A Legacy Gone South

MLB will be observing the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers this coming Sunday, a debut that broke the so-called "color-barrier" that had unofficially prohibited blacks from playing Major League Baseball (MLB) for some 60+ years. A number of MLB players will be wearing number 42 in memory of Jackie, and there will be ceremonies at MLB ball parks. Along with the anniversary celebration, you will probably be reading and hearing comments about MLB's apparent failure to carry-on and fulfill the legacy of Jackie Robinson. And while there does indeed appear to be a growing disinterest in baseball (in general) and MLB (in particular) among younger African-Americans (especially devotees of hip hop and the culture that has flowered with it over the last 15 years or so), is this disconnect with the younger members of Black America really baseball’s fault, or is it mostly beyond baseball’s control? In 1700, persons of African descent made up nearly 20% of the U. S. population (though most were slaves). By 1900, due to heavy European immigration in the latter half of the 19th Century coupled with the end of slavery, the percentage of black population in the U. S. fell to 10%, and remained at that percentage until the end of the post-WWII "Baby Boom" in the 1960's. Professional Negro "major" baseball leagues had been in existence since 1920 when the original Negro National League was formed by Chicago American Giants owner and manager Rube Foster, and the year-round integrated professional Latin beisbol leagues in Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico went back even further than that. And while the Negro Leagues were segregated, they were also at least a bonafide professional black sports enterprise that gave African-American athletes the opportunity to sign a professional baseball contact right out of high school. In the years 1920-1946, there were no "major" black professional football leagues or basketball leagues to compete with the Negro baseball leagues for the most talented black athletes. Before they turned to comedy routines in the 1950's, the all-black Harlem Globetrotters (founded by sports impressario Abe Saperstein in Chicago in 1926) were one of the best basketball teams in the world--they even defeated the NBA champion Minneapolis Lakers two years in a row at one point--but they were just one team, a stand-alone touring barnstorming club that did not belong to a league. There were a handful of African-Americans in the NFL in the 1920's and early 30's, but blacks were unofficially blackballed from the league starting in 1934 and extending through 1945. So the Negro Leagues (black baseball) pretty much took their pick of the best black athletes in the U. S. in the 1920's, 30's and 40's, and even when a black athlete excelled in basketball and was signed by the Globetrotters, that didn't stop Negro League clubs from signing the athlete, too. (One of the Globetrotters best players--"Goose" Tatum--was also a star first-baseman for the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro American League during baseball season). ================================== Lt. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was one of the few African-American officers assigned to Fort Hood's 761st Tank Battalion (the "Black Panthers") during WWII, and he was also probably one of the two or three most-famous black athletes in the World at that time. If there had been Olympic Games in 1940 and 1944 (they were canceled due to WWII), Jackie Robinson might well have received the accolades accorded to African-American track stars Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalf at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. And what sport did Jackie choose to play once he was discharged from the U. S. Army in 1945? Baseball. He signed a contract with the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League, played shortstop, and was voted to the Negro Leagues East-West (All-Star) Game played at Chicago's Comiskey Park that August. All the more amazing considering the fact that baseball had only been (by all accounts) Jackie's fourth-best sport at UCLA (behind football, basketball, and track)! So if it wasn't anything more than his 4th-best sport, why did Jackie Robinson choose baseball? Well, professional football was just not an option for African-American athletes in the years 1934-45, since the NFL was (like MLB) all-white during that period. And when the NFL finally did re-integrate in 1946, it was only because Los Angeles County required the Rams to field an "integrated" team (two black players and everybody else was white) in order to get approval to move the franchise from Cleveland to the L. A. Coliseum. But NFL integration was a slow process. (The last NFL team to integrate was the 1963 Washington Redskins). And at the same time (1930's and 40's), professional basketball was in its infancy. The NBA was an all-white operation until the 1950-51 season, and even after the NBA's token integration in 1950, there was not yet a shot clock or three-point line, dunking was not allowed, and the best players were slow white guys specializing in soft hook shots or dead-eye two-handed jumpers. Once the NFL and NBA did begin to admit African-Americans, there was the further hurdle of players having to attend college for four years before getting a chance to play in those leagues (attending college was not necessary to play pro baseball). Jackie Robinson was a college man (UCLA) and so he certainly could have tried his hand at pro football in '46 and/or in the NBA in '50, but he still opted to stick exclusively with baseball. But for a lot of other African-Amercans--especially those from the rural South--college was not a viable option. The segrated black high schools of the South were inferior to all-white high schools, and did not provide the quality of instruction needed to prepare a young man for college. If he was lucky (and a good student), a young African-American from Alabama, Mississippi, or Louisiana might get accepted into what are now known as "HBCUs" (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) like Grambling, Jackson State, Southern, Morgan State, or Florida A&M, but the better-known and more highly-regarded universities like LSU, Ole Miss, and 'Bama were mostly off-limits to blacks (and especially to black athletes) until well into the 1960's. So for a poor black kid from rural Alabama who happened to also be a superior athlete, pro baseball and the Negro Leagues was often-times the most-attractive option and the best bet. And even as MLB began to integrate 1947-1960, the Negro Leagues remained an option for young black athletes from the South. Youngsters like Willie Mays (who signed with the Birmingham Black Barons at the age of 17 in 1948), Erinie Banks (who signed with the Kansas City Monarchs at age 18 in 1950), and Hank Aaron (who signed with the Indianapolis Clowns at the age of 18 in 1952), could go professional right out of high school and play major league ball (albeit in the Negro Leagues) right away. FIRST BLACK PLAYER BY MLB CLUB: 1. Brooklyn Dodgers - INF Jackie Robinson (Opening Day 1947) NOTE: The Dodgers had four Rookies-of-the-Year in the seven-year period 1947-53, and all four--1B Jackie Robinson (1947), RHP Don Newcombe (1949), RHP Joe Black (1952), and 2B Jim Gilliam (1953)--were veterans of the Negro Leagues. 2. Cleveland Indians - OF Larry Doby (July 1947) NOTE: Bill Veeck was the owner and GM of the Indians at this time, and unlike Dodgers President & GM Branch Rickey, Veeck actually purchased the contracts of the players he acquired from Negro League clubs in the years 1947-49, while Rickey (initially) just signed the players he wanted (Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Dan Bankhead) without compensating the Negro League clubs for their loss. 3. St. Louis Browns - OF Willard Brown and INF Hank Thompson (July 1947) NOTE: A few days after Indians owner Bill Veeck purchased the contract of Larry Doby from the Newark Eagles, the Browns purchased two players from the Kansas City Monarchs (Brown and Thompson) and took out a 30-day option on Birmingham Black Barons 2B Lorenzo "Piper" Davis. However, the Browns did not get the spike in attendance with Brown and Thompson that the Dodgers got by adding Jackie Robinson on Opening Day and the Indians got in July after they acquired Larry Doby, so Brown and Thompson were released, and the Browns' option to purchase Piper Davis was not exercised. (Thompson was later acquired by the NY Giants, and was a mainstay on their N. L. pennant winning clubs in '51 amd '54). The Browns did not integrate again until after Bill Veeck bought the franchise in 1951 (he had been forced to sell the Indians and split the profits with his ex-wife after the 1949 season as part of his divorce settlement) and purchased legendary RHP Satchel Paige--who Veeck had orginially acquired in 1948 while he was running the Indians--from the KC Monarchs. 4. New York Giants - OF Monte Irvin (July 1949) NOTE: The Dodgers signed Monte Irvin after the 1948 season, but the contract was voided when Newark Eagles owner Effa Manley demanded financial compensation and threatened to take the Dodgers to court. The Giants did agree to pay something close to market value for Irvin, however, so they ended up with the future Hall of Famer instead. 5. Boston Braves - OF Sam Jethroe (Opening Day 1950) NOTE: Jethroe was the 1950 N. L. Rookie of the Year. He was originally signed by Brooklyn, but was sold to the Braves for $100,000 prior to the 1950 season. (The Dodgers had purchased Jethroe from the NAL's Cleveland Buckeyes for just $5,000 a year earlier). So if the Dodgers had kept Jethroe, they would have had FIVE N. L. ROYs over the seven-year period 1947-1953! (Braves manager Billy Southworth liked to call Jethroe "Sambo," a racial insult that irritated Jethroe, but like all black players in those days, he kept his mouth shut and didn't complain). 6. Chicago White Sox - OF Orestes "Minnie" Minoso (April 1951) and C Sam Hairston (July 1951) NOTE: The White Sox acquired fan-favorite Minnie Minoso from Cleveland in a three-way trade early in the 1951 season that also involved the Philadelphia Athletics. Minoso had been the first Latin player of African descent to play in MLB when he made his debut with the Indians on Opening Day 1949. Sam Hairston was the father of ex-Cub C-OF Johnny Hairston and ex-White Sox OF Jerry Hairston, Sr, and the grandfather of ex-Cub (and current Texas Ranger) IF-OF Jerry Hairston, Jr and Arizona Diamondbacks OF Scott Hairston. 7. Pittsburgh Pirates - OF Carlos Bernier (Opening Day 1953) NOTE: Ex-Brooklyn GM and MLB integration pioneer Branch Rickey took over as Pirates GM after the 1949 season, but for some unknown reason he did not acquire any black players for his new team for more than three years! 8. Philadelphia Athletics - RHP Bob Trice (September 1953) NOTE: A's owner Connie Mack absolutely refused to consider signing black players as long as he was running the show, but his sons had no problem with acquiring African American players after their dad retired. 9. Chicago Cubs - 2B Gene Baker and SS Ernie Banks (September 1953) NOTE: Both Baker and Banks were acquired from the Kansas City Monarchs, with the Cubs outbidding several other MLB clubs for Banks. (The Cubs paid $35,000 to the Monarchs to get Banks). 10. St. Louis Cardinals - 1B Tom Alston (Opening Day 1954) NOTE: Fred Saigh steadfastly refused to add black players to the Cardinals roster while he owned the team, but after August Busch bought the club in 1953, the Cardinals began to pursue African American players. 11. Cincinnati Reds - 3B Chuck Harmon and OF Nino Escalera (Opening Day 1954 - both players made debut in third game of the season) 12. Washington Senators - OF Carlos Paula (September 1954) NOTE: While Clark Griffith refused to add any U. S. born blacks to the Senators while he was alive, he had no problem with Cuban players of African heritage. The Old Fox (as he was known) maintained cordial relations with Cuban baseball people for decades, having acquired a number of white Cuban players (of Spanish descent) for his Washington club over the years. 13. New York Yankees - C Elston Howard (Opening Day 1955) NOTE: Elston Howard was the one member of the Kansas City Monarchs the Cubs somehow failed to acquire in the 1950's, and it's too bad, too, because he sure would have fit nicely in the Cubs lineup circa 1955-1966! The Yankees claimed the reason it took them so long to integrate was because there just weren't any black players good enough to play for the Yankees. 14. Philadelphia Phillies - INFs John Kennedy and Chico Fernandez (Opening Day 1957) NOTE: Kennedy suffered a career-ending shoulder injury in his second big league game. 15. Detroit Tigers - 3B Ozzie Virgil, Sr (June 1958) NOTE: As with fellow long-time A. L. owners Connie Mack and Clark Griffith, Detroit Tigers owner Walter Briggs would not even consider acquiring a black player, so no African-Americans played for the Tigers until after Briggs died. The Tigers acquired Ozzie Virgil from the New York/San Francisco Giants in 1958, and he was the first Dominican player to reach the big leagues. The Giants were the first MLB franchise to "mine" the island of Hispanola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), signing several players from the Dominican Republic in the late 1950's including Virgil, RHP Juan Marichal, and the three Alou brothers (outfielders Felipe, Matty, and Jesus). 16. Boston Red Sox - INF Elijah "Pumpsie" Green (July 1959) NOTE: Hotshot young RHP Earl Wilson (one of the best pitching prospects in baseball at the time) would almost certainly have made the Red Sox Opening Day roster in 1957 and would have been their first black player at that time, but he was called to two years' active duty with the USMC prior to Opening Day. It was another two years before Pumpsie Green would arrive. Some 14 years earlier (April 1945) the Red Sox had given three Negro Leaguers--Kansas City Monarchs INF Jackie Robinson, Cleveland Buckeyes OF Sam Jethroe, and Philadelphia Stars 2B Marvin Williams--a cursory tryout at Fenway Park at the behest of powerful Boston politician Isadore Muchnick. The tryouts went well, but Red Sox GM Joe Cronin decided the three "weren't quite ready" to play in the white major leagues, while at the same time believing they would probably get lynched if they tried to play for the Red Sox AAA club in then-"Jim Crow" Louisville, KY. ========================================= By 1960 the Negro Leagues were doornail-dead, as MLB had scarfed the black leagues' best players while not always providing anything close to market-value compensation to the clubs. There were still only 16 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, eight in each league (the last year that would be true), and with a 25-man roster limit from May 1st through August 31st, there were only 400 roster spots (not counting players on the Disabled List) for most of the season. (Teams were permitted to carry 28 players on their active roster through April, and up to 40 players after September 1st). By comparison, in 2007 (with 30 teams in operation) there are 750 roster spots available (again, not counting players on the Disabled List) from Opening Day through August 31st. At the mid-point of the 1960 MLB season (July 1960), 363 of the 400 players playing in MLB (91%) were U. S.