“Been a long time coming here to meet you, a long road, down a crooked path.”—Joe Banks
Dark byways and crooked paths are what baseball has gone through the last twenty seasons.
To the strike that canceled the World Series in 1994, to a pseudo home run chase in 1998, to a compilation of numbers that made action on the diamonds look like video games, to the ongoing juicing of its players…baseball can’t seem to catch a break.
I’m known as “Joey RedState” to a few of my friends. I’m a conservative on spiritual and political matters. No surprise for most of you to read that. I deplore excuses, whining, fault finding, and transference of responsibility.
So hear me when I say this, baseball is a game for the elites now.
It’s a rich man’s game. There are no more sandlots to play in from sun up to sun down. The schoolyard? Forget it, the schoolyard is fenced and locked…and in many cases if you find a way to get in, there is always someone else around ready to chase you out.
You can go to the park, but at the park you’re dealing with families picnicking, flying kites, running soccer, Little League, and Pop Warner football…You might squeeze in a swing or two, but you’re not going to playing from sun up to sun down.
So your only option is to play organized ball (Little League, Pony, or travel) and that costs money. Pitching coaches cost money. Hitting instructors cost money. Where does the inner city kid, largely African American fit into that.
Sunday night on Facebook, I posted a question. Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis recently hit his 45th home run, so I asked is he chasing Maris with 61 home runs or Barry Bonds with 73.
El Monte Lions (football) offensive coordinator Brian Tabatabai made a comment that none of Babe Ruth’s home runs came against African American pitching because he played his entire career when baseball was segregated.
This sparks another debate about segregation, the talent level, and stronger talent pool that Ruth faced. Great debate.
Interesting though is this. According to Rob Ruck in his book “RACEBALL” 25% of Major League Baseball consisted of African Americans in the 1970s. Yet now, in 2013, only one in ten players in the MLB are African American.
There are more players of African descent in the Majors but they come from the Caribbean and Latin America…However, they are not uniquely African American.
So what has happened to baseball in America? Long road crooked path.
Try this last one on. Forget the roids controversy for a moment, but Barry Bonds hit 762 career home runs. By reckoning through the statistics on ‘baseball_reference.com” only 18 of his home runs were hit off of African American pitchers. There were only ten pitchers that Bonds hit home runs off of that were Americans of African descent.
(Dwight Gooden, Ken Hill, Lee Smith, Chuck Smith, Chuck McElroy, Ken Howell, James Baldwin, Darren Oliver, Kevin Foster, Charlie Hudson.)
Baseball’s got a problem…and this problem baseball cannot fix. This is an American problem, a societal problem, a problem that Bud Selig and the boys with fat cigars can’t solve but only suffer from.
Instead of the Feds bringing players to D.C. to talk about steroids as they’ve done in the past. Maybe the Feds need to ask why conditions in third world countries are more conducive for producing Major League ball players, than conditions right here in the United States.