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2015-BASEBALL DOES NOT GET IT
Gary Norris Gray-BASN- Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA.– These are the 18 steps Major League Baseball should take if they want to get back into the hearts and minds of Americans. But “Baseball being Baseball”, we all know what will happen.
Major League Baseball moves halfway into 2015 season. It continues to be a sport out of touch with reality or its fan base. The sport is also becoming A Whiter Shade of Pale with the continuing decline or stagnation of African Americans on the field.
This year’s All Star Game fielded only four African Americans with one starter. Jackie Robinson would not be pleased. The lone current Black superstar and starter Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder Andrew McCutchen. This will not attract younger African Americans.
MLB, ESPN, and Fox Sports promote Caucasian players like pitchers Zack Grinke and Clayton Kershaw-Los Angeles Dodgers, New Jersey’s Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angeles, Pitchers Steve Strasburg, Jordon Zimmerman, Max Scherzer with outfielder Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. All great players but what happened to everybody else?
Latin players have increased twofold since 1985 with Los Angeles Angel first basemen Albert Pujols and catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals leading the way.
Major League Baseball continues its piecemeal character assassination. Owners, general managers, and head coaches, should be held accountable for the league’s drug problems. What happened to their responsibilities? MLB continues to inform America that retired manager Tony LaRussia did not know the Oakland A’s Bash Brothers (Canseco-McGwire) were taking performance enhancing drugs.
The game continues to struggle with this issue. New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez returned to the game this spring after a year suspension, admitting he used substance performing enhancing drugs. Rodriguez has taken the place of Barry Lamar Bonds as the number one villain of the game.
A-Rod continues to chase Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds in the home run race. At 40 years old it will be a feat to catch the new home run king.
1. Barry Bonds-Pittsburgh Pirates & San Fran. Giants 762
2. Hank Aaron-Atl. & Milw. Braves, Milwaukee Brewers 755
3. Alex Rodriguez-Seat. Mariners, Texas Rangers, N.Y. Yankees 667
Should the 500 Home Run Club (Steroid Era) members be denied a place in the Baseball’s Hall of Fame just as Shoeless Joe Jackson, just as alleged gambler Pete Rose? Let’s make it clear Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame for his feats on the field.
Major League Baseball continues to pimp off of Pete Rose with his appearances at historic games like this year’s All Star Game in Cincinnati. This is the hypocrisies of the league.
Should Barry Bonds-Pitts.-San Fran, Sammy Sosa-Texas-Chicago, and Rafael Palmeiro-Baltimore belong in the Hall of Fame because steroids or no steroids their numbers would not be that much different?
Several recommendations could be considered to improve American attitudes toward this great game of baseball.
1) Former commissioner Bud Selig retired and MLB put in place a Selig clone. Commissioner Rob Manfred is not good faith bargaining.
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. The results are obvious because not many African Americans know about this program. Many people are citing this program as a political stunt to ward off African American leaders and the Black Congress. RBI will be over 20 years but the enrollment of Black Players in the Major Leagues continues to stay at eight percent. Major League Baseball seems to be cultivating Latino and Asian players not inner city African American youngsters.
MLB put forth another concerted effort to reach out to inner city youngsters in 2013-15 with their new Baseball Beyond Borders
Not only does Baseball Beyond Borders have a focus on urban youth and the development of their baseball skills, but we are also devoting our resources to develop leaders and coaches in the communities we serve by instilling in them baseball fundamentals.
Will it be enough?
In MLB executive positions there are only one African American manager and one Latino American manger. Also there is a lack of female participation in MLB offices with two female general managers
3) Both leagues should establish a balanced schedule. MLB is moving toward a four team division with four teams in each division.
Montreal, Charlotte, North Carolina, San Antonio, Portland, Oregon, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, northern New Jersey, Mexico City or Monterrey, Mexico, are among the markets that could eventually land on baseball’s radar as potential locations for new or relocated franchises.
The Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays may be on the move in the near future if they do not get a new house to play in.
4) The three strike rule applying to cities that cannot support their major league team. Washington D.C. is a prime example of this. The original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960 to become the Twins who have won the World Series multiple times. The expansion 1961 Washington Senators moved to Arlington in 1971 to become the Texas Rangers and they have won the American League Championship two times. The three strike law would apply to the city of Washington if and or when they lose this current National team.
