Posted by StreetWise in SportsWise
Vince: Only 8% of Major Leauge baseball teams are African-American, and 30 years ago, it was 20%. Why is that?
Sam: I have been thinking about how baseball is losing popularity. I was watching a Cubs vs. Pittsburg game and I was noticing how few people were in the stands. I used to wonder why blacks didn’t dominate the sport. I always looked at it from a socioeconomic perspective, that in order to play baseball you need gloves and bats and equipment. For basketball you just need a ball, and the courts are already there.
Vince: Chris Rock makes great points on why black people don’t play baseball. One is that baseball plays off of nostalgia, but black folk are more concerned with the future. The second is that the game is too staunch, stiff and rigid to be fun.
John: I don’t know if it is anti-black, but just more the pace of the game. You don’t have a clock going like you do in other sports. You also don’t have your traditional powerhouses in baseball The teams don’t have as much of a national following. I feel baseball has done a poor job of marketing nationally. They also play games too late. The best weapon for baseball is day baseball. I feel like it is not so much looking to the future, as it is marketing and getting teams to be followed.
Russell: For blacks, I know it is a problem. I watch the game on TV myself, and there are very few blacks. On the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants there are no black players at all! I think the game to them might just be too boring, to slow. It is easy to understand. In basketball, there are legends, but in baseball there aren’t too many famous blacks.
Vince: This is a deep one. I remember when I was 16 I was coach for a little league baseball team. So that brings to mind Jackie Robinson West. There was some controversy, but let’s focus on the fact that the biggest talk last year was on their team, particularly a young girl, Mo’ne Davis. You can’t remember who won the little league world series, but you can remember Mo’ne Davis. That bodes positive things for the future. The present does look a little sketchy. Baseball has always been the barometer for other sports. They have always tried to pull back to the past. Baseball was the sport that was the first to integrate on a series level. Of course bringing to mind Jackie Robinson. All of the stadiums are throwbacks, but a lot of people want to move forward. It’s nice to have a little wave to the past, but let’s move toward the future. And not only blacks, but more Latinos and Asians, and eventually, like Mo’ne Davis, we’ll get some women doing this! She is a 12 year old girl throwing 50mph! We could have adult women throwing 80-90mph striking everybody out! Baseball is the stuffiest of all the sports, but it sets the tone for all of the sports too. Curt Flood started free agency in baseball, he didn’t want to be traded, and that is what started it. That’s why many people are trying to keep it from moving forward, because they want it to be this last stronghold. The other sports want to move forward.
Sam: I kind of wonder if there is some type of plan to keep baseball a white sport, because of tradition and it is “America’s pastime.” Conversely, there has been some integration going on, with the Dominicans and the Japanese coming in. Basketball and baseball seem to be becoming more international. America doesn’t even win baseball championships anymore. They are always won by some other country.
John: I agree. It has been more global. I still think it is all about day baseball.
Vince: I think Chicago has more day baseball than anyone else, because of the Cubs. I like day baseball, too. All World Series games used to be in the afternoon, and you would have to rush home after work to see it!
Russell: I still don’t understand why they don’t like baseball that much. It’s a fun game! It’s a nice pastime to spend together. I guess they just find it more boring. I like it, I always will. I don’t know why other black folk don’t like it.
Sam: Basketball and football have more flash. You do have a good point.
Vince: I bet you now that the weather is warmer, there will be so many kids trying to get on that Jackie Robinson West team, that they will not have enough space for everybody. They have a national spotlight on them. I feel like we may be talking about something that is temporary. Once these kids grow up playing baseball, it may bring the sport back to the forefront.