Even though the Brewers recently named a new manager in Ron Roenicke, players are still taking some parting shots at the man he replaced.
Is Macha a bit of a prickly personality? Does he struggle to get along with his fair share of players? The answer to both questions is yes, but I don’t think it warrants leveling the very serious charge of racism.
As the CBS Sports blog points out, it seems extremely unlikely that Cruz was denied an opportunity to play in Milwaukee due to his race. As a guy who primarily plays shortstop and second base, he was being blocked by a Venezuelan top prospect (Alcides Escobar) and an African-American playing like an All-Star (Rickie Weeks). Cruz was given a chance in September when Escobar was benched to work out some mechanical issues in his swing, and didn’t do much with it, hitting .235/.235/.353 (granted, it was only 17 ABs). Cruz was also often used as a pinch-hitter in September. What exactly was Macha supposed to do, bench Casey McGehee and play Cruz at third?
What about the other players Macha never really got along with? Prince Fielder may not respect him and never made much of an effort to have a relationship with him, but we haven’t heard him say race played a role. Ryan Braun is in the same boat, but we don’t see him calling Macha an anti-Semite. How about we ask his bench coach, Willie Randolph, if he thinks Macha is racist? Or maybe old pitching coach Bill Castro? In Oakland, players were basically dancing in the streets when he was fired (scroll to “Won’t Somebody Think of the 25-Year Olds”), and didn’t exactly take the high road out of town.
Is it possible Cruz is right? Sure. I’ve never interacted with Ken Macha, and as a young white guy, I’m not exactly prone to discrimination. But considering the fact that the Brewers remain one of the most diverse teams in the league, it doesn’t seem like Macha or the organization as a whole is racist. The Brewers are already at a competitive disadvantage financially. It’d be pure idiocy to pass over a place because of his race.
It’s more likely that the Brewers (rightfully) only saw him as organizational filler in 2010, and the rest of the league views him that way, too. The sooner he can come to grips with that, the better.