Monday, May 10, 2004
Dave Stewart, Racism, and the Blue JaysPosted by Larry Mahnken
Dave Stewart was on ESPN's "Outside The Lines" last night, implying that wasn't hired as General Manager of the Blue Jays in 2001 in part because of the color of his skin.
Minorities are not equally represented in the ranks of baseball management, largely because of cronyism. Baseball people have tended to go forward with ideas they are comfortable with, and people that they know. They usually do not venture outside of their comfort zone.
But what happened in Toronto was almost exactly the opposite of that problem. Exactly what Stewart's qualifications for running the Blue Jays were, I don't know, but he certainly didn't represent the radical change of mentality that J.P. Riccardi did. Riccardi promised to make the Blue Jays more competitive and to cut the budget--to follow the low-risk/high-reward model of player development and accquisition that Oakland had used to ascend to the top of the standings with one of the smallest payrolls in baseball. The Blue Jays went with something bold, because they knew that under the traditional way of doing things, they couldn't be as successful as they wanted to be and as profitable as they wanted to be. They had to go in a new direction: Riccardi represented that new direction, Stewart represented the old way.
Baseball does need more front-office diversity, but the Blue Jays' front office is not where fingers should be pointed.
Larry Mahnken is a staff writer for The Hardball Times, and co-editor of the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog. You can contact him with your comments, questions, romantic propositions and incoherent rantings at DLMahnken@hardballtimes.com.