The year was 1999 and many things were wrong with baseball.
It was the “Steroid Era” and the sport had become so juiced that the balls themselves contained Vitamin D (among other things). Many die-hard fans and baseball purists believed nothing was done about it because then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig loved the ratings all those home runs were bringing in.
While Selig was gallivanting around the bases making few friends, he did something else to further alienate himself from fans and executives alike: he decreed every major league team had to interview at least one minority candidate for a managerial vacancy in the spirit of Jackie Robinson and racial diversity.
He meant well, but many writers and players believed this so-called “Selig Rule” placed an unfortunate cloud above minority candidates, who were now seen to be qualified by their appearance rather than their skill sets.
Since then, MLB carried in its bag of tricks a rule that was rarely enforced and usually referenced whenever someone needed a good joke. That may have something to do with the recent attempt by MLB to strike up some good PR.
According to the AP, Major League Baseball retained a search firm called Korn Ferry to assist minority candidates who reach the interview process and earn said jobs. Get that? Baseball is helping baseball people get jobs in baseball by hiring a PR/recruitment firm to teach them how to do the very same jobs.
Current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league thinks the search firm “might be able to improve the effectiveness of the rule by making minority candidates who get an interview more effective in that interview process.”
“These interviews are detailed activities,” Manfred said. “It’s not just how you present yourself in the interview, and you know that’s a skill that can be refined. But it’s also substantive packages of material that demonstrate your ability to evaluate personnel, depending on what the job is, or manage, and we think we can help diverse candidates who get interviews make their best possible presentation and hopefully help them get hired.”
Is that a ringing endorsement of equality in the workplace?
Better yet, is this a home run or just another swing and a miss for MLB?