Player’s View: Which Current Players Are Future Managers?

A number of current players will manage in the big leagues someday. Others would be highly capable, but — either by choice or circumstances — will never have an opportunity to become the next Bobby Cox or Earl Weaver.

Who are these prospective future managers? I asked that question to uniformed personnel over the course of the 2015 season, and their answers were a mix of predictable and unpredictable. A common theme was familiarity, as the vast majority cited players with whom they’ve shared a clubhouse.

A handful of recently retired players were mentioned. As they are also viable candidates, I included them in the responses.

Here is what 20 people I spoke to — a dozen veteran players and eight coaches or managers — had to say.

———

Alex Avila, Tigers catcher: “Don Kelly would make a good coach or manager. He has the right qualities. You have to be a good people person and at the same time you have to know where the line is between manager – authority figure – and friend. You have to distinguish that while keeping a pulse on the clubhouse. You have to be able to motivate as well.”

Bruce Bochy, Giants manager; “Buster Posey would be successful at it. But do I think he’ll want to be? No. Hunter Pence would be really good. He’s inspirational, positive. Hunter could go on the MLB channel, coach, manage — he could do whatever he wants — because he’s got an unbelievable positive attitude, and he’s relentless with it. He’s going to be well-liked, but he’s also going to be The Man.”

Michael Cuddyer, Mets outfielder: “Adrian Beltre would be a good one. He’s played the game for a long time and he’s played it the right way. He’s intelligent. He has clout with both American and Latin players. Would I manage? I don’t know. I’d have to get permission from my wife.”

David DeJesus, Angels outfielder: “John Buck. It depends on if he’d want to do it or not, but I feel he could really manipulate a team. Catchers have had good success as managers. Understanding pitching is huge and a catcher is the most involved person in the game. If I had to name one guy right now, that’s my dude.”

Chris Denorfia, Cubs outfielder: “David Ross. Certain guys are leaders and he’s one of them. He commands respect and his knowledge of baseball is second to none. Mark Kotsay, who is already coaching, is another. He has the same kind of character, leadership and knowledge.”

Mike Dunn, Marlins pitcher; “I don’t know if he’ll like me saying it, but Jeff Mathis. He understands all aspects of the game. He’s a catcher and catchers are very involved with the coaching staff, preparing for a series. Guys like him and David Ross are very smart when it comes to knowing the game. Off the top of my head, it would be Mathis and Ross.”

Terry Francona, Indians manager: “That’s a little subjective. Anybody could do it. If one general manager thinks you’re capable…. I guess a guy who comes to mind is Jason Giambi. I think G could do pretty much whatever he wants, whether it’s hitting instructor or manager.”

Jeff Francoeur, Phillies outfielder: “My two guys would probably be Alex Cora and David Ross. Between playing and doing analysis on ESPN, Cora knows the game inside and out. Ross just has a good feel for the game. I’ve seen how he handles a pitching staff. Those guys are in the game every pitch, every decision, and that gives them an edge.”

John Gibbons, Blue Jays manager: “Mark DeRosa would be a good one. A guy like Dustin Pedroia would be outstanding, with his baseball IQ, and he’s got that charisma. Russell Martin would be great at it. J.J. Hardy. But again, would they want to? These guys are having great careers and will have played for so long — do they want to deal with all the bullshit?”

Jonny Gomes, Braves outfielder: “Rocco Baldelli. He did some work in the scouting department when he was done, and now he’d back in uniform on the coaching side. I think he’s being groomed well. David Ross. There’s his catching background and he’s played under quite a few managers in different organizations, in both leagues. He knows the odds and ends.”

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves manager: “I think there are a lot of guys. There are guys who are very cerebral. I think A.J. Pierzynski could do it. He knows the game. He wants to win, and I think people sometimes confuse that for other stuff. He speaks his mind. There’s not a cookie-pattern type of manager; you have different types of dynamics and personalities. Mark Kotsay could do it.”

