MLB Changes Open Opportunities
While the final departure of Jimmie Lee Solomon may have come as a surprise to people, it was clear he was on the outs with Major League Baseball.
After rising to MLB's most prominent position with on-field responsibility after the departure of Sandy Alderson, Solomon got shuffled from that position two years ago. While he remained an executive vice president—which in the MLB hierarchy is the level just below the commissioner—he had much less responsibility and had just a few departments reporting to him.
I'm not here to try to make sense of Solomon's departure, and I can't pretend to understand the complex politics of 245 Park Ave. Solomon spent 21 years working there and apparently didn't figure it out, so I certainly won't be able to.
What I do want to try to figure out is what will become of the people who reported to Solomon and served him well. I wouldn't expect MLB to replace Solomon; rather, you would think his areas of responsibility will just be shifted to other people.
To the best of my understanding, that group includes Darrell Miller, a vice president who oversees MLB's Urban Youth Academies. This has been a crucial initiative for baseball, bringing MLB's amateur development efforts to Houston and Compton, Calif., with another facility scheduled to open in New Orleans later in the summer. The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy is also affiliated with MLB, though it's a bit different in that it offers a full high school curriculum in addition to baseball tutoring. Carlos Correa, the first overall pick in the draft, is a product of the Puerto Rico academy.
Solomon also retained oversight of MLB's relationship with the minor leagues, with Fred Seymour serving as senior manager of minor league operations. After the majors and minors had a contentious relationship in the early 1990s, Solomon (along with minor league leaders) did a good job of rebuilding trust and establishing a strong relationship between the two groups.
Redirect The Spotlight
People like Miller and Seymour should be easily folded into MLB's baseball operations hierarchy.
But there's one person in particular that I want to highlight who, in my opinion, has never received the credit she deserves in the baseball industry. Her name is Sylvia Lind, and she has the rather generic title of director of baseball operations initiatives. As a practical matter, the two events she spends the most time working on are the Futures Game—an event that has obviously always been near and dear to our hearts—and the Civil Rights Game. Lind has been there from day one on the Futures Game, which was first played as part of the All-Star Game festivities in Boston in 1999, and it's fair to say the event would not be what it is today without her persistence and dedication.
Solomon took credit for the Futures Game, and again in the political world of MLB, who can blame him? But if there was a downside to that, it kept the spotlight from people like Lind, who actually did the legwork on the event each year, from helping select the players to making sure they got there.
I have known Lind since we started working together on the first Futures Game, and MLB asked Baseball America to assist in the selection of the players for the game. And I've always thought that she was criminally under-utilized and under-recognized both by MLB and the baseball industry as a whole. Now that Solomon no longer works for MLB, however, I'm not sure she has a champion—and she certainly deserves one.
She's a Fordham-educated lawyer, the daughter of Cuban immigrants, who speaks English, Spanish and French. She has a true passion for baseball, having grown up in New York as a Mets fan. And she is the exact opposite of a self-promoter. Baseball can't use more people like that?
Sources in the minor leagues have told me that she has been considered for at least one minor league presidency—she used to oversee the minors, as Seymour now does, so she has experience there as well—though she obviously didn't get the job. That was a loss for that league and the industry in general.
The hope now is that MLB, or another organization in baseball, recognizes talent and rewards it.