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TWINS GIVE MLB A SINGULAR OPENING

By Murray Chass

July 21, 2016

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 …

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MISGUIDED DEFENSE OF HOF CHEATER

By Murray Chass

July 17, 2016

When the Hall of Fame announces results of the baseball writers’ vote each January, the successful candidates are made available to writers in conference calls that day. The next day the Hall brings its new members to New York for a news conference at a midtown hotel. A week or so before the July induction ceremony, the new members are again made available to writers on conference calls.

Some writers, maybe most, see these opportunities as celebratory events in which they are privileged to participate. They are not my kind of writers. I didn’t grow up in the business learning to toss softballs at people I am interviewing and writing about. If there are tough questions to be asked, I was taught, ask them, whatever the circumstances. If I have the opportunity to question Mike Piazza or Donald Trump, I am going to ask the toughest, most relevant question I can.

I raise this issue now because in a conference call last Friday I had the audacity to ask – with the first question yet – Mike Piazza about the long-time speculation about him and steroids and how his long-time back acne (a common sign of steroids use) disappeared when steroids testing began. I have long written about Piazza and his magical back, but this was my first opportunity to …

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MANFRED SINGS, FOX HEARS SAME OLD SONG

By Murray Chass

July 14, 2016

Baseball’s All-Star Game produced a pair of predictable developments, both of which you have read here before. You are excused from reading about them again should you choose to pass.

The game, not exactly a thriller, lived down to recent All-Star standards, drawing an all-time television ratings low despite the irresistible, magical link to homefield advantage for the World Series.

When he was commissioner, Bud Selig created the link, saying it would spur the players to play more intensely, making for a more exciting game. I don’t know about you, but I was not tingling with excitement Tuesday night during the American League’s 4-2 victory over the National League.

In fact, I might have nodded off once or twice. Maybe those were the innings when I missed the excitement.

From the looks of the Fox rating, though, it was very likely that Fox viewers nodded off all over the dial. Fox received a 6.4 overnight rating, a share that was …

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