Minority managers have all but disappeared from Major League Baseball's dugouts, which next year could have no black skippers for the first time in nearly three decades.
"We have had a year where our numbers are down in terms of the diversity that we have in some of our key positions," Rob Manfred said Monday, a day ahead of the start of the first World Series since he became baseball commissioner. "I think it's incumbent upon us to come up with additional programs and ways to make sure that our numbers look better over the long haul."
Atlanta's Fredi Gonzalez, who was born in Cuba, is the only current minority manager; the Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami, San Diego and Washington have openings to fill.
"There is a certain cyclical nature to this," Manfred said. "Obviously, field managers are high turnover jobs. And you're going to have peaks and valleys in terms of representation within what's a very small sample; there's only 30 of them out there. Having said that, we are focused on the need to promote diversity, not just African-American, but Latino, as well, in the managerial ranks."
Cincinnati fired Dusty Baker after the 2013 season. Last year, Houston's Bo Porter was let go and Texas' Ron Washington quit. Seattle fired Lloyd McClendon, the only remaining African-American manager, five days after this season ended.
Next year could be the first season with no black managers in the major leagues since 1984-87, according to Richard Lapchick of the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports at the University of Central Florida.
Then-Commissioner Bud Selig told teams in April 1999 they had to consider minorities when hiring a manager, general manager, assistant GM, director of player development or director of scouting. Manfred plans to discuss the topic with owners next month.
"It's a topic we're committed to. We're going to look at it as a long-term project," Manfred said. "That's why we're focused on the beginning of the pipeline as well as the actual hirings at the manager level."
He rejected the notion there is an old-boy network among GMs who just hire buddies.
"There's been so much change in the general manager rank," Manfred said. "It's hard to look at our group of general managers and talk about it as an old boy network, because they ain't very old."
On other topics:
MLB is considering whether to expand the use of protective netting, which is in place behind home plate, and will talk with owners about it when they meet in Dallas on Nov. 18-19.
"We are prepared to have a very detailed presentation and conversation with the owners at the November meeting. I'm not prepared prior to that meeting to make a pronouncement as to what the new rule is going to be, if any. I think that it's important that we have input and a full discussion among the clubs before we do that."
Manfred was pleased teams outside the top spenders advanced deep into the postseason. The four teams in the League Championship Series ranked 10th (Toronto at $135.5 million), 11th (Chicago Cubs at $132.5 million), 13th (Kansas City at $128.1 million) and 19th (New York Mets at $109.6 million) in payroll at the end of the regular season, according to MLB's calculations.
"It shows that teams from all sorts of markets, if they have a strategy and stick to it, can win," he said. "And I think that's really, really important for the sport."
TAKEOUT SLIDES AT SECOND BASE, SUCH AS CHASE UTLEY'S THAT BROKE RUBEN TEJADA'S LEG
"This conversation about player safety at second base began in our office months before that particular play. It progressed to the point that we had some preliminary conversations with the MLBPA about it. And I fully expect that we will continue those conversations with the MLBPA in the offseason."
VIDEO REVIEW RESULTING IN RUNNERS WHO COME OFF BASES BEING CALLED OUT
"Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Chris Marinak, Peter Woodfork, that group, they actually warned us that when you go to replay, you're going to have calls that are going to get made that never used to get made, and this was an example. ... We had to accept that if the replay officials see it, they've got to call it. You can't tell them not to call what they see."
"I think that fantasy is an important source of fan engagement, it has been for a long time. ... I'm quite convinced it is a game of skill, as defined by the federal statute. And I'm comfortable with the idea that it's not gaming. ... There's a huge difference between Rob Manfred, citizen, betting on whether Kansas City beats Toronto or whomever on the one hand, and Rob Manfred picking nine guys off 18 teams to try to see if he can accumulate more points within a given set of guidelines than a hundred guys trying to do the same thing."
AN EARLIER OPENING DAY TO AVOID NOVEMBER WORLD SERIES GAMES
"Starting early in March is no picnic, either. And I know people always talk about warm weather schedules. Making those warm weather schedules work is more difficult as a political matter than you might imagine. The warm weather cities don't want all those early dates when kids aren't out of school."
FANS POSTING VIDEO OF PLAYS ON INTERNET
"What we try to do is strike a realistic balance between protecting what we regard to be very valuable intellectual property rights on the one hand with allowing fans to use as many platforms as possible."