draft selections of graduates of MLB youth academies and RBI programs, demonstrating the success of MLB initiatives in this regard. The diversity percentages grow smaller, and progressively grimmer, however, when we turn to non-player personnel.

Baseball is no longer exclusively a white man’s sport to play, but it is overwhelmingly still a white man’s sport to coach, lead, and cheer for. There have been many conversations about how MLB leadership is out of touch, and in no place is that more clear than within the discrepancy between the number of non-white coaches/managers/team executives and the number of non-white players.

In 2017, 10 percent of major league managers are non-white, which doesn’t sound terrible until you realize that percentage is made up of just three men: Dave Roberts, Dusty Baker and Rick Rentería. Rentería is only the 17th Latino manager in history. The diversity does not get more expansive as we look at the front offices; there are just four “diverse individuals” currently acting as president of baseball Operations or general manager of major league clubs. Within 26 of the 30 franchises is at least one woman acting as a vice president or senior vice president, but only seven women held on-field operations roles, and just two women had coaching roles.

A bright spot can be found in the 44.3 percent of coaches who identified as people of color, a number which represents a 6.1 percent increase since 2015 and a high since 1993. Baseball is a game steeped in tradition, and there is a strong history of hiring preference being given to those already involved with the industry. Therefore, this recent trend may bode well for a future increase in managers of color, particularly since 33.5 percent of those coaches are Latino.

Greater diversity among players and within major league organizations is certainly not going to end racism in baseball, and it unfortunately won’t do much to prevent “fans” from throwing things or yelling racial slurs, but it would be a critical step in the right direction if MLB were better about increasing diversity at all levels and in all facets of the game.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Isabelle Minasian is the Digital Content Specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Before she spent her days creating and sharing baseball nonsense in Cooperstown she did so in Seattle, where she wrote for Lookout Landing, La Vida Baseball and, clearly, The Hardball Times. Follow her on Twitter @95coffeespoons.
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Dennis Bedard
5 years ago

Surreal. There is a problem: “Racism in America is alive and well.” “Racism is deeply rooted in our culture.” So how do we solve it? (“The 2017 Major League Baseball Racial and Gender Report Card (RGRC) was released today and showed decreases in both racial and gender hiring practices”). “The overall grades; a B in racial hiring practices, a C for gender hiring practices, and an overall grade of C+, should not surprise most baseball fans.” Maybe MLB should hire a team of advanced geneticists who can test the DNA of every player to make sure that each team has the right racial mix to satisfy the gods of diversity. Excuse me for being naive, but I thought “racial hiring practices” were illegal in this country.

Steve
5 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Bedard

The gods of diversity are never satisfied. If there is a disproportionate representation among any group of people they immediately scream racism! Correlation does not imply causation. The beautiful thing about diversity – in it’s truest sense – is that different people and cultures prefer different things. What if black players and youth just simply prefer football and basketball? I’ve never heard anyone seriously complaining about a lack of diversity in those sports and they have the most black athletes. I don’t see that as a problem. Why the double standard?

Steve
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve

What if the lack of blacks in MLB is just evidence that they are exercising their freedom to choose to play football and basketball instead and not evidence of racism?

Steve
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve

70% of NFL players are black. Yet I’m not aware of white people blaming racism for keeping them out of the league.

Pennsy
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Quick question: Why are 0% of MLB players openly gay while much more than 0% of the general population is?

Nate
5 years ago
Reply to  Pennsy

Quick question: why does baseball have zero people from Botswana when the general population has at least one?

S
5 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Bedard

Your concern trolling is not clever and fools nobody.

No one (except people like you, looking for a straw man) is saying MLB should hire people the right skin color, regardless of ability. They are raising the question as to why the manager and FO positions, which are often lifted from the ranks of former players, are far whiter than would be statistically likely? Why do black athletes not like baseball the way they used to? Baseball used to have tons of black fans – why and how did that change? These are valid questions to ask.

Why are most managers white when most players are Latino, black, or Asian? Are only white people smart enough? Do only white people want the jobs? Why? For that matter why are most catchers white? Back in the early days of integration, there were plenty of black catchers, even though you would assume that 60 years ago white pitchers and managers would be less likely to believe a black player is smart enough to call a game. What caused the change? Whatever it is likely explains why there are relatively few minorities in positions of responsibility.

Nate
5 years ago
Reply to  S

Those are valid questions to ask, so long as you’re framing them as actual questions. Too often, they are framed as rhetorical questions. (i.e., your question regarding black catchers).

Are there black catchers coming up in the high school and college ranks? Are they wanting to play catcher and coaches say, “no, black folks are too stupid to play catcher”, or are they choosing to play other positions on the field?

P.S.: There are currently 26 non-white catchers on MLB rosters. That’s out of just over 60 positions available. You can hardly say catcher is “mostly white”…

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  S

I think a key factor is the cost-benefit analysis that a lot of young men from less-privileged backgrounds are doing with regards to whether to play baseball or football.

College football teams have more players, and get more scholarship money to spend.

Then, there are 1696 players on NFL rosters at any given time, and 320 more on practice squads (the minimum salary for which is 5200 a week, as opposed to 2150 a month in AAA).

There are 750 players in the MLB, and 450 more on 40-man rosters (with a minimum salary of ~1700 a week).

And that’s before we get into the fact that it’s a hell of a lot harder to become great at baseball than at football, assuming equal athleticism.

Steven J White
5 years ago

Agree very much with this.

Jake
5 years ago

You clearly have no idea what diversity means. You think it just means race. As if skin tone means more to you than anything. I assume Adam Jones and JJ Hardy have a lot more in common than Hyun-Soo Kim but nobody is implying it’s inherently racist to have so few Asian players or that having more of them would increase so-called “diversity”. And why are we trying to force the issue for black Americans? If they aren’t (as a whole) interested in playing the sport why is it anyone’s job to force it down their throat? Black Americans are what, 13% (at most) of the population? What % of black MLB players and managers would you consider to be adequate? Do you feel the same about other sports? If not, why?

Steve
5 years ago
Reply to  Jake

I find it very interesting that Asian people in the U.S. who are just as vulnerable to racism as any other minority achieve higher success than even white people. They earn more than any other group. I wonder what it is about them that makes them so successful? Maybe they don’t waste time playing the victim and actually go out and make their lives better on their own? Idk, just speculating…

Stephen
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Just so I’m clear, Asians are just as vulnerable to racism as all other races, included races that endured slavery and segregation and systemic racism as recently as this century?

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Stephen

Hah, seriously.

America has done some deeply shitty things to people of Asian descent, but they’re not going to be winning the Oppression Olympics anytime soon.

Kent
5 years ago
Reply to  Jake

Because African Americans opened the door for asians, latinos, etc. there needs to be more opportunity for them to be involved in baseball if they want to be. Currently the problem is things about baseball in the professional sense, turn them away. Is it on purpose? maybe not, but something should change to entice them if they want to. Don’t just want to stay the way we are if we can change things for the betterment of society.

