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Rangers Weigh In on MLB’s Push for Diversity and Inclusion

Photo: Bailey Orr / Texas Rangers

Rangers Weigh In on MLB’s Push for Diversity and Inclusion

In the past few years and even beyond, Major League Baseball has continued to focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The mission statement on the diversity and inclusion site contains:

“To support and sustain a diverse and inclusive culture, on and off the field, wherein the power of our collective creates a meaningful experience for our people, fans, and communities. We strive to provide a rewarding and prosperous environment for our employees, to be the sport of choice for a diverse and growing fan base, and to be a responsible steward of our communities.”

I asked three Rangers their thoughts regarding MLB’s overall efforts in diversity and inclusion.

“I think when you look around the field, you got guys from [the] Dominican [Republic], Venezuela, Latin, African Americans, Asia now. I think Major League Baseball is doing a fantastic job with it,” Rangers outfielder Travis Jankowski said.

“I think [MLB] does a good job. There are definitely areas in the US that we can definitely reach out, and especially areas outside of the country that we can get more of a reach to, and I think we’re taking steps to do that,” Rangers starter Dane Dunning said.

“There’s a bunch more initiatives—everything with George Floyd and everything you see in ballparks and the Players’ Alliance. I think there was a lot of effort even before that. There’s the diversity Pipeline [and] Tyrone Brooks and the work he does behind the scenes to help guys get jobs and to really help develop minority personnel in baseball. There’s been a lot of stuff for a long time,” Rangers Associate Manager Will Venable told me.

The good news is that, as a collective, MLB is the most diverse of the major sports when it comes to its players. However, when you dig deeper, the increase comes from its foreign-born players. According to Forbes, foreign-born players make up 28% of MLB players. Meanwhile, only 6% of MLB players are Black, which is a slight decrease from 6.3% last season and at its lowest in decades.

“I think that might be [that] there are other sports they probably want to play that are a little more entertaining,” Jankowski theorized. “Having kids of my own, it’s tough to get them through a baseball game. There’s a lot of downtime, I guess, where it’s not as active [as] whether you’re playing basketball, football, [or] other stuff where it’s constantly up-tempo [and] baseball doesn’t have that. It takes a more patient kind of kid who is very interested in the game itself rather than being entertained constantly to really take a liking to it.”

For Venable he told me there is room for improvement, especially with the decline in African American players. However, it’s about a lack of effort.

“Changes take time. There’s always going to be room for more, and we’re always going to be making progress towards where we want to be,” he said.

Marcus Semien is doing a lot of work within the community, with the players, and with the Players’ Alliance—Venable states what kind of impact he has regarding the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative.

“Marcus is someone that advocates for the things that he supports, outside of diversity, and everything that he does. He’s a guy that’s very active, proactive, and supportive [for] the things he believes in,” Venable said.

On the positive side, this season, MLB extended games to London (for the third season) and Mexico. Games have also been played in Japan and Australia, but as Dane Dunning says, it’ll take time.

“For the most part, I think there’s a good mix, and I would like to have more people take an interest in the love of the game. But it all takes time, and it really goes to the reaches of how far we can go,” Dane said.

I asked each individual if coaching culture progressed in the respective clubhouses throughout their career between minor leagues and major leagues, and, in Venable’s case, While there isn’t a clear-cut answer, the lean is in the “yes” category.

“I think each [clubhouse] is different in its own aspect. In San Diego, a lot of the culture comes from a veteran presence or a younger player presence. We have a great mix here where it’s veterans and rookies, so it’s a cool atmosphere there,” Jankowski said. He also mentioned how the rookies lean on the veterans and that the veterans feed off the rookies’ energy while in San Diego, during rebuilds, it was mostly filled with young players and didn’t have that veteran presence.

For Dane Dunning, it’s about individuality. “Everyone has their own personality. Everyone has everything, but we all mesh together. We talked about building a Championship team [and] you have to have that chemistry in the locker room. But at the same time, you got to have each person be unique, we can’t have everyone be the same person. I’m nothing like Michael Lorenzen, I’m nothing like Nathan Eovaldi, but we all work together greatly, and we have different pitching aspects, characteristics, and personalities.”

Dunning also mentioned that he’s not into the whole culture thing. “I’ve always tried to keep up to date with the new fads, but I’ve kind of last that reach out for the past five or six years. I’ve just been myself, being who I am, and being the best version of myself.” However, he acknowledged the different personalities and players in the clubhouses he had experienced during his time in the minor leagues.

As for Will Venable, I asked him if there has been more diversity and culture now than when he was playing in the Major Leagues.

“The short answer is yes,” he said. “[When] there’s any organization or group of people, there’s behavior and the way that you conduct yourself and what is acceptable has changed a lot in the last year, [or] I should say in my time. I’m not in the clubhouse anymore, but I’m around these guys enough to know that what is accepted [and] changed in a good way. I think there’s progress across the board, but certainly a lot more to go.”

The hope is that progress is being made throughout baseball and that baseball continues to trend in the right direction, whether we’re talking culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Despite the Rangers not being vocal in 2024 when it comes to Pride, Major League Baseball is definitely doing its part and showcasing its work with other minorities.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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