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Monday, May 27, 2013

Bob Costas on Being Commissioner, Changes Major League Baseball Needs and Race

For the Record (Urban Tapestry Series Continues…)

Instead of wondering I decided to reach out to Costas and gauge his potential interest in being commissioner. I also wanted to know Costas’ thoughts about possible changes he would make in baseball and what he’d recommend to increase the percentage of African-Americans playing in the Major Leagues.

When asked if he would consider replacing Bud Selig as commissioner Costas responded:

“I have no interest at in succeeding Selig. I have always flatly stated I considered myself unqualified for the position.”

I then proposed the following hypothetical question: If you were commissioner what is the one thing you would change about the game to make it better?

Costas replied, “I would expand the use of instant replay in the post-season, and change the rule regarding 40 man rosters in September. Having so many players available distorts strategy, and it makes no sense to play important pennant race games under drastically different conditions than the rest of the season.”

...Costas talked about the family unit and how it plays a pivotal in the lack of a strong African-American presence at the Major League level. Costas suggested, “Last, and this is a sensitive area, but one that does realistically play into the issue. Baseball tends to be a father son game-at least when a kid is first introduced to it. As we know, in certain portions of the black community, fatherlessness is a problem that goes well beyond baseball, but probably is a factor when it comes to declining baseball participation among black youth.”

Some experts, me included, believe racism plays at least a role in the lack of African-Americans currently in baseball. To the contrary, Costas suggests the lack of an African-American presence is not so much a result of race-rather it’s a complicated cultural dichotomy that exists within the African-American community.

Costas stated, “This is not a question of bigotry. Witness the huge influx of Hispanic players, many of them players of color, along with increasing numbers of players from Asia. This is a cultural rather than racial question. It’s complicated, but I believe baseball is sincere in the pride it feels about the rich history of African-Americans in the Major Leagues, and its desire to see more African-Americans—both on the field and in the stands.”

Sadly facts indicate African-Americans are methodically becoming strangers to a game that was once a rich part of the fabric in their communities.

Repoz Posted: May 27, 2013 at 06:21 AM | 170 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. dejarouehg Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:03 AM (#4452882)
The dialogue on African American involvement in baseball shouldn't be such an angst-ridden issue. If their community as a whole doesn't like baseball because it is too slow, the sport's culture shuns the self-promotion aspect, there are not enough perks available to high school players - then that is their right. Why are they not allowed to just dislike the game and be left alone?

The travel issue is partially bullsh** as anyone who knows how the AAU hoops circuit works. I was at a basketball tournament in upstate New York yesterday. There were black teams from all over the northeast that managed to participate wearing sneakers that were more expensive than my son's. It is no secret that "prep schools" are set up to allow these kids to play basketball at the expense of gaining an education. (And when they don't make it, they are s.o.l. in having a future.) Again, this is their choice - a bad one for 99% but at some point people need to be responsible for their own (often shortsighted) decisions.

Every college baseball recruiter we speak with stresses the education side and maintaining grades. If you have any involvement in college hoops and football, the stress on education is not nearly as strong and the latitude given to African American athletes (as well as truly top-flight white athletes) is pathetic and just perpetuates their belief that they can skate through.

Should baseball just lower the bar?
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:42 AM (#4452893)
Obviously the shift away from baseball to basketball and football on the part of African Americans is a cause for concern for baseball, since it's a concern any time any part of baseball's talent pool is diminished for whatever reason.

What can be done about it is another story, other than funding a lot more baseball scholarships and expanding inner city clinics. The cultural factors that Costas mentions are a part of the problem,** but IMO the biggest part is the chasm between the number of baseball scholarships offered vs. the numbers of football and basketball scholarships. It's no coincidence that the African American percentage of baseball players began to shrink at the same time that college football and basketball became fully integrated across the entire country, and also dropped the informal quota systems that had been present up through the 70's.

**One factor he doesn't mention is the overlap that the normal football and basketball seasons have with the academic year, an advantage The Summer Game doesn't share.
   3. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:53 AM (#4452899)
Are basketball and football sites constantly inundated with these sorts of articles bemoaning their respective leagues' lack of outreach in the white community?
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4452901)
Are basketball and football sites constantly inundated with these sorts of articles bemoaning their respective leagues' lack of outreach in the white community?

There probably would be, if there were any evidence that either of those two sports had any institutional (if unintentional) factors that tended to discourage whites from playing them.
   5. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4452903)
They probably would be, if there were any evidence that either of those two sports had any institutional (if unintentional) factors that tended to discourage whites from playing them.


Exactly. There isn't any evidence that whites are turning away from football or basketball. They're just not reaching the highest level in proportion to their population numbers.

As I've said, I don't care what the percentage of African-Americans, or whites, or Latinos, is at the major league level. But if a population is turning away from the sport at the youth level, that's a concern for baseball (and me). MLB may not be able to do anything about it, but the league should at least be looking.
   6. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4452909)
There probably would be, if there were any evidence that either of those two sports had any institutional (if unintentional) factors that tended to discourage whites from playing them.


I haven't seen any evidence that baseball is doing so either, Dusty Baker's racial science excluded.

But if you consider it a serious issue "any time any part of baseball's talent pool is diminished for whatever reason" I have to wonder if these other hypothetical basketball and football sites are constantly bemoaning the diminished quality of play implied by their lack of white participation. Is it possible all this concern about black participation in baseball is undergirded by unstated racist assumptions as to black athletic superiority?

   7. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4452910)
Some experts, me included, believe racism plays at least a role in the lack of African-Americans currently in baseball.

Which experts would those be? Also, blacks are probably over-represented in MLB when you look at the populations and demographics of all the baseball-playing countries from which MLB teams sign players. Has a single one of these "experts" ever figured that out?
   8. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4452913)
But if you consider it a serious issue "any time any part of baseball's talent pool is diminished for whatever reason" I have to wonder if these other hypothetical basketball and football sites are constantly bemoaning the diminished quality of play implied by their lack of white participation.


There is no lack of white participation in these sports. There's a lack of white advancement to the highest level. If that's because of some inherent bias against white participation, the leagues should be doing something about it and fans should be railing against it.

And there's no evidence that MLB is responsible for fewer African-Americans participating at the lower levels. That doesn't mean MLB can't have a vested interest in changing that (if possible), even if it's for entirely selfish reasons.

As the father of a baseball-playing lad, my take is that the sport is becoming increasingly expensive to play (or, at least it's perceived that way), at the lower levels, and is losing a lot of lower income kids in the process (black and white). That troubles me as a baseball fan.
   9. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4452917)
As the father of a baseball-playing lad, my take is that the sport is becoming increasingly expensive to play (or, at least it's perceived that way), at the lower levels, and is losing a lot of lower income kids in the process (black and white). That troubles me as a baseball fan.

I'd bet the average kid can get everything he needs for baseball for the same (or less) cost as a video game system.

I've never heard anyone suggest that huge numbers of kids are quitting basketball because they were priced out of some cross-country AAU trip. Why would baseball be any different?