Michael Bacon
5 years ago

Speaking only from experience with teaching Chess to children I will say the reason Asian children are so successful when it comes to earning money is their parents. The popular book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, by Amy Chua, published several years ago is an illustration. Part of it stems from their culture in which the children are expected to take care of their parents in old age, which is the main reason Asian people want to have their first born to be a male. It also has to do with the Asian culture being more group orientated as opposed to our individualistic spirit. Think Ayn Rand Republicans.

One Asian boy became very strong very quickly at the Royal game. His parents insisted he stop playing in order to concentrate on school, which he did. Then we were Bushwhacked in 2008 and he could not find a job, even with his degree. He now teaches Chess for a living, something he could have done without the useless degree…

Stella
5 years ago

Diversity initiatives are unconstitutional and illiberal practices that utterly destroy the social fabric of the societies that promote them. They must be abolished at once.

Dennis Bedard
5 years ago

I read this article again and find it incredible that this site would publish something that explicitly encourages major league teams to institutionalize racial discrimination. This is scary stuff.

nunya
5 years ago

might be the dumbest thing I read today. Thanks for getting it out of the way.

Tiffany
5 years ago

Thank you so much for your work in presenting this, Isabelle–it’s a fascinating, if somewhat depressing, read.

Nate
5 years ago

So what’s your solution to adding diversity?

Do MLB teams need to look at skin tone instead of merit when drafting and signing players, or hiring coaches and executives?

Does Rob Manfred issue a rule that at least two diverse players must be on the field at any given time?

What must Major League Baseball do to ensure it has all this flourishing diversity? It would be cool for more African-American players to be in the game. It’s fun to see players from all over the world, and new countries (the Pirates have guys from South Africa and Lithuania)… I enjoy seeing multiple nations represented on a team, but if that’s not available, what are teams supposed to do? You can’t create diversity out of thin air. You can’t force it by token hiring/drafting.

So what’s the best solution besides writing blog posts?

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Nate

The answer is to put money into inner-city programs, so that baseball is an actual option for talented athletes whose parents can’t afford the travel circuit.

Have you read Cutch’s piece from The Players’ Tribune?

Nate
5 years ago

Hey, I’ll give you credit for actually offering a suggestion.

I do believe that is happening some, but it could certainly be done more in poorer areas. It’d be great to see some of these talented athletes choose baseball over basketball/football.

Again, I can appreciate you giving an example of what baseball could do. It’s better than anything done by the author.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Nate

If only Isabelle had prefaced her report on this data with a passage like

“I have little desire, and even less ability, to police the morals of the anonymous internet masses. To that end, I have no solutions to offer, no groundbreaking perspectives to share; I simply seek to look at some of the information shared in the latest Racial and Gender Report Card so that we may better understand the circumstances in baseball today.”

Then this comment section would be entirely different!

Stella
5 years ago

“Now, I’m not going to pretend like I have any solutions or that I want to police society. But I am going to spend an entire article arguing that this is a problem that demands solutions from someone who will police society.”

Your argument is 100% distilled intellectual dishonesty. Over the last two or three years, it’s been put to the test in the public sphere, and it’s been demolished.

Nate
5 years ago

“Greater diversity among players and within major league organizations is certainly not going to end racism in baseball, and it unfortunately won’t do much to prevent “fans” from throwing things or yelling racial slurs, but it would be a critical step in the right direction if MLB were better about increasing diversity at all levels and in all facets of the game.”

That last part of the quote is what I was focused on. “if the MLB were better about increasing diversity…” my question was: how do they do that?

Why couldn’t the author focus on that? Instead, she reiterated what we already know: baseball is a sport dominated by white men and latino men. She focused on a study that is available to anyone with internet access.

Why waste your time telling us what we already know and offer nothing substantive to help change it. Her claim is that the MLB is not good at increasing diversity… here’s your chance to help. Instead, she took the easy way out.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago

I mean…would you have seen this study if she hadn’t written this article?

I certainly would not have.

I guess I just don’t understand why an article trying to answer the question “Has the MLB succeeded in increasing diversity in leadership roles” has had such a triggering effect on this comment section.

Stella – How is it “intellectually dishonest” to ask and answer a question of whether improvements need to be made? This article literally engages in the first steps of the scientific method.

John Shreve
5 years ago

citing a growing number of African-American first-round draft picks, including the high draft selections of graduates of MLB youth academies and RBI programs, demonstrating the success of MLB initiatives in this regard
So they do have that working.
When Tony Clark’s career was winding down, he told his agent he’d like to work in an MLB team’s front office. The agent told him they wouldn’t hire him, not out of bigotry, but because they were hiring techies with advanced analysis experience.
And people tend to hire people like themselves.
Baseball used to be accused of having a “good ole boys’ club” regarding managers. Then when Frank Robinson became manager of the Expos for his fouth job as manager, he said, “I guess this puts me in the “Good ole boys’ club.”
Dusty’s on his fourth gig now and he says it’s his goal to be the first African American manager in the Hall of Fame.

Jetsy Extrano
5 years ago

The level of concern trolling and determined misunderstanding really underscores the situation. ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his self-respect depends on his not understanding it.’

Greg
5 years ago
Reply to  Jetsy Extrano

Thanks for your comment, Jetsy.

What I like about FanGraphs and Hardball Times is the willingness not to just presume something but to look at the evidence — to look at the data and the historical context for the most rational explanations. In that spirit, let us not dismiss the presence of racism out of hand, especially with its long and well-documented history. If we exclude racism from possible explanations, we are left with the claim that black people are rationally “exercising their freedom to choose” not to play baseball at a different rate than white people. Maybe, but maybe not. It is certainly worth exploring whether it is true rather than assuming it is true. We must be willing to ask the questions and be open to seek the answers wherever they take us.

To refuse to entertain the question is a kind of “determined misunderstanding” where the commenter presumes everyone has the same access to power and resources, without backing it up with data, and then dismissing any racial disparity as personal choice. We can do better.

Stella
5 years ago
Reply to  Greg

What? This entire article is nothing more than someone defaulting to the authority of a single study from a partisan political organization (the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports).

From start to finish, this article begs one question after another in pursuit of political ideology. There isn’t a single shred of reason or logic to be found here.

It is the antithesis of everything you claim to stand for.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Stella

Hahahahahahahaha

This is a great bit.

“We can’t trust the numbers that come from an academic institution devoted to measuring diversity in sports, because…reasons!”

That would be like trusting THT to measure the impact of analytics on baseball! They’re clearly a partisan organization!

Steven J White
5 years ago
Reply to  Greg

“…without backing it up with data, and then dismissing any racial disparity as personal choice. We can do better.”

