How can something be so painfully obvious and yet so demonstrably counter-intuitive at the same time? The answer is something President Bush called "the soft bigotry of low expectations."
The irony in this case is that our subject at hand -- Jenny Cavnar -- is not the one for whom we hold these low expectations. It is for MLB -- and ourselves.
Jenny Cavnar should be calling Colorado Rockies games from the ROOT Sports broadcast booth because she is the best person for the job.
Cavnar has a more thorough command of the English language and is a far more effective communicator than any of Drew Goodman, George Frazier, and Jeff Huson. It is telling that ROOT seems to be interested in auditioning Ryan Spilborghs, Corey Sullivan, and Jason Hirsh for more time in the booth when none of them is even close to being as good at their jobs yet as Jenny has proven over and over again to be at hers.
Each of those new guys has potential for the future but the fact that they are getting this shot and she is not tells us emphatically one of two things: either she doesn't want to be in the booth (does anyone really think she'd turn down Huson's job if offered it?) or she isn't getting the chance because no one expects her to.
Because she is a woman.
There are two facets of this dynamic compounding on each other here. First is the inherent nature of the "boys club" of sports. I consume a ton of pro sports on TV and could only think of one in-game female analyst; Doris Burke. Not coincidentally, she is twice as good as any of her contemporaries (lagging behind only a few old-timers who have been doing it forever) probably because she had to overcome twice as many obstacles to get there.
The second complication at work here is the submissiveness to the idea that former players, however marginal (look at the list of names above), are inherently "experts" or automatically more worthy of a chance at a "color" man position. And former players are men.
There has been a massive backlash to this idea when it comes to sports analysis in general. In the new age of SABR baseball, we collectively scoff at the idea that people who have never played the game can't change it or understand it and the deepest levels because we all know Bill James exists.
So why hasn't this been extended to the next logical step: if you can provide excellent analysis without having played the game professionally, then you can do so even if your gender prevented you from even having a chance to play.
I would say historically speaking -- but it would be more accurate to say presently speaking -- women in sports are expected to do the side jobs (quite literally sideline reporting etc) to such an extent that I could find only one woman doing play-to-play analysis regularly for a baseball team.
Suzyn Waldman is the color commentator for the New York Yankees radio broadcast alongside John Sterling. There are no women on TV covering baseball games while they happen. None.
However, my eye test research shows me that roughly 1,000 percent of all MLB broadcasts have a "girl" reporter for moments when they think the audience needs to distracted either by eye candy or sideshow nonsense. Usually both.
Luckily, Jenny Cavnar's intelligence and awareness have led her to a much more meaningful role but still not the one of which she is most deserving.
This is where our soft bigotry comes in. We don't expect Cavnar to get a shot at the booth because it feels so natural. Women aren't in the booth. Anywhere. So she isn't getting any kind of specific mistreatment. We, and MLB, and the Rockies, and ROOT Sports don't expect baseball to be a place where glass ceilings are shattered.
So we say to ourselves and to each other, "Geeze, Jenny is way better than these guys," but do nothing about it because we expect no change.
We should expect change.
And it should be an easy sell. The Rockies and ROOT Sports have a unique opportunity to be revolutionary trend-setters, but for pragmatic reasons. Being the first team to have a woman in the broadcast booth could explode your potential audience both in terms of gender and youth.
Baseball has been losing its audience recently and what better way to show that it isn't all boring old guys sitting around scratching and talking about fishing trips and nachos? Having a young and attractive, yet remarkably knowledgeable person in the booth every day who can speak from a perspective that literally no one else in all of baseball could speak from can only mean good things for your broadcast.
Furthermore, the Rockies could finally be praised for being forward thinking, and for being on the cutting edge of how their fans consume baseball games.
Ultimately though, she shouldn't get the job because she would appeal more to women and younger people, she shouldn't get the job to prove some revolutionary point, and she shouldn't even get the job just so we don't have to listen to George Frazier and Jeff Huson all the time.
She should get the job because she is smart, articulate, funny, engaging, and a legitimate Rockies and baseball "expert" who is the perfect mosaic of the smart business choice, a revolutionary social choice, and -- most importantly -- the choice that produces the best product.
You don't have to get rid of anyone else, but Jenny Cavnar should be calling Colorado Rockies games from the ROOT Sports booth.