If anything, if fewer kids are playing baseball, it's probably because they have more options financially.
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4452923)
I've never heard anyone suggest that huge numbers of kids are quitting basketball because they were priced out of some cross-country AAU trip. Why would baseball be any different?


A couple of things. I think there's an awful lot of subsidization of these AAU trips for basketball (and I imagine a lot of black and white kids are priced out of these trips). Second, there's very little introductory cost to basketball. You can get started for almost nothing, and talent can be evident and identified long before any cost is incurred.

Finally, it would be interesting to see how important the costs incurred correlate to the developmental curve. Does one have to spend as much money on basketball travel and other expenses to develop compared to baseball travel, equipment and individual instruction? I don't know, but I suspect baseball's greater skew toward skill over athleticism (compared to basketball) delivers a closer relationship between cost and development.

   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4452924)
Are basketball and football sites constantly inundated with these sorts of articles bemoaning their respective leagues' lack of outreach in the white community?

There probably would be, if there were any evidence that either of those two sports had any institutional (if unintentional) factors that tended to discourage whites from playing them.

I haven't seen any evidence that baseball is doing so either, Dusty Baker's racial science excluded.


But that's why I said "if unintentional". It's not that baseball is responsible for the fact that football and basketball scholarships dwarf those allotted for baseball, but that gap is a definite factor in terms of the incentives it gives to high school players who can't afford college without a scholarship. This isn't about racism, it's about factors peculiar to the sports that have helped to produce the trend we've been noticing.
   12. Tom T Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4452960)
I'd bet the average kid can get everything he needs for baseball for the same (or less) cost as a video game system.


Eh, I'm not so sure about that.

My son's current team has three boys on it who are clearly socioeconomically disadvantaged, and the coaches ended up having to scrounge around with various families to track down one pair of cleats, a couple gloves, and a bat. The coaches even covered re-lacing an old glove (yikes, that was pricey...going to learn to do that myself in the future).

Local options for baseball gear are pretty much limited to sport-specific stores (that, frankly, sell things at a notable premium) or else Dick's Sporting Goods...which (outside of cleats) isn't generally "cheap". Now, WalMart still has *some* equipment, but not as much as in the past. Even a bottom-of-the-barrel glove there seems to run $35-40. After you add on a $30-40 bat, and $25 cleats, you're up over $100.

In comparison, basic basketball shoes will cost you $35, football cleats aren't much different...with the Little Gridiron or Pop Warner-type programs providing the rest of the necessary equipment.

Our rec league used to provide bats in the equipment bag, but they have been in cost-cutting mode for the past few years, as a decent chunk of the kids are among those most affected by the economic woes. League fees were about $100 this year, and they even ####### at us to keep our game balls to return to them at the end of the year so they don't have to buy practice balls next year (about a $3/kid cost).

Anyway, basic participation for a kid who is growing is going to be about $150 per year (assuming they need new shoes each year, maybe need a new bat/glove every other year), which isn't overly expensive, but isn't cheap.
   13. Swedish Chef Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4452966)
How can baseball possibly lose much talent to basketball? Nearly everybody who has any kind of pro-basketball career is an extreme outlier in height. The overlap in talent pool should be slight.
   14. Greg K Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4452969)
How can baseball possibly lose much talent to basketball? Nearly everybody who has any kind of pro-basketball career is an extreme outlier in height. The overlap should be slight.

I don't know much about youth development, so I could be way off here, but I can see it. Take a young fellow who is chock full of athleticism, but is only destined to be 6'1 or something at full growth. From a young age he pursues an interest in basketball. He's very good, but by the time he's 18 or 19 he's just not tall enough to play at a top level. He finishes college and becomes an architect or something. Had he taken an interest in baseball when he was 12 or 13 maybe he had the ability to be an MLB player, but he didn't.

I don't know how early kids tend to specialize in sports, or what age is too late to execute a transition from one to another. Obviously a lot of guys double up on sports and don't pick just one until they are pro (or even then keep playing two...like the great Mark Hendrickson). But I can see the above scenario "taking away"* a not insignificant amount of baseball players.

*Kind of an odd way of phrasing it, but I couldn't come up with another way off the top of my head. It's not like baseball has dibs on all young men and basketball and football are stealing them. But in a world where basketball doesn't exist, I think there are quite a few guys baseball would get that they aren't getting now.
   15. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:10 PM (#4452975)
(A) It's not as simple as that -- guys who might be pro ballplayers might never start playing baseball because they're concentrating on basketball.
(B) There are plenty of basketball players who are 6'7" and shorter, and there's no evidence that players this tall can't be good at baseball.
   16. Ron J2 Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:50 PM (#4453008)
#15 (B) Players who are smaller than about 6'6" have to be insanely good. (and that's by the already high standards that it takes to make basketball a career)

I think Bill Russell summed the situation up well when he said something close to -- I can teach Burleson to rebound. I can't teach some other guy to be tall.

Yeah Charles Barkley isn't particularly tall (I know I've read that he's several inches shorter than his listed height) but he's very much an exception.

That said, anybody planning on a career in any form of athletics (or even dreaming about it) isn't very realistic about the shout.Oh they've all been told in a one in a million (or whatever -- one in a million might be understating the odds) shot, but they all know they're the one.
   17. Bob Tufts Posted: May 27, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4453010)
Are football and basketball racist sports becuase they don't have a significant amount of Asian and Latin American players in the pros?

These sports could be winning the American battle but losing the world to baseball.

   18. dejarouehg Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:14 PM (#4453013)

Anyway, basic participation for a kid who is growing is going to be about $150 per year (assuming they need new shoes each year, maybe need a new bat/glove every other year), which isn't overly expensive, but isn't cheap.


A couple of things. I think there's an awful lot of subsidization of these AAU trips for basketball (and I imagine a lot of black and white kids are priced out of these trips). Second, there's very little introductory cost to basketball. You can get started for almost nothing, and talent can be evident and identified long before any cost is incurred.


As a parent who often subsidizes those who are less able, which is how AAU basketball survives both within a team and on a more global level, I saw plenty of kids at our AAU tournament wearing $100+ sneakers, which, I would argue is not the most appropriate way to sepnd money if, in fact, you are on limited funds. I don't elect to have my son wearing $100 plus sneakers. HE gets by on $45 and somehow can jump just as high as the kids with the more expensive ones.

Again, isn't it just possible that black people, by and large, just don't like baseball that much?
   19. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4453019)
Are football and basketball racist sports becuase they don't have a significant amount of Asian and Latin American players in the pros?

These sports could be winning the American battle but losing the world to baseball.


Losing the western hemisphere, yes, but basketball is way ahead in Europe and pulling away, relative to baseball. American football is insignificant outside the U.S. and probably always will be--which I think will eventually lead to it falling out of its Unofficial National Sport status as the culture globalizes more and more. I think in 30 years it's likely basketball will be king in the U.S. (Soccer everywhere else, of course).

Again, isn't it just possible that black people, by and large, just don't like baseball that much?