Yes, data is important. What is MORE important, is understanding what the data is telling you. The lack of black players in MLB is not evidence on it’s own of racism, just as the lack of white players in the NBA or NFL isn’t. Correlation does not imply causation.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Steven J White

But a correlation does demand deeper study, so that we can find the causation.

As opposed to several members of this comment section, whose response is to cover their ears and shout “LALALALA, I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

Jarrett
5 years ago

So tired of hearing about this stuff. As others have said in the replies, where is the call for diversity in basketball or football? Like 80% of the NBA are black folks, and they earned their way onto the team. Why is it when white people are a majority in a league it is due to some subconscious racism that we all have?

And lets be frank, all of these positions are finite. So whether it is actual players, or staff, there really isn’t any growth. So you aren’t talking about increasing the pie. All you are saying is that we need to hire less white men.

You know, a couple of jerks yell out racist slurs at a player, and everyone freaks out. We need all of these new policies and such, we need to fine the fan (not sure how that would work). Lonzo Ball’s dad (an actual public figure) says that there were too many white people on the UCLA basketball team, and that is why they didn’t win the championship, it is mentioned for like a day, and then you hear nothing of it. Now we all have to talk about the shoe he came out with.

Bobi
5 years ago

Excellent article, Isabelle. Thank you for making us aware of the outrageous racial inequality that remains within the MLB. For instance, despite making up nearly equal percentages of the United States population, at roughly 13%, blacks make up just 7.7% of major league ballplayers while Hispanics are massively overrepresented at 30%! WOW.

I don’t know what can be done about this, frankly, but my modest proposal is to ban entry of all new Hispanic players into MLB until such a time that their numbers, and those of blacks, are fairly represented at 13%.

Now, I understand that it might not make sense to peg these things to the demographics of the United States. Maybe the only true and fair way to engineer this is to base it on global racial demographics. In that case, our job won’t be done until 18% of all players, coaches, and executives are Han Chinese.

Sure, it’s going to take a lot of work to make this happen. One might even think of it as a burden of some kind. But we’re on the right side of history with this, you guys. We can do this!

Thomas Paine
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobi

Best response yet. Amazes me that an analytics inclined site would even consider publishing such incoherence without looking at and understanding the numbers behind their statements.

There is nothing wrong with the MLB as is in terms of race breakdown. It works as is since is an equal opportunity for everyone. In fact, just as others have mentioned, there would be nothing wrong with an all-black MLB, or a 100% Asain roster, or a 10% Italian female, 20% Australian male, 35% Somoan over 55 male, and 35% under 20 breakdown. Or yes, even a 100% white league. The beauty of baseball is that these would now (keyword now) never occur because of the reach that baseball has across the world. There is an opportunity for everyone to earn their keep, so long as they can play. One can also look at it from a business perspective. Why would anyone want to leave talent on the table, when certainly other teams may pick up said talent, just because of one’s race? It doesn’t make sense.

What does make sense is that people have different interests. Why is it that so often people just look for comparisons on the easiest of things (baseball as well as issues like this). A person is more than their race. Why can’t people accept that for whatever reason, it seems like black individuals gravitate and excel at basketball at disproportionately higher rates than baseball? Likewise, I don’t understand why there has been a lot of talk of late for the first women professional. In my mind, such a day will come, there are plenty of exorbitantly talented people, who happen to be women, that will likely be good enough for an MLB roster. Breaking down people based on these demographic characteristics that they have no control over is a bad move in my book.

El Chupacabra
5 years ago

Shite article…

O.W.
5 years ago

To all of you making the reverse racism argument: there’s no such thing! I know it must be uncomfortable to confront the resurfaced visibility of systemic racism that has underpinned American culture since, well, forever, but the argument that white people are somehow “oppressed” and are now the victims of “racism” is tone deaf and ridiculous. To equate the everyday white experience — even yes, in a majority black sports league like the NFL or NBA — to the systemic oppression faced by people of color in this country every single day is ludicrous. You don’t want to discuss these things because it makes you uncomfortable and probably a little guilty, but coming from another boring white dude, let me tell you: you should be uncomfortable! This country is really messed up! Get used to having these conversations, and start actually listening so you can educate yourselves — our country is only getting started here. This isn’t ever going away, and it shouldn’t until it actually gets addressed.

Secondly — and this is *really* going to upset you, if you’re still paying attention — racism in baseball is a foundational, structural issue that extends back to demographic redistributions during Reconstruction and impacts almost every part of the game. Did you know that early Negro League teams had to include actual performances before games during barnstorming tours so they could make enough money to support themselves, building a culture of viewing baseball as hand in hand with entertainment that white players responded violently to following integration? These are the very building blocks of the unwritten rules. Everything about “playing the game the right way” has roots in racism that date back to segregation in baseball. Those are the facts, uncomfortable as they may be to you.

Increasing diversity in baseball is difficult because baseball has done so much to entrench itself as an aged, conservative, male, white game that favors nostalgia over entertainment. It has made itself prohibitively expensive at the youth level, especially in urban minority communities that have seen an almost complete privatization of public green space and are now excluded from the suburban showcase circuit; curtailed even the basic and obvious avenues of increasing viewership among young people by draconian social media policies and stadium experiences that is more 1917 than 2017; and, finally, it has failed to address a predominant clubhouse culture that does not even have the baseline decency of fostering an environment where a gay player would feel comfortable enough coming out.

You want to tell me these aren’t systemic issues that baseball doesn’t have any control over? Simply put, you’re wrong — it would just take a lot of good, positive work no one seems to want to put in.

Hingle McCringleberry
5 years ago
Reply to  O.W.

Oh, the white privilege argument.

Put this in an academic paper and you’ll be teaching at a public university in no time!

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago

Gotta love when someone has no intelligent response to a well-reasoned argument, and starts whining about “academia”!

Hingle McCringleberry
5 years ago

How does one actually respond to an argument essentially saying, “white people are racist, you just don’t realize it.”

This was a gem: ” You don’t want to discuss these things because it makes you uncomfortable and probably a little guilty, but coming from another boring white dude, let me tell you: you should be uncomfortable!”

Seriously, how does one respond to such an “argument” (it’s not really an argument, but I don’t have another word to call it)? Please inform the masses.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago

First off, you could actually read what he wrote, which in no way boils down to “white people are racist, you just don’t realize it.”

And then, having read and understood his argument, you could try to refute literally any of the supporting evidence he offers…rather than trying to dismiss it out of hand, because talking about it makes you feel uncomfortable and maybe a little guilty.

Unfortunately for the world, everything he offers as evidence is pretty impossible to refute, because it’s all entirely accurate.

It’s not your fault that the world is shitty in a way that give us an advantage, unless you do your best to shout down anyone who makes that point because it makes you feel uncomfortable.

(Sorry for getting heavy – I know THT is supposed to be a safe space.)

Hingle McCringleberry
5 years ago

Okay, I’ll oblige.

“To all of you making the reverse racism argument: there’s no such thing!”

