Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers remained Major League Baseball’s only black manager after his team’s shocking demise against the Washington Nationals in a National League Division Series. However, it’s impossible to defend many of his moves in that series and, even though his team won 106 games, a large part that fan base wants him gone.
Roberts’ decision to leave pitcher Clayton Kershaw in the eighth inning of Game 5l after he shut down the Nationals in the previous inning, will always be questioned. Kershaw surrendered a pair of home runs and a 3-1 lead turned into a 3-3 tie.
But Roberts’ worst move was bringing in former Cardinal pitcher Joe Kelly to pitch the 10th inning, after Kelly successfully got through the ninth. The Dodgers had top reliever Kenley Jansen warming up. By the time he entered the game, Kelly had given up a grand slam and the Dodgers were down 7-3. They lost by that score.
The Dodgers ownership says Roberts won’t be fired – but things can change in a hurry.
Should Roberts be fired, and there are currently eight teams in search of a manager, he would deserve another shot after leading the Dodgers to the World Series in 2017 and 2018 and the best record in the National League this season.
With the eight openings, literally 25 percent of managerial jobs, Major League Baseball will have no excuse if at least one of the coveted positions does not go to a black man.
The Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants remain in search of a manager.
If former Cubs catcher David Ross wants the Cubs’ job, reports say it is his.
That job became available when Joe Maddon was not re-signed after a disappointing 2019 season. Maddon is an odds-on favorite to take over the Los Angeles Angels managerial office.
I think it’s a mistake, and so do most Cardinals fans who witnessed his tenure here, but the Royals seem destined to give Mike Matheny another shot.
Several teams, including the Giants, are rumored to be interested in former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. Kapler was fired by the team’s CEO and chairman John Middleton, who ignored the wishes of the team’s front office.
A familiar name is back in the mix, and rightfully so.
Dusty Baker is set to interview for the Phillies job this week, which would put him in the NL East. The Nationals fired Baker in 2017 after telling him he would return the next season. He would love to take on that team 18 times a season. It would also reunite him with Bryce Harper, who signed with Philadelphia last winter.
Baker has also caught the eye of the Mets, and will reportedly speak to them about that job.
Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News wrote this week that GM Brodie Van Wagenen “gets the opportunity to pick his own manager and he’ll consider experienced skippers, minor-league coaches and ‘out of the box’ candidates.
“Even so, it’d be smart for the Mets to learn from (former GM) Sandy Alderson’s gamble with rookie manager Mickey Callaway and take the reverse approach.”
Also, a National League executive told her Baker would be a perfect fit for the Mets and its set of quirky players.
“Dusty went into what I would view as a difficult clubhouse with the Nationals,” the league executive said.
“And he won them over fast. That transition here in New York would I think be pretty seamless and easy for him. I don’t think there’s any situation that’s happened that he hasn’t seen. Any type of player, any type of personality, anything you can dream up.”
Another black managerial candidate is Cubs first base coach Will Venable. During his eight-year career (2008-16), he played for the Padres, Rangers and Dodgers. He was named a special assistant to Cubs GM Theo Epstein in September 2017 and accepted the coaching position two months later.
Venable reportedly has already interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial position and the Giants will speak with him, as well.
His father, Max Venable, spent several years with the Giants and he played his high school baseball just outside San Francisco in San Rafael.
I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again: Willie McGee, Cardinal Hall of Famer and current coach for Mike Shildt, would be an outstanding manager.
His even keel and defensive instruction were invaluable to the Cardinals in 2019 – and it is no longer unusual for teams to hire former players with no previous managerial experience.
Hit or Ole Miss
The XFL assigned quarterback Jordan Ta’amu, a two-year starter at Mississippi who went undrafted in 2019, to the St. Louis Battlehawks.
During those two seasons, Ta’amu completed 65 percent of his passes for 5,600 yards with 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also rushed for 507 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Landry Jones, a six-year NFL veteran, will join Bob Stoops, his former coach at Oklahoma, with the Dallas Renegades. Jones was the first quarterback signed by the XFL and is considered its top quarterback prospect.
Former Temple star and two-year NFL vet Phillip Walker is headed to the Houston Roughnecks. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 and remained on the practice squad through last season.
If you’ve never heard of Luis Perez, you are not alone. The former professional bowler who played at Division II Texas A&M-Commerce and the short-lived Alliance of American Football (AAF) was assigned to the Los Angeles Wildcats.
Former Penn State standout and All Big Ten player Matt McGloin, who started seven games for the Oakland Raiders between 2013 and 2017 during a five-year NFL career, will guide the New York Guardians.
After failing to secure a roster spot with the New York Jets, Brandon Silvers played in the AAF and will take the quarterback helm with the Seattle Dragons.
Another AAF player, Aaron Murray, was assigned to the Tampa Bay Vipers. He starred at Georgia and was a fifth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014.
Former Ohio State star and three-year NFL backup quarterback Cardale Jones will continue his playing career with the Washington D.C. Defenders.
No KC masterpiece
The Kansas City Chiefs play on the road against the Denver Broncos on Thursday night and all is not well.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is nursing a sprained ankle that limits his mobility as soon as it gets banged around in a game. His effectiveness diminished after great first quarters against the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans – both home losses.
His running game is suddenly non-existent, putting more pressure on the usually fluid passing game.
But the real culprit in the Chiefs’ struggles is new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuola’s pathetic defense.
The Chiefs were a wet paper towel on defense last year, yet somehow is worse in 2019.
Opposing teams’ running backs have gone through the Chiefs’ defense like hay through a horse and all Spagnuola can say is “we have to do better.” That sounds a lot like his days as St. Louis Rams head coach.
I also need to point out an incident that was (purposely?) underplayed by Kansas City and national sports media.
Following a fumble in the Chiefs 19-13 loss to the Colts, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and tight end Travis Kelce got into a heated verbal exchange and Kelce shoved the coach.
They had to be separated twice, and Kelce later found Bieniemy on the sideline and hugged him.
The Athletic’s Nate Taylor wrote, “NBC cameras caught a heated discussion between Travis Kelce & offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. It appears that Bieniemy’s message to Kelce was to hold onto the ball. Bieniemy probably used harsher words.”
Kelce is white. Bieniemy is black.
What happens when a black player shoves a white coach? It probably leads ESPN SportsCenter. This display somehow went under the radar. You surprised? I’m not.
The Reid Roundup
As of Tuesday morning, the St. Louis Cardinals’ situation in the National League Championship Series against the Washington Nationals was, at best, bleak. Down 3-0 in games and struggling to score runs, many fans have found a scapegoat. Yes, it’s Dexter Fowler. With a team batting average hovering around .200 and a total of three runs scored in three games, it’s all Fowler’s fault … If it’s Thursday morning and the Cardinals are still alive, remember the 1985 Kansas City Royals and 2004 Boston Red Sox … When Herman Edwards was hired as Arizona State head coach in 2018, most college football pundits were skeptical. Edwards’ Sun Devils are 5-1 with road victories over Michigan State and Cal, are in first place of the Pac 12 South Division and ranked 17th in the nation. A showdown at 14th ranked Utah awaits them on Saturday. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is now in the NFL MVP race with Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey and Mahomes.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” Find him on Twitter @aareid1.