October 25, 2005

Say It Ain't So, Jackie: An AP story that just moved on the wire notes that the Houston Astros are the first World Series team since 1953 with a roster that doesn't include a black player. "I think it's a huge, huge problem for baseball," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "The pool of African-American players just isn't there."

posted by rcade to baseball at 06:09 PM - 29 comments

The black population in the United States is 12.7 percent. The ratio of black players in MLB according to the article is 9 percent. What a scandal. The real issue here is that Basketball and Football is just more popular right now in the "inner city". And baseball is more popular in the Dominican and Japan right now than in the US. Simple as that.

posted by smithnyiu at 06:41 PM on October 25

I don't understand why this keeps coming up. Black kids aren't playing baseball as much as they used to in favor of other sports (as of 1988 or whenever would start to show up in the majors about now). What's the problem? It's not like scouts are avoiding black kids. The kids aren't there.

posted by yerfatma at 07:30 PM on October 25

I believe some black Americans have been recently spotted living outside the "inner cities!" But yeah this is a non-issue.

posted by drjimmy11 at 07:31 PM on October 25

Yeah, it's a big shock that a team from Texas ain't got no negroes, right?

posted by mr_crash_davis at 08:08 PM on October 25

Does everything in the world today have to be some big race issue? First there aren't enough minority coaches in college. Then there weren't enough minorities in the NFL. Now there aren't and black players on the Astros roster. When does it end? It's not like the people in charge of hiring for these positions, or scouts for sports teams are intentionally not hiring a minority coach or scouting minority players. I mean if you're hiring a coach for your NBA team and you have two choices: Larry Brown or Eddie Jordan, who ya gonna go after first? I'm going after Larry Brown, not because of his skin color, but because of his track record of turning losing franchises around!

posted by Colts_Fan365 at 08:19 PM on October 25

Well from a baseball GMs perspective, the best athletes in America are choosing to play football and basketball instead of baseball. Hurts the product which I suppose could be a problem. But other than that, I don't really understand why we keep talking about this. Well, except what drjimmy11 brings up. But that's an issue that isn't likely to be addressed anytime soon and anyway, that is not just a baseball thing.

posted by panoptican at 08:21 PM on October 25

From what I've seen in professional sports, any team will hire any athelete they can afford if that athelete is going to help them win. I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist in professional sports. I'm just saying that if a professional team - any team - doesn't choose the absolute best players in an attempt to win, that team isn't going to win. Also, Houston has a decent sized black population. I'm sure a savy GM would prefer to have a few black players in the (racist) hope that having black players would result in more black fans.

posted by Joey Michaels at 09:03 PM on October 25

I too wonder, when will this politically-correct and racially -driven mentality stop? I understand about the Government's attempt to equal the opportunity level for minorities and other disadvantaged groups, but must we have the same approach even in sports? Come on people, so the Astros are the first baseball team in the World Series without a black player. We all know this is not representative of a systematic problem in baseball. Perhaps Houston's black players, (and other players), in the farm system were not ready to be in the big leagues. Baseball is about selling and displaying the best product regardless of race or origin. Just take a look at the NBA or NFL.

posted by lenescobar at 09:21 PM on October 25

What's wrong with writing an article about this? It's interesting, although the article itself isn't so hot. I do think that it's unfortunate that there isn't so much African American interest in playing baseball these days considering that black Americans have been playing and excelling at the sport since antebellum days. It's a shame to see that tradition in jeopardy of fading away. Baseball is diminished by the trend, despite it not being anyone's fault.

posted by ursus_comiter at 09:35 PM on October 25

Jesus-tap-dancing-christ-on-a-cross. I am sick of this. Most of you have said the same thing, but I just cannot stand this argument anymore. The day we start picking people on talent, and no one asks what race they are, then we win. Until then, all this does is put some charge in an issue that should have been dead some time ago. It is simple. I don't care if you are white, black, or alien, if you can play ball, come play for me. IF I somehow come up with an all white team, then I know I have an all white team of the best people. If they are all black, same thing. Are we asking for affirmative action in sports now? Should we make every basketball team have an asian guy? After Yao and Wang Zhi Zhi, there just aren't a lot out there. It might be fun to watch, but it is racist at its core, as well. Ok, I am off my soap box now.