He’s right. There’s no such thing as reverse racism, just racism. So we’re clear there.

“To equate the everyday white experience — even yes, in a majority black sports league like the NFL or NBA — to the systemic oppression faced by people of color in this country every single day is ludicrous.”

Literally no one hear is suggesting that there is actually white oppression taking place. They are simply asking the question, if it’s wrong for baseball to not have diversity, isn’t it also wrong for the NFL and NBA to be lacking in it? Or are you under the delusion that diversity only counts when we are talking about “white people things”?

“You don’t want to discuss these things because it makes you uncomfortable and probably a little guilty, but coming from another boring white dude, let me tell you: you should be uncomfortable!”

No, we don’t want to talk about them because one side comes to the table with nothing to offer except to virtue signal about all the bad whitey has done in the name of systematic oppression. They offer no actual evidence other than suggest that because white people get more favorable outcomes, the system must be skewed towards them.

“racism in baseball is a foundational, structural issue that extends back to demographic redistributions during Reconstruction and impacts almost every part of the game.”

Well, yeah, at one point and time, baseball was racist. So was college basketball. So were a lot of things. Cite me an example that shows that black baseball players today are at a significant disadvantage in baseball because of this foundational, structural racism, and I’ll eat my shoe. What happened in the mid-1900s is sad and unfortunate. Thank God we don’t have the Negro Leagues any more.

“Increasing diversity in baseball is difficult because baseball has done so much to entrench itself as an aged, conservative, male, white game that favors nostalgia over entertainment.”

Some examples here would be great. What actual things is baseball doing to value “nostalgia” over entertainment? This seems like an empty talking point, and until actual examples and evidence are cited, it is.

“It has made itself prohibitively expensive at the youth level, especially in urban minority communities that have seen an almost complete privatization of public green space and are now excluded from the suburban showcase circuit”

Fact: baseball is expensive even at the middle class level. My parents couldn’t afford to have me play baseball as a kid, and we were by no means poor. It’s a reality of baseball: it’s expensive. And many players, as well as MLB’s RBI program, seek to help inner-city kids fall in love with the game.

And is there intentional exclusion from the suburban showcase circuit, or is there just not their participation? Please understand the difference.

“curtailed even the basic and obvious avenues of increasing viewership among young people by draconian social media policies and stadium experiences that is more 1917 than 2017″

It’s so obvious you didn’t feel like you needed to cite any examples. Cool. Again, until evidence is shown and examples are given, these are empty talking points.

” it has failed to address a predominant clubhouse culture that does not even have the baseline decency of fostering an environment where a gay player would feel comfortable enough coming out.”

This is pure conjecture. Unless you know something about certain players others don’t, suggesting they’ve fostered an environment where gay players can’t come out is so empty and ludicrous, it should be insulting to the reader.

And again, CITE SOME FREAKING EVIDENCE. Please, what evidence do you have that baseball, as a whole, has made it so gay players can’t come out? Are you suggesting that their hiring of Billy Bean as Director of Inclusion (who by the way, helped David Denson come out) was all in vain and that they actually don’t care? Please. Do not insult us.

And finally,

“You want to tell me these aren’t systemic issues that baseball doesn’t have any control over? Simply put, you’re wrong — it would just take a lot of good, positive work no one seems to want to put in.”

Okay, so let’s finish with the following questions:
1. What opportunities are white players in baseball afforded that black players are not? Are they, as a whole, paid more (by the way, they aren’t. There aren’t a lot of black players in baseball, and you have 5 black players amongst the highest paid in the game, 6 if you include the fact Prince Fielder still receives a paycheck).

2. What do you suggest baseball do that they already aren’t? Again, this would require citing some evidence to show what they are or are not doing.

3. To echo Nate’s question below, if you believe there is a malicious and intentional refusal to take the proper steps, do you still support baseball? If so, why?

I apologize for the length. But if you want people to critique your writing, it’ll be up there in length.

O.W.
5 years ago

How about this, Cringle — start by reading a few of the books below that I’ve read while researching the book that I’m writing on the history of baseball in urban America:

1. Baseball’s Great Experiment — Jules Tygell
2. Playing America’s Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line — Adrian Burgos
3. Conspiracy of Silence — Chris Lamb
4. Out at Home — Glenn Burke and Erik Sherman
5. Cuban Star — Adrian Burgos

Until then, I just don’t feel like putting the time into trying to convince you that a very real thing actually exists which you will probably never recognize anyway.

Hingle McCringleberry
5 years ago

So you’re refusing to offer any evidence for your claims, or to answer the questions I asked?

I was right to be dismissive of your comment in my first comment. Have a good day.

Bobi
5 years ago

Oh, the “educate yourself” argument. Congratulations, now you’re gunning for tenure!

Thank you for gracing us with the thousands of pages you’ve assigned in order to make your argument for you. Browsing through your selection of titles, I’m sure these accounts of a thing that once existed 70 years ago will provide indisputable evidence that that same thing still exists today.

In real life, I mean, and not just in the minds of academics whose income depends on insisting it does.

O.W.
5 years ago

No one can have a debate when they don’t believe in education and when they’ve lost basic faith in learning. You decry “academics,” and people who spend their lives devoting themselves to deeply understanding complex issues! Of course you, random internet guy, would know better than them, because you’ve read some articles online and anecdotally seen that racism doesn’t exist in baseball with your own eyes. Good day, indeed, guys.

Bobi
5 years ago

Oh, I love education and learning. What I’ve lost faith in is the First Fundamentalist Church of the American University, especially its doctrines that Everything Is Racist, with its sub-dogma that every field of life that doesn’t show perfect representation of chosen minorities (sorry, Asians) is double-extra proof that Everything is Racist.

You *do* realize you belong to a church, right? You are the new creationists.

I actually feel bad for people raised in such a close-minded environment. Because it’s not their fault, really. I just hope that they can one day educate themselves enough to escape their faith’s fundamentalist grasp on their minds.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago

Hahahahahahaha

You lost me the second you tried to claim that the only evidence of the systemic advantages we have in Western societies is the correlation between our outcomes and our race.

That’s ahistorical bullshit, and if you don’t understand that, you’re not worth engaging with.

Bobi – I enjoy the relentless stream of ad hominem (absent any supporting evidence for your claims), in an attempt to claim that other people were “close-minded.”

Are you doing a bit?

Nate
5 years ago
Reply to  O.W.

So, O.W., do you support the game of baseball?

If it’s so entrenched in racism and no one seems to want to put work in to stop it, why would you support that?

O.W.
5 years ago
Reply to  Nate

It’s almost as if you can still love something in life even if it’s flawed!

Cam
5 years ago
Reply to  O.W.

Thank you for providing the necessary context. I’m pretty disappointed with some of the other comments in this thread but i’m glad you’re here to balance it out a bit.

