Baseball Being Baseball…….Again!!!!!

By Gary Norris Gray
Updated: May 15, 2009

CALIFORNIA — How many more times will Americans read the headlines that tell of another baseball player being suspended for the alleged use of drugs. Somehow the sport of baseball does not get it.

Black Movie Director Spike Lee stated many times “DO THE RIGHT THING”, which is what baseball should do. Many Americans are beginning to lose interest in this unique sport because it will not control itself.

This year New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez held a press conference during spring training. He admitted using substance performing enhancing drugs.

Then last Thursday May 7, 2009, Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games. The good news is that both players will be reinstated after they serve their suspensions. Is that the answer? NO,

My question to Major League Baseball what other players’ names will be released to the press next? Which will be called on the carpet for his alleged use of performing enhancement drugs?

When will this piece meal character assassination end? The owners, general managers, and head coaches, should also be held accountable. What happened to their responsibilities?

Currently there are 25 players in the 500 home run club. Nine were active players in the 1990’s and seven have been linked to steroid use and three are still in question.

The horse is out of the barn and Major League Baseball refuses to corral the stallions. Listed below are players accused or alleged steroid users and their ranking on the home run list entering Friday’s games.

1. Barry Bonds 762

6. Sammy Sosa 609

8. Mark McGwire 583

10. Rafael Palmeiro 569

12. Alex Rodriguez 554

17. Manny Ramirez 533

25. GarySheffield 501

Will these 500 Home Run Club members be denied a place in the Baseball’s Hall of Fame just as Shoeless Joe Jackson, just as gambler Pete Rose? Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro belong in the Hall of Fame because steroids or no steroids the numbers would not be that much different.

If this is true what do these home run numbers mean?

Right now there is a list of over 100 other players that have been accused of performing enhancing drugs. Will the league release these names one by one or when it benefits Major League Baseball.

Several recommendations could be considered to improve American attitudes toward baseball.

1) Remove the current baseball commissioner, Bug Selig because there is a conflict of interest. His daughter owned or now owns the Milwaukee Brewers and he was the former owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, so in reality Selig is a defacto owner.

The commissioner of baseball should be the Commissioner for the game not the commissioner of baseball owners. This office should serve the fans, players, and owners. If baseball really wants to change then they should have an impartial commissioner.

Former baseball players Frank Robinson, Bill White, and Don Baylor, along with sport announcers/writers, Bob Costas, Peter Gammons, and George Will are fine candidates for this job.

Included in this list should be the intelligent and sports fan Condoleezza Rice she would become the first Black Commissioner and the first female. A baseball historical moment, but with “baseball being baseball”, this will not happen.

2) Create a comprehensive racial diversity program to attract inner city Black youngsters. Currently Major League Baseball has a program called (RBI) Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. However, they really aren’t heavily promoting this program. The results are obvious because so many African Americans do not know about this program. Many people are citing this program as a political stunt to ward off African American leaders and the United States Congress. RBI will be 20 years old this year but the enrollment of Black Players in the Major Leagues continues to drop. Major League Baseball seems to be investing money in Latino and Asian players not the inner city African American player.

3) Both leagues should establish a balanced schedule. The current unbalanced schedule affects all pennant races at the end of the year, this should not happen.

4) The three strike rule should apply to cities that cannot support their major league team. WashingtonD.C. is a prime example of this. This year’s attendance at National games is very poor. The original Washington Senators would later move Minnesota to the Twins. The expansion Senators went to Arlington to become the Texas Rangers. The three strike law would apply to the city of Washington if and or when they lose this team

5) MLB should have an outside accountant agency to take a yearly innovatory of the teams that are allegedly having trouble honoring existing payrolls.

6) Removal of baseball’s anti-trust clause. When that is accomplished we will then have true and honest trading between clubs. The Yankees, Mets, Braves, Red Sox, Angels, and Dodgers would be prevented from buying all of the great players. Each team would have to trade players of equal compensation.