posted by jpageua at 09:53 PM on October 25

Originally Minute Maid Park had plans for a burning cross out on that hill in center field, but then they realized that Minute Maid Park was actually in the inner city so they decided against it.

posted by Turbo at 10:04 PM on October 25

Why are kids choosing to play football over baseball when careers in baseball tend to be longer and pay better? Basketball, that I understand with the higher salaries and somewhat easier to play in smaller spaces growing up.

posted by billsaysthis at 10:22 PM on October 25

Yeah, I'm with billsaysthis- historically, the trend was the other way; I'm not sure the "choosing to play football" claim is even true! When those uber-athletes have a choice between football and baseball, provided the player had a reasonable expectation of doing decently at both (i.e., there's not an insane talent disparity, where they Heismanned at football and was used sparingly as a pinchhitter in baseball), usually goes baseball most every time. With good reason- baseball has higher signing bonuses, longer careers, far higher salaries, and greater likelihood that if you do get injured, you can work past it and still be productive and well paid.

posted by hincandenza at 05:19 AM on October 26

Does everything in the world today have to be some big race issue? First there aren't enough minority coaches in college. Then there weren't enough minorities in the NFL. Now there aren't and black players on the Astros roster. When does it end? Maybe when people stop presenting False Dilemmas as a reason to maintain the status quo, e.g., "Jesus, first it was school integration, now it's baseball, next some kid's going to want to date my daughter."

posted by yerfatma at 06:17 AM on October 26

I don't see why people are taking so much offense at this wire story, considering that everyone interviewed in the piece laments the situation without assessing blame. Maybe it's not a problem that young black youths are abandoning the sport of Jackie Robinson. The league is still internationally diverse, after all. But I can see why Joe Morgan and others consider it a problem. I suspect that the reason this is happening is because kids don't play pick-up games of baseball any more, and the sport isn't celebrated in music or culture the way that basketball is.

posted by rcade at 07:37 AM on October 26

Pro sports I dont really care about the make up of the roster, because I agree they are only thinking about winning ball games. However when it comes to colleges everyone with a brain knows that is a good ole boys club if you want to coach. There are hundreds of D1 football programs and like 3 black coaches.How many ADs are black? These are positions that make a lot of money off of basketball and football but somehow its hard for players to transcend from the field to the desk. Getting back to baseball, I think baseball just isnt popular with black kids anymore because you cant show your full athleticism, and the competition isnt very direct. Nobody is talking about baseball in my barbershop I can promise you that.

posted by Drallig9399 at 07:43 AM on October 26

What's wrong with writing an article about this? Because that makes some people uncomfortable, and they'd rather stifle any discussion than feel uncomfortable. They can't just click on the next link or choose not to participate, they have to tell others that they shouldn't discuss the issue either.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:11 AM on October 26

Besides having the crappiest parkway in Brooklyn named after him, Jackie paved the way for blacks who CHOOSE to play baseball. If more blacks want to play football whats the problem? The great part about the civil rights movement it gave blacks a choice as to what they wanted to do, not dictating what they had to do.

posted by HATER 187 at 09:05 AM on October 26

Why are kids choosing to play football over baseball when careers in baseball tend to be longer and pay better? Well maybe because basketball and football are much more fun than baseball. Sounds illogical, I know, but you know how kids can be.

posted by Miles1996 at 09:12 AM on October 26

Well, I did notice that the opposing team currently playing the Astros has a Latin coach and a black GM, for what it's worth. I certainly think this is more indicative of an overall trend away from baseball as a sport kids are engaged in, rather than a condemnation of the Astros or MLB in general.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:15 AM on October 26

I would venture a guess that the percentage of whites in the NBA is far less than the percentage of whites in the general population. Is this indicative of discrimination by the NBA against whites? Does it mean that white kids have lost interest in basketball? Or is maybe just more of a cultural thing? Kids choose to play what they are exposed to growing up. I can't buy the "no room in the inner city" argument as most Latin American kids seem to play baseball (or soccer) and many come from the same inner city conditions.