Ryan Hanigan, Red Sox catcher: “David Ross could be a manager. He’s a pretty smart guy – catcher, veteran, understands all aspects of the game. He understands how to put other guys first. Another is Jose Molina. I guess my mind goes to catchers. There are a lot of benefits that go with the position in regard to what you need to know as a manager.”

Aaron Harang, Phillies pitcher: “Jeff Francoeur is one. Corky Miller isn’t playing anymore, but he’s another. They both have the personalities for it. Henry Blanco. It comes down to personality, guys who know how to take things seriously on the field — when they cross the lines it’s all business — but in the clubhouse, they know how to keep it loose.”

AJ Hinch, Astros manager; “I have a catcher bias, so A.J. Ellis and David Ross would get my votes. The way they go about their business — their knowledge, heartbeat, temperament — fits what I see as managerial qualities. The way they express themselves and seem to have some command of the room. Willie Bloomquist could be a great coach or, potentially, a manager.”

Don Mattingly, Marlins manager: “A.J. Ellis. When you know guys, you know how they look at the game. He might want to do it. He asks a lot of questions. Being a catcher is an advantage, from the standpoint of how the whole game kind of goes through pitchers.”

Andrew Miller, Yankees pitcher: “It would be interesting to see Dustin Pedroia manage a team, but he’s going to make a lot of money in his career, and he has kids. Would he be a legitimate candidate? You can’t keep him out of the clubhouse, and he loves baseball, so maybe. But I think current players who are future managers are probably role players, because of the financial component.”

Brad Mills, Indians bench coach: “David Ross is one. A retired guy that comes to mind is Todd Helton, because of his mindset and the way he goes about things. Matt Holliday comes from a family background of coaches. Daniel Descalso, with the way he goes about the game and the way he watches. Aaron Hill. A.J. Ellis. Those guys all fit the category.”

David Ross, Cubs catcher: “Jonny Gomes comes to mind right away. He thinks the game. He’s been a guy who keeps track of everything — he’s managing along with the manager — and he has the passion for it. Eric Hinske is another. The more hats you’ve worn, the more you understand and can communicate with your players. You’ve been in their role. Would I manage? Of course. I’d love to manage in the big leagues.”

Robin Ventura, White Sox manager: “Adam LaRoche could probably do it — his knowledge and the way he interacts with guys and pays attention. Melky Cabrera could probably do it. He gets it. He understands the game. There’d be some translation stuff, but that doesn’t mean he’s any less smart. Guys could adapt to it.”

Chris Young, Royals pitcher: “Nick Hundley comes to mind. He’s got all the qualities: leadership, knowing the game, relating well to people. He sees the game from a catcher’s perspective. I played for a pitcher, Bud Black, who was a good manager. I think Greg Maddux would be an unbelievable manager. I’ve never been around anybody who sees the game quite like him.”



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David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from February 2006-March 2011 and is a regular contributor to several publications. His first book, Interviews from Red Sox Nation, was published by Maple Street Press in 2006. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.


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machetko
Member
machetko
3 months 24 days ago

Love the Adrian Beltre idea–never would have thought of it but makes a ton of sense. But isn’t Jeff Francoeur kind of universally recognized as … not very smart? Was that answer a troll?

troybruno
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Member
troybruno
3 months 24 days ago

Maybe Aaron Harang is also not very smart…

MSpitz
Member
MSpitz
3 months 24 days ago

I also found that answer interesting since Cuddyer has never even played with Beltre.

Hurtlocker
Member
Hurtlocker
3 months 24 days ago

Wow! I thought A.J. Pierzynski was one of the most hated players in the game. Also Melky Cabrera would have a pretty big credibility gap to overcome, it took awhile for Mark Maguire to repair his image.

tyke
Member
Member
tyke
3 months 24 days ago

lol

tz
Member
tz
3 months 24 days ago

I kinda think Fredi said that so he wouldn’t be pissing off his everyday catcher/possible #3 hitter ;)

Jason B
Member
Jason B
3 months 24 days ago

Possible #3 hitter! Oof. Hard times in Hotlanta.

tz
Member
tz
3 months 24 days ago

Actually scratch that, I keep forgetting Freeman is still a Brave.

