- Baseball in the Garden of Eden, A Book ReviewPosted 770 days ago
DRSEA INFORMER: Change Up
- Updated: November 28, 2010
Volume III, Issue 14: A Publication For Your Reading Enjoyment
My heart dropped like a Pedro Martinez sinker when I heard that the New York Mets were courting Sandy Alderman, baseball’s super repairman, to replace ousted general manager Omar Minaya. After all, he had been heading the baseball reform movement in the Dominican Republic and included a number of DRSEA priorities, including education, in his platform.
Alderson was always the frontrunner for Mets GM, having secured Commissioner Bud Selig’s support to seek the position, so I was not surprised he got the job, but I am disappointed he will not be around to directly finish what he started. However, Alderson has assured me that the momentum he created for baseball reform in the Dominican Republic, and for all of Latin American, will not wane, “nor will I abandon the work in the DR that I have initiated and have an abiding interest in seeing through to completion.” He added that he remains committed to several educational initiatives that the DRSEA has promoted.
While I believe Alderson is a man of his word, it will be interesting to see how the path he cleared in the Dominican Republic is pursued. Major League Baseball named Jorge E. Pérez-Diaz, a partner in the Puerto Rican law firm Pietrantoni Mendez & Alvarez LLP, as the interim head of Latin American Oversight for Major League Baseball.
When Alderson first took on the monumental task of addressing the myriad of issues plaguing Dominican baseball, including age and identity fraud, steroid usage among prospects, and skimming of prospects’ signing bonuses, I was optimistic but concerned. Alderson brought a reputation as a fixer, but seemed keen on being an enforcer as opposed to a peacemaker. He ruffled more than a few feathers with a “We will do this my way” attitude.
But several people I know in baseball said that Alderson is blessed with a high learning curve and quickly realized that things don’t work the same in the Dominican Republic as they do in the U.S.; that things are more complicated and take far more time to accomplish and he adjusted accordingly.
Alderson drew up a reform blueprint and Pérez-Diaz has said he will follow that plan. It includes Alderson’s desire to address the education of prospects. Under the new plan, all prospects will take a test to measure their academic standing, with an understanding that teams will be inclined to pay more for better educated players. The new program will mandate education for prospects at all academies in the Dominican Republic; Major League Baseball is also establishing a tuition fund to assist players who wash out of the academies and want to continue their education.
Currently, only the Pittsburgh Pirates have a mandatory education program, and the San Diego Padres have a voluntary one that continues support for those who fail at professional careers as is the case with 98 percent of prospects.
Such educational initiatives have been advocated by the DRSEA for several years and are welcome, as was Alderson’s acknowledgement that the DRSEA’s mission to prepare baseball players to secure scholarships at U.S. colleges and universities is viewed as a piece of reform solutions in Dominican baseball.
I recently told Alderson that I thought the greater good of baseball would be best served by him continuing to conduct his reform movement, so while I congratulate him on his new job, I am saddened over his departure from the Dominican Republic.
I do not know Pérez-Diaz, who has been working with Major League Baseball on Latin American issues since January, but he will consult with a three-person Latin American Oversight Committee comprised of Alderson; Larry Beinfest, President of Baseball Operations for the Florida Marlins; and Bill Smith, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Minnesota Twins.