Yes this even includes the Big Apple of New York City where the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to Sunny California the same year 1958.
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 this is accomplished we will then have true and honest trading between clubs.
If Congress had taken action years ago, the playing field would be level and the game would be held accountable to the fair trade practice laws in the United States. It is interesting to note each time Congress threatens to do repeal the anti-trust clause; baseball momentarily cleans up its act. This is done to keep the political heat off of the game.
7) A hard salary cap. This would prevent super power teams from being formed. Other major sports have implemented a cap and it has worked to balance their leagues.
8) End the Wild Card playoffs.
Create a four team, four-division race in each league. Win your division or go home. Baseball has taken a half step by moving the Astros into the American League creating two 15 team leagues.
The current wild card system is 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, MLB, and that team’s city.
9) Have the (DH) designated hitter rule, or not.
Major league basketball, football, and hockey have unified league rules while baseball continues to have diverse rules. Baseball should follow the National Football League. The NFL merged with the American Football League in 1970.
They combined a set of rules from both leagues. “Baseball being baseball” has not shown an interest. The baseball union would fight this change because it means that some players who are DH’s in the American League would lose their jobs. The DH has outlived its day. High schools, colleges, and the minor leagues all have DH’s. Baseball is producing better hitters so the DH is not needed. Run production has almost doubled since 1978.
10) Reduce inter-league play to a 14 game two-week format. These games tarnish what the World Series meant to be. The mystery of the city, the ballpark, and the opposing players are lost.
Presently the inter-league games of interest to most fans are the inter-city rivalries for example teams like the Mets-Yankees; Cubs-White Sox; Giants-A’s; Orioles-Nationals, Dodgers-Angels.
Other examples are the inter-state rivalries like the Cardinals-Royals; Reds-Indians; Rangers-Astros and ending with Rays-Marlins.
The question is what do you do with the other teams that don’t have geographical rivalries? Examples are the Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, and the Seattle Mariners.
11) Owners that want to have a new stadium he (the owner) should financially invest in the building of the stadium. What New York City did years ago was an outrage.
The city built not one but two new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees the same time. Then they asked the residence of New York City to pay for both of these ballparks. In a time of recession, they added insult to injury displacing minority residence by destroying their neighborhoods.
The Battle in Oakland to keep the Athletics in the North Bay Area drags on for 10 years with no clear decisions, keeping the fan base in limbo.
12) Owners of new stadiums should resist the installation of Astro- turf or building indoor-domed ball parks. The game of baseball was design to be played outside on natural grass.
13) Boston‘s Fenway Park and Chicago‘s Wrigley Field are they only original remaining stadiums and should never be demolished. They should stand as museums for the American and National Leagues.
14) Baseball should make every effort to bring the game back to the average fan.
Ticket prices have gone through the roof, with the Yankees and Mets being the highest priced seats in the league. Teams should have family fun days, and more weekday games. The Oakland Athletics continue to be fan friendly with day games and lower ticket prices.
15) Home teams should NEVER wear dark or black uniforms at home. The home team are the good guys, this practice of wearing dark or black uniforms formulated from spring training games were every team wears their dominate color. Let’s not kid ourselves they are wearing their dark or black jerseys to promote the selling of these jerseys. A marketing scheme that seems to be working, baseball understands money and this is it.
16) A time clock might be included to speed up the game. This would force the batter to stay in the box and the pitcher to stay on the mound. Currently baseball is the only sport without a time limit.
17) 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.
18) A protective screen for the lower box seats of the stadium. With the recent events and injuries to fans this might be a wise decision. The National Hockey League erected screens behind each goal after a young fan died of her injuries by a flying puck hitting her head.
Remember most of us were once the younger fan. “Baseball being baseball” does not get it. They have lost at least two generations of younger potential fans. The Sport of Soccer is closing in on baseball and the Lords of the game continue to turn a blind eye.
NOTE: I would like to thank my fellow Popsicle Brother BASN Editor and Chief Michael Louis-Ingram, former BASN Editor and Chief Emeritus, Tony McClean, Mother, Joan H. Gray, Friend Art George, BASN-CEO Roland Rogers, and fellow writers of BASN for their contribution in achieving the milestone of 500 articles.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at email@example.com
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