Pierzynski is their everyday catcher/likely cleanup hitter. Like he was last year.

mikecws91
Member
3 months 24 days ago

So David Ross? Got it.

Yirmiyahu
Member
3 months 23 days ago

8 guys mentioned him, including himself.

MDL
Member
MDL
3 months 24 days ago

Chris Denorfia: “David Ross”
Mike Dunn: “David Ross”
Jeff Francoeur: “David Ross”
Jonny Gomes: “David Ross”
Ryan Hanigan: “David Ross”
A.J. Hinch: “David Ross”
Brad Mills: “David Ross”

David Ross: “Jonny Gomes”

Anonymous
Member
Anonymous
3 months 24 days ago

Chalk up yet another reason to vote for David Ross. Hilarious

Zonk
Member
Member
Zonk
3 months 24 days ago

On top of that, Ross really wants it, which is the last piece.

hittfamily
Member
hittfamily
3 months 24 days ago

“John Gibbons, Blue Jays manager: “Mark DeRosa would be a good one. A guy like Dustin Pedroia would be outstanding, with his baseball IQ, and he’s got that charisma. Russell Martin would be great at it. J.J. Hardy.”

AL East personnel. Got it John. Thanks for paying attention. No token “Evan Longoria”?

On another note, how bout them Tallahassee boys. David Ross and Jeff Mathis!

Mario Mendoza
Member
Mario Mendoza
3 months 24 days ago

It’s funny the first one you ask is Alex Avila, because I read that Alex Avila himself is considered a future manager, though no one else mentioned him.

Bud Smith
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Bud Smith
3 months 24 days ago

Lots and lots of white guys

Easyenough
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Member
Easyenough
3 months 24 days ago

White guys like Melky Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Jose Molina, Alex Cora, and Henry Blanco?

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

No, white guys like Don Kelly, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, John Buck, David Ross (7 mentions), Mark Kotsay (2 mentions), Jeff Mathis, Jason Giambi, Mark De Rosa, Dustin Pedroia (2 mentions), JJ Hardy, Rocco Baldelli, AJ Pierzynski, Jeff Francouer, Corky Miller, AJ Ellis (3 mentions), Willie Bloomquist, Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Daniel Descalso, Aaron Hill, Eric Hinske, Adam LaRoche, Nick Hundley, and Greg Maddux.

What purpose does it serve to pretend this list is anything other than 35 white guys with a few latino players and one half-black player?? Not saying it’s right or wrong, but there is definitely a skew here. I’m sure a big factor is that white players are far more likely to be fluent in English.

Anonymous
Member
Anonymous
3 months 24 days ago

Than black guys?

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

No, the language barrier doesn’t explain the lack of black players. I think that’s more because premier black athletes are more culturally drawn to the NFL and NBA, and their representation in MLB has steadily dropped.

Yirmiyahu
Member
3 months 23 days ago

We often see discussions of the decline of black players in MLB, and articles on the subject often include the % of African American players over the years.

But the thing is that the % of American players in general has declined. MLB has more Latin players, more Japanese and Korean players, and an increasing number of oddballs (from places like the Dutch Antilles, Europe, Australia, etc).

I would love to see some numbers on the decline of African American players as a percentage of all American players. I’m guessing it’s not very dramatic.

williamnyy
Member
3 months 24 days ago

Actually, it’s lot of backup catcher types, who happen to be mostly white and increasingly latino. It’s a shame that so much has to be viewed through the lens of race, but if you must, a better question might be why most of the people asked were white (and hispanic).

Johnston
Member
Member
Johnston
3 months 24 days ago

A better question would be why do race baiters feel obligated to play the race card in places where it has no business? People of color are OVERREPRESENTED in the MLB, not underrepresented. And many of them are making a lot more money than any manager ever does. This is a a total non-issue, and I am ashamed that anyone here would bring it up.