-born. Of the 363 U. S.-born players active in MLB in July 1960, 36 (10%) were of African descent (and 26 of the 36 U. S. born black players were from the American South). Since blacks made-up 10% of the U. S. population in 1960, the percentage of U. S.-born players of African descent playing in the MLB in July 1960 was the exact same percentage as that of U. S.-born blacks living in the U. S. in 1960 (and for the previous 60+ years). A total of 63 of the 400 players (16%) active in MLB as of July 1960 were of African descent, 36 (9% of all MLB players) being players of African descent born in the U. S., and 27 (7% of all MLB players) players of African descent born in Latin America or the Caribbean. (Of the 27 players of African descent born outside the U. S. active in MLB in 1960, nine were born in pre-Castro Cuba, five were born in the Dominican Republic, five were born in Puerto Rico, three were born in Panama, two were born in the Bahamas, one was born in Mexico, one was born in Venezuela, and one was born in the Virgin Islands... clearly the Dominican Gold Mine had yet to be fully-tapped!). No question the National League was way ahead of the American League as far as MLB integration is concerned. Of the 63 players of African descent playing in MLB in July 1960, 44 (or 70%) were active in the National League (about five-to-six per N. L. club), and 19 (or 30%) were active in the American League (about two-to-three per A. L. club). So 22% of the players playing in the National league in 1960 were of African descent, but only 9% of the players playing in the American League at that time were of African descent. Also, in the 1st MLB All-Star Game played in 1960 (they played two ASGs for a few years back then), nine of the 30 N. L. All-Stars (30%) were of African descent, while only four of the thirty A. L. All-Stars (13%) were black. The National League won 25 out of 29 All-Star Games--there was one tie--in the years 1960-85. Of the 63 black players active in July of 1960, 36 (or 57%) played "significant" roles on their teams, and 27 (or 43%) played "less significant" back-up roles. (I define "significant role" as one of the eight starting position players, one of the four main starting pitchers, and the top relief pitcher, for a ratio of 13 "significant" players to 12 "less significant" players on each 25-man roster, or a 52/48 ratio per every 100 players). The ratio of 36 "significant" to 27 "less significant" black players in 1960 equals a ratio of 57/43 per every 100 players, meaning that a black player was somewhat less-likely to be carried as a back-up player than a white player at that time. Or to say it another way, all things being equal, the most talented black players definitely had jobs, but a white player circa 1960 was more likely to be kept as a back-up position player or middle-reliever over a similarly lesser-talented black player. Below is the list of players of African descent playing in the MLB as of July 1960 (birthplace in parenthesis), with teams listed in the order of most-to-least players of African descent. An asterisk (*) indicates the player played a "significant" role on his team (see above). SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (8 out of 25): 1. Felipe Alou, OF (Dominican Republic) 2. * Orlando Cepeda, LF (Puerto Rico) 3. * Sam Jones, P (U. S. - Ohio) 4. * Willie Kirkland, RF (U. S. - Alabama) 5. Juan Marichal, P (Dominican Republic) 6. * Willie Mays, CF (U. S. - Alabama) 7. * Willie McCovey, 1B (U. S. - Alabama) 8. Andre Rodgers, IF-OF (Bahamas) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (7 out of 25, all seven non-U. S.): 1. * Ruben Amaro, SS (Mexico) 2. Tony Curry, OF (Bahamas) 3. Ruben Gomez, P (Puerto Rico) 4. * Tony Gonzalez, CF (Cuba) 5. * Juan "Pancho" Herrera, 1B (Cuba) 6. Humberto Robinson, P (Panama) 7. * Tony Taylor, 2B (Cuba) NOTE: Although they had seven black players by July 1960, the Phillies were the last N. L. team to integrate (INFs John Kennedy and Chico Fernandez on Opening Day 1958). MILWAUKEE BRAVES (6 out of 25): 1. * Hank Aaron, RF (U. S. - Alabama) 2. * Billy Bruton, CF (U. S. - Alabama) 3. * Wes Covington, LF (U. S. - North Carolina) 4. Felix Mantilla, IF-OF (Puerto Rico) 5. Lee Maye, OF (U. S. - Alabama ) 6. Juan Pizarro, P (Puerto Rico) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (6 out of 25): 1. George Crowe, 1B (U. S. - Indiana) 2. * Curt Flood, CF (U. S. - Texas) 3. Bob Gibson, P (U. S. - Nebraska) 4. * Julian Javier, 2B (Dominican Republic) 5. Leon Wagner, OF (U. S. - Tennessee) 6. * Bill White, 1B (U. S. - Florida) CINCINNATI REDS (5 out of 25) 1. Leo Cardenas, SS (Cuba) 2. Elio Chacon, 2B (Venezuela) 3. * Frank Robinson, 1B (U. S. - Texas) 4. Don Newcombe, P (U. S. - New Jersey) 5. * Vada Pinson, CF (U. S. - Tennessee) LOS ANGELES DODGERS (5 out of 25): 1. * Tommy Davis, RF (U. S. - Brooklyn, NY) 2. * Jim Gilliam, 3B (U. S. - Tennessee) 3. * Charlie Neal, 2B (U. S. - Texas) 4. * John Roseboro, C (U. S. - Ohio) 5. * Maury Wills, SS (U. S. - Washington, DC) WASHINGTON SENATORS (5 out of 25): 1. * Earl Battey, C (U. S. - Los Angeles, CA) 2. * Julio Becquer, 1B (Cuba) 3. * Lenny Green, CF (U. S. - Michigan) 4. Rudy Hernandez, P (Dominican Republic) 5. * Jose Valdivielso, SS (Cuba) NOTE: Two other Senators from Latin America--Camilo Pascual, P (Cuba) and Pedro Ramos, P (Cuba)--were of Spanish (not African) descent. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (4 out of 25) 1. Gene Baker, INF (U. S. - Iowa) 2. Joe Christopher, OF (Virgin Islands) 3. * Roberto Clemente, RF (Puerto Rico) 4. Bennie Daniels, P (U. S. - Alabama) BOSTON RED SOX (3 out of 25) 1. Elijah "Pumpsie" Green, INF (U. S. - Oakland, CA) 2. * Willie Tasby, CF (U. S. - Louisiana) 3. Earl Wilson, P (U. S. - Louisiana) NOTE: Another Red Sox player was from Latin America--Mike Fornieles, P (Cuba), but he was of Spanish (not African) descent. Also, the Red Sox were the last Major League team to integrate (with Elijah “Pumpsie” Green, on July 21, 1959). CHICAGO CUBS (3 out of 25): 1. * George Altman, LF (U. S. - North Carolina) 2. * Ernie Banks, SS (U. S. - Texas) 3. Lou Johnson, OF (U. S. - Kentucky) NOTE: The Cubs were the first MLB club to name an individual of African descent to its scouting staff (long-time Kansas City Monarchs manager John “Buck” O’Neil, in 1956), and also were the first Major League team to appoint an African-American to its coaching staff (also Buck O’Neil, who was a member of the infamous “College of Coaches” 1962-65). CLEVELAND INDIANS (3 out of 25): 1. Walt Bond, OF (U. S. - Tennessee) 2. * Jim "Mudcat" Grant, P (U. S. - Florida) 3. * Vic Power, 1B (Panama) DETROIT TIGERS (3 out of 25): 1. Sandy Amoros, OF (Cuba) 2. * Humberto "Chico" Fernandez, SS (Cuba) 3. Ozzie Virgil, Sr, 3B (Dominican Republic) CHICAGO WHITE SOX (2 out of 25): 1. * Orestes "Minnie" Minoso, LF (Cuba) 2. * Al Smith, RF (U. S. - Missouri) NOTE: Another White Sox player was from Latin America--Luis Aparicio, SS (Venezuela), but he was of Spanish (not African) descent. NEW YORK YANKEES (2 out of 25): 1. Elston Howard, C (U. S. - Missouri) 2. * Hector Lopez, LF (Panama) NOTE: Another Yankee player was from Latin America--Luis Arroyo, P (Puerto Rico), but he was of Spanish (not African) descent. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (1 out of 25): 1. Bob Boyd, 1B (U. S. - Mississippi) NOTE: The Baltimore Orioles of 1960-62 never had more than one black player on their roster at any given time. Although it wasn’t for an entire season (like with the 1960 Kansas City A’s--see below), there was a period of two months (July-August) in 1962 when the Orioles had no players of African descent on their 25-man roster. (Outfielder Earl Robinson was with the Orioles for only part of the 1962 season). This was the last time such a situation would occur in MLB, where an MLB club had only white players on its 25-man roster. KANSAS CITY ATHLETICS (none) NONE NOTE: Technically, the Boston Red Sox were the last MLB club to integrate (with Elijah “Pumpsie” Green in July 1959), but the Red Sox were not the last team to operate with a roster consisting of only white players for a full season. The Kansas City A’s--who had two or three black players (most notably Harry "Suitcase" Simpson, Vic Power, and Hector Lopez) on their roster at any given time throughout most of the 1950’s--played nearly two full seasons (1959-1960) with only white players on their roster, from the day they traded Hector Lopez to the Yankees (May 25, 1959) until Opening Day 1961. What is strange is that just one year later (1962), the Kansas City A's (with baseball maverick Charles O. Finley having just purchased the club, and with Hank Bauer as the new manager) had seven players of African descent (Norm Bass, Ed Charles, and John Wyatt from the U. S., and Manny Jimenez, Orlando Pena, Diego Segui, and Jose Tartabull from Latin America) among their 25 main players, the most of any American League team, and second only to the National League's San Francisco Giants (who had eight) in all of Major League Baseball! ======================================== By 1970, the percentage of players of African descent in MLB had increased to 23% (16 % U. S. born, and 7% native to Latin America). At Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, September 1st, 1971, all nine players in the Pirates starting lineup were black (five African-Americans and four blacks from Latin America), the first time in the history of MLB that would happen. The Pirates beat the Phillies 10-7. (box score) By 1975 the percentage was 27% (19% U. S. born, and 8% Latin), and by 1995, the percentage was up to 30% (19% U.S. born, and 11% Latin-born). However, since 1995, the percentage of black players in MLB has declined to where it is now (24%). While the percentage of African-American MLB players has indeed fallen from 19% in 1995 to 8% in 2006-07, the percentage of Latin American players of African descent in MLB has progresively been increasing over the decades, from 7-8% in the years 1960-75, to 11% in 1995, to 16% in 2006. So the ratio of U. S.-born black players (African-Americans) to Latin born black players active in MLB in 1975 versus 2006-07 has essentially reversed. The percentage of U. S. born players of African descent active in MLB in 2006-07 (8%) is definitely way down from 1975-95 (when it was consistently 19%)--and that is a startling and troubling fact, but the percentage of players of African descent from Latin America playing in MLB has significantly increased (the 8% of 1975 becoming 16% in 2007). This ratio is reflected in today's Cubs organization as well. The Cubs four full-season minor league affiliates (Iowa, Tennessee, Daytona, and Peoria) have 98 players (combined) on their active rosters, and of those 98 players, eight (8% of the total) are African-Americans, while 16 (16% of the total) are Latin-born players of African descent. At Cubs Minor League Camp and at Extended Spring Training in April-May, it's not unusual to find upwards of two or three dozen black teenagers from Latin America (mostly Dominicans) vying for spots on the DSL Cubs (Dominican Summer League) and the AZL Mesa Cubs (Arizona League) short-season rookie teams. Quite obviously, baseball is alive and well in Latin America (especially in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Venezuela), and is very popular with Latin Americans of all colors and descents. But it's also becoming clear that baseball and MLB cannot compete with football and the NFL and basketball and the NBA in the African-American community. When baseball was #1 with American blacks, it was in large part because the Negro Leagues were seen as a "black thing," a part of the Black Community. But once MLB acquired the Negro Leagues' best players (1947-1960), the Negro Leagues died. That created the first disconnect for black America with baseball, although it was not a death-blow and MLB recovered. But then as the NFL and the NBA developed their leagues into what they are now--where 65-70% of NFL players and 75-80% of NBA players are African-American, that hurt baseball's image (by comparison) in the black community. The greatest African-American athletic heroes in the last ten years or so have probably been NBA and NFL stars, not baseball players. And the hip hop culture and gangsta rappers probably don't see any connection with the perceived traditional mom, apple pie, and lemonade Americana pastiche of baseball, just like they KNOW they have no connnection with hockey, golf, tennis, or bowling. But that's unfortunate, because black baseball and the Negro leagues were NOT "white bread." There was a time when baseball (more than any other sport) was a cherished and revered part of the black community in America. Baseball will probably never again be more than the third most-popular sport in the black communities of the U.S., and there is also probably nothing MLB can do about it. But it’s not baseball’s fault, and it's not true that MLB has failed to carry-on the legacy of Jackie Robinson. A big deal was made over the Houston Astros not having any African-American players on their 2005 World Series team, but the ‘05 Astros DID have four Dominican players of African descent on their WS roster that year. The 2005 Houston Astros were NOT the 1960 Kansas City A’s, and it was wrong for the media to portray them that way. The 2007 Astros still have no African-Americans on their 25-man roster (the Atlanta Braves are the only other one), but all MLB clubs except the Oakland A's have Latin-born players of African descent on their active rosters (the A's do have two U. S.-born black players, though), with the Mets leading all of MLB with 11. The Milwaukee Brewers lead MLB in African-American players with five. So the Legacy of Jackie Robinson IS alive and well, but it has apparently taken a sharp turn and "gone south." It has migrated to Latin America.
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Comments

