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Sunday, April 14, 2013

MLB seeks answer to increasing African-American participation in baseball - Sports - The Boston Globe

The Boston Sunday Globe Sunday Baseball Notes.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM | 25 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brawls, jackie robinson, race in baseball, red sox, rumors

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   1. Bruce Markusen Posted: April 14, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4413765)
If baseball is serious about increasing African-American participation and viewership, there are at least three things it can do:

1) change the age level for the RBI program. Get the kids at an earlier age, like when they're eight or nine, and don't wait until they're 11 or 12.

2) give out scholarships to African-American athletes so that they can participate in travel ball, which is one of the primary feeder systems in today's game.

3) speed up the pace of play, which will make the game more appealing to everyone who might be interested in watching it.
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: April 14, 2013 at 02:51 PM (#4413842)
3) speed up the pace of play, which will make the game more appealing to everyone who might be interested in watching it.


Ehh... they try that it never works. The increasingly dragging pace of the NFL hasn't hurt it one bit. I think people focus too much on this as a negative. I would argue that the pace feels like it's slow because of poor camera work on broadcasts, not because of the actual pace of the game.

The NFL averages longer games, with fewer minutes of action than baseball and are able to fool their fans into thinking it's a faster paced sport. They are experts at their broadcasts. They are experts at using replays to eat into dead time. They are experts at avoiding close ups(which make the game feel like it's a one-on-one game) etc.

I agree with the first two points though.
   3. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 14, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4413933)
I think people focus too much on this as a negative.

It's really the only thing that matters. The endless conferences on the mound, mid-inning pitching changes, stepping out, and the ongoing proliferation of walks and strike outs (non action outcomes) make this sport more and more an acquired taste. My daughter usually brings a book and her electronic device of choice and is ready to leave by the fifth. Hockey requires no such props and she can't wait to go every time. Football and basketball fall in between somewhere.

Baseball will always have it's niche of course, but it could be so much better with just a few tweaks.
   4. cardsfanboy Posted: April 14, 2013 at 04:35 PM (#4413946)
It's really the only thing that matters. The endless conferences on the mound, mid-inning pitching changes, stepping out, and the ongoing proliferation of walks and strike outs (non action outcomes) make this sport more and more an acquired taste


Don't see it. Sorry but the NFL is slower paced than baseball, and it gets plenty of fans. The pace isn't the problem, the presentation of the game to a tv audience is the problem.

As far as hockey is concerned.. I've argued plenty of times it's about the perfect sport for the casual fan to get into. It's simple to understand, it's pacing is fast, it doesn't feature physical freaks, the scoring is at about the perfect level, and of course it features controlled violence.

As far as an individual taste, such as reading a book instead of watching the game... that is always up to the individual personality of course. Baseball is a good sport to pay half attention to. The game is different than other sports, no doubt about it, but just like there are different tv shows for different tastes, there are different sports for different tastes, there is no reason to attempt to turn a show like NCIS into American Idol. They are both successful and have plenty of fans.
   5. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: April 14, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4413969)
If baseball is serious about increasing African-American participation and viewership, there are at least three things it can do:

1) change the age level for the RBI program. Get the kids at an earlier age, like when they're eight or nine, and don't wait until they're 11 or 12.

2) give out scholarships to African-American athletes so that they can participate in travel ball, which is one of the primary feeder systems in today's game.


It would also help if MLB (or the sports apparel companies, or both) would underwrite more inner city high school baseball programs. Many inner city schools don't even offer baseball any more.

And although there's not much that baseball can likely do about it, it would help mightily if colleges started awarding full baseball scholarships in much greater numbers than they do today. Of course since there'd be little in it for the colleges, this would be an extremely unlikely development.
   6. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 14, 2013 at 06:06 PM (#4414052)
2) give out scholarships to African-American athletes so that they can participate in travel ball, which is one of the primary feeder systems in today's game.

This might be a bigger issue 10 years down the road, but right now this would be putting the cart before the horse. There's just not much evidence that elite black players are missing out on travel baseball due to cost. The problem, to the extent it's a problem at all, is that black kids aren't playing baseball in the first place.

