Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Baseball round-up: Race Matters (a continuing series on racial issues in America) -- It's been a bunch of years since the Al Campanis incident on Nightline, but I can report that, finally, there is racial progress in baseball. How do we know? Because the baseball regular season has been over for about 24 hours, and three managers have been let go -- Which three? The three black managers with the most experience -- the trailblazers: Frank Robinson, Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou.

This is progress, you ask, increduously? Yes! How so? Because no one is getting on their high horse and blasting baseball because of it -- at least not yet. And I believe that's because everyone knows there will be other black managers to replace these icons.

How can we be sure? Because nothing breeds imitation like success. Just look at the team with the best record: The New York Mets. Managed by Brooklyn's own Willie Randolph. Ozzie Guillen broke ground last year, as the Venezuelan coached a World Series champion. Randolph may make similar history this year for an African-American manager. The whole tenor has changed, such that, for the first time, black and Hispanic players are discussed as future managerial prospects.

The NFL is making progress too -- and the success that Tony Dungy and Marvin Lewis are enjoying -- that Herman Edwards has had -- and Dennis Green before them -- has busted the canard that only white guys are smart enough to coach. Fans and owners have gotten used to black quarterbacks and black coaches. So much so, that Green, Edwards and Dungy are all serving in their second tours as NFL head coaches -- with different teams. The future is here and it looks a lot better to me.

Which brings me to a brief mention of a story reported in The New York Times yesterday. The New York City borough of Queens has become the first large urban county where the median income of its black residents is higher than the median income of its white residents. When we look around at the world, there is so much rotten news that its easy to despair -- to believe the great problems will only get worse. Every once in a while, though, there's some good news that offers real reason to be somewhat optimistic that things can and will change.

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