I blame alot of this on Madison ave, in that commericials are heavily portrayed with NBA and NFL stars. Plus not enough baseball fields, all the land went to football and soccer fields.

If you look back 17 years ago it was all about Michael Jordan, kudos to the NBA and Stern for getting his product out to the inner city youth and the globe they are seeing it's fruition today.

Who was the top African-American baseball player 17 years ago?

Bonds? In Pittsburgh who cares.Puckett? Minnesota.

At this point if I'm correct, it was about Ripken,Herschiser and Sandburg as the top stars. Holy whiteness!!

I'm not saying that young African-Americans could not look up these players but they were going against Jordan at his peak, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor and Jerry Rice.

Griffey was about a year or two away.

Once the kids realized they could make as much money in the NBA as in MLB, the shift was on.

Excellent write up Phil. Very in-depth.

Great article Phil!

Only in America

All this whining about how "African" Americans don't dominate Baseball like they used to. The truth is, with 20% of MLB ball players being foreign born, ten percent of the American born players are African American, which is just about right given their percentage of the population.

Also, well done Phil!!

Keep up with these interesting articles.

*I blame alot of this on Madison ave, in that commericials are heavily portrayed with NBA and NFL stars. Plus not enough baseball fields, all the land went to football and soccer fields.*

How much room does a half-court on blacktop take up? Exactly.

Great story, Phil. Thank you.

rock on,

Good article. Of course, while the percentage of black players has decreased, the overall diversity of the players has increased - Korea, Japan, all over Central and South America, the Caribbean, Curacao, etc. It would be wise for MLB to reinvest in the inner cities to try to snag some of the top athletes who end up playing in the NBA or NFL - it would better the product.