Paul G.
5 years ago

There’s a common refrain, whenever sportswriters deviate from their traditional coverage: “stick to sports.” It’s a problematic phrase on a lot of levels but, most critically, what these “stick to sports” people fail to recognize is that culture, sports and politics are inherently entwined…

The problem you are not missing is that sports in general and baseball in particular are entertainment, an escape. Mixing in politics, which the majority of the audience finds stressful, depressing, infuriating, and/or boring, lessens the entertainment value. If they wanted to watch the news, there are plentiful options outside of the ballpark. If you make sports about politics, you will find that the audience will find other more pleasant things to do. This is a foolish idea.

The bigger problem you are missing is not that sportswriters want to include politics in sports when appropriate, but that sportswriters want to advocate for particular political views, often going out of their way to force the message where it does not belong because what they really want to be is political writers. (See Bob Costas, for one example.) Furthermore, they want to force the sport to advocate for those views as well. It is difficult to conceive a worse way to treat a large chunk of the fan base by hectoring them and insinuating they are bad people if they do not agree with the received wisdom or voted for the wrong candidate. I cannot conceive of anyone beyond hard core political partisans that want to make everything political in quasi-religious fervor, explicit partisan entertainment, and insult comics who would think this is this as appropriate way to treat an audience. It is essentially stating “we do not want you kind here.” The results are predictable.

When I go to a baseball game I am sitting in a stadium with tens of thousands of others of all sorts of different races, creeds, ages, political views, social classes, interests, and dozens of other dividing markers. I do not care about any of it. I spend my time communing with those tens of thousands, many very different than me, by enjoying the game, cheering on my team, getting excited over great plays, playing along with the trivia or the baseball shell game, and chatting with my fellow baseball fans. That’s the real politics of baseball: we can all go to the ballpark, no matter who we are, and enjoy the game together. The sport that unites us together: that’s the baseball I want.

KDL
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul G.

Advocating for the status quo, as you do here, is every bit as political as advocating for a change to the status quo.

Status quo supporters have just done a clever job of convincing us all that the only “political” opinions are one’s that change the status quo.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  KDL

All the “keep politics out of sports” people are, quite literally, declaring that sports should be a “safe space” where they can avoid ideas that conflict with their own.

And that’s bullshit, just like it’s bullshit when college students try to shut down speakers whose politics they disagree with.

Paul G.
5 years ago

KDL and Cool Lester Smooth, if you are going to advertise that you provide entertainment and then go out of your way to ruin the experience for a significant percentage of the audience with topics that are at best tangential and at worst shoehorned, well, you are doing it wrong. The the purpose of entertainment is to provide an escape for the audience. It’s supposed to be a “safe space” as opposed to the other parts of life that the audience is trying to escape for a time. This does not mean the audience cannot learn something or that it is completely cutoff from the rest of reality, but you do so at your own peril. Personally, I think it is more effective to have a diverse crowd bonding over the shared love of a game than having the proprietors/sportswriters pick sides and then pit them against each other, but maybe that’s just me.

For that matter, I’m not even sure why I should respect the political opinions of a baseball executive or the guy who covers the Mets beat for the New York Post. It would seem like a silly thing to do, at least respecting their opinions more than anyone else. It’s generally not their area of expertise.

This is quite unlike college. College and universities are supposed to be places where the students learn and to learn requires being exposed to new ideas including those that challenge deeply held beliefs. A college with “safe spaces” has failed. Any student that requires a “safe space” has failed.
Any student that shuts down speakers is engaging in censorship and has not only failed but is little more than a thug. Sadly, more and more of academia is indeed failing: failing to educate, failing to produce students ready for the world outside of campus, and, worst of all, failing to challenge their own assumptions with a fanatical level of ignorance, all this combined with shouldering their student body with crushing debt to pay for ever growing armies of administrators required to enforce orthodoxy. Comparing baseball to higher education is a shallow conceit.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul G.

Anyone whining that another human expressing their ideas “ruins their experience,” regardless of the circumstance, has failed morally and intellectually.

Anyone who thinks that another human expressing their ideas is “picking sides and pitting them against each other” has failed morally and intellectually.

Grow up.

Paul G.
5 years ago
Reply to  Paul G.

I have grown up, unfortunately. Ah, to be younger and still have the delusion that I might have a shot at playing shortstop for the Yankees. More relevant, it is experience that has brought me to the position I hold.

Anyone whining that another human expressing their ideas “ruins their experience,” regardless of the circumstance, has failed morally and intellectually.

Which is why everyone so enjoys it when when the crazy uncle and the nutty cousin get into political arguments at the Thanksgiving dinner table. This is also why we have mandatory 30 minute intellectual debates about current events before the start of all movies. (The one about North Korea before Beauty and the Beast was masterful.) And this is why when the Klan parades everyone stands around to watch and cheer because who doesn’t love parades.

Expressing ideas is fine. I highly encourage everyone to express their ideas, debate them, learn from them, try to understand opposing positions, and tolerate those with which they disagree. The world is a better place for it. But there are times and places for such things. If you cannot appreciate that persons actively seek out places where they can escape the pressures of life and, say, enjoy a well contested game on the diamond while drinking a few beers without worrying about the election, or go out to the lake to do some fishing and commune with nature without someone screaming protest chants at them with a bullhorn, then I am not sure what else to say. This is the basic human experience going back to ancient times. I am not even sure why you find this at all controversial.

And, my apologies if I misinterpret your somewhat rude response, but I suspect you are not especially enjoying this comment thread. I doubt that was your goal when visiting THT. Best of luck.

W
5 years ago

If I could +100 Paul G.’s comments above, I would.

This “you’re all closest-racist or privileged” routine has grown pretty old. As has “making EVERYTHING political”.

But there’s one other aspect of the Adam Jones incident – and the coverage of it – that I *DO* find significant; and it was done in this article as well. Almost all of the articles I’ve read, from espn to usatoday, to this site, quoted Adam Jones as saying:

After the game, Jones said he thought the perpetrators should be heavily fined upwards of “10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand. Something that really hurts somebody.”

Personally, I think that’s still a little ugly. Maybe I’ve read too much Gandhi and “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” kind of stuff, so I think removing the fan was the right penalty (and if they were season ticket holders, forfeit their seats) as opposed to fining them thousands of dollars until it hurts.

But what Jones really said, to me, was much worse. The interview can be seen here, to get the context and all of what he said (and to see how the quotes that are being put in the paper and in articles like this one are more sanitized) :

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2707339-mookie-betts-shows-support-for-adam-jones-over-racist-insults-at-fenway-park

The “10 grand, 20 grand, 30 grand” part is found at the 3:40-ish mark of the video. Listen to all of his comments on that.

“you hurt their families”
“you take food off their kids table”

Maybe it’s just me — but the idea of a guy who makes $16M+ a year, wanting to hurt someone so badly over racist words or a bag of peanuts thrown at him – to the point he’d want to hurt their families and take food off their kids table – is really sick. This seems to be what we’ve become in this society, though. We really want to HURT each other – and not just each other, we’re willing to hurt people’s families, their kids, there’s really no bounds anymore.