Nearly every black person I've ever met who pays attention to sports, even those who play football or baseball, loves basketball first and foremost. I think at this point it's cultural.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:25 PM (#4453021)

As a parent who often subsidizes those who are less able, which is how AAU basketball survives both within a team and on a more global level, I saw plenty of kids at our AAU tournament wearing $100+ sneakers, which, I would argue is not the most appropriate way to sepnd money if, in fact, you are on limited funds.


I'd agree wholeheartedly. I'd go further and suggest AAU basketball itself isn't the most appropriate way of spending your money, regardless of the limit to your funds. But few things annoy me as much as Youth Sports Industrial Complex, so I may not be the most unbiased source.

Again, isn't it just possible that black people, by and large, just don't like baseball that much?


Yup, that's a possibility, In fact, I'd say that it's almost certain that as a percentage, blacks don't like baseball as much as other ethnic groups.

If you think that's the only reason for a decline in participation, and that other factors aren't involved, well I think you're wrong.

Baseball has some barriers to entry (either real or, in some cases, perceived) for low-income kids, barriers that don't exist in the same way for basketball and football (but are even greater for some other sports, such as hockey, tennis or golf.*) Whether MLB or any individual entity can do anything substantial about those barriers - I don't know. It's quite possible that it's a simple fact, and there's nothing MLB can do.

But attempts to refute what is a rather complex issue with "do we complain because there aren't enough white people in the NBA" type arguments is ridiculous.

* Speaking exclusively of the U.S. Conditions are very different in other parts of the world.
   21. Srul Itza At Home Posted: May 27, 2013 at 01:58 PM (#4453034)
which I think will eventually lead to it falling out of its Unofficial National Sport status as the culture globalizes more and more. I think in 30 years it's likely basketball will be king in the U.S. (Soccer everywhere else, of course).


Yeah, right, two days after we adopt the metric system.

The US "globalizes" other countries, it does not get "globalized".



   22. morineko Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4453038)
I don't even think it's an issue with making it to the pros at this point--the only sports around here I see kids getting together on the old "sandlot" basis, organizing it amongst themselves, are basketball and soccer. All you need to play those effectively are more than one person wearing shoes and a ball.

Related to this issue--and it's true, it's more than "just" race, it's also economic status and culture so it's very intersectional--the Minneapolis Star Tribune is running a series on sports booster clubs. The first article has a lot of comparisons with wealthy, majority-white suburbs, and poorer suburban and urban schools. Coon Rapids is a majority white school but they're having problems fielding a football team because the school (and its parents) can't afford it. A couple of the other less affluent schools mentioned in the piece have a lot of Latino and Asian students. The problem we're facing here with baseball is getting city kids of all races and ethnic backgrounds on the field to begin with--by the time high school hits, they have lots more going on than sports they can't afford.
   23. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:29 PM (#4453049)
#15 (B) Players who are smaller than about 6'6" have to be insanely good. (and that's by the already high standards that it takes to make basketball a career)


The average NBA player is 6'7" tall and has been for nigh on 20 years. I just don't think what you're saying is true.
   24. BDC Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4453051)
Players who are smaller than about 6'6" have to be insanely good. (and that's by the already high standards that it takes to make basketball a career)

Minor point, but most Division I guards are shorter than 6'6" (as are quite a few NBA guards, for that matter).

Sure, you have to be insanely good to have an NBA career at any height, but many kids between 6'0" and 6'6" have a completely reasonable shot at basketball scholarships. There's a lot of overlap at those heights with baseball, especially with pitchers.
   25. Bob Tufts Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4453059)
There also are too many white generalist sportscasters like Costas.

Insufferablity and pomposity should not be confined to one race, creed or sex.
   26. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: May 27, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4453068)
FWIW, you also have to be very careful with listed heights in basketball. You have to assume that most players are listed at an inch or so above their actual height. Not that this doesn't happen in baseball, but it is absolutely standard in basketball. So that 6'7" guy who's too tall to play baseball might actually be 6'5" and a great size for a pitcher.

A NY Times article on the subject.
   27. jdennis Posted: May 27, 2013 at 03:13 PM (#4453078)
speed up the game for kids? shot clock for pitchers. batting team can call it once per inning with runners on base. if it goes off, it's a balk!

black people play football and basketball because they are on average lower income than whites, and there are more community organizations that sponsor teams and pay the cost, and have connections to the higher levels. and to play at the college level, they get huge full-ride scholarships. rarely if ever do baseball players get a large enough scholarship to be able to pay the rest, and so the black community is priced out or languishes in obscurity at community college. also, baseball equipment is obscenely expensive. basketball has almost no cost. hispanics, meanwhile, have the baseball support system in the caribbean and have a track to getting to the pros that way. that's why mlb is trying to set up their organization for poor communities in the usa, to get african and latin americans back to old levels. also, there is a small amount of racism that leads whites to try to promote blacks for basketball and football.
   28. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4453146)
Yeah, right, two days after we adopt the metric system.


Well, we damn well should. It's better than the assorted nonsense we call a measurement system.
   29. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4453150)
Anyway, basic participation for a kid who is growing is going to be about $150 per year (assuming they need new shoes each year, maybe need a new bat/glove every other year), which isn't overly expensive, but isn't cheap.

I'm not trying to hand-wave the cost issue, but how many kids can't get $150 together for something they consider a priority? As someone mentioned above, a lot of these same kids are wearing $250 Air Jordans, walking around with $200 smart phones, playing on $200 video game systems, etc.
   30. madvillain Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:45 PM (#4453155)
AAs were at 7.4% of all MLB players on opening day. AAs makeup 12.6% of the US population. Given the influx of Latin and far east talent those numbers don't look that bad IMO. Now, we can lament that fact that AAs don't makeup the percentage of all players they used to, but it hardly seems like it's a huge problem given that influx of international talent.

I don't think anyone would argue that the talent level in say 1985, when AAs made up a larger percentage, is measurably lower (and the opposite argument could be made -- it's never been higher) than it is now.

As someone mentioned above, a lot of these same kids are wearing $250 Air Jordans, walking around with $200 smart phones, playing on $200 video game systems, etc.


Is there a single thread where you don't break out the old conservative white guy talking points? Good grief.
   31. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: May 27, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4453164)
I'm not trying to hand-wave the cost issue, but how many kids can't get $150 together for something they consider a priority? As someone mentioned above, a lot of these same kids are wearing $250 Air Jordans, walking around with $200 smart phones, playing on $200 video game systems, etc.


But that misses the point. They could have those things and play basketball or football, or they can give them up to afford baseball equipment. You're assuming playing baseball is a priority and then making conclusions from there. Maybe it's playing something is a priority, and baseball's higher costs turn many away.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4453169)
Now, we can lament that fact that AAs don't makeup the percentage of all players they used to, but it hardly seems like it's a huge problem given that influx of international talent.