There are also the concerns about minorities rising in managerial and management ranks, but progress has definitely been made. The numbers have dropped since last year, but that's because Felipe Alou stepped down and Dusty wasn't rehired - decisions that had nothing to do with race, but with quality of work. In this context, I've been glad to see that Chicago, overall, has been progressive - in the last 6-7 years, various teams have had Dusty, or Don Baylor, or Ozzie Guillen, or Jerry Manuel, or Lovie Smith, or Bill Cartwright as head coaches or managers.

In a culture where the word "hero" gets thrown around an awful lot regarding sports, Jackie is one of the few who really earned it. My wife decided that we needed to join in the celebration on Sunday and ordered us some Brooklyn Dodgers #42 t-shirts. Recognizing the value of what he brought to the game, and to our country, is one of the few things Bud Selig has done right.

What the hell is wrong with you people? There's no deficit of American Black baseball players!!! Where is it written that African Americans MUST be over-represented in all professional sports???

I'm confused...who are you berating?

Outstanding stuff. Thanks for all your effort. From the Pirates side of things, there is some debate about whether Curt Roberts or Carlos Bernier would be considered the first black player for the Pirates. Bernier came up in 1953 and Roberts in 1954. Bernier was from Puerto Rico and, from what I've read, was dark skinned. Steve Treder at the Hardball Times wrote a great piece on Bernier a while back.

Great post, Phil. Thanks.

CTWP,

If the number is dropping, I find it alarming. I don't care what number it drops from. I don't care what percentage it currently represents in relation to the actual american population.

The fact that you are taking this stance is also very alarming.

Great, well-written article AZ Phil. Man, those Hairston's can play some ball. I wonder if Jerry and Scott have a sister in her mid-20's? I'm interested.

As for the outcry about the declining number of African-Americans in baseball and how it's such a problem - chalk it up to journalists not having enough to write about. There's always a need to create stories, especially sensationalist ones about controversial topics. At least it's not more steroids coverage.

AZ Phil,

Am I reading that box score correctly from the Pittsburgh game? Pittsburgh's 4th pitcher went the distance? Both teams' starting pitchers lasted .1 and 1.1 innings respectively?

Amazing article. Thank you for your work. You should be the lead baseball writer for the NY Times or USA Today or something. You are baseball writing excellence.

On the racial side of things...

Racial progress used to march towards 'equal opportunity'. While it could be argued that there isn't equal opportunity in the front office or coaching staff... there's certainly equal opportunity for african-american athletes to become pro baseball players. Therefore, it only boils down to lack of interest from the african-american athlete which quite frankly... isn't baseball's job.

TGJHG,

Maholm started for Pittsburgh and went 5. Wainwright started for StL and went 6.2. The closer Torres lost in the 9th when Chris Duncan made ball go long time.

Wes,

I'm referring to a game in 1971 when the Pirates were the first team to field players of African descent at all nine positions. But thanks.

CWTP is correct. There is no race crisis in baseball. While it's history is rooted in hatred and bigotry, baseball no longer suffers from that disease.

RE: 'Equal Opportunity'

While there may be a very 'equal opportunity' for a black player and a white player with similar skill sets, the current issue is the step before that. How do you create that skill set? You have to have the chance to play the game and learn the game. Inner city youths are not given those chances today in the same manner as suburban or even rural children.

So you could say that the issue is outside of MLB's concern, but I would disagree. If MLB wants to remain relevant, it better start figuring ways to sell the game to every aspect of society.

Ah-ha. Important clarification there. Sorry.

Outstanding and informative article Arizona Phil. One comment and one question regarding Buck O'Neill. It is a crime he is not in the Hall of Fame. I understand he missed by one vote the last time around. Despite the snub, he gave the acceptance speech at the ceremonies for those that have passed. Class act all the way. Everyone can learn something from his comments. He once said he wasn't sad because he never played in MLB, because he was proud to have played in the negro leagues. He did say it made him cry because he could not go to the high school or college he wanted to go to. What a tremendous man. The question. I seem to remember reading someplace that when he was a coach on the Cubs, Wrigley would not allow him to go on the field during the game. There was one instance where the third base coach was thrown out of the game or such and Wrigley allegedly called the dugout to state that Buck should not go out to coach. Arizon Phil, is this true?

Bacon...I grew up poor...impoverished.....not enough food..yada, yada...Yet,I found ways to get in to activities I enjoyed, and my two were baseball and basketball, girls and beer. I'm not joking about any of this.

Inner city youth have every opportunity and chance that every other kid in the U.S. has to play baseball.......certainly more than I did if for no other reason than they have TV to wathc, and I didn't. They may not have $150 gloves (I stole mny first glove), and they may have to use wooden bats that were broken, and nailed back together and duct-taped over.....just like I did ( By the way.....the only two bats I had as a kid are encased on my wall......just ;ike they were.....nailed together wooden bats with tape on the handles...I still have a scar on my right palm from one of them that shattered and splintered in to my hand...I nailed the sumbitch back together after stealing nails, a hammer and tape..and I still have it).

I'm not proud of any of what I did...but I did it so I could play ball.

I do agree MLB could do more....but to insinuate that inner city youth, whether black, white, purple, green don't have opportunity is a victim's mentality.

Get the f**k over it and do something.

Joey

on WSCR - Steve Stone reports

Prior could not go 3 innings and complained about pain on his side - and Wood is still throwing off of flat ground

I think I'd like to clarify what I said earlier just slightly. It's not the current rate of African-Americans playing baseball that alarms me. Most current big-leaguers are in their late 20's or early 30's, grew up the mid 80's and were out of high school by the mid 90's.

What concerns me the most is the current group of kids who are just out of high school or will soon graduate. Kids that shared their early childhood with Jordan's Bulls and Rice's 49ers and kids that are now watching Kobe's Lakers, LeBron's Cavs, D-Wade & Shaq's Heat, Arenas's Wizards, Vick's Falcons, Reggie Bush's Saints, and T.O.'s Cowboys. The number of iconic African-Americans in baseball is not a large one, compartively. Jeter, the oft-injured Jr. Griffey and D-Lee, I guess, would be my clubhouse leaders. The reputation of Bonds probably keeps him off that list. Maybe the D-Train and Sheffield. Maybe. If D-Train was on a major market team, perhaps.

The current state is not what worries me, I think 5-10 years down the road is when you will see the numbers begin to show signs of what we're currently talking about. Saw some really poorly done piece on the news a couple nights ago about how dramatic the numbers of high school African-americans who play baseball are dropping. No numbers, of course, but I believe it nonetheless.

Concern != crisis. You can look at this phenomenon and wonder why it's happening without thinking it's some societal crisis that needs attention.

Rather, "...that needs correction."

Anyway, to address the topic, I think you tend to be a product of your environment with respect to sports interest. I grew up in an affluent suburb of Chicago so I, and many of my friends growing up, had a strong interest in sports like baseball, tennis, golf, swimming, and lacrosse. Several of my friends from college grew up in downstate Illinois and are huge fans of football and NASCAR. Friends who grew up in Europe or in families with European parents love soccer and hockey.

A lot of cultural, economic, and marketing factors have come together to make other sports (NFL/NBA) hugely popular in the African American community, and the MLB has suffered from it in terms of the talent pool. Of course, the MLB has also benefited from the increasing popularity of the sport in other markets (Central America, Pacific Rim, etc.). That's just life.

The Latino population in MLB seems to be exploding. Clearly it is cheaper to go down to the Domincan or Venezuela to scout and sign players. I love the Latin ballplayers, but really wish there were my blacks and whites from this country in the game.

And never has an adage been more truer when describing Latin American hitters...."you don't walk yourself off the island, you HIT your way."

I'm convinced NASCAR is a passing fad in this country. Sure, there will always be the good old boys and southerns who love the "sport." NASCAR used to be about seat of your pants driving and scrapin paint. Now it all about prostituting to death by the marketers and the engineers in the backroom who preach driving technique and setting up the car to exacting measurements. The sport has devolved to a bunch of fuzzy faced youngsters who do precisely what the engineering team and computer modeling says they should do on the race track. If you've seen one Nextel Cup race, you've seen them all. Plus the schedule is literally 45 weeks a year.

before anyone wants to play race/baseball.

i HIGHLY suggest people check out where the ballparks...the ones that are actually maintained...are in your communities and surrounding communities.

yes, no one wants to put a ballpark in the middle of prime urban realestate (and yes, i know some are there)...but the access to organized leagues and playable ballparks are centered outside of traditionally black urban areas.

there's a few charities trying to take care of urban initiative programs to level this a bit...the land costs are pretty damn high.

its a hard game to finance baseball for amateurs/youths in depressed areas...its a lot easier to get tennis going.

not everywhere gets to have as good as urban baseball programs as NYC/FLA/SO-CAL.

the problem is more in outreach and opportunity, but its not a crisis.

Bacon,

Sorry, man, but what you're saying just isn't based in fact. Joey from Iowa does a good job in addressing that.

There's plenty of opportunity for baseball in 'the inner city'. Go to any inner city and you'll find youth leagues... and high schools with baseball teams. But, the kids aren't as interested as they are in basketball and football.

Also, for anyone making the, "There are no black stars to cheer for" argument, I think it's very weak. First of all, the black community likes Barry Bonds WAAAAAY more than the white. Barry Bonds has been the biggest star in the game for years now, love him or hate him.

