Sport wants to study high-pro­file po­si­tions

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Jay Co­hen

Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred says base­ball wants to study high-pro­file po­si­tions within the sport to see if cer­tain qual­i­fi­ca­tions pre­dict suc­cess, a step that “has ev­ery­thing to do” with mi­nor­ity hir­ing.

Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred says base­ball wants to study high-pro­file po­si­tions within the sport to see if cer­tain qual­i­fi­ca­tions pre­dict suc­cess, a step that “has ev­ery­thing to do” with mi­nor­ity hir­ing.

Base­ball had no Latino man­agers be­fore Rick Ren­te­ria took over the Chicago White Sox last month. Dusty Baker of the Washington Na­tion­als and Dave Roberts from the Los An­ge­les Dodgers are the only black skip­pers among the league’s 30 teams.

But there were 10 mi­nor­ity man­agers as re­cently as 2009, ac­cord­ing to Richard Lapchick of The In­sti­tute for Di­ver­sity and Ethics in Sport at the Univer­sity of Cen­tral Florida.

“Cer­tain per­cep­tions de­velop as to what peo­ple are look­ing for in par­tic­u­lar po­si­tions and then peo­ple write sto­ries say­ing, ‘Oh, that’s a prob­lem on the mi­nor­ity front be­cause, you know, maybe mi­nori­ties are less likely to share th­ese char­ac­ter­is­tics,”’ Man­fred said at the con­clu­sion of two days of own­ers’ meet­ings.

“I think a first step in ad­dress­ing those con­cerns is iden­ti­fy­ing which ones re­ally mat­ter and then you start to iden­tify can­di­dates who have all those qual­i­fi­ca­tions and say, hey this may be the per­fect guy for you and I have some sci­ence be­hind it in or­der to demon­strate that he is the best can­di­date, or she.”

Ma­jor League Base­ball hired Korn Ferry last year in part to help top mi­nor­ity can­di­dates in their in­ter­views for po­si­tions in base­ball op­er­a­tions. But Man­fred said the search firm is go­ing to fo­cus on open­ings for in­di­vid­ual clubs when it’s re­tained be­cause of the po­ten­tial for con­flicts when it works for the cen­tral of­fice and teams at the same time.

When the White Sox an­nounced Ren­te­ria’s pro­mo­tion, they high­lighted his abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate in English and Span­ish. But Man­fred said there are all sorts of fac­tors that could be con­sid­ered.

“You could name prob­a­bly 20 things off the top of your head,” he said. “The ques­tion is, once you’ve named them, do any of them re­ally pre­dict suc­cess on the field?”

While MLB briefed the own­ers on base­ball’s highly suc­cess­ful post­sea­son and the up­com­ing World Base­ball Clas­sic, the on­go­ing la­bor talks with the play­ers oc­cu­pied a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the meet­ings at a down­town Chicago ho­tel, al­ready decked out in its best Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.

The col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment ex­pires Dec. 1. Ne­go­tia­tors for own­ers and play­ers have been meet­ing since spring train­ing.

“I re­main op­ti­mistic that we’re go­ing to make a deal,” Man­fred said. “This process is not pre­dictable in terms of time. I said there were cer­tain nat­u­ral dead­lines out there.

“The be­gin­ning of the mar­ket was one and the ex­pi­ra­tion of the agree­ment’s another, and I’m hope­ful that we’re go­ing to get a deal done be­fore that lat­ter dead­line.”

Man­fred de­clined to ad­dress any de­tails from the bar­gain­ing ses­sions, but he said an in­ter­na­tional am­a­teur draft re­mains on the ta­ble.

Man­fred also touched on sev­eral other fronts with the sport and the own­ers’ quar­terly meet­ings:

• The own­ers ap­proved changes with the lead­er­ship struc­tures in Oak­land and Philadel­phia, with John Fisher be­com­ing the con­trol per­son of the Ath­let­ics and John Mid­dle­ton tak­ing over the same po­si­tion with the Phillies. The A’s an­nounced that Lew Wolff will be tran­si­tion­ing from man­ag­ing part­ner to chair­man emer­i­tus, and that he had agreed to sell most of his in­ter­est to the re­main­ing own­ers.

Fisher and Mid­dle­ton each con­trolled the big­gest stake in their spe­cific teams be­fore tak­ing over their new roles. “I think the own­er­ship com­mit­tee has a strong pref­er­ence that the in­di­vid­u­als who are ei­ther the largest or one of the largest eq­uity own­ers in clubs be the in­di­vid­ual who is the base­ball con­trol per­son,” Man­fred said.

• Man­fred also re­acted to su­per­model Kate Up­ton’s on­line sup­port of fi­ance Justin Ver­lan­der af­ter the Detroit Tigers ace fin­ished sec­ond to Bos­ton’s Rick Por­cello in vot­ing for the AL Cy Young Award. Ver­lan­der was left off the bal­lot by two vot­ers, prompt­ing a se­ries of tweets by Up­ton that were widely cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia. “The par­tic­u­lar con­tent of the tweet I’m not go­ing to com­ment on,” a chuck­ling Man­fred said. “I do think that en­gage­ment on so­cial me­dia by play­ers and peo­ple close to play­ers is im­por­tant in to­day’s world. “I think that it brings at­ten­tion to the sport at a point dur­ing the year when it’s our off­sea­son and we have less go­ing on.”

• The Cubs’ first World Se­ries ti­tle since 1908 helped gen­er­ate great rat­ings dur­ing the play­offs, and there is talk around the sport about how to build on the suc­cess from the post­sea­son.

“We’re not go­ing to have the Cubs and 108 years ev­ery year,” Man­fred said. “But I think there are lots of com­pelling base­ball sto­ries that can help us pro­duce the kind of post­sea­son pop­u­lar­ity that we en­joyed this year.”

CHARLES REX ARBOGAST — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Base­ball Com­mis­sioner Rob Man­fred re­sponds to a ques­tion at base­ball own­ers quar­terly meet­ings.

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