Why would we lament it at all? As long as no one is being discriminated against based on race, why should we care about the racial composition of MLB?
   33. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 05:27 PM (#4453175)
Why would we lament it at all? As long as no one is being discriminated against based on race, why should we care about the racial composition of MLB?
In particular, this is a zero-sum game. So if one is saying that there should be more blacks, then one is necessarily saying that there should be fewer ___s. So, what are people filling in the blank with?
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 05:45 PM (#4453181)
Exactly. There isn't any evidence that whites are turning away from football or basketball. They're just not reaching the highest level in proportion to their population numbers.

And how do we know there isn't some bias among coaches, or by style of play, or by the "culture" of the sport that is causing whites not to succeed?

It's not unthinkable that there's bias. I mean, they made a movie called "White Men Can't Junp".
   35. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4453187)
And how do we know there isn't some bias among coaches, or by style of play, or by the "culture" of the sport that is causing whites not to succeed?


It's possible there is. And if there is, it's absolutely worth exploring. I doubt there's anything structural at work, but you're welcome to search for it.

I do think there is some bias at the individual level - that some look at a white prospect and mentally undervalue them. But there certainly is no benefit to suppressing the white man from the team's POV (either competitively or at the box office), so if there was such an undervaluation, then the shrewder teams should see an opportunity to exploit that by piling up these undervalued commodities to gain a competitive edge.

There exists many, many white players who compete at the highest level of college basketball, so there is clearly opportunity for them to move up the ladder. It's possible that there's a systemic reason that they tend to top out there, but I'm going to need more than a movie title to assume so.

And as I always say when these threads come up, the number of African-Americans (or any group) of players competing at MLB is not a problem in and of itself. It's only a problem for MLB if it's reflective of an absence of interest/opportunity at the lower levels among a population. And it may be a problem for which MLB has no realistic solution.
   36. BDC Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:03 PM (#4453204)
bias among coaches

Position segregation is always interesting, in part because it keeps shifting over the decades. There are perhaps as few black pitchers and catchers nowadays as there are white defensive backs or wide receivers; early in integration times, a black player was as likely to pitch or catch as anywhere else on the diamond. (Latino baseball players today tend to play all kinds of different positions; I don't sense a strong sorting factor there.) Who will be the first star Asian catcher? (Have there been any Asian catchers in MLB? I really can't recall.)

There seem to be almost no black kickers or punters; offensive linemen are somewhat more likely to be white than defensive linemen, tight ends can be white, running backs almost all black; quarterbacks (interestingly) are now among the more integrated positions, after many, many years of doubting whether America was ready for a black quarterback. Somewhere at the lower levels of youth sports, some sort of sorting is going on; I draw no conclusions from these few stray observations; they are what they are.
   37. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:11 PM (#4453208)
It's possible there is. And if there is, it's absolutely worth exploring. I doubt there's anything structural at work, but you're welcome to search for it.


Shouldn't the NBA be searching instead of snapper? They're suffering the effects of a vastly diminished talent pool if the largest ethnic population in North America is being shunted away from their sport, aren't they?
   38. GregQ Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:22 PM (#4453215)
Does anybody think Costas would be a good commissioner?
   39. The District Attorney Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:30 PM (#4453220)
Have there been any Asian catchers in MLB?
Kenji Johjima (Japanese), Hank Conger and Kurt Suzuki (Asian-American).
   40. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:31 PM (#4453221)

Shouldn't the NBA be searching instead of snapper? They're suffering the effects of a vastly diminished talent pool if the largest ethnic population in North America is being shunted away from their sport, aren't they?


Sure, if the NBA feels it's at risk of losing a percentage of its fan base, the league absolutely should be exploring a) what the problem is and b) whether it's fixable. And if the NBA suspects there's actual bias at work in the creation of these rosters, as Snapper suggests, then they absolutely should root that out. My guess is the NBA doesn't think there's anything structural that's keeping the white man down.

And to date, basketball has not suffered from getting whites to participate in the sport. White kids play basketball at all levels, including the collegiate level, where they probably represent a majority of the overall players. If they're being shunted away, it doesn't appear as if they're listening. I don't know of rich white suburbs having a devil of a time getting enough kids interested in putting together a basketball league, for instance.

Likewise, from what I understand about NBA audiences, the league is not losing whitey at the gate.

Baseball's issue is different. Blacks are not playing the game at the beginning in very large numbers. This may lead to fewer players who make it to the big leagues. That, in and of itself, is not a problem (succinctly summarized by David's 33). It is a problem for baseball, however, if this creates a subgroup that is not interested in the sport, and thus not part of its fan base in the future.


   41. OCF Posted: May 27, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4453231)
(Have there been any Asian catchers in MLB? I really can't recall.)

Kurt Suzuki. (Who was born and raised in Hawaii and attended CSU Fullerton.)
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:07 PM (#4453237)
And if the NBA suspects there's actual bias at work in the creation of these rosters, as Snapper suggests

I have no idea if there's bias, in any league.

All I'm saying is that I'd look at the NBA, and NFL long before MLB. American Blacks are represented at close to their share of the population in MLB, when you account for Int'l players. American Whites are way, way under-represented in the NBA and NFL.

If there's a prima facie case for discrimination, I'd look first where the numbers are way out of wack.

Likewise, from what I understand about NBA audiences, the league is not losing whitey at the gate.

But, the NBA's popularity is way, way down from the 80's and early-90's. I have no idea if a lack of White American stars is a factor, but it could be.
   43. SoSH U at work Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:23 PM (#4453247)
All I'm saying is that I'd look at the NBA, and NFL long before MLB. American Blacks are represented at close to their share of the population in MLB, when you account for Int'l players. American Whites are way, way under-represented in the NBA and NFL.


And that's because you keep trying to turn this back into "why aren't there more x in ____," which I think is beside the point.

I honestly don't give a #### about any of them, in terms of the professional participation numbers. Getting hung up on the number of whites in the NBA or blacks in MLB or latinos in the NFL is a side show.

The number of black players in MLB at a given time should never be considered a problem. If, however, the number of black players in MLB is the symptom of American blacks having no interest in the sport, then that is a problem for the sport (and, by extension, MLB). It may not be a problem that MLB (or anyone else) can do anything about. But I'd argue that baseball sure as hell should be looking.

And if the NFL/NBA isolate population subgroups that have little or no interest in their sports, then those leagues should also be asking why. But my own knowledge of participatory sports indicates that those sports don't have any obvious shortage of white participation at the moment. I can't say the same about African-American participation in baseball.

   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4453258)
The number of black players in MLB at a given time should never be considered a problem. If, however, the number of black players in MLB is the symptom of American blacks having no interest in the sport, then that is a problem for the sport (and, by extension, MLB). It may not be a problem that MLB (or anyone else) can do anything about. But I'd argue that baseball sure as hell should be looking.