Some of the most exciting players in MLB are African-American... Torii Hunter, Ryan Howard, Vernon Wells, Derrek Lee, Jeter, Sarge Jr. (defense), J-Roll, Kenny, D-Train, etc.

Then, when you look at the African-Latin guys, it isn't like a young African-American kid isn't seeing African skin. Amazing players... Manny, Ortiz, Vladdy, Soriano, Delgado, Santana, Pedro, Contreras, Rivera, Andruw Jones, etc.

It isn't like there are black kids in cities that want to play baseball and are being blocked. They're not as interested. Plus, regardless of where you live, it's tougher to find a 'pick up game'. For basketball, you need one ball. Same for football. Same for soccer (though it's not as popular in the US). In baseball, you may need a few balls (foul balls are a pain to track down), a couple bats... a bunch of gloves , etc. So, you need to have the interest to get into baseball. And if you do, you'll find it... as Joel mentions.

Absolutely awesome article, AZ Phil. Incredible detail and incredible insight.

as a person who's been involved in some of these programs people seem to think dont need to exist...

highschool is NOT the time to turn a kid onto baseball.

that is the point where a lotta these kids get their shot.

the community schools send out these little "who wants to sign up" notices to elementary school kids for the most part. its the initial community reach of the YOUTH (pre-middle/highschool) that's lacking. the ability to have a park within distance that doesnt require a lot of travel.

yeah, if the kid wants it, they'll walk 10 miles blah blah snow uphill blah blah etc...but its a lot easier choice to make when its convenient. this convience is what's being delivered...or attempted to be delivered.

its about an opportunity to get turned on in their OWN community rather than being transplanted out.

we've all got some things we're into that we were exposed to via our peer group and what was locally around to have fun in.

go check out an inner city ping pong team...that'll flip your head. it was/is all about exposure and a chance...not a lifelong dream to play pingpong they fought to achieve.

I’m convinced NASCAR is a passing fad...

HA! In you dreams. If anything is a passing fad it's American baseball. That's why MLB has gone WORLD, they see the numbers.

Since 1985 when Pro Football surpassed Baseball as America's #1 sport the disparity has grown from 24%-23% to 33%-14% as of 2005. That's only a 19 point spread between the two.

And worse, Baseball fares poorest of all demographic groups among the African-American community where it is the favorite sport of only 6%. .....So why should it be surprising that fewer American blacks are playing--- THEY DON'T LIKE THE SPORT.

As for Auto Racing, it has risen from being the favorite sport of 5% of Americans in 1985 to 13% by 2005.

But what, you are probably asking, is the favorite sport of white Republicans?? That would be college football. It's #1 with 13% of America.

And Pro Basketball? An absolute debacle. The assclowns who own the NBA snubbed the man who built the league, Michael Jordan, and in doing so lost almost all their support. In 1985 it was the favorite sport of 6%. From '93-'02 it had doubled to 12%. Now it is down to 4%. Good grief.

What is interesting about the sharp rise in Latin American players in MLB is the fact that this immigration and change has not destroyed the professional leagues in Latin America. Obviously that has to do with the Winter ball seasons, as players can play in both leagues. But it also because MLB teams have been more accommodating of permitting (if not inviting) players to play pro ball in their home country for a spell in the Winter.

I think it is a shame that while MLB raided the Negro League teams for talent in the 1950s, they did not incorporate the Negro Leagues into the farm system somehow. Unfortunately, at that time there was already the trend of a collapse of the large, integrated B, C, and D farm systems.

AZ Phil rocks as usual with another well-written, well-researched article. I, for one, long for the day when the only discussion of baseball players center on who the best 25 are for every team and not where they were born or the pigmentation of their skin.

I love watching MLB, the NBA, and occasionally the NFL and I couldn't care less who's in the uniform unless he's a supreme jerk like Barry Bonds or an air-headed space cadet like Mark Prior (both of whom I've met - and, No, I didn't ask for an autograph or picture).

think it is a shame that while MLB raided the Negro League teams for talent in the 1950s, they did not incorporate the Negro Leagues into the farm system somehow.

The Negro league teams were better than most MLB teams. It's a shame they couldn't incorporate the Major Leagues in the Negro League farm system.

the real screwy thing is...black/white/other...a lotta these guys, though they work hard and are good at their craft...they'd rather be doing something else if not for the money.

i have absolutely no problem saying, even in the face of these athletes and the work they do which cannot be diminished by any words, that *we* love baseball more than a huge chunk of them.

1. AZ Phil - first-rate research, presentation and analysis! You really are a 'five-tool' fan/observer of the game!
2. Baseball has no moral obligation to address the trends cited in the piece, but, as a matter of good business, it would behoove MLB to make a concerted effort @ outreach to black, urban America.
3. Guys like Joey should pat themselves on the back for all that they managed to overcome rather than demanding/expecting everybody else to be able to do the same. Just because things were hard in the past doesn't mean they must always be.

Hate to detract from all of this interesting commentary, but Deadspin just put something up courtesy of The Buried Lead I haven't seen before.

http://theburiedlead.com/2007/04/11/odalis-pe...

Odalis Perez threw a four seam fastball at 90 mph with ZERO spin. I didn't think that was possible. I've pitched and been around pitchers for a long time, and I've never seen anything like it. It's pretty apparent Coco Crisp hadn't either.

Might want to get to that link in a hurry before MLB takes it off youtube.

2. Baseball has no moral obligation to address the trends cited in the piece, but, as a matter of good business, it would behoove MLB to make a concerted effort @ outreach to black, urban America.

Why? There's no reason on earth to do that. You act like there's a necessity, a reason. There's not. Just liberal hysteria. It's like your mind is being controlled by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton or something.

p.s. - George, should I be as ashamed of having a Mark Prior autograph as you are proud of NOT having one? I think I am...

Um, isn't marketing typically a good idea, CWTP?

It would "behoove MLB to make a concerted effort" as a matter of good business because it would put more people in the seats. Considering a good portion of games in the average MLB town do not sellout, I would like to think that if you can reach more fans, they might come to games. I'd call that good business, I don't know what you're talking about.

Wes:

Odalis Perez threw a four seam fastball at 90 mph with ZERO spin. I didn’t think that was possible. I’ve pitched and been around pitchers for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s pretty apparent Coco Crisp hadn’t either.

Holy shit. Crazy. Technically, wouldn't that be a 0-seam fastball. =)

No CWTP! Damn it! There is simply a lot of talent that is going to other sports! "Liberal hysteria"?! Stop it, stop politicizing a discussion that was motivated by a reasoned, in-depth analysis of empirical facts! My God, is there no sanctuary anymore from politics? I deliberately said there was no moral obligation on baseball's part to head off knee-jerk inferences like the one[s] you've drawn...jeez!

Prior leaves game early

By Paul Sullivan
Tribune staff reporter

April 12, 2007, 2:10 PM CDT

Mark Prior's first extended spring outing ended badly on Thursday when the injury-plagued right-hander was forced to leave his start early.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry confirmed Prior was removed from the game against minor league hitters, but declined to comment on the injury without having all the details.

First, wonderful piece, AZ Phil. As always.

Re: the Prior outing...

On WSCR earlier this afternoon, Steve Stone said he spoke to a Cubs source who said Prior only pitched two of this scheduled three innings because he said he had "a pain in his side." No other details on the injury. Stone's source said Prior's velocity was down. Not sure if that means down from what they had hoped to see or down even from his last outing.

Glad this soap opera is playing out in faraway Fitch Park, where, now that the season has started, it is easy to ignore.

http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sport...

and now the rest of the story...

WSCR-AM 670 was reporting Thursday that Prior left with soreness in his side. He was disabled last summer with a strained oblique muscle.

what Cubnut said....

Crunch- not to split hairs, you need to think globally where NBA is kicking ass marketing wise over NFl and MLB.

And they are idiots for not using Jordan more prominently.

NASCAR is perfect. One event a week on Sundays. They will always have the South as a bedrock fan base and they will be global too.

If NFL could they would play 45 weeks a year.

Prior & Wood-
One down, one to go.

Actually, Ryno, he is gripping that the same way you throw a 4-seamer. So technically, it's still a 4-seamer.

I still can't really tell why it isn't spinning. Almost look like it just slipped out of his hand when he got ready to unload it. It takes about half a rotation when it comes out of his hand and then just stops.

Ok... either way it was cool. I haven't seen anything that cool since the gyroball. :-p

Mark Prior: I think I'll go for a walk.
Cub Fans: You're not fooling anyone, you know. Isn't there anything you could do?
Mark Prior: I feel happy. I feel happy.
[The DL List glances up and down the street furtively, then silences Mark Proir with his a whack of his club]
Cub Fans: Ah, thank you very much.

"Go to any inner city and you’ll find youth leagues… and high schools with baseball teams."

This is pure horseshit! How did you come to this conclusion? Do you even LIVE near "any inner city"?

The ratio of "inner city" youth baseball to that of the privledged, or suburban areas, is completely incomparable and grossly disproportianate.

Stupid.

Rob G.:

WSCR-AM 670 was reporting Thursday that Prior left with soreness in his side. He was disabled last summer with a strained oblique muscle.

That's what they get for trying to rush him back.

Nascar is not a sport...

Bring it.

oh come on, do you know what it takes to do nothing all week but tune your car and drink beer and drive around for 4 hours. Our country's finest athletes are being swallowed by NASCAR. Just imagine how much better baseball, football and basketball would be if they could draw from the vast amounts of talents that have decided to spend their life doing circles.