Yirmiyahu
Member
3 months 23 days ago

Why do white people feel so offended when race is discussed? Race exists, there’s a long history of racism in this country, and race is a factor in nearly all decision-making (at least subconsciously). Much better to discuss it and conclude it’s a non-issue than ignore it completely.

It seems there’s a large segment of people in this country who are more offended by discussions of racism than by race itself.

Johnston
Member
Member
Johnston
3 months 22 days ago

Where the Hell do you get off making assumptions about what race I am? That only matters to a racist.

Excuse me for seeing your false quota-based ethnic hoaxery for what it is. Some of us seek excellence, not racial set-asides and quotas.

Vegemitch
Member
Vegemitch
3 months 24 days ago

Since this is the thread where race is brought up… as a Tigers fan, I thought it was pretty apparent early on that Curtis Granderson has management material written all over him. Looks like if he has a career after playing he’ll prefer being in the booth or on a network instead, though.

MetsOptimist
Member
MetsOptimist
3 months 23 days ago

I see Grandy staying involved with MLB, but also doing TV work and continuing his charitable work.

maguro
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Member
maguro
3 months 24 days ago

Sure, Melky could manage. Just don’t ask him to run your website.

Luy
Member
Luy
3 months 24 days ago

Golly-geezus! If anything can empirically prove without a doubt that Fredi Gonzalez has poor judgment, it’s got to be his answer here, right?

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

An article that shines a spotlight on how few non-white players are qualified to be managers, and this guy is questioning the judgment of the only non-white manager from 2015! haha.

Luy
Member
Luy
3 months 24 days ago

You got me! I am a card carrying member of the KKK. And to prove my loyalty to the white race I made a comment about how TERRRIBLE a white guy would be as a manager.

The kind a race warrior crap you’re pulling here doesn’t help your cause (which is my cause as well). There are tons of legitmate race-related things is sports for you to be angered by.
Sorry…saying that the idea of Pierzynski being manager is a bad idea, doesn’t really qualify.

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

I’m not a race warrior, I just thought it was a funny coincidence. There is of course a huge disparity of non-white players in coaching/managing/front office jobs. I don’t think that’s nefarious racism on anybody’s part (doesn’t help when the minority guys are people like Dave Stewart and Fredi Gonzalez, but I digress), and I don’t think it’s institutional racism within MLB, either. Again… just thought it was funny. Hence the “haha” at the end.

output gap
Member
Member
output gap
3 months 24 days ago

To be fair, David Ross is basically a player-manager already.

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

So basically, “scrappy white guys”. I guess since they tend to not be very physically gifted, they must have the smarts to have made it all the way to the big leagues.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

Greg Maddux, Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi, Buster Posey, Adam LaRoche, Todd Helton, J.J. Hardy, Russell Martin, and arguably many, many more.

There are a lot of white guys listed here, but to be fair the author asked a lot of white guys, too, and many of them did in fact list minority candidates.

It seems you wanted to make a snarky “baseball players just think scrappy white guys are the best” comment and ignored the responses that were actually given and went ahead and made your comment anyway.

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

88% of the responses were people listing white players. I didn’t “want” to do anything.

“There are a lot of white guys listed here, but to be fair the author asked a lot of white guys, too”

Are you implying that people only think others of the same race are qualified to be managers?? Of the 4 latino players asked, all 6 players they listed were white. All 6 non-white players mentioned were given by white guys.

So yes, it seems that white guys, particularly scrappy ones, are represented at a much higher rate than their proportion in the player pool would suggest.

Shirtless Bartolo Colon says in Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back to John Elway
Member
Shirtless Bartolo Colon says in Serbian to Vietnamese to French and back to John Elway
3 months 24 days ago

You think all white people are scrappy, let’s hear your thoughts on Latinos. Hahaha

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

But what percentage were scrappy white guys? Key word is “scrappy.” Well, scrappy is subjective but to my mind very few of these guys are the classic “scrappy white guy.” That’s what you said and that is just horse shit.

And yes, people do have biases. Are you saying they don’t?