If Congress had done this action years ago, the playing field level and make baseball would be held accountable to the fair trade practice laws in the United States. It is interesting every time Congress threatens to do repeal the anti-trust clause; baseball momentarily cleans up its act to a certain degree. This is done to keep the political heat off of America’s game.

7) Have a hard salary cap. This would prevent super power teams from being formed. Many other major league sports have implemented a cap and it has worked. Baseball wants business as usual. They only want the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, and Braves playing in the playoffs at the end of the each season.

8) End the Wild Card playoffs. Around the middle of August or the beginning of September some teams begin to manipulate games to position themselves for the wild card instead of winning their respective divisions. Create a four team, four-division race in each league. Win your division or go home.

The current wild card system is just for teams that do not have enough wins to take a divisional crown. The truth of the matter is the wild card increases playoff revenue for the owners and MLB.

9) Either have the (DH) designated hitter rule for either leagues or none at all.

Major league basketball, football, and hockey have unified league rules while baseball has diverse rules between their leagues. Baseball should follow the National Football League standard. They merged with the American Football League in 1970.

They combined both the AFL and NFL set of rules into one rule book.The baseball union would fight this change because it means that some players in the American League would lose their jobs. The DH has outlived its day. Baseball now has better hitters so the DH is not needed. Run production has increased since 1978.

10) Reduce intra-league play into a 14 game two-week format. These games tarnish what the World Series is meant to be. The mystery of players from the other league is lost forever in this format.

Presently the only intra-league games of interest to most fans right are the inter-city rivalries for example teams like the Mets-Yankees; Cubs-White Sox; Giants-A’s; Dodgers-Angels.

Examples of intra state rivalries are the Cardinals-Royals; Reds-Indians series; Rangers-Astros and ending with Rays-Marlins. The question is what do you do with the other teams that don’t have geographical riveres?

11) Have a comprehensive and complete drug-testing program. This is where Major League Baseball has fallen down on the job. The executives of MLB were told in 1978 that they had a major drug problem. MLB chose to ignore the problem until former President George W. Bush and Congress started asking questions. Baseball wanted to put fans in the seats of all ball-parks and the administration knew that people wanted to see home runs.

Thus the Summer of Love with the McGwire-Sosa home run barrage. If MLB wants to suspend players for alleged steroid use, then why not suspend the owners, managers, and coaches for knowledge of any players who are user on their team? Only then will you see a change in the baseball culture when everybody is held responsible.

12) If the owner wants to have a new stadium for his team then he (the owner) should financially invest in the building of the stadium. What New York City did this year is an outrage.

The city built not one but two new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees. Then they asked the residence of New York to pay for both of these ballparks. In a time of recession, they added insult to injury displacing minority residence.

13) Owners of new stadiums should resist the installation of Astro- turf or indoor-domed ball parks. The game of baseball was design to be played outside on natural grass.

14) Boston’s FenwayPark and Chicago’s Wrigley Field are they only original remaining and should never be demolished. They should stand as a museum for the American and National Leagues.

15) Baseball should make every effort to bring the game back to the average American fan. Teams should lower ticket prices. In the 2009 baseball season 17 teams have done just the opposite.

They have raised their ticket prices, with the Yankees and Mets being the highest priced seat in the league. Teams should have family fun days, and more weekday games. The Oakland Athletics continue to be fan friendly with lots of day games and lower ticket prices.

16) MLB should schedule its divisional league playoffs, League Championship playoffs, and World Series games at an earlier time so younger fans can watch their favorite team on television or attend the ballpark.

Let us all remember that we were once the younger fans. Again, baseball being baseball does not get it. They are leaving or losing at least two past generations of younger potential fans.

These are the 16 steps Major League Baseball should take if they want to get back into the hearts and minds of Americans.

NOTE: I would like to thank my fellow Popsicle Brother Michael Louis-Ingram, BASN Editor and Chief, Tony McClean, my Mother, Joan H. Gray, CEO Roland Rogers, and fellow writers of BASN for their contribution in achieving the milestone of 100 articles on this network.