NASCAR though is hardly a fad, almost as well-marketed as football, it's event status like a football game is it's biggest draw.

Well said. I agree it must take talent (or skill or practice or whatever) to be a Nascar driver. It also takes talent to be an astronaut. I can do neither...but neither of them are sports.

Also, Nascar is lame.

Levine saying Prior exited today after 2 IP complaining of right shoulder discomfort. He threw 70 pitches on Mon and claimed no discomfort...could just be soreness but too early to tell.

Also, great article AZPhil...there's been some discussion today that some of the African American players(T.Hunter, Sheff) are worried that certain teams are watering down the event on Sun with some teams other than the Dodgers all wearing #42...although I'd think it would be tough to tell a Jacque Jones that he couldn't wear Jackie's number because it was going to D.Lee...how could you do it...seniority..ML service time? It's a no win.

Also please stop with the NFL, NCAA football, NeckCar(I'm saying that even despite Ryan Newman & David Stremme being former high school classmates of mine who both grew up less than 2 miles from me...NeckCar still bores me)...baseball comparison. Any sport with 16 games, or 1 race/game a week is going to have a built in advantage when it comes to ratings and to a lesser extent popularity. Granted baseball has done a pathetic job in marketing the game in terms of stars and in inner cities and even to the youth with putting W/S games on at 8:30-9PM EST. The steroid scandal isn't helping either. I have a friend in Indy who is in PR for F1/Indy Car racing in the US and has many NeckCar sources who claim that Nascar has become more popular than many traditional American sports not because of their alleged marketing triumphs but because many segments of white Americans became fed up with the thug mentality of the NBA and NFL and the contract whining and other issues they can't relate to. So it's not all in marketing, a lot of it appears to be disdain but I'm sure a lot of it is racial too. I'm sure there are some factors such as where one grows up..ie college football reigns supreme here in South Bend obviously, but a lot of people also play and follow hockey...meanwhile, you drive an hour south and high school and college basketball are #1 and no one follows or plays hockey. I don't think it's a suburbs/inner city thing, I think it's more regional.

You can tell me about how you grew up with broken bats and stolen gloves, but my question to you is simple: are you a MLB player?

Even if you were, you'd be the exception to the rule, just as Bo Jackson and those who are physical freaks of nature and can go pro in any sport are exceptions.

We aren't talking about getting people to play the game. We are talking about getting those with the physical tools the opportunities to develop these tools to the levels necessary to play on the MLB level. If you think professional talent is developed playing pick up games in any sport, you are crazy and you cannot offer anything to support that theory. Latin Americans are so prominent now in MLB because if they show promise when they are 9 (or younger), they go to a baseball academy. They then spend the next 8 years living, breathing, and sleeping baseball. The closest thing to this in this country is the AAU. The fact is that currently, the basketball AAU is setup to be the most accessible to those in the inner-cities, which is where a disproportionate amount of African-Americans live. That is one reason why more black athletes are pursuing basketball, it is easier for them to get into the system and specialize.

There is an article about the Uptons over on ESPN that helps explain my point, I would recommend reading it. But frankly, “loving the game” isn’t enough to get you to the pros, even if you are physically gifted.

Levine saying Prior exited today after 2 IP complaining of right shoulder discomfort. He threw 70 pitches on Mon and claimed no discomfort…could just be soreness but too early to tell.

I like the WSCR version better. :)

Rob G-

I believe Jeff Gordon would hit well at Wrigley Park.

"Crunch- not to split hairs, you need to think globally where NBA is kicking ass marketing wise over NFl and MLB."

i dont need to think globally because the issue i am dealing with is a community/local one, not a global one.

i am not MLB, nor do i run a business that would benefit from increased youth players.

my concern is the community and how i interact with it and how it interacts with me.

that's my motivation. i want to help open up opportunity...i could care less who uses it, i just want it as an option. if i can go lay sod or pound in fence posts so some kids ive never met 1-5-10-20 years from now can have a chance to play without having to catch 3-4 busses a week for practice/play...well, mission accomplished.

Bacon---let me address your comments in general.

Did I play pro ball?

No I did not. I was invited to two try out camps when I was 16 after a cattle call try out where you walked in.....for the Reds and the Royals.... these were three day camps......basically you earned your way to an invite on susequent days......several hundred kids were there....I made it to the final 5.....then got booted when they found out my REAL age. There was an invite on the table from both to join some Flordida league.

I couldn't go.....
Reason 1: I was too young and my mom wouldn't let me.....insert joke here....and my dad was non-existent.

Reason 2: We had no money.....I hitch-hiked to KC and St Louis (Reds tryout was there) from southern Iowa, slept in a park both places, and ate one meal a day of bologna and bread.

Reason 3: I was the youngest of 4 kids........all the others were drunks or drug abusers......my mom had problems...and the money I earned was about the only money the family had to live on.

When I was 17.....I blew out my shoulder.....we had no insurance....BTW the shoulder has never been repaired ...so I traded in the dream for a partial baseball scholarship at the University of Northern Iowa to play 1B (Yuck).

Would I have made it??? I don't know.... a lot of it/most of it is luck and timing, no matter how good you are. The ones who MADE it persevered.

As for the baseball bats and gloves comment from you, stick it up your ass and break it off. May the good lord save you from a splinter to your spleen, though!!!!

With the exception of about 25-30 NATURALS in the major leagues, the rest of those guys made it from hard work, love of the game, and LEARNING HOW to play vs. being born with it. They simply PLAYED MORE GAMES and slowly improved!!!!!

The minor leagues are FULL of guys who are better natural athletes and natural ballplayers than the ones in the majors, but didn't have the love and drive to simply practice more. Do I have stats to prove this? No, I lived it.....I knew a lot of guys who were minor league ballplayers in the 70's and early 80's....played against them and with them in barnstorming games all over the midwest and midsouth.

As for the basketball comment regarding AAU and the inner city, I agree with you. The NBA markets to youth ALL over, not just the inner city. They do a MUCH better job of reaching kids....and kids today are driven by what they see on TV or the internet...as we all are to a degree.

Bottom line...you and I aren't far off in terms of what we think. I just cringe when I hear people talking about inner city kids not having the same opportunities for baseball (or school..or college...or geting the hell out). That's pure bullshit.....they have all the opportunities everyone else has, they just choose a different route to take. That's cool.....they have that perogative....so MLB needs to "fish where the fish are".....and to ME, that's why you're seeing a HUGE influx of Latino players.

Sorry for hijacking your blog, Rob G. all....this stuff really gets me emotional.

Joey

"That’s pure bullshit…..they have all the opportunities everyone else has, they just choose a different route to take."

if that was true there would be at least 2 major charities that wouldnt exist and the data theyve collected false and money spent useless.

if we all really wanted to go to Brazil we all could...some just have better opportunities than others. some people dont realize it exists or if its something they're interested in.

i mean, to bring to a level more people can understand who werent born into an area that supports it...how old were you golf lovers when you were first exposed to golf?

opportunity is there for the taking, but not taking the opportunities above and beyond the call of normality isn't a sign of laziness or a sign that opportunity is there and fairly presented.

E-Man, explain Curtis Granderson, Kirby Puckett, Cliff Floyd, and Kenny Lofton for me please.

Explain the D-Train, Rick, CC Sabathia, & J-Roll for me please. (For those who don't know, that's Bay Area.)

The two cities I have the most experience with are ChiTown and Bay Area... plenty of black baseball players from both. I'm not even mentioning minor ones like Kevin Foster who's from Evanston.

While you can argue that it may be a little easier to get into baseball in say an Atlanta suburb as a white kid, there's certainly no dramatic lack of opportunity for the African American kid. Harold Reynolds was out of Oregon, right?

If anything, you could argue a city kid of any race might have less available to them with baseball, but even still... this is really secondary to the interest in basketball and football. It's not even close... and it has nothing to do with there being less teams to play for.

Crunch--I've no idea which charities you're talking about, so I can't address the comment.......please, give me the obvious of which I am blissffully unaware, then I may agree or disagree if I know anything about them.

I'm not arguing DEGREE of opportunity. You seem to be with the Brazil argument, and that's not at all refuting or agreeing with my point.

Regarding golf......and I think you were simply making a point of which I'll address directly......I was EXPOSED to golf when I was in elementary school.......I knew what it was.....but I chose NOT to go down that path. Ironically, one of my buddies did. His family life was REALLY rough....worse than mine....and yet he found a way to get in to the game of golf and earned a golf scholarship, and now ( as of about 5 years ago) is a golf pro at Doral.

Inner city kids have it tough....no doubt.....but they have the same opportunities as everyone else....and here's a pot stirrer, maybe even MORE!!!! Something is pulling them away from engaging in baseball......I don't like it either, but to say they're not interested in baseball because they don't have the same opportunity a kid in Ottumwa, Iowa is preposterous.

Joey

"While you can argue that it may be a little easier to get into baseball in say an Atlanta suburb as a white kid"

that's actualy a perfect example.

miami, nyc, etc...not good examples.

this isnt an epidemic as much as it is stopping it before it gets out of control.

in order for this issue to be fully explored you need to not only look at the parks, but how theyre maintained and how they're viewed by the community/city.

how many ballparks are now dog parks? how many are in neglect with no bases or in some cases no groundskeeping? how many are now "dead" thanks to the area having to keep it lit up all night like the 4th of july to keep crime from congregating on these fields?

this is about ballparks for kids and giving them opportunity to get "tuned in"...not a factory to produce MLB players. never has been about that, never will.