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

Not all white guys are scrappy but I think we all know what’s meant by the term. Tend to be a up-the-middle defenders, contact-first players with goofy nicknames like Scooter, Corky, Buster, etc. Quite often aren’t very good or if they are, they’re perceived to have gotten to the majors through “grit and determination”. Hunter Pence, Jeff Mathis, Mark De Rosa, Daniel Descalso, Willie Bloomquist, Dustin Pedroia… those kinds of guys. If you google image search “scrappy baseball player” De Rosa and Pedroia are two of the first players to show up.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

I didn’t see DeRosa (or Pedroia, who I admit falls under “scrappy”), that’s the DeRosa who is a former Penn Quarterback who graduated from the Wharton School (has a 6’1″ 215 lb. Ivy League quarterback ever been called scrappy?), but here are a few recognizable faces I did see near the top on Google Image search for “scrappy baseball player”:
– Mariano Rivera
– Derek Jeter
– Clayton Kershaw
– Mike Trout

Maybe you should question your research methods?

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

The picture on this page: http://worldseriesdreaming.com/2014/03/11/road-to-opening-day-20/ showed up for me as one of the top results. From the page, “The Cubs always seem to have one or two random scrappy white guys on the team that the fans adore. I’ve noticed this ever since Mark DeRosa and Reed Johnson were on the team”

Are you so obtuse that you don’t understand what people mean when they say a guy is “scrappy”?? You honestly don’t think this list of players is over-proportionately (by a large degree) filled with those types of players?

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

There are a couple guys I would call “scrappy white guys” on this list. I have no idea if it is an over-representative amount, but the vast majority of the players listed do not fall into that category. You just wanted to say “So basically, “scrappy white guys”.” and to hell with actually considering the names that were actually given, and it isn’t obtuse of me to call our your stupid horse shit.

And at least two of the only 6 names you said are definitely not scrappy. Pence isn’t scrappy. Being an alien doesn’t make you scrappy. DeRosa isn’t scrappy, and cited some random dude’s blog doesn’t change that. He’s a goddamn ex-Penn Quarterback. He’s 6’1″ and 215 pounds.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

Also, Hunter Pence fits exactly zero of the criteria you yourself laid out for what “scrappy” means. Interestingly, I think your definition is pretty solid (undersized is a big one you didn’t say), but you seem to have no ability to look at all these players listed and realize that only a very few of them actually fit that.

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

Maybe you’re the one that doesn’t understand how the term scrappy is used.

FoxSports.com: “Pence writes that there is no secret sauce to the Giants’ success. He’s probably right, but perhaps his scrappy play and motivational speeches are a key ingredient.”

Grantland.com: “Hunter Pence, who plays with the scrappy intensity of someone half his size.”

Cubby Blue.com: “I used to loathe this guy when he was an Astro, mostly because he was an Astro. But now he’s sort of turned into the scrappy guy I admire.”

ESPN.com: “Wrigley faithful fall in love too quickly with the DeRosa style of player — the gritty, scrappy guy who looks straight out of Central Casting for that part”

Dan “ZiPS” Szymborski: “you’ll hear stories about the loss of scrappy Mark DeRosa”

And that’s only the guys you specifically said are NOT scrappy. I could go on for all the other guys, but what’s the point? You’d rather just be obtuse. I don’t even know what the problem is with players having a preference for this scrappy type of player being a potential manager. This extreme effort to not appear racist in any way prevents a conversation from even taking place. If this is an issue wouldn’t it be better to discuss it rather than deny it??

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

You’re comment is trying to impugn baseball players and managers as dumb and/or racist. You were so desperate to do this you decided to just put anyone listed into your little category so you could feel superior. You backed this up with “someone somewhere on the internet said it.” An argument that could be used to call Bryce Harper scrappy. I called you out for your baseless comment and you got butt hurt.