***
It would also help if MLB (or the sports apparel companies, or both) would underwrite more inner city high school baseball programs. Many inner city schools don't even offer baseball any more.

As with the inner-city academies that purport to increase the number of black players in pro ball but are mostly p.r. and community-relations exercises, MLB would have to underwrite hundreds and hundreds of inner-city programs before the needle would move. The 750 players in the majors are the best of hundreds of thousands if not millions of aspiring ML players worldwide. The global pool of amateur baseball players is so large that there's little MLB can really do to impact the demographics. Adding 10,000 black kids to that pool might not even move the needle one percentage point.
   7. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 14, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4414057)
Look here:

Notice how none of the batting cages listed are actually in the District? Would it hurt for MLB to provide matching funds for those businessmen/women willing to consider investing in batting cages in minority-majority neighborhoods here and in other cities?
   8. McCoy Posted: April 14, 2013 at 06:19 PM (#4414063)
Notice how none of the batting cages listed are actually in the District? Would it hurt for MLB to provide matching funds for those businessmen/women willing to consider investing in batting cages in minority-majority neighborhoods here and in other cities?

How many congested urban areas where land/rents are high have businesses with batting cages?

   9. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 14, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4414076)
How many congested urban areas where land/rents are high have businesses with batting cages?

McCoy, why must these businesses be located in high-rent areas?* I am no real estate developer but rents in Anacostia and Brentwood cannot be nearly as high as those on the 14th Street corridor.

* In any event, that's why MLB should consider helping subsidize the start-up and rental costs.

EDIT: To be clear, very few things gave me greater pleasure as a pre-pubescent than the occasional trip to the batting cages.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: April 14, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4414081)
To be clear, very few things gave me greater pleasure as a pre-pubescent than the occasional trip to the batting cages.


change it to "anytime in my life, including now" and I agree whole heartedly.

People talk about how it's pace isn't good enough, but a lot of times forget about how enjoyable it's practice(we talking about practice) is. Does football/hockey practice compare to baseball practice for enjoyment? I imagine that if I'm playing organized football or hockey, I would get bored/tired of the practices fairly quickly, only thing that hurts baseball practice is if there is not enough coaches to keep the pace up, or enough batting cages etc. (I left basketball off the list, because I imagine their practices are probably pretty much like the game, if you enjoy the game, no reason you wouldn't enjoy the practices...of course I'm ignoring higher skill drills, which is probably tedious in all sports)

   11. Bob Tufts Posted: April 14, 2013 at 11:13 PM (#4414223)
Perhaps a BBTF batting practice day this summer in the BOS/WASH corridor? I'll get ready to pitch......but if I hit you JE, will you charge the mound?
   12. McCoy Posted: April 14, 2013 at 11:25 PM (#4414227)
McCoy, why must these businesses be located in high-rent areas?* I am no real estate developer but rents in Anacostia and Brentwood cannot be nearly as high as those on the 14th Street corridor.

How many mini-golf places are there in DC?


Perhaps a BBTF batting practice day this summer in the BOS/WASH corridor? I'll get ready to pitch......but if I hit you JE, will you charge the mound?

We should get a softball game together.


A batting cage can't be open year round and in bad weather. Plus a single batting cage takes up a lot of space. For a lot that would fit a Burger King and parking you get can get what, 4 or 5 cages and parking? So now you have to generate your revenue from 4 for 5 bays. Going to be extremely difficult to pull that off where land isn't extremely cheap or you have so much land that setting aside some of it for batting cages is an easy way to increase revenue without really increasing your costs. Neither of those two options generally are available in congested urban areas.
   13. jdennis Posted: April 15, 2013 at 12:24 AM (#4414246)
yeah, you need to get kids interested in a sport at circa age 7, 5 if they have a personal connection. after that they're simply not going to be good enough most of the time. those physical skills in sports, you have to start developing them well before puberty or else it will never feel natural to them.

