Terry Ryan is as decent as any man I have ever encountered in baseball and more decent than most. It is impossible to forget his selfless act in 2001 when, as captain of the Minnesota Twins ship, he remained on the deck of their sinking ship when he had a chance to abandon the ship and go elsewhere while his shipmates drowned.
Now the Twins, struggling with the American League’s worst record, have shoved Ryan overboard and are looking for a new captain, or general manager. While I regret Ryan’s departure, I welcome it as an opportunity for Commissioner Rob Manfred to get it right.
Manfred will not be hiring Ryan’s replacement, but he can exercise his influence. It’s called the bully pulpit. I know Manfred knows how to use it because he did it last year with the Milwaukee Brewers. They were seeking a general manager, and, in the word of a baseball official, Manfred pushed them to hire David Stearns, the Houston Astros assistant general manager, who had worked for him in the labor department of the commissioner’s office.
Has Manfred ever pushed a team to hire a black or a Latino general manager? Not that I know of, but if he has, the person has not been hired or identified. Only one minority general manager – Al Avila of Detroit – has gained his job in Manfred’s 18 months as commissioner.
Dave Stewart (Arizona) is Major League Baseball’s lone black general manager. Michael Hill, who is black, is Miami’s president of baseball operations, having preceded Manfred in that position by 16 months.
Allow me to take this opportunity to introduce Manfred to De Jon Watson. If Watson’s name is familiar, it is most likely that you have seen it here. Watson is senior vice president of baseball operations for the Diamondbacks. For the past year or so I have touted him as a general manager-in-waiting, the most capable baseball executive who is not a general manager, black, white or Latino.
Unfortunately, teams in search of a general manager are blind or dumb or racist. Yes, sadly, I can’t dismiss the possibility that some owners won’t hire a candidate who is black. They’ll sign players who are black and can hit or pitch but not a manager or general manager.
It is up to Manfred to cleanse owners of this mentality. If he is unable to perform that form of lobotomy, let him institute a new rule to …