If you had the ability to essentially crush someone — to break them financially, to hurt their family/kids, leave them broke/jobless – would you really want to do it? Or would having their treatment of you publicly scored be enough?

I’m REALLY glad Mookie Betts stood up for Adam Jones – and that the Fenway fans gave Adam Jones a standing ovation, and he tipped his batting helmet in thanks. I also hope this other aspect of this incident gets noticed as well.

JA
5 years ago

This is an embarrassingly bad article. There is zero consideration given to any of the underlying factors that determine the demographic make-up of MLB players and personnel (e.g., surely foreign players are at a disadvantage for personnel positions if they are not fluent in English). Many of the variables at work are entirely or mostly outside of MLB’s control.

The author is a 3rd rate practitioner of the endless, meaningless deluge of neo-Marxist claptrap that is used as a substitute (or replacement) for critical thinking.

Eric Rodriguez
5 years ago

I am guessing that the same people who are saying nothing needs to be done would also say nothing needs to be done about the fact that Blacks and Hispanics in this country are far more likely to be living in poverty, or that their average net worth is usually a fraction of a white person. But when we see such hard data we know sometime is wrong and something needs to be done. And I don’t buy all these “color blind” comments because I know if the same people were around hundreds of years ago they would not be color blind.

BWilhoite
5 years ago

There have been several solid comments (JA, W, Paul, Hingle McCringleberry, Nate, Jake, Cool Lester…) above and I don’t want to just rehash what they said, however, I do want to make clear this is one of, if not, the worst articles on HBT I’ve ever encountered. Just a rehashing of feel good sound bites that when taken seriously are either flat out wrong or lead to horrible consequences.

Yes, the fan in Boston was atrocious, but we have free speech for a reason, huge fines for saying something stupid is an overreach and ends up setting precedent for quashing political speech or dissidence. The fan already had to face the consequences of being removed from the game and having the public against them. Jones suffered no consequences other than allowing something someone said bother him. The fan could have also potentially been charged with minor assault charges for throwing the peanuts). Words are words, they don’t hurt unless they are allowed to hurt. “Stupid is as stupid does.” “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Come on, fines? Hurting their family? their kids? Wow to both Jones and Isabelle.

I’d also like to make note that baseball is not inherently racist as Isabelle implied and O.W. stated. The unwritten rules also didn’t stem from racism, but from competition and pride. Just because some A*holes in the past used the unwritten rules or their positions in the sport to push their own personal racism doesn’t make the institution racist to this day or the unwritten rules racist.

I’d go on, but I feel those above made solid enough points… I especially want to echo Paul G… “keep politics out of baseball,” as well as Lester Cool, “Let’s change the dialogue to the questions and look at why things are why they are?”

rubesandbabes
5 years ago

Okay, okay come on people – two or three comments is the absolute max for a Hardball Times post.

Too much code here – author ignores Spanish Speaking ballplayers to make the point about African Americans without saying so. This is really a slight to the Caribbean/other ballplayers with African heritage.

No one has explained to the author about the economic benefit of running minor league teams in the USA with foreigners – this is part of it at the MLB fringe/regular level, and reflects in the player pool.

The lack/less than historical presence of African American All-Star players shouldn’t be mixed in with a lack of diversity in coaches. It’s two different things. More players of an ilk = More coaches of an ilk. Please see other sorts for further ref.

Michael Bacon
5 years ago

S writes, “For that matter why are most catchers white? Back in the early days of integration, there were plenty of black catchers, even though you would assume that 60 years ago white pitchers and managers would be less likely to believe a black player is smart enough to call a game.”

It is false to write that, “Back in the early days of integration, there were plenty of black catchers…” There were few “dark-skinned” catchers. I am loathe to write the part about black (“dark-skinned”) because one look at Joe Torre’s picture at B-Ref (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/torrejo01.shtml) shows someone with “dark-skin.” Joe is of Italian descent. People considered “White” will become much darker in the sun. I know this because I am married to a beautiful Native American woman who has often been mistaken for something else.

There is a commercial on TV by Ancestry.com advertising one can learn his or her complete racial makeup from their DNA. How many people on the planet are racially “pure.” What if everyone were tested? What if the government gave away the results so all could learn of their ancestry? Would there be less racial bias? What if our planet were invaded, as POTUS Ronnie RayGun said decades ago in a speech, and we thought of ourselves as only “Earthlings?” Would our planet be a better place?

As for the second part, “… even though you would assume that 60 years ago white pitchers and managers would be less likely to believe a black player is smart enough to call a game,” I wonder what all the white pitchers who threw to Roy Campanella, Earl Battey, Johnny Roseboro, Valmy Thomas, Elrod Hendricks, Paul Casanova, Manny Sanguillen, Earl Williams, Hal King, etc. (These are offa the top of my head), would say about these fellows not being “smart enough to call a game?” The managers back then put their names in the lineup far too often to support such an ignorant comment.

“S” is wrong when he writes, “Back in the early days of integration, there were plenty of black catchers…” There were only a few catchers with dark pigmentation “…in the early days of integration.” There could be many reasons for this, such as African-Americans had too much speed to waste behind the dish and were therefore moved to another position.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Bacon

I think the “African Americans have too much speed” thing could actually be the reason.

It’s not that youth coaches think black people are too stupid to play catcher. It’s that they assume they’re faster than white kids, and put them in the OF or at SS. When they realize that a given kid isn’t fast enough, the next stop is 1B (from the OF) or 3B (from SS), not C.

John Autin
5 years ago

This sentence disturbs me: “In 2017, 10 percent of major league managers are non-white, which doesn’t sound terrible until you realize that percentage is made up of just three men….”

Exactly how is “three” worse than “10 percent” of 30? They’re exactly the same. So it seems like an emotional appeal via the small counting number. What counting number would not sound “terrible”? Six would be 20%; nine would be 30%. The use of counting numbers doesn’t improve the argument; it just makes it feel manipulative.

KDL
5 years ago

LOL at this comment section. Whenever politics comes up at fangraphs of THT I’m amazed how many people who otherwise champion evidence and fact can conclude things like “racism doesn’t exist”.

Yehoshua Friedman
5 years ago

An African-American player has very little motivation to choose baseball because he will have to toil for several years at starvation salaries unless and until he can make it to the Majors. There must be a program by the very well-heeled MLB owners to raise MiLB salaries significantly so that players can earn a living wage while they are developing. In addition, there must be subsidies for inner-city traveling teams that will capture the imagination of African-American youth to play serious baseball and develop. The owners have to throw serious money at the two above issues and stop being so short-sighted. The MLB Players Assn. must start representing Minor League players in negotiations. Every MLB player was in the Minors once. Remember where you came from.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago

Exactly. It makes no sense for disadvantaged kids (of any race) to play baseball, because the scholarship money isn’t there in college, and there’s no way to support your family while you’re in the minors.