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 23 days ago

Those aren’t random people on the internet, those articles published on some of the most popular baseball sites. I’m not trying to impugn players at all. I’m making an observation. Maybe they’re right, that those scrappy guys make the best managers. White guys are more likely to speak fluent English than Latino players, so that might explain why the vast majority (88%) of players listed are white. Again – I’m not calling anybody dumb or racist. Those are your words that you’re trying to put in my mouth. Since you’ve now devolved to the point that your argument consists of calling me butthurt, I guess that means you have nothing to contribute.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

It’s a bit odd to say Adam LaRoche because he “pays attention” considering he actually has attention deficit disorder.

Skin Blues
Member
Skin Blues
3 months 24 days ago

I think a lot of players have convenient ADD to allow them to use adderall during the season.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

But LaRoche actually has it. There are stories of him forgetting to cover first on routine ground balls.

Yes, some players cheat the system, but ADD is a real thing and some players logically will actually have it.

Brian Reinhart
Member
Member
3 months 24 days ago

This is a bit unfair and I have to speak up – attention deficit disorder doesn’t mean you categorically don’t pay attention, especially if you’re prescribed good medications. I have friends smarter and more academically/professionally/financially successful than I, with ADD, who have not found it a hindrance to being management-type people.

SomaDaydream
Member
SomaDaydream
3 months 24 days ago

Kind of surprised not to see Chase Utley get a mention. He’s always seemed very attentive to the game, well respected as a leader.

troybruno
Member
Member
troybruno
3 months 24 days ago

Linebacker coach

MetsOptimist
Member
MetsOptimist
3 months 23 days ago

Leg-breaking coach.

jruby
Member
Member
jruby
3 months 23 days ago

I think one of the things about Chase is that people like him but I’m not entirely sure that he likes people. He’s one of the more introverted stars in the league. I could see him more as a hitting coach, but I don’t think he’d want all the media liaising and such that comes with outright managing.

joshbresser
Member
3 months 24 days ago

Joey Votto would make an excellent manager. Combines obvious baseball old school knowledge (MVP winner, possible- not likely but possible- HOFer) with a strong grip on sabermetrics.

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 months 24 days ago

One thing that was sorta touched on by a few players is the money thing. Being a manager is a lot of work. If you are already stupid rich, you’re less likely to want to do it.

Seems likely to me that more and more managers will come from a crop that doesn’t include longtime players as even mediocre players should retire with more money than they know what to do with.

jruby
Member
Member
jruby
3 months 23 days ago

Plus, he’d never pop up.

Joser
Member
Joser
3 months 24 days ago

I like Francona’s initial response. That Disturbance in The Force you all felt was 29 other managers all crying out at once, “For feck’s sake, man, don’t give it away!”

MetsOptimist
Member
MetsOptimist
3 months 23 days ago

I can imagine Daniel Murphy as a hitting coach.

Antonio Bananas
Member
Member
Antonio Bananas
3 months 23 days ago

just no switch hitters. He’s been pretty outspoken of his dislike for people who swing both ways.

wildginge
Member
wildginge
3 months 23 days ago

I look forward to the follow-up article wherein Laurila asks Skin Blues who actually does belong on this list..

burritooverdose
Member
burritooverdose
3 months 23 days ago

interesting to see how many of these guys that are mentioned are the guys that year after year manage to show up on a team as a backup, no matter how much you thought they were done. Guys like Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Mark Kotsay etc

JDX
Member
JDX
3 months 23 days ago

Regarding the early comments about the type of people who were asked the question…

Perhaps not all players/coaches will engage in a dialogue with David. Perhaps he is simply using the answer that lend themselves best to a published article. Perhaps not everyone makes themselves available to be questioned.

Any inclination that only white guys were asked, or that white guys were targeted to be asked, is ridiculous given all the unknowns.

Johnston
Member
Member
Johnston
3 months 22 days ago

I am appalled that people would make the racial attacks that have been made here. But if you’re dumb enough to be a racist – someone who makes decisions and draws conclusion using race as a criteria – then I guess that’s all you have. Personally I’d sign a seven-foot-tall green lizard if he could hit, but then my goal is excellence and not filling some moron’s imaginary racial quotas.

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