That's fine. But, that's not the tack most are taking when they raise this issue.
   45. GregD Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:33 PM (#4453259)
But, the NBA's popularity is way, way down from the 80's and early-90's. I have no idea if a lack of White American stars is a factor, but it could be.
The NBA's ratings fell dramatically from 1998-2003. I couldn't pretend to isolate exactly what caused what chunk but the combination of Jordan retirement and lockout didn't help. Finals ratings the last 3 years are up 67% over 2007.
   46. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 08:37 PM (#4453260)
The NBA's ratings fell dramatically from 1998-2003. I couldn't pretend to isolate exactly what caused what chunk but the combination of Jordan retirement and lockout didn't help. Finals ratings the last 3 years are up 67% over 2007.

Regular season ratings don't appear to be doing that well.

http://www.sheridanhoops.com/2013/04/24/big-tv-viewer-drops-for-turner-espn-abc/
   47. GregD Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4453295)
Actually they seem to be doing not as well as record-setting seasons but better than almost any year ever. The article that your link connects to is titled, "NBA Audience Down From Record-Setting, Shortened '11-12 Season, But Remains Strong" and explains the regular-season ratings are the second highest full season ever.
   48. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 09:49 PM (#4453300)
In particular, this is a zero-sum game. So if one is saying that there should be more blacks, then one is necessarily saying that there should be fewer ___s. So, what are people filling in the blank with?


Unicorns.
   49. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:09 PM (#4453310)
Does anybody think Costas would be a good commissioner?


I'm a bit sketchy on what in Bob Costas' background qualifies him to be CEO of a multibillion dollar business, I admit.
   50. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:42 PM (#4453317)
Does anybody think Costas would be a good commissioner?
Of what?
   51. Cooper Nielson Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4453322)
Have there been any Asian catchers in MLB?
Kenji Johjima (Japanese), Hank Conger and Kurt Suzuki (Asian-American).


If you're counting half-Asians, you can also add Don Wakamatsu. Dane Sardinha is Pacific Islander. Lenn Sakata caught one inning. :)
   52. Rafael Bellylard: A failure of the waist. Posted: May 27, 2013 at 10:54 PM (#4453324)
I'm a bit sketchy on what in Bob Costas' background qualifies him to be CEO of a multibillion dollar business, I admit.


It's the Ford Frick plan.
   53. Bob Tufts Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:15 PM (#4453329)
I'm a bit sketchy on what in Bob Costas' background qualifies him to be CEO of a multibillion dollar business, I admit.


Well, he's a college dropout (Syracuse).
   54. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:19 PM (#4453332)
Does anybody think Costas would be a good commissioner?

Depends on what you think the commissioner's job should entail beyond expanding the owners' profits. Without any further responsibilities, Selig's the best commissioner we've ever had.

---------------------------------------------

The number of black players in MLB at a given time should never be considered a problem. If, however, the number of black players in MLB is the symptom of American blacks having no interest in the sport, then that is a problem for the sport (and, by extension, MLB). It may not be a problem that MLB (or anyone else) can do anything about. But I'd argue that baseball sure as hell should be looking.


That's fine. But, that's not the tack most are taking when they raise this issue.

Who here has been saying that any sort of racism is the primary cause of the decline in the numbers of African Americans in MLB? We've mostly been calling attention to factors that are outside of baseball's direct control.
   55. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: May 27, 2013 at 11:50 PM (#4453344)
There also are too many white generalist sportscasters like Costas.

Insufferablity and pomposity should not be confined to one race, creed or sex.


You greatly underestimate Bryant Gumbel.
   56. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:27 AM (#4453358)
Is there a single thread where you don't break out the old conservative white guy talking points? Good grief.

Air Jordans and video games are standard right-wing talking points? I guess I missed that series of memos.

***
The number of black players in MLB at a given time should never be considered a problem. If, however, the number of black players in MLB is the symptom of American blacks having no interest in the sport, then that is a problem for the sport (and, by extension, MLB). It may not be a problem that MLB (or anyone else) can do anything about. But I'd argue that baseball sure as hell should be looking.

This seems like a distinction without a difference, but it's irrelevant anyway. Again, blacks are assuredly OVER-represented when looking at the populations and demographics of the baseball-playing countries from which MLB teams sign players.* The entire issue is trumped up, but people are so afraid of being labeled "racists" that they keep agreeing a non-existent problem is a big, urgent problem.


(* And given this, if the supposition is that blacks will only increase their interest in MLB if blacks are substantially over-represented in MLB — as they are in the NBA and NFL — that seems like the real racial problem here. Anyone who suggests the NBA or NFL is "too black" or "needs more white players" is instantly labeled a racist.)
   57. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:36 AM (#4453364)

This seems like a distinction without a difference, but it's irrelevant anyway. Again, blacks are assuredly OVER-represented when looking at the populations and demographics of the baseball-playing countries from which MLB teams sign players.


What in the hell does that have to do with anything anyone has said on this thread?

Good Lord, I didn't think you could post something more inane than 29, but damn it if you're not giving it a shot.
   58. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:45 AM (#4453368)
What in the hell does that have to do with anything anyone has said on this thread?

It was a direct rebuttal to your "inane" claim that reduced interest in MLB among blacks and an allegedly low number of black MLB players might be directly related. The simple fact is, the number of black MLB players isn't low at all.

Good Lord, I didn't think you could post something more inane than 29, but damn it if you're not giving it a shot.

LOL. The idea that poor black kids who wear $250 Air Jordans while playing basketball can't somehow find $150 to play baseball is utterly stupid.

It's not my fault if the facts conflict with the knee-jerk lefty garbage you've spouted in this thread, or if you don't understand the implication(s) of your own arguments.

Is it really your position that Air Jordans and designer clothes and iPhones and Xboxes are rarities in America's inner cities? If so, you don't know what you're talking about.
   59. EddieA Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:37 AM (#4453374)
One of the issues for all USA kids of any color has got to be real estate. The well-maintained fields (with fences!) I spent nearly every day on in summer - playing pick-up games and practicing and participating in several organized leagues - are now football/soccer/lacrosse fields. I don't even know of a decent baseball field that kids can access freely in my area. To play at all, the kid has to get in an organized league. Tracks are also becoming very access limited. High school athletes can't even run on their own track except during scheduled practices.
   60. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:45 AM (#4453376)

It was a direct rebuttal to your "inane" claim that reduced interest in MLB among blacks and an allegedly low number of black MLB players might be directly related.


That wasn't the claim. There's only one knee-jerk response going on around here, and it ain't mine.

LOL. The idea that poor black kids who wear $250 Air Jordans while playing basketball can't somehow find $150 to play baseball is utterly stupid.


The idea that because some inner city black kids are wearing $250 Air Jordans means money is not an object in the inner cities is idiotic. The idea that because some money is spent, even foolishly, is proof that money itself can not be a concern elsewhere is idiotic. The idea that the expenses of baseball stop at the equipment purchases is idiotic. I'd go on, but you're not worth it.





   61. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 01:51 AM (#4453377)
The idea that because some inner city black kids are wearing $250 Air Jordans means money is not an object in the inner cities is idiotic. The idea that because some money is spent, even foolishly, is proof that money itself can not be a concern elsewhere is idiotic. The idea that the expenses of baseball stop at the equipment purchases is idiotic. I'd go on, but you're not worth it.


