What do Dean Taylor and Dan O'Dowd have in common? First, they were hired to be general managers of big league teams this week, with Taylor taking over the Brewers and O'Dowd the Rockies. Second, they're both white males, continuing a 100-year baseball tradition of seldom hiring blacks or Hispanics for such high-level management jobs.

And they never played the game. At the moment, only 12 of the game's 29 general managers--Seattle's job is vacant--ever played professional baseball. Only four current GMs--Ron Schueler of the White Sox, Billy Beane of the Athletics, Jim Beattie of the Expos and Ed Lynch of the Cubs--played in the big leagues.

This isn't to say Taylor and O'Dowd are not deserving of their positions. Both realize their strengths are organization and hiring the right people. Both evaluate talent by picking the brains of others. And both have been around successful organizations. O'Dowd served as assistant to Cleveland General Manager John Hart while the franchise was rebuilt from being one of the worst in the game to one of the best. Likewise, Taylor has learned from one of the best, serving as an assistant to Atlanta's John Schuerholz for nine years.

Selig Prods Hiring Process

Commissioner Bud Selig has been pushing clubs to at least interview minority candidates for GM and managerial jobs, threatening to fine teams that didn't comply. Only three of the 30 big league managers are minorities, and since the end of the 1992 season, there have been 37 openings. San Francisco's Dusty Baker and Jerry Manuel of the White Sox have been the only minorities hired.

It's even worse at the general manager level. None of the 30 clubs has a minority at that position.

O's Eye Baylor, Garner

Phil Garner, who is white, and Don Baylor, who is black, appear to be the favorites to replace Ray Miller as manager of the Orioles. Orioles farm director Tom Trebelhorn and bench coach Eddie Murray may get interviews, but Garner and Baylor seem to be the frontrunners. Both are under consideration for other jobs. Baylor may have his pick of three spots--Anaheim, Milwaukee and Baltimore.

Garner, who already has been contacted by the Angels, may be favored by some in the Baltimore front office, but if Baylor lands an interview with owner Peter Angelos, he'll probably get the job. Angelos is a hunch player and must feel comfortable with the people he hires. Given his history as a great player with the franchise and his intelligence, personality and the stature he would bring to a difficult clubhouse mix, Baylor would be a perfect choice.

Mariners Face Moves

The Mariners have spoken to former Blue Jays and Orioles executive Pat Gillick about becoming their general manager. Former Yankees executive Bob Watson also has been contacted.

Whoever is hired faces three pressing problems: Edgar Martinez, coming off another great year, can be a free agent after this season, and Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez can be free agents after next season. Many executives believe the Mariners have to trade one of them or face the prospect of paying two players $30 million and the other 23 players a combined $10 million or so.

O'Dowd Moves Quickly

O'Dowd wasted little time putting together his new front office. He'll bring in Indians scouting director Josh Byrnes, a St. Albans graduate, to be his assistant general manager, and Reds farm director Buddy Bell probably will be his new manager, sources said.

Fiscal Woes in Phoenix?

The Diamondbacks are headed to the playoffs in just their second year of existence, they have a first-rate ballpark and a large fan base. They're also a good case study in baseball economics because, despite their success, managing partner Jerry Colangelo recently asked his investors to cough up another $24 million on top of the $174 million they had already spent.

Why? Because although Phoenix may be a solid baseball market, it's not Boston or New York. After the novelty wore off last season, season ticket sales declined by about 9,000, and attendance is down from 44,450 a game last season to 37,225 this season.

But Colangelo approved a winter spending spree for pitchers Randy Johnson and Todd Stottlemyre and outfielder Steve Finley, boosting the payroll from $32 million to around $66 million.

"I could come out and say, 'If 45,000 people a night had shown up and blah, blah, blah . . . the reality is if we didn't lose 9,000 in season tickets things would have been different," Colangelo told the Arizona Republic. "Basically, we had a cash need. We could have gone to a bank or the partners. We went to the partners."

Here's the worrisome part for the Diamondbacks: If the fans have started to depart when the franchise is new, successful and interesting, what's going to happen when there are rocky times?

Sheffield the GM

Don't you love Dodgers outfielder Gary Sheffield? He tried to assist General Manager Kevin Malone this week by urging him not to trade Raul Mondesi. He conveniently forgot that Mondesi is scheduled to make $21.5 million the next two years and that his attitude has been a problem. And here's the delicious kicker: Sheffield made his comments on a day when he showed up late, missing batting practice.

Jordan Gets a Push

Just when it looked as if Braves right fielder Brian Jordan might sit out the rest of the season with a sore wrist that will require offseason surgery, he returned and broke open a game against the Mets with a two-run single.

Jordan said he returned to the lineup after a visit with his personal trainer, track coach Bob Kersee. "He ripped me pretty good," Jordan said. "I deserved it, too. He'll be with me the rest of the season through the playoffs."

Rewarding the Die-Hards

Nice touch by Marlins owner John Henry this week to some of the dozens of fans who braved threatening weather and showed up for the start of a Marlins-Expos doubleheader: Henry personally approached the 30 or so fans in the upper deck and moved them down to $110 Batter's Box seats at field level.

Bleary-Eyed Greer

The Rangers are worried about left fielder Rusty Greer, who is having difficulty with his vision since being beaned two weeks ago. He missed six games after being hit near the left eye by a thrown ball during batting practice before a game at Kansas City. He has been cleared to resume full activity, but has had trouble focusing. Doctors have told him he has a bruised retina, but have offered no timetable for his return.

THE WEEK AHEAD

Atlanta at N.Y. Mets

Tuesday through Thursday

After being swept in Atlanta last week, the Mets have lost 7 of 9 to the NL East leaders this season and have been outscored by them, 48-25. The Braves' pitching staff has allowed New York's offense -- one of baseball's best -- to score more than three runs in just two of the teams' nine meetings and has registered three shutouts.

Cincinnati at Houston

Tuesday and Wednesday

It's only two games, but it could prove to be the most important series of either team's season and the deciding factor in the NL Central race. The Reds have won 8 of 11 meetings between the teams this year, and in this series they won't have to face Astros' pitchers Mike Hampton or Shane Reynolds, but will see Jose Lima.

By The Numbers

A blown $6 fuse caused the $100 million roof to malfunction at Seattle's Safeco Field last week.