but the big thing is money. i know a lot of people will bring up football's cost, but there's a lot more group funding for that. for baseball, i mean, you go to a store and get the sticker shock on the bats and gloves, and it's just over right there from the parent's perspective.
   14. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4414547)
I don't have kids, but is cost really that big of a factor when it comes to amateur baseball? I know the travel baseball is getting absurd, but at last check, a kid could get a decent glove and an aluminum bat for around the cost of a pair of Air Jordans. It's hard to believe baseball is so popular among dirt-poor Latin kids while much wealthier American kids are allegedly being left out due to cost issues.
   15. Greg K Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4414562)
People talk about how it's pace isn't good enough, but a lot of times forget about how enjoyable it's practice(we talking about practice) is

Our baseball club generally has two practices a week, and a double-header on Sunday (first one of the season yesterday was a sweep by the good guys!). I enjoy the practice (or "training" as they call it here) about 10 times more than the games. Not that I dislike games, I just like practice that much. You get to field dozens of flyballs and groundballs, flop around on the ground as much as you like, hit 20-30 balls...it's like the action of 15 baseball games concentrated into 2 hours.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:21 PM (#4414567)

Notice how none of the batting cages listed are actually in the District? Would it hurt for MLB to provide matching funds for those businessmen/women willing to consider investing in batting cages in minority-majority neighborhoods here and in other cities?


Is it just me or are there just fewer batting cages period now? I have no idea where the closest one to me is and I live in the suburbs.

A batting cage can't be open year round and in bad weather.


Aren't they typically indoors?
   17. Greg K Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:24 PM (#4414575)
Is it just me or are there just fewer batting cages period now? I have no idea where the closest one to me is and I live in the suburbs.

Growing up a friend's dad ran an indoor batting cage/basketball/mini-golf sports complex. That place was all sorts of fun.

The batting cage I go to most often nowadays (once a year) is a rickety old one at a driving range a couple hours north of Toronto. Me and my brother may be the only people that have used it in years. Last time we went the lady at the desk said the coin-operated thing was broken, so if we just gave her some money she'd turn on the machines until we got bored.
   18. Greg K Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4414578)
Aren't they typically indoors?

I was about to say, that's been my experience, the one mentioned above is probably the only outdoor one I've ever hit in. Though perhaps it's a regional thing? Making your sports attraction an outdoor venue in Canada kind of cuts out a few months of revenue. The aforementioned cage is in cottage country, which is uninhabited in the winter.
   19. DL from MN Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4414599)
I try to drop a baseball glove in the Christmas toy collection bin every year. Small gesture but I hope the kid enjoys it.
   20. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4414605)
Not that I dislike games, I just like practice that much. You get to field dozens of flyballs and groundballs, flop around on the ground as much as you like, hit 20-30 balls...it's like the action of 15 baseball games concentrated into 2 hours.


I think that's true of the kids I coach for the same reason. My left fielder didn't have a single ball hit to him yesterday but in practice he'll get a couple dozen fly balls, the same number of grounders and get to run the bases for awhile.
   21. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 15, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4414626)
Is it just me, or does the phrasing of this headline make it sound like MLB is dismayed that so many Black Americans are trying to play baseball?
   22. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 15, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4414665)
The problem, to the extent it's a problem at all, is that black kids aren't playing baseball in the first place.

There's a little league on the west side of Manhattan. My son's been in it for 2-3 years. He's 8. It's barely over $100 to join. I can count the number of black kids in the league during that time on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over. The sport has no juice among blacks whatsoever.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 15, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4414670)

There's a little league on the west side of Manhattan. My son's been in it for 2-3 years. He's 8. It's barely over $100 to join. I can count the number of black kids in the league during that time on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left over. The sport has no juice among blacks whatsoever.


I'm just an ignorant Midwesterner, but are there a lot of black kids on the west side of Manhattan? (my experience watching Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex in the City says no)
   24. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 15, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4414676)
I'm just an ignorant Midwesterner, but are there a lot of black kids on the west side of Manhattan? (my experience watching Friends, Seinfeld, and Sex in the City says no)

Yes, many. Everyone from 57th to 120th (basically Harlem), from Riverside Drive to Central Park West is eligible.
   25. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 15, 2013 at 02:35 PM (#4414733)
Is it just me, or does the phrasing of this headline make it sound like MLB is dismayed that so many Black Americans are trying to play baseball?


I hadn't thought of it but you're right, it definitely can be read that way.

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