Lloyd McClendon is guiding the Seattle Mariners to their best season since 2007 and perhaps their first playoff visit in 13 years. Yet when Houston’s Bo Porter was fired last week and Texas’ Ron Washington simply quit on his club Friday, ESPN’s Calvin Watkins couldn’t help but distract from Seattle’s success when the Mariners visited Arlington.
McClendon, in case you didn’t know, is the only black skipper left in the big leagues. He’s apparently concerned with that, but my guess is the ESPN brass – who don’t seem to like baseball that much – are more “concerned.”
Is this the biggest issue facing blacks today? Is this relevant to another great MLB season going down into its final weeks? Should we deport the Hispanic (and Asian) players and prospective managers who risk their lives to come to the United States, and tough it out in a foreign land for years across Minor League backwaters, simply to force blacks into baseball and hit an artificial percentage an “alarmed” Bud Selig and others seek? Have 25 years and millions of dollars on the RBI program been a waste?
No, and as the know-it-all types confess, there’s no way to “fix” this issue.
Whether in football, baseball or elsewhere, when someone “of color” (the term itself makes little sense) is fired or quits his coaching gig, it’s problematic — to the media. Like with the ginned-up Washington Redskins “controversy,” the preponderance of Americans simply do not care. But the do-gooder media elites know better and that’s what matters.
The Astros bypassed proven commodities to hire Bo Porter at the tender age of 40 with zero managerial experience. The team was awful during his tenure, and just won four of five against two playoff teams since he departed. Acute insight, rather than capricious reactions from afar, note Porter’s dismissal was probably an astute move and the correct decision.
As for the affable Ron Washington, objective baseball minds recall his crucial in-game decisions likely cost Texas a championship in St. Louis during Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. His team somehow barely showed up for Game 7 the next night.
Texas then completely collapsed in the final week of 2012 to cough up the AL West. They quickly rolled over, at home, in the one-game AL wild card playoff to Baltimore.
The Rangers followed that with another brutal September in 2013, fell into the wild card on final day of the season and were ripped by Tampa, again in Arlington. A pretty hideous way to end three consecutive campaigns, but Washington kept his job. The media adores him.
With Texas holding baseball’s worst record in 2014, and on its way to losing more than 100 games (in a year many felt they were supposed to be playing in the postseason) Washington abruptly resigned with three weeks remaining in the season. We don’t know why, but it seems pusillanimous on the surface.
All teams have injuries, my friends. Many overcome them, but it takes good leadership to do so.
Pittsburgh hired Lloyd McClendon with no managerial experience in 2001. He never won more than 75 games in four seasons with the Pirates, but was given a second shot a decade later in the Pacific Northwest. That’s pretty fortunate, and he’s done great this season. Why won’t McClendon and his media buddies focus on that rather than making the shrinking line between sports and politics 100 percent non-existent — like it has unfortunately become in the NBA.