So, this will shut everybody up for a while.
John Farrell is gone, the latest Red Sox manager to be let go for being imperfect. The skipper’s office at Fenway Park is not merely the hot seat, it is Five-Star Hell. Strange thing is — there will be dozens of people applying for the chance to sweat luxuriously.
Farrell’s firing should not be confused with a cab driver, or even worse a reporter, losing his or her job. His is a public embarrassment, not a financial one, so a minimum of tissues will suffice in giving sympathy.
For the Red Sox, the bold move of getting rid of a manager who has finished first two years in a row presents an opportunity that, in looking at the team’s actions and words the last few weeks, has evolved into a requirement.
Farrell’s replacement must be a minority hire. There is no excuse to not do that. Otherwise, the organization’s plan to rename Yawkey Way is lip service, its participation in the “Take the Lead” initiative utter hypocrisy.
Quoting from a release penned by owner John Henry when “Take the Lead” was unveiled:
“Our teams occupy a special place in the fabric of New England life. We have a unique platform to demonstrate what it means to be a good citizen, to take care of our neighbors, to promote inclusion. With that platform comes a responsibility to do exactly that.”
Promote inclusion? The Red Sox’ long list of managerial candidates should be a short one, long on minorities, and Boston’s final choice should be a minority, a person of color. The Sox have run out of time, and options, to put it off.
Major League Baseball in general integrated in 1947, and Boston was the last team to add a player of color, Pumpsie Green in 1960. It took 13 years. Major League Baseball first hired a minority manager in 1975, when the Indians gave the job to Frank Robinson. Now, 42 years later, the Sox have gone through 17 full-time managers, not one of them a minority.
The Nationals, in contrast, have had four in that time, including their years in Montreal. The Marlins, who didn’t begin play until 1993, have had three. So have the Cubs, Giants, White Sox and Mariners.
Unlike Pumpsie Green, the Red Sox are not alone this time. The Phillies, Cardinals, Padres, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Athletics and Angels have all not had minority managers, without getting ridiculously deep into ancestry.com.
(A note here: baseball’s strange integration history has never considered Cubans to be persons of color. The Red Sox had Cuban players as far back as Eusebio Gonzalez in 1918, and he was the 11th Cuban big-leaguer at that time.)
So who is out there in the candidate pool?
Start with David Ortiz. He is probably too smart, and too recently retired, to take the job. He certainly does not need the money, perhaps he is not experienced enough, but he’ll have a bench coach. One problem with this year’s Red Sox team, first place and all, was that it was hard to like. That was obvious with the lack of enthusiasm come playoff time.
Ortiz would make the 2018 Sox very easy to like, and what player worth having in uniform would not have instant respect for him?
If not Ortiz, then Alex Cora, for sure, although he has become a hot piece of property, and for good reason. The long overlooked DeMarlo Hale should stop being overlooked. Maybe Lloyd McLendon deserves another chance, or Tony Pena. While Dave Dombrowski said the new manager is likely to come from outside the the coaching staff, what about Chili Davis?
Manny Acta has failed a couple of times, but Joe Torre failed three times. A personal favorite, but a very long shot, is Blue Jays third base coach Luis Rivera, one of the finest people in the game.
Farrell did not deserve to get fired. Neither did Terry Francona in 2011, Jimy Williams in 2001, Kevin Kennedy in 1996, Joe Morgan in 1991, Jake Stahl in 1913 and Fred Lake in 1909. But they all applied for the job knowing what the inevitable end would be, and with the exception of Stahl and Lake, made a lot of money along the way.
When the Indians broke the managerial color line by hiring Robinson in 1975, they also made him play. Times have changed, and even if the unlikely happens and Ortiz is the new manager, the Sox won’t make him play.
Sixteen times since Robinson took over in Cleveland, the Red Sox have had a chance to put a minority in the most visible and prestigious position in Boston sports. Now that they are taking the lead in promoting inclusion, they have no excuse — in fact, they have an obligation — to erase the sad legacy of Pumpsie Green forever.
—Contact Bill Ballou at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BillBallouTG.