Money is "an object" for the vast majority of people. But the fact that inner city kids are choosing to spend $400 on iPhones -- we've been assured by liberals that their iPhones aren't being paid for by taxpayers -- instead of on playing baseball is not a public concern.

   62. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:01 AM (#4453379)
That wasn't the claim. There's only one knee-jerk response going on around here, and it ain't mine.

Nonsense. This entire thread is premised on the idea that there are too few black MLB players and that something needs to be done about it.

The idea that because some inner city black kids are wearing $250 Air Jordans means money is not an object in the inner cities is idiotic. The idea that because some money is spent, even foolishly, is proof that money itself can not be a concern elsewhere is idiotic. The idea that the expenses of baseball stop at the equipment purchases is idiotic. I'd go on, but you're not worth it.

Yes, how silly it was of me to point out that black kids have money to spend but prioritize other expenses above baseball equipment. Instead, I should have done the P.C. thing and pretended that thousands if not millions of black kids are "baseball-glove insecure" because they're spending their Christmas money on food for their siblings. (EDIT: Beverage of choice to Ray.)

It's fairly comical that these discussions are still occurring with regularity on a website allegedly populated by "thinking fans" who have an advanced grasp of statistical analysis. At best, the "problem" is non-existent; at worst, the problem is based on an assumption that blacks should be substantially over-represented in MLB just like they are in the NBA and NFL. (And I know the latter can't be it, because we've been told such race-based assumptions are, in fact, racist.)
   63. Chicago Joe Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:39 AM (#4453389)
But the fact that inner city kids are choosing to spend $400 on iPhones


My iPhone was $99 brand new from the service provider.
   64. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 02:53 AM (#4453393)
My iPhone was $99 brand new from the service provider.

Now tell us about your contract and monthly bill.
   65. Chicago Joe Posted: May 28, 2013 at 04:00 AM (#4453396)
Now tell us about your contract and monthly bill.


2 years, three lines, $85/month.
   66. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 04:58 AM (#4453400)
I don't know much about phones in North America...I never had a cell when I lived in Canada (though from years and years of hearing people ##### about phones I take it Canadian cell phones are not cheap).

But I'm quite enjoying my UK phone. It's as basic as I think you can get these days, just makes phone calls and texts. It costs about £5 a month (I use pay-as-you-go in £20 chunks, which seem to last a few months each), and that includes a few lengthy calls back to Canada every month.

Other things that are far, far cheaper here:

Flights - I just went to Barcelona for £20 round-trip. A flight from Toronto to Saskatchewan usually runs me a few hundred dollars.
Booze - £2 pints in Nottingham, which translates into what? $3.50 Canadian? Plus no tax or tip on top of that. £2 means £2...what a country!

Things that are better in Canada:
Weather - just had a beautiful weekend, but it's entirely possible that was the full extent of summer this year
It's tough to find good sausages in England
12-14 year old kids are insane here...though they seem to have toned it down, or maybe I've just gotten used to it.

I'm not sure how much government can do about those things...though a reliable friend informs me that the US government successfully diverted a hurricane away from New York on 9/11 using their weather altering technology, so maybe they can get on the whole rain in England thing. I think I might be convinced to move to a country that had outlawed children...but I'm guessing there's no equivalent of the Somalian utopia out there for that.
   67. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 08:48 AM (#4453437)
Significant swaths of Florida are pretty near child-free. But even that's not incentive enough to tempt me to live there.
   68. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4453444)
Now tell us about your contract and monthly bill.

2 years, three lines, $85/month.


who's your provider?
   69. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4453470)
Money is "an object" for the vast majority of people. But the fact that inner city kids are choosing to spend $400 on iPhones


Hey Ray, remember how shocked you were to find out there was a vast underground network where electronics and other items could be sold second-hand at steep discounts from retail, run by a mysterious online warlord who goes by the name of "Craig"? Ah, good times.
   70. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:46 AM (#4453475)
Nonsense. This entire thread is premised on the idea that there are too few black MLB players and that something needs to be done about it.


There's been almost no one in this thread* who has said there are too few black MLB players and that something needs to be done about it. That this little fact has escaped you isn't terribly surprising, given your track record. You came in hell-bound to attack the BTF lefty brigade, and damn it if you were going to let facts get in the way of your screeching.


Money is "an object" for the vast majority of people. But the fact that inner city kids are choosing to spend $400 on iPhones -- we've been assured by liberals that their iPhones aren't being paid for by taxpayers -- instead of on playing baseball is not a public concern.


Again, refuting a claim no one's made.

The only suggestion I made is that if MLB concludes a certain, not-insignificant subsection of the American populace doesn't have an interest in the sport, then it's in the league's financial interest to figure out a) why and b) whether the league itself can change that (it may very well conclude otherwise). Liberal swill, I know.


* Post 30 was the closest thing.


   71. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4453485)
. Coon Rapids is a majority white school


Yea, with that name, I'm not surprised.
   72. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4453489)
Thanks for the notes on Asian catchers, everybody. You'd think I would have remembered catchers in the AL West, but oblivion, thy name is BDC :)

Johjima, at any rate, is the only one of the three who came over from NPB. One imagines there would be a bias against catchers whose English wasn't native; for all I know, Johjima speaks fluent English.
   73. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4453511)
Johjima, at any rate, is the only one of the three who came over from NPB. One imagines there would be a bias against catchers whose English wasn't native; for all I know, Johjima speaks fluent English.

I seem to recall stories of Johjima's English being...perhaps not an problem per se, but something that was discussed with regards to mid-inning mound visits. I can't remember if that was just speculation that it would be an issue by people who had no clue, or actual reporting of things that happened.
   74. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:43 AM (#4453523)
Here's an article on where Johjima was English-wise upon signing with Seattle. On the Jin-Soo Kwon scale (different nationality I know) it sounds like he had "early stages of working with the Dharma Initiative" English skills.

Wikipedia also provides this tidbit on Johjima, as a stand alone sentence with no context or explanation:
"He often called himself "George Mackenzie" as opposed to "Johjima Kenji", especially before he played in MLB"
   75. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 28, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4453543)
I am far less interested in Bob Costas' ideas about why young African-Americans do or don't play baseball than in hearing from Brandon Phillips and Dexter Fowler and James McDonald on the subject. But no one ever thinnks to ask them, for some reason.
   76. Flynn Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4453553)
Nobody thinks racism is why there aren't more black players, but the cost of equipment, the huge cost of travel team ball and the lack of scholarships is a problem for poor black players. As well as poor white players, poor Latino players and so on. How many guys come from the inner city nowadays? Not that many. There were more native San Franciscans from the North Beach district in the league in the 50s than native San Franciscans in the league in the last 20 years. The majority of them were poor kids who learned to play on sandlots.

Lots of people have discussed the dad, mostly in wishy-washy taking his kid to the ballpark father-son junk. But perhaps one aspect where dads play a role is acting as a group in the family to put a kid on the diamond. I've heard of poorer Canadian families doing this - grandpa buys the skates, uncle buys a helmet, cousin buys a stick and so on. I've also heard of Dominican families grouping together too. Perhaps in a family where a couple dads aren't around, it's more difficult?