posted by Bury Bonds at 10:24 AM on October 26

I won't say this is right or wrong, after all it's just a sport. Guess the question one would have to ask is do the owners or GMs have it this way on purpose or is it just coinsidence? I am also sick and tired of the political correctness in this day and era. Do I believe that blacks are treated different or wrongfully...at times, yes I do. But I can also make that same arguement for Mexicans and Women too. Moreover, it also has gotten to the point where a white man who is perfectly capable of doing whatever job it may be is being passed over for a woman, mexican or black person. We are one of very few countries who still put a value on the color of skin and it's time to stop that. Put the best PERSON in the position that can get the job done PERIOD!

posted by melcarek69 at 10:30 AM on October 26

It's too bad they can't pick players in sports like they do for symphonies, completely blind. The only thing they consider is how well they play. Each player is behind a curtain and is not seen by the committee, so they can't judge them based on race, sexual preference, obesity, anorexia, acne, or any of the other nonsense that the media seems to thrive on to sell papers or get viewers. I'm also concerned that there aren't more African-Americans in the NHL and the Olympic swim teams. Maybe we should run this one up the flagpole too.

posted by lonsterbox at 10:38 AM on October 26

Moreover, it also has gotten to the point where a white man who is perfectly capable of doing whatever job it may be is being passed over for a woman, mexican or black person. This is more myth than reality. I would like to see any factual support you have for this contention. If you keep blaming blacks, Mexicans and women for job loss, then you never have to take a hard look at this country. The oppressed in this country are the poor (of all races). I don't see why people have a problem with someone bringing up racial trends. Talking about these problems is not causing problems. It just leads to discussions about what might be the source of those trends. Race is a very big issue in this country. Why should we pretend otherwise? I suspect the reason for the dwindling of blacks is that it is increasingly becoming a craft that kids have to learn very young. They can't show up in high school and get on the baseball team because baseball players in high school have been playing organized ball for years. Additionally, baseball ain't cheap with needing a glove, bat, etc. It doesn't help that the basketball and baseball seasons overlap in high school.

posted by bperk at 11:10 AM on October 26

I agree with those who say that this isnt news.. Its not a big shock as the number of Blaack players are down over all in baseball.. MLB reflects a wide variety of race. Its becoming a game of the world and thats is being reflected in the players...

posted by daddisamm at 11:14 AM on October 26

You obviously haven't read a newspaper in quite a while bperk. I saw just a month or so ago that unemployment among all is down a bit while white males between the ages of 25 to 50 has gone up. I am not focusing on anything that has to do with hate. I have NONE outside of people who anyone getting any job because of the color of skin. Also, if you read the end of the statement "Put the best PERSON in the position that can get the job done PERIOD!", you would know that. Equality among all races comes with understanding and respect for others, NOT HATE!

posted by melcarek69 at 11:24 AM on October 26

By the way, I am NOT complaining about the people getting these jobs either. I place the blame on the employers. Whether it be in sports, the corporate world or the burger king down the street, anybody can see you can't make money unless the employee is getting the job done correctly. That shouldn't have a damn thing to do with color of skin. If the Astros have a problem or a hatred of a certain race, they are wrong and it will come out eventually.

posted by melcarek69 at 11:36 AM on October 26

I saw just a month or so ago that unemployment among all is down a bit while white males between the ages of 25 to 50 has gone up. And it's your contention this was caused by people firing white males to hire non-whites/ non-males? Was there a matching uptick in hiring of other groups or did you just cite a statistic that doesn't back your point?

posted by yerfatma at 12:24 PM on October 26

I read the news every day, melcarek. The unemployment rate for blacks is about double that what it is for whites. And, even if your facts are correct, how does that indicate that lesser qualified people are getting those jobs? I don't buy that reverse discrimination argument that lesser qualified people are getting jobs. I have never seen anything like that happen in my years of being in the workforce. I see no statistics that back any such thing up. It is completely a way to blame someone for the decreasing ability of white people to make a good living in this country. The problem is that it is not only a problem that white people have. Everyone except a small percentage of wealthy individuals are having difficult times these days. Bringing race into is just a convenient excuse that continues to divide the working class.

posted by bperk at 12:24 PM on October 26

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