TJ — April 12, 2007 @ 11:14 am
One question regarding Buck O’Neill.

I seem to remember reading someplace that when he was a coach on the Cubs, Wrigley would not allow him to go on the field during the game. There was one instance where the third base coach was thrown out of the game or such and Wrigley allegedly called the dugout to state that Buck should not go out to coach. Arizon Phil, is this true?

========================

TJ: I saw many, many Cubs games in the years 1962-65, but I never saw Buck O'Neil work in a coaches box during a Cubs game, or serve as acting Head Coach after the Head Coach got kicked out of a game, or something like that.

The Head Coach position rotated among the coaches, but not among all of the coaches, just certain ones, and never Buck O'Neil. I do remember seeing Buck O'Neil on the field with the other coaches during BP and infield drills, though. Just not during a game.

I don't know whether the story about Phil Wrigley calling the dugout to make sure that Buck O'Neil didn't replace the ejected third-base coach is true or not, but it doesn't sound like something Wrigley would do, because he wasn't much of a baseball fan and rarely watched Cubs games.

Maybe a Cubs executive (like GM John Holland) had been told by Wrigley in advance that while it was OK for O'Neil to be a member of the College of Coaches, he was not to be used as a first-base or third-base coach during a game. And so maybe Holland (or somebody) did make such a call to the dugout just to make sure the Head Coach was aware of Wrigley's policy. Or maybe it's just an Urban Legend. I don't know.

joey, if you dont know what im talking about, fine...you're too busy taking your own experience and applying it to the rest of the world.

just because you did it your way doesnt mean it was the right way or the only way.

this is about nothing more than opening up opportunity, but for some reason you see no reason anyone should be given more than you got.

its called charity...that's how it works. doing stuff for others to give them a heads up or a place to plug in. this doesnt mean mlb retracts a team to help pay for it...

there's a lot more going on out there than the urban youth academy, though that's MLB's showcase. if you really give a flying fuck to help others have an easier time at it than you go talk to the boys and girls club of america, they'll help you out if there's an initiative in your area. if there isnt maybe you can go start one and get someone like me to help you build a damn place for kids to play with someone else's money.

http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/news/article.js...

MLB's RBI program, (Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities)

they have one in Compton and one in DC is on it's way, it's a start.

Great, great article.

If a black kid in the city wants to be a pro-baseball player, he does have one major advantage. Most of the best athletes at his school are focused on two other sports. So, for him to distinguish himself and get playing time, get signed, etc... he's got less competition than he should have... and what he would have in 'suburban Atlanta'. This would mean an easier trip towards a contract with a big league club.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about Hip-Hop as AZ Phil alluded to it. Interesting that Hip-Hop loves to wear an NFL jersey or an NBA jersey. However, you don't see a lot of rappers in MLB jerseys. In early gangster rap, they all wore MLB caps, but rarely if ever the jerseys. Just thought I'd share this.

what's with the John Hill rip in the handle name?

There's no reason for that....

Baseball is on a steep decline all over. Is there a program to revive baseball anywhere other than the inner city? Why just there? It's not like blacks are under represented in MLB.

Rob, John Hill was your resident expert who had never even watched a goddamn game. It was pathetic. Plus, his emergance coincided with Cubs failure... though that part's not his fault.

He didn't know baseball... but he found this new toy... and played with all these numbers... and fooled so many. He just did not know jack about baseball. Sorry, man.

It's sort of like... if you bought a book on how to build and repair a car. You could read it a 1,000 times, but once the parts were there in front of you... and you didn't have your book... you wouldn't have the faintest idea what to do.

re: 77

that's like a kid asking his mom on mother's day why there's no kid's day while handing out a gift.

there's plenty of rural baseball support and its easier/cheaper to accomplish. these are not the problem areas on whole.

a big issue with urban parks disappearing is land cost, land use (or lack of with investment properties), and security. these are things rural places dont have to deal with as much and are extremely more costly to handle in highly concentrated population areas. a big empty lot to play on isnt a right of youth, its a privilege given by whomever owns a piece of land and decides to develop it.

"And when the NFL finally did re-integrate in 1946, it was only because Los Angeles County required the Rams to field an “integrated” team (two black players and everybody else was white) in order to get approval to move the franchise from Cleveland to the L. A. Coliseum. "

Sounds just like the Japanese league of... well today.

#75...yeah but in the mid to late 90's it became trendy for rappers and black people to wear hockey jerseys...it's just fashion, "gangster" rappers wearing MLB hats didn't really have anything to do with social/baseball substance. Today throwback jerseys are trendy and in a year or two it will be something else. It's just fashion.

for 2-5 grand you can stablize and maintain a rural park pretty successfully.

for 2-5 grand you can build a fence in an urban park that wont get ripped out of the ground by a crackhead to resell it for scrap metal.

not to say there's not problem rural park areas, theyre just way more easily addressed as problem areas.

okay TGJHG, it's a big free world and you're entitled to your opinions, but change your handle name.

Thanks.

Joey

I agree we probably aren’t that far off. Where I see the big difference is the perspective.

You are looking at one individual, I am looking at a class. Ignoring the genetic freaks we both acknowledge, one individual from anywhere (US or foreign, rich or poor, black or white, urban or rural) has a miniscule chance of making it in the big leagues. As you are an example, too many things need to go right for one to make it and too many things can easily go wrong. But just because the system is hard for everyone doesn’t mean it isn’t harder for some.

Baseball is struggling in developing inner city talent, as a class, specifically. The current set up of society is to train athletes from a young age (the only sport that really seems to buck this to me is football, I am not sure why, but I have some theories.) The lack of the basic baseball need of a field in an inner city is well documented, as is the more important need of coaching. You said it yourself; pros make it from “learning how to play.” The structure is not there in the inner cities to teach them how to play. As stated in the Upton article on espn.com, you have to continually play baseball against quality competition to learn how to play it right. Personally, I don’t think anywhere in the United States is organized to crank out professional baseball players very well, but it is noticeably more deficient in the inner cities. Therefore, as a class, the inner-city kids are disadvantaged in the likelihood of becoming MLB players.

A couple sidenotes:
It is clear that everyone is using “black” and “inner-city” interchangeably. I don’t think anyone (besides Dusty Baker) thinks the color of your skin matters in playing baseball. However, the close relationships between “black”, “inner-city” and “poor” make these lines blur a lot. I truly believe that this issue is a combination of inner-city culture and economics, and it has nothing to do with a scout saying, “If he were white, I would sign him”. I think everyone on here at least would probably agree with this to some extent.

Now, it is possible that the individual kids in this “inner-city” class may not care, but that does not mean MLB should not care. It may be easiest to “fish where the fish are,” but that does not ensure the future success of MLB. Fans get excited for homegrown talent. Most MLB teams are in large cities. They have a real reason to try to create homegrown talent.

Citing examples of successful players from inner-cities is not relevant. The plural of anecdote is not data. Noone is saying that it is impossible for someone from the inner-city to be a MLB player. Again, this is an argument about a class of people, not an individual.

TGJHG
Your argument about hip hop fashion is horrible. Honestly, I am not sure where to begin. The caps of “early gangster rap” had very little to do with fandom, unless you think everyone really loved the Raiders. Furthermore, you are really on the wrong side of cause and effect on that argument.

what...members of NWA wearing LA Kings hats didn't have anything to do with them being Gretzky fans? no way.

Well actually... it's not a big secret who the White Sox were trying to sell caps and jerseys too when they went with black caps. But I have to agree, 15 years ago you would see baseball uniforms and caps in rap videos and well you don't see many jerseys today, if you do they aren't MLB ones.

I can't get that damned You Tube video to load, but a pitch that doesn't spin already has a name and it's not a 4-seam fastball (or even four-seam fastball), it's a knuckleball.

knuckleballs don't go 90 mph though

it was an odd, whatever it was

Bogey and Bacon,

I wasn't even stating an opinion or making an argument regarding hip-hop and baseball jerseys... I was simply making an observation.

Although, after reading your responses... it has led me to a conclusion. That baseball is probably seen as 'less fashionable' than football and basketball by hip-hop. Baseball is certainly a more intellectual game than the other two... and intellectual and hip almost never go together.

Great well researched write up.

I don't know why more blacks don't play baseball. Just like I don't know why more whites and latinos don't, either. It's the greatest game in the world, what are these guys thinking?!

When I was a kid, I played ball every flipping day that I could. Hardball, softball, wiffle ball, tennis ball, throw the ball at the garage, bounce the ball off the roof, pitcher's hand, pepper, it was all good. Man, I miss those days.

TGJHG, I wasn't cracking on you...all I'm saying is it's fashion and cyclical. MLB gear is certainly still around in the hip-hop/rap community...you can walk into any sporting apparel store in the mall and they'll have Yankee, Red Sox, and White Sox hats in 20 different colors and they look awful...Back in the 90's crack dealers used to wear Rockies hats because the CR stood for "crack rock". I never see those anymore. I do agree that bkb jerseys have become more popular today than 20 years ago...but that's also because they're cheaper and easier to find generally. A replica NBA jersey is $40. A replica MLB jersey is around $60 and I guarantee if I walk into my mall I won't find a Joe Mauer Twins jersey but they'll probably have a replica Garnett T-Wolves jersey.

"I don’t know why more blacks don’t play baseball"

I'm gonna just say it. Black people are proportionatly represented as a comparison to the U.S. population. Why is the percentage so much lower than the other two major sports? Because baseball is a sport where black athletes don't have a distinct advantage over white guys. The playing field is even and that numbers bear that out.