Also, there are a lot of people in the NBA who believe the NBA needs more white (especially white and American) stars. Remember when ESPN tried to drum up a controversy because Larry Bird said so? It died within six hours because Magic and Charles Barkley were both interviewed and said he was right. The NBA was once believed to be on an inexorable march to becoming America's most popular sport. Despite ESPN's support and its reach into China and Europe the NBA lags a distant third behind MLB in revenue and is much closer to the NHL than it is to MLB.
   77. BDC Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4453561)
Thanks for those notes on Johjima, Greg. Clubs rarely worry about whether Anglo or Latino catchers are going to be able to speak Japanese to their pitchers, but on aggregate a Japanese catcher is going to have to deal with a lot more English and Spanish than the other way around, I reckon. And English remains a basic common ground. I doubt they're discussing the finer points of grammar out there in whatever language :)
   78. SOLockwood Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:22 AM (#4453576)
AAs were at 7.4% of all MLB players on opening day. AAs makeup 12.6% of the US population.


What is the % of American-born players (of all races) in MLB? To accurately compare the % of African Americans in MLB with their % of the US population one would have to find out their % of all American-born players.
   79. SandyRiver Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4453600)
I don't even think it's an issue with making it to the pros at this point--the only sports around here I see kids getting together on the old "sandlot" basis, organizing it amongst themselves, are basketball and soccer. All you need to play those effectively are more than one person wearing shoes and a ball.

True for soccer, but basketball at least needs the hoop (and they're scads of them.) #59's comment on real estate gets to an important issue. Urbanization and organization have dealt severe blows to the old pickup baseball of my (near prehistoric 50s-60s) younger days. Only a ball and a field were essential. Gloves were important but we'd do without if needed, and if half the kids owned a glove, then everyone got to play with one (the odd lefty sometimes left out.) If a bat, usually cracked and wrapped with friction tape, wasn't available, a solid stick would serve. Three people were enough for "flies and grounders", but more often there were ten or more and a real game could begin. Most of us were also on LL or P.A.L. teams as well, but baseball was THE summer game. Nowadays, few want to play (or are allowed to play, due to safety reasons) without topnotch equipment and the organized leagues are about the only venues. There's lots about the present which I find much better than 50 yr ago, but pickup baseball isn't one of them.
   80. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:40 AM (#4453603)
Hey Ray, remember how shocked you were to find out there was a vast underground network where electronics and other items could be sold second-hand at steep discounts from retail, run by a mysterious online warlord who goes by the name of "Craig"? Ah, good times.

Hey YR, remember how shocked you were to find out the cost of a TV or iPhone represented only a small fraction of the actual cost of owning a TV or iPhone, what with the high monthly bills necessary to fully utilize such devices?

Even at $40/month — a price I've never seen anywhere for an iPhone with a data package — the annual cost of an iPhone comes out to well over $500 per year. If kids can come up with that, then they can come up with $150 to buy a glove and spikes, if acquiring such things was an actual priority for them.

***
There's been almost no one in this thread* who has said there are too few black MLB players and that something needs to be done about it. That this little fact has escaped you isn't terribly surprising, given your track record. You came in hell-bound to attack the BTF lefty brigade, and damn it if you were going to let facts get in the way of your screeching.

I'll refer you back to your #5:

As I've said, I don't care what the percentage of African-Americans, or whites, or Latinos, is at the major league level. But if a population is turning away from the sport at the youth level, that's a concern for baseball (and me). MLB may not be able to do anything about it, but the league should at least be looking.

Unless you've missed all of the breast-beating on the topic, it's clear that MLB is well aware of the declining number of blacks on the field and in the seats. Unless you believe MLB can "do [something] about it," there's not much here to discuss, at least in a way that doesn't involve mocking the article's silly "racism" claim.

Regardless, as we've seen from soccer, youth participation doesn't remotely translate into adult fanhood. The assumption that increasing black youth participation might not yield more black MLB players but likely would yield more black fans is theoretical, at best.
   81. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:47 AM (#4453612)
Nowadays, few want to play (or are allowed to play, due to safety reasons) without topnotch equipment and the organized leagues are about the only venues. There's lots about the present which I find much better than 50 yr ago, but pickup baseball isn't one of them.

Growing up in the early 90s, my experiences were a further bit down the road. Pick up games of hockey were ubiquitous, played either on the street or on the asphalt courtyard of elementary schools (I may be betraying where I grew up with that one). We also played a ton of basketball in the summers, as several people on the street had basketball nets in their drive. Fall/Spring/Winter it was football in a field somewhere...4 on 4 or 5 on 5 and so on. But baseball was almost exclusively played in organized leagues, there was a group of 10-12 kids on my street and we'd all play any manner of sport all year round at the drop of a hat, but never baseball. If I wanted to get any baseball related activity in aside from the one or two games a week in the summer it would either be, catch with my dad on the front lawn, or throwing a tennis ball against the giant piece of plywood my dad had bolted over the garage door and practicing short hops. It was just too much of a hassle to find a place to play, and if we did everyone would want to play football on it anyway, because it was too much hassle for them all to get gloves.

And this was in Scarborough, which is far from the urban centre of Toronto.
   82. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4453619)
Unless you've missed all of the breast-beating on the topic, it's clear that MLB is well aware of the declining number of blacks on the field and in the seats. Unless you believe MLB can "do [something] about it," there's not much here to discuss, at least in a way that doesn't involve mocking the article's silly "racism" claim.

I don't know, seems like there would be plenty to discuss. If African americans as a demographic aren't engaging with baseball as kids, then why is that? What can we do about it? I don't think you necessarily have to come at it from a "there's racism at work!" angle (and I don't think that's at all what MCoA is doing here). As a fan of baseball I want the widest possible talent pool for the game. If there are groups of people that we can bring into the game through better marketing, better provision and access at the youth level then I think that benefits me (and benefits MLB). I think it's something worth looking into for the same reason I think promoting and providing access for baseball to communities in China, Europe, Australia/New Zealand etc. are all great ideas too. If you're not performing well with certain demographics why wouldn't you want to look into the matter and see why, and if you could do anything about it?
   83. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 11:59 AM (#4453623)
Unless you've missed all of the breast-beating on the topic, it's clear that MLB is well aware of the declining number of blacks on the field and in the seats. Unless you believe MLB can "do [something] about it," there's not much here to discuss, at least in a way that doesn't involve mocking the article's silly "racism" claim.


You can refer back to No. 5 all you like. It's still not saying what you inexplicably think it is.

   84. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4453625)
You can refer back to No. 5 all you like. It's still not saying what you inexplicably think it is.


Come on. No. 5 says almost word for word what you said you hadn't said.
   85. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4453627)
Even at $40/month — a price I've never seen anywhere for an iPhone with a data package — the annual cost of an iPhone comes out to well over $500 per year. If kids can come up with that, then they can come up with $150 to buy a glove and spikes, if acquiring such things was an actual priority for them.


