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MLB creates a task force to study the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball

Apr 10, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

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Even if we are taking the annual Lapchick study with a grain of salt due to its failure to use common denominators, Major League Baseball takes the underlying issue of the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball seriously enough that it’s doing something about it:

Major League Baseball has created a task force to study why the number of African-Americans playing the sport has declined in recent years, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The 17-member committee, which will be chaired by Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski, will hold its first meeting in Milwaukee on Wednesday. He’ll be joined by several other baseball executives, plus Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir; Frank Marcos, senior director of baseball’s scouting bureau; and former White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

I wish baseball hadn’t made a mockery of task forces and studies with that whole Oakland thing, because I would like to think that this would lead to some actual useful and actionable information. Here’s hoping it does, because it would tickle me pink if baseball could figure out how to get more kids to put down the footballs and basketballs and pick up a bat and a glove.

The answer, at least in part, is probably money and engagement by people and organizations with money. Because we have to face facts that baseball is not a cheap sport to play on the amateur level, what with its single-use fields, travel and equipment requirements.  I know there are urban initiatives afoot by the league, but in addition to that I’d like to see something less charitable/community-involvement-oriented and something of something that is more ruthlessly talent-development-orients. A system in which teams try to identify and support young baseball talent in the U.S. with an idea toward making them major league ballplayers. The draft disincentivizes this, sadly, but perhaps there’s a workaround or league-wide solution.

  1. bkh405 - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:26 PM

    Bring back the ‘camp.’ When I was a kid we had one of those spring baseball camps where a couple of Twins hitting/fielding coaches and former players rolled into town and spent the afternoon teaching fundamentals and signing balls.

    Does stuff like that happen anymore? If not, I could see programs with guys like Bonds, Griffey, Bo Jackson being hugely successful. Hell even current players aren’t too busy to use a day off to put on a clinic for kids are they? Is it asking too much to sacrifice a day off to use your celebrity to promote the game you love.

    One last one, NFL has the play 60 initiative, I can’t recall if MLB has anything similar, but it’s a great start.

    • hojo20 - Apr 10, 2013 at 6:51 PM

      Play 60 initiative is just a stupid Nanny State program because parents don’t tell their kidsto drop the Xbox controller to play outside.

  2. papichulo55 - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    MLB should ask its players to be more accessible. My father was a catcher in an amateur league in Philly. Lou Brock stopped by. Pops got into a discussion about ‘holding runners on’ and ‘hiding signs’. Lou entertained us with stories of
    players who were unfortunate enough to be disrepectful of Mr Gibson and peeked in at what the catcher was doing. His best was about Tom Seaver. Seaver had noticed a Cardinal looking at the catcher, trying to steal the sign. Mr Brock said that Seaver stepped off of the kound in disgust, called his catcher to the mound and gave him a message for the batter. ‘Fastball, Mother**’ , which is exactly what Seaver struck the batter out with on consecutive pitches!

    I understand that times have changed, that we live in a different world, where celebrities have to be careful. But I have rubbed elbows with Allen Iverson at a Chillis Restaurant, and several Eagles at the local nudie bar, but I havent seen an MLB player since Mr Brock.

  3. papichulo55 - Apr 10, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    Meant to say that MLB Players need to be more accessible in the US. Grass roots accessible. Not hard to rub elbows with them in The Dominican. Robbie Cano is a nice guy. His brother is a little loco with that Spyder bike, though.

  4. papichulo55 - Apr 10, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    African Ameican MLBers need to show some ‘Swag’! Show up in more Hip Hop videos, openly date the hottest Flava-of-the-moment, make it ‘Rain’ in the clubs….The Dominican MLBers go back home, and are very visible. Their accomplishments are very visible, year-round. Everybody in the family has a luxury Jeepeta, and fabulous homes!

    The African American kids need to have the same sense of pride as the other Ballers when wearing their uniforms in their neighborhoods. Maybe Jimmy Rollins should drop those skill clinics and host a tournament in Phillys Fairmount Park featuring Meek Mill and Eve. Dont forget the security, Jimmy!

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