Because a disproportionate number of black people grow up below the poverty line, there’s a disproportionate number for whom playing baseball is a terrible financial decision.

bmp010
5 years ago

(((Diversity))) just means less white.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago

Another question for this study is whether the declining proportion of African American players is a function of adding Venezuela, the DR and Columbia to the population of possible MLB players.

That’s an additional 90 million people to draw from, almost none of whom play basketball or American football.

More than anything, the MLB is disproportionately Dominican relative to its population of potential players.

So, the vast majority of the non-white players are not native English speakers (even as the majority of players are), limiting the managerial pool to those who have exceptional language skills in addition to being having devoted enough time to learning baseball skills to become good enough to play professionally.

And most of these players have not had any formal secondary education (having spent their adolescence at baseball “academies”), making it extremely difficult for them to ascend to the higher levels of MLB front offices in this analytics-driven era.

This summary makes the study seems a bit facile.

Bobi
5 years ago

Oh, you bastard. Fine. I will drop the provocateur thing for a moment.

You have just proposed a thoughtful, rational, plausible explanation for (at least part of) this phenomenon. An explanation that makes a huge amount of sense to explain why (again, at least part of) MLB managers aren’t currently a Platonic ideal of racial representation—and that doesn’t seem to involve any overt racism.

Because this study, at least as presented in this article, only looks at the outputs, without any regard for the inputs. Hence its analysis is, as you say, facile.

Now I will explain my point of view, which you are completely free to reject, but you have just been reasonable, so I will attempt to do the same.

I see this same facile pattern popping up whenever it involves a university study from a department with “Diversity” in the title. There is rarely if never an attempt to explore *why* these outcomes exist. The doctrine simply insists that different outcomes are explicit proof of the existence of racism/sexism/etc. which must be corrected with outside intervention immediately. There’s no rigor, no attempts to do the hard work of actually providing their claims.

This pattern repeats itself through all academia to the point where I assume they’re all lying to me whenever they bring up diversity.

You are very welcome to disagree with my analysis and my conclusions. I’m explicitly laying them out there so you can assess them for bias, fallacies, falsehood, whatever. I don’t care.

But your argument is precisely in line with the arguments I would make when critiquing a study like this. And I see these same flaws repeated over, and over, and over. After watching this denial of reason repeat itself untold times over the last three years since I started paying attention, it’s turned me from a liberal into whatever the hell I am now.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobi

Yeah, I think these studies have value, in determining whether we need to do more digging to figure out whether there’s a current systemic problem, or if we’re dealing with the legacy of previous systemic problems, and what that problem is.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobi

They’re certainly not an answer, though.

O.W.
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobi

Hey Bobi!

I think you have laid out compelling reasons for why you currently think the way you do. I disagree with you, but I respect that you’ve explained yourself.

I actually think that academia deals *mostly* with looking at inputs with discussions and analysis surrounding diversity — it is much more so the media portrayal of academia as a safe space for liberal ideology that has stereotyped academia as a bunch of finger pointers willing to scream racism at any point in time. I’m sure there is some of that going on, sure! But by and large, it’s much more the fact that conservative ideology has, over the past few decades, isolated itself outside of objective, rational debate in academic circles — especially surrounding issues of race — and we have a right-leaning media that is desperate for both sidesism. Academic discussion/research is, at its *foundation*, about proper sourcing and rigor. I think you’re probably arguing that academia has become an echo chamber, but I see your disagreement as a simple refutation of what academia has, through decades of rigorous debate and research, concluded. That’s your right to do, but we’re at a point in history where the viewpoints of lifelong experts are being eschewed in favor of often half baked anecdotal evidence, and I am quite rightly wary of people who engage in propagating that trend.

Moreover, I think people get frustrated because answers to diversity problems are 1) uncomfortable to confront; 2) deeply skeptical of the status quo; and 3) generally unable to affect change quickly. There’s a lot of reasons why people push back against discussions of diversity outside of conscious/unconscious racism (though that’s a big one). These things can’t be fixed in a year or a decade, and it’s a lot easier to simply throw in the towel and claim there’s no problem in the first place, or yell for evidence that has been provided time and time again for centuries.

Now, as this relates to baseball, and the under representation of people of color in front office/management positions. We should understand that analysis of the issue should rightly be framed first and foremost in the historical precedence of keeping people of color out of management positions. You want inputs for why these things happen? Here’s the main one: historical precedence. Because the historical precedence of denying people of color home loans, public resources, and jobs for which they are qualified has been documented ad nauseum in most every profession for decades — and that baseline discrimination impacts every facet of life, sapping people of time, energy, and money.

So when we ask, “why are MLB front offices/management not diverse?” we should not only naturally start with historical precedence, but *necessarily* start with historical precedence: it is the proper frame for the problem, and the main input you’re looking for. From there, we can get more granular.

Bobi
5 years ago
Reply to  O.W.

That’s useful to understand where you’re coming from, in that it’s internally consistent, and makes it much easier to follow why you’ve reached your conclusions. So that is good, because you’re a lot more humanized to me now, which is often utterly lost on the internet.

Yet I am sure you will be completely unsurprised to hear that I reject your conclusions. Including the idea that I think academia is an echo chamber. Instead, I’d argue that it’s a Star Chamber. One where not just heretics, but the insufficiently pious are regularly expunged from the Cathedral. Such as in this case here*:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/duke-divinity-crisis-griffiths-documents/

(Summary: college employee “strongly urges” staff to attend something called “Racial Equity Institute Phase I Training”; professor argues these types of things are anti-intellectual etc; professor gets accused of racism and harassment until prof resigns)

In other words, man questions the gods, the gods’ worshippers burn him at the stake.

Which raises the obvious question: How can professors disagree with the “rational, objective debate” of the witch-burners when doing so will get them burned as a witch? In this environment, how is the orthodoxy ever critiqued?

When in the social sciences, the department this orthodoxy comes from, you have over three times as many MARXISTS professors (18%!) than you do conservatives (5%), what kind of research do you think will emerge? Do you think there will be a lot of “Well guys, according to my study, our god might not exist”?

Or will it be closer to “Hey guys, good news! I’ve run the math, and it turns out God is great!”

What’s amazing is that even with the full backing of the Cathedral’s scholars churning out as many apologies for their god as they can, there is still almost zero evidence for any of their claims. What “evidence” they do produce is often unrepeatable at best (e.g. implicit bias tests), and frequently comes to the *opposite* conclusion of the politics they were trying to prove right, at which point the data is either ignored, or feverishly p-hacked until they hit on a result that appeases the priests.

Meanwhile, any alternative explanations for racial economic inequality—like, oh, say, that 72% of black children are raised in single-parent (and hence single-income) homes, and that black kids from two-parent homes do just as well as white kids in two-parent homes—are ignored, because there’s no good way to incorporate that into the Cathedral’s dogma of oppressors vs. oppressed.