How many 12-year-old inner city kids have an iPhone with a data package?
   86. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4453638)
Come on. No. 5 says almost word for word what you said you hadn't said.


No, it doesn't. And it's not even easy to misread what I wrote.

Here it is again.

I don't care what the percentage of African-American players there are at the major league level. (It's right there, in Paragraph 2, Sentence 1).

I do care if a subset of the population (black kids, poor kids, kids with chicken pox) are not playing baseball, particularly if deterred because of a lack of suitable opportunities, rather than by choice. (Sentence 2)

MLB should care if a subset of the population is not playing baseball, because that makes it less likely to turn those people into fans of their product. As a business that should always have one eye toward its future, MLB should explore what the root causes are of any population turning away from the game. Upon completion of such inquiry, it may find there is nothing it can do. (Sentence 3)

That's what I've been saying, frequently and consistently in this thread. Your inability to comprehend that is sad.
   87. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4453639)
I don't know, seems like there would be plenty to discuss. If African americans as a demographic aren't engaging with baseball as kids, then why is that? What can we do about it?

We've known the answers to the first question for decades: Blacks prefer basketball, in large part because they tend to live in densely populated areas where hanging a $50 basketball hoop is more practical than building and maintaining a baseball field. The "densely populated areas" thing renders the second question almost moot, as MLB couldn't possibly afford to build the number of baseball fields that would need to be built in major cities to move the demographical participation needle even 1 percentage point.

I don't think you necessarily have to come at it from a "there's racism at work!" angle (and I don't think that's at all what MCoA is doing here).

"SoSH U ..." = MCoA? One needs a scorebook around here.

As a fan of baseball I want the widest possible talent pool for the game. If there are groups of people that we can bring into the game through better marketing, better provision and access at the youth level then I think that benefits me (and benefits MLB). I think it's something worth looking into for the same reason I think promoting and providing access for baseball to communities in China, Europe, Australia/New Zealand etc. are all great ideas too. If you're not performing well with certain demographics why wouldn't you want to look into the matter and see why, and if you could do anything about it?

I agree with this general sentiment 100 percent, but there's a big difference between spreading baseball to new areas and trying to jam it down the throats of kids who simply prefer other sports. Baseball should always be trying to expand its appeal, but it should be doing so globally, not targeting one demographic over other demographics.
   88. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:18 PM (#4453643)
"SoSH U ..." = MCoA? One needs a scorebook around here.

Whoops!

I always get those two guys mixed up. All Red Sox fans look alike to me. (They are both Sox fans right?)
   89. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4453645)
I always get those two guys mixed up. All Red Sox fans look alike to me. (They are both Sox fans right?)


Yup, we're both Sox fans, though I didn't know we were confusable.

For future reference, I'm the one who's still here all the time.
   90. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:23 PM (#4453646)
I always get those two guys mixed up. All Red Sox fans look alike to me.

That's racist, or something!
   91. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4453647)
MCOA threw a tantrum a few weeks ago and stated he was going to leave BBTF so that he could find a better class of people to converse with. I don't know if he's made good on that but I haven't seen him comment much since then if at all.

In any event, he and SOSH are not the same person.
   92. Greg K Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4453648)
I didn't know we were confusable.

For a human of moderate intelligence I'm sure you're not.

But for my brain, remembering two different abbreviated handles is what is known as "a big ask".
   93. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:28 PM (#4453650)
In any event, he and SOSH are not the same person.

OK; thanks. I saw the high comment count for "SoSH U ..." and thought MCoA might have returned with a different screen name.

***
How many 12-year-old inner city kids have an iPhone with a data package?

If Syracuse is representative, I'd say at least 80 percent have a smart phone.

***
No, it doesn't. And it's not even easy to misread what I wrote.

You plainly stated that you were "concern[ed]" that black kids aren't playing baseball in large numbers. Unless you believe MLB wasn't aware of this trend until this Huff Post guy wrote his article, everything that followed had been asked and answered at least a decade ago. (Hell, I'm 40 years old, and it seems like I've been hearing about this since I was a teenager, back when people thought/hoped Ken Griffey Jr. might inspire more black kids to take up baseball.)
   94. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4453653)
If Syracuse is representative, I'd say at least 80 percent have a smart phone.


That's pretty impressive. I have a 13-year-old son, and I would say no more than 25 percent of his cohort has a smart phone. Then again, we don't live in the inner city.
   95. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4453660)
You plainly stated that you were "concern[ed]" that black kids aren't playing baseball in large numbers.


Yes, which is fundamentally different from being concerned that there aren't a lot of black players playing MLB, which is what you and Ray insisted I said. Reread 70 for any clarification.

Unless you believe MLB wasn't aware of this trend until this Huff Post guy wrote his article, everything that followed had been asked and answered at least a decade ago. (Hell, I'm 40 years old, and it seems like I've been hearing about this since I was a teenager, back when people thought Ken Griffey Jr. might inspire more black kids to take up baseball.)


To an extent yes, these trends are longstanding. Where I see a difference now from then is that it's not simply a dense urban population problem (where space is obviously a concern), but baseball is simply becoming more expensive, deterring lower income kids of all stripes. That's a newer trend.

   96. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4453667)
Coon Rapids is a majority white school

Yea, with that name, I'm not surprised.


Indeed.

About 3 blocks from my house, Robert E. Lee is mostly black. Ditto for Jefferson Davis, a couple of miles further on. And of course Sidney Lanier. Hardly the same thing, I know, but still.

Of course, public schools in Montgomery are by definition almost entirely black, I gather. That would've provoked all sorts of judicial wailing & gnashing of teeth in Little Rock, but luckily I somehow managed to avoid having to bone up on the whys & wherefores of the never-ending deseg case there, so I'm not sure what the huge difference is.
   97. Joe Kehoskie Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:47 PM (#4453670)
That's pretty impressive. I have a 13-year-old son, and I would say no more than 25 percent of his cohort has a smart phone. Then again, we don't live in the inner city.

I lived in Mexico from 2007 to 2012, and one of the first things I noticed when I came back to N.Y. was the near-ubiquitousness of high-end phones in the hands of young kids. The cost aside, it seems irresponsible to give young kids so much unsupervised digital power.
   98. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4453673)
According to this, 37 percent of American teens aged 13 to 17 own smartphones. Of course, we're only interested in kids younger than that, because if you haven't played baseball before the age of 13, you're not likely to make much of a career of it anyway.

But 80 percent of 12-year-olds in Syracuse, huh?
   99. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:52 PM (#4453674)
I lived in Mexico from 2007 to 2012, and one of the first things I noticed when I came back to N.Y. was the near-ubiquitousness of high-end phones in the hands of young kids.


Yes. Same for kids in NYC specifically.
   100. Lassus Posted: May 28, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4453679)
But 80 percent of 12-year-olds in Syracuse, huh?

GUFFAW. From someone who's been there. Often.
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