Flame on...

When I was a kid, I played ball every flipping day that I could. Hardball, softball, wiffle ball, tennis ball, throw the ball at the garage, bounce the ball off the roof, pitcher’s hand, pepper, it was all good. Man, I miss those days.

That was me and my friends. From second grade on we played ball every minute we could from 7 AM til 9 PM during the summer. We invented games for oujrselves so we could play with three players on a side and used a deflated bloop ball to play in miniscule backyards. It was the best it gets.

Real Neal, find me any person on this planet who throws a knuckle at 90 mph. While gripping it like a 4-seamer.

You know better than that.

In case you don't know better, here's a lesson in how to throw a four seamer compared to a knuckler:

Here's the grip of the pitch Perez threw:

http://media.popularmechanics.com/images/tb_4...

That's your basic four seam fastball.

There are a few schools of thought on how to throw a knuckle. Here's a couple. The first is the more accepted way to teach somebody how to grip a knuckle. The second is Tim Wakefield. There are minor differences:

http://whitesoxpride.mlblogs.com/photos/uncat...

http://www.bambinoscurse.com/images/2posts/05...

If you want throw a knuckle-curve (somewhat related to the knuckle, no real bearing on our conversation), here's that grip, too:

http://twbsball.dils.tku.edu.tw/wiki/images/t...

So there you go. It's nearly impossible to not impart spin on a four seamer. It's even more impossible to throw a non-spinning pitch 90 mph. I think I've decided that it just slipped out of his hand on accident and was a freak occurance. Don't think he could do it again if he tried.

Chad,

Interesting point and I'm not offended... or playing PC police. Though, I don't think the black basketball player is as superior to the white as people think. Now that soccer playing countries have grown up with basketball also, we're seeing an influx of really good white players... Dirk, Nash, Ginobli, etc. I expect this trend to continue. Why soccer? It's great for footwork. I still think this is why Hakeem Olajuwon had the best feet ever for a center. Two blacks in the NBA who benefit from this are Tony Parker and Barbosa. Plus, Kobe grew up some in Italy I believe... and his footwork is extraordinary.

Next, I'll take a white, accurate-passing QB over a black scrambling QB every day of the week forever. I have yet to see a scrambling QB win jack shit in the NFL. I don't know why people think Mike Vick is worth anything. The two best black QB's I've ever seen are Warren Moon and Doug Williams. They could actually pass accurately. Vince Young may be the first scrambler good enough at passing to be effective. We'll see.

The most important players on a football field may be your offensive line... and that's about a mix of white and black.

And as AZ Phil points out very well... there's a great tradition of blacks and baseball.

There's the element of basketball and football being more 'fashionable' as well.

I commend you for the guts to present your point.

it takes guts to present your view?

this whole...conservative view as a minority view that's never heard and smashed down by others and only the brave speak up is kinda played out.

if you have a view, you have a view. if its wrong, its wrong...if its right, its right...if its debatable, its debatable.

there are no victims here...there are no squashed voices here being brave. this isnt Cuba...

Settle down, Crunch. In this day of the PC police, I commend someone for saying something others may be apprehensive to do.

"the PC Police" is an invention...like "liberal media" somehow being controlled by corporations who dont do many liberal things.

no, you cant slap your secretary on the ass or compliment her cans anymore...what else is getting in your life that's got you concerned about the PC police? anyone knocking down your doors? anyone seen the top-5 radio talk call-in shows? do the PC police know they exist? what's happening to them? (btw, for those who dont gets this "imus thing" its not about 1 thing said 1 time in 1 instance for 1 purpose). im trying to point to a culture that bitches about these things, yet are top rated/listened-to programs. they are not being silenced and are selling a load of crap to energize their listeners. i do not know how a guy like rush limbaugh can be so damn frank and candid about what his purpose is yet still be so respected by some as to actually listen to him. people that claim to not like being played by the system setting themselves up to be played by him to the tune of the #1 talk radio program in the country.

there is a culture of conservative politics and talk radio that make their constituents feel as if they need to mobilize and battle against forces that are either not as serious as played out or non-existant.

its a history-proven and played way to have a social movement and it plays out on both sides.

there is no one trying to hold anyone back and its just dismissive of true problems to pretend there is.

"there is no one trying to hold anyone back and its just dismissive of true problems to pretend there is."

in the sphere of free speech, that is...access to it is another issue, but we got it pretty damn good here in the united states with that one.

I blame Billy Beane

He should have never written that book

TGJHIG:

There are ZERO whited guys who start at the running back position. While there maybe a few decent white wide receivers, that position is dominated by black athletes as well. Not to mention that if you only started one WR, there would probably be ZERO white starters as well. Cornerback is also dominated by black men as well. I would say that these are the positions that are the most "athletic" in nature. Once you take the pure need for speed, jumping ability and cutting, the position diversifies.

"Rob, John Hill was your resident expert who had never even watched a goddamn game. It was pathetic. Plus, his emergance coincided with Cubs failure… though that part’s not his fault."

Yo - knucklehead - you talk out of your ass. John Hill made an MLB tour during summer 2005, from the U.K.. Al Yellon as well as several others can vouch for this.

I think your ignorance of the subject - particularly representing fact that is not, is more pathetic - so please DROP the handle and come up with something more original -

E-man, I had nothing against John Hill but the point still stands. Going to a few baseball games one summer does not an expert make. Unlike the rest of us, we all grew up on baseball. Watching/playing/going to. A handful of games as an adult doesn't invalidate the point.

"I have yet to see a scrambling QB win jack shit in the NFL."

Steve Young and John Elway both have over 3,000 career rushing yards. Young is actually 2nd all-time and has the most QB rushing TDs as well. Fran Tarkenton is in the Hall of Fame and I certainly wouldn't have minded seeing Steve McNair play for the Bears a couple years ago.

Thank you, Phil, for the fine article.

You mention Goose Tatum as a former Globetrotter. Another is Ferguson Jenkins - the finest Cubs pitcher of my lifetime.

E-man... that's great. I think the next Cubs manager should be someone who has never been to any games, nor watched any until three years ago... but then goes on a summer swing. Suddenly, he's the fucking Alan Greenspan of baseball.

Dizzle, don't split hairs. You know I meant a black scrambling quarterback. It's the most overrated joke. It's true and don't even try and deny it. The closest so far was McNair who was literally one foot from leading a SuperBowl winning drive. Though, I still don't have that much confidence in his passing ability. Same goes for McNabb who's WAY overrated.

Chad, you're right about wide receiver/corner. But, you can't say that in football overall, there's a distinct advantage. Plus, I'm thinking of Ricky Proehl, Wayne Chrebet (or is he Latin?), Steve Largent... every now and then there's a top white wide receiver. Obviously they're exceptions.

In the NBA, Argentina's really starting to make a huge dent... and I think it's only the beginning. I think Spain/France/Italy/Germany/Serbia/Croatia/etc... will continue to feed the NBA with more white players. Plus, Scandanavians are seriously tall... I think it's only a matter of time before there are some Danish or Norweigian players.

There's more to winning in sports that being the fastest or being able to jump the highest.

Chad, also... you're right about running back. I'll give you that. The last featured back was Riggins? God, I can't even remember another one. Alstott was never the featured back I don't believe. More short yardage.

But Linebacker, Safety, both lines, Tight End, QB... a lot of racial equality. I also think the NBA is headed towards a lot more white players. Just a hunch. No one start yapping over this unless you're convinced it's not true.

TGJHG:

As far as basketball is concerned, I'll take 12 of the best black players and you can have 12 of the best non-black players. My team will destroy yours. I'm not saying that there aren't good white players, there are. Nowitzski and Steve Nash are great. I'm just saying that black players are better overall.

As far as wide receiver goes, there are good white wide receivers but they don't compare to the best black wide receivers.

Oh, Alstott is a fullback. FWIW.

I was serious about changing your name THJHIG, the next time I won't ask so nicely.

*As far as basketball is concerned, I’ll take 12 of the best black players and you can have 12 of the best non-black players.*

Olympic Basketball says "Hi!".

Chad,

If you had Chris Paul at Point, D-Wade or Kobe at 2, T-Mac at 3, Garnett at 4, and Shaq at 5... or however you wanted to do it...

Then, you had them face Nash at Point, Ginobli at 2, Nocioni (healthy) at 3, Dirk at 4, and Gasol at 5...

... and you played best of 7...

You would be very surprised with the results. It's a terrible misconception that the black basketball player is superior. Last I checked, it's a team sport.

'no' is correct.

Oh, and Rob. G, feel free to change my name to whatever you want.

"Olympic Basketball says “Hi!”."

That would assume that our players:

A: Were the best possible team we can field, which we don't.
B: Actually cared, which they don't.

how about you change it to something that doesn't reflect you being an anonymous douche?

If alienating random people on the Internet is your goal in life, you've stumbled across the wrong site.

Everyone else around here has no problem with a nickname that doesn't take cheap potshots at someone who's not even around here anymore, I'm sure you can fall in line.

yeah, keep it up pal....

all the people you cited and just about everyone who posts regularly, uses the same name and they use a name that doesn't insult anyone and they generally don't waste their posts insulting people.

I recommend following that path.....

anyway whatever name you wish to go by.....

I try not to wield the ban people power too much, but you're getting dangerously close. It's pretty easy to act civil and stick to talking baseball and the Cubs, actually it takes no effort at all.

You didn't like John Hill or that he wrote for our site, great, ancient history, move on....

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