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Sure, the Marlins made it back to the postseason in no small part because the barrier for entry is so low these days. And yes, they made it with a negative run differential while sporting a 38-50 record against teams with records better than .500. Consider the restrictions placed on general manager Kim Ng, though, in terms of spending and actually being able to improve the team with ease, and the job she did in Miami is probably a whole lot better than what those figures alone suggest.
Which is why Ng declining her side of a mutual option with the Marlins is an intriguing bit of Monday morning news, since it opens up quite a few possibilities. Does she not want to work with the Marlins at all, when jobs in locations such as with the Boston Red Sox are now open, and rumors of their interest in her have already been swirling? (The Red Sox don’t spend like they could, no, but after running a team with “stadium debt service” holding everything back, their brand of penny-pinching is going to feel a lot different.) Is this simply a standard option decline in order to negotiate a better deal with the Marlins, now that she has more leverage than she did back when she first became the club’s general manager — the first woman to be an MLB GM at all, and the first woman GM in any of the four major sports leagues in North America?
Or! Is Ng, who has been in front offices for decades, ready for a change in her career? Either back to a league position, like when she was senior vice president of baseball operations for MLB before the Marlins hired her, or for a promotion above the GM role in this era where being the GM isn’t what it used to be, in terms of power and decision-making? This all happening earlier this morning, and Marlins’ owner Bruce Sherman wishing Ng luck in her future endeavors does make it seem like maybe she’s out of Miami, but we won’t know just what is going down for a bit regardless.
Speaking of firsts, the Giants interviewed assistant coach Alyssa Nakken for their open manager gig. As Andrew Baggarly at The Athletic noted, the first woman appointed to an MLB coaching staff is now “believed” to be the first women interviewed for a managerial position within the league.
Whether she gets the job is even less of a known quantity than what Ng is up to this offseason, but the interview even happening at all is notable. Which is not to say that everyone should be happy that it’s happened and leave it at that, more that… well, MLB is not great with this kind of thing. The aforementioned Ng was first hired full-time by a major league team in 1991, and it took until 2020, after a half-dozen interviews for a GM position, to finally be hired. (And she was hired by the kind of organization you don’t want to stay in if you don’t have to, too.) And on-field staff is a whole different story than front office staff, in terms of people openly wondering if The Men will respect A Woman and all that stuff, where people are just-asking-questions media types but also front office people who actually get to make these kinds of decisions.
What we do know is that Nakken has experience on the field — she was all-conference in softball at Sacramento State — and that 2024 will mark a full decade with the Giants, with time spent in baseball ops, health and wellness, and in the dugout. That’s the kind of well-rounded résumé that includes anything teams could want from an MLB manager, and as Baggarly gets into, she was praised for her work and insights by her bosses and the players she coached.
Being the first is a lot of pressure for anyone, but there has to be a first before there can be a second. And normalizing the presence of women in front offices and in dugouts increases the chances, even if just slightly, that we can tear down the “men only” wall that surrounds this game and keeps gender as an important part of what makes you even able to play in MLB in the first place. The league would be better for this change.
New York Magazine ran a profile of NBA scoopster Shams Charania, and a lot of it has me asking questions I am probably better off keeping to myself in order to avoid someone coming at me with any “what, jealous bro?” responses. However, something stuck out to me, which my former colleague James Dator pointed out on Twitter:
Every reporter navigates a gray area with sources, but the relationships Charania and [Adrian] Wojnarowski have appear especially cozy. “The thing that changed is they became double agents,” John Skipper, the former ESPN president, told me. “They call people and say, ‘Tell me what you’re up to,’ and the quid pro quo is, ‘I’ll tell you a little something I’ve heard.’ You’re suddenly on the road to being part of causation if somebody acts upon something you share.” The longtime front-office executive told me that information from insider reporters could even help a GM save a buck. “Woj or Shams might say, ‘Hey, don’t get levered up on Player X; he’s not gonna get an offer from his team,’” the executive said. “There are times when they have information that has prevented me from making a mistake in terms of the magnitude of a contract offer or the inclusion of a specific asset in a deal.”
And as another former colleague, Zito Madu, brought up, this kind of behavior should be punished. “This should get both of them exiled from sports and journalism if there was any standards. They’re feeding GMs insider information, which harms players and other front offices, and it’s all for their personal benefit. Why is this allowed?” Why, indeed. Teams can’t talk to players outside of official negotiations or it’s tampering, but for some reason it’s fine that they use reporters as a middleman to lower the cost of their offers and make better decisions?
Just like nothing was done about Charamia’s association with FanDuel, nothing is likely to come of this unless the National Basketball Players Association makes some noise about it. These two end up with profiles for a reason, and it’s because they’re huge sources of attention. They’re an embarrassment to their profession if they’re trading information like this in a way that actively impacts free agent negotiations, but hey, at least Charamia can afford to take poolside vacations where he sends texts for 12 hours per day, I guess. Whatever lets the New York Times bundle some more subscriptions.
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