You don’t see any of these things happening, but that’s not surprising, considering you just described the media as “right-leaning.” Go on and look into which party journalists overwhelmingly vote for. Or how much the news orgs themselves donate to Democrats vs. Republicans. Or spend an hour browsing Twitter watching whose politics the blue checkmarks support. The facts are at stark, stark odds with your assessment of the media’s political bias.

In short, the American university system has become indistinguishable from a religion. It already knows the answers it wants to reach and it fights desperately to prove its answers are a) true and b) the only possible answers out there. Disregarding all causes, let alone alternatives, it is incapable of anything but the feeblest analysis, as evidenced by the study cited in this article and the article itself.

We’ve removed all other religions from the educational system. I think it’s time to do away with this one as well.

*Fun note: I didn’t even have to search for an article like this, as I still had this one open from this morning. Yes, it’s an anecdote, but repeats of it are shockingly common, considering how few conservative professors exist in academia in the first place. And extra special comedy points that it comes from a divinity school.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobi

The issue, of course, is that you can’t isolate the fact that a disproportionate number of black children are raised in single-parent homes from the fact of 400 years of institutionalized discrimination against black Americans.

The grand joke of institutionalized racism is that, if done correctly initially, it self-perpetuates without needing any active input from future generations.

And I think the issue is more the intellectual and moral cowardice of current undergrads students than of professors. Everyone I know in academia was absolutely horrified by the shit that went down at Yale, where a professor was harassed until he resigned because he wouldn’t put an explicit ban on racist Halloween costumes. And they were furious when the Middlebury student newspaper got defunded by the student council for publishing an op-ed.

I’m a capitalist, but in David Lloyd George, national efficiency vein. I don’t believe in equality, but I believe fundamentally in equal opportunity…and I feel it’s dishonest and fundamentally ahistorical to say that we’ve ever managed to provide that in society.

O.W.
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobi

Cool Lester is right on the money — you’re almost there, Bobi, it’s just that last little jump that you’re missing. To look at single parent homes as the problem and not a *symptom* of the problem is the missed connection. America is not a meritocracy, and it hasn’t ever been.

And yeah, there’s the global political spectrum and the American political spectrum — the latter’s entire spectrum is shifted rightward and has no real Left. What you consider “Left” is the center everywhere else in the world. We have, for the past ~50 years, been a country with two parties: one in the center/center right, and the other in the right/far right. The media echoes this — when even MSNBC salivates over the “beauty” of cruise missiles being launched, that’s pretty clear evidence that there’s no mainstream media presence of the actual Left in this country.

Cool Lester Smooth
5 years ago
Reply to  Bobi

Exactly. I’m a liberal…which is why I don’t trust the Left, or any other form of populism.

I just want to live in a meritocracy run by neoliberal technocrats (while recognizing that achieving a true meritocracy is going to take a lot of work), which places me pretty firmly on Center-Right of the global scale.

Hingle McCringleberry
5 years ago
Reply to  O.W.

From O.W.’s initial response a few posts up:

“Moreover, I think people get frustrated because answers to diversity problems are 1) uncomfortable to confront; 2) deeply skeptical of the status quo; and 3) generally unable to affect change quickly. There’s a lot of reasons why people push back against discussions of diversity outside of conscious/unconscious racism (though that’s a big one).”

It’s a little insulting to suggest that because we are frustrated about this issue is because we are uncomfortable, skeptical, or incapable. This assumes that you are 100% right and there’s no defense for the other side. That is why this issue is so frustrating: there’s no sense in arguing it. As Bobi said, you’ve already created the answer and won’t accept anything short of it.

Dismissing the nature of our concerns over this topic as though we are just uncomfortable is insulting.

“You want inputs for why these things happen? Here’s the main one: historical precedence. Because the historical precedence of denying people of color home loans, public resources, and jobs for which they are qualified has been documented ad nauseum in most every profession for decades — and that baseline discrimination impacts every facet of life, sapping people of time, energy, and money.”

Three questions to this:
1. How does historical precedence make it so blacks don’t get hired for front office/management positions? You cited it, but offered no support for it. Specifically, what is occurring inside of baseball that suggests that historical precedence is why they don’t get jobs?

2. How does what happened in the 1960s affect baseball today?

3. When does the “historical precedence” excuse end? Is this something we’ll never get over? Is this something that once we achieve some magical virtuous benchmark of diversity, it goes away? Who is to decide when and for how long we consider “historical precedence?” When is “historical precedence” the reason for all the issues in black America, and when does it become, “they refuse to fix things”?

The point to that last question is to suggest that, yes, a lot of the things the generations before us did were awful. Terrible. The racism of the past is something we hope we never see again in this country. But to continue to use it as some example for why African Americans never achieve the same outcomes is not only insulting to African Americans, it’s bordering upon oppressive.

Here’s my question, and this is a legitimate question: in 2017, what opportunities does a white person have that do not exist to a black person? Not necessarily something that exists in some podunk town in rural America, but as a whole. What can I do that a black person cannot?

This is the biggest issue I have with the conversation about “institutional racism”. It’s creating a self-fulfilled prophecy. We tell them their whole lives, “the reason all these issues exist in your culture is because of institutional racism” and then they never seek opportunities to grow or change. Crying institutional racism stands in the face of every good effort by black men and women who are trying to make a change in their neighborhoods, because it assumes the problem is not with what they are doing wrong, but rather, because some white dude owned slaves in 1847 or a black man was denied a bank loan in 1962, this is the result of historical racism. Yeah, good luck getting anyone to succeed when they believe nothing is the product of their own doing.

Deb from Accounting
5 years ago

The Negro Leagues didn’t suffer all of the taunting and harassment for all of those years for nothing. I think there needs to be more done to provide opportunity to african americans, instead of hiring a frat bro through word of mouth at a cocktail party in the hamptons.. I don’t have the answers Sway… I’d like to hear the thoughts of someone involved in the study from UCF so they aren’t being labeled as a sportswriter with a biased opinion.. Thoughts? Feels? Emotions?

Andrew
5 years ago

Gee, racists sure do flock to the comment threads when you write an article about black people.

Nate
5 years ago
Reply to  Andrew

What has been said that is racist?

Andrew
5 years ago

I think a big part of the lack of diversity is about access to facilities too. I grew up in a rural town in New England and we had lots of open fields/parks to play pickup games on a regular basis. If you grow up in a city, I’m not sure that that’s available to you. What’s interesting to me is that most Americans in baseball seem to be from rural areas in the south, midwest, and west coast, so I think the racial demographics of the sport often reflects the racial demographics in those areas. Not saying racism isn’t part of the problem, but I think there are economic and geographic issues that need to be acknowledged as well. And obviously, I understand that racism is historically intertwined with those issues.