How the draft killed baseball in Puerto Rico

13 Comments

Baseball had been king in Puerto Rico for the better part of a century. But now the Puerto Rico Winter League is all but dead.  There were only 20 players from Puerto Rico on major league rosters last Opening Day. What happened? According to the sources for this New York Times article it was the imposition of the draft to Puerto Rico in 1990:

No one here disputes the diminished stature of baseball in Puerto Rico, and most agree on the culprit: the decision by Major League Baseball, in 1990, to include Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, in its First-Year Player Draft. This means Puerto Rican players must wait until they turn 18 to enter the major leagues, and then they are going up against players from the United States and Canada in the draft. Also, perhaps more important, major league teams have less incentive to cultivate talent in Puerto Rico since those players may end up with another team through the draft.

Major League Baseball — specifically Sandy Alderson, who is quoted in the article — notes that Puerto Rico’s socioeconomic situation has a lot to do with it too.  It’s not as poor a place as Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, so there is less of an incentive for hungry young kids to play their way off the island. At the same time, it’s not so well off that it can support an amateur talent development structure like you see in the baseball hotbeds of the United States like in California, Texas and Florida.

Of course, it’s not like Puerto Rico’s economy suddenly burst out and minimized the importance of baseball in 1990. And 1990 seems to be a pretty clear demarcation between the time when the island was bursting with young baseball players and now, when it is clearly not.

Dustin Fowler is suing the White Sox over an outfield collision

Getty Images
3 Comments

Tom Schuba of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Athletics outfielder Dustin Fowler has filed suit against the White Sox for negligence. Fowler sustained a season-ending injury during a collision at Guaranteed Rate Field last June and is also bringing the lawsuit against the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority agency, as neither party took measures to secure the ballpark’s unpadded electrical box that exacerbated his injuries.

The 22-year-old outfielder was just two outs into his major league debut with the Yankees when the incident occurred. Fowler tracked a Jose Abreu foul ball down the first base line and flipped over the short railing. He was noticeably limping after colliding with a knee-high electrical box at the wall and collapsed to the ground within seconds before being carted off the field.

The official diagnosis: a ruptured patellar tendon and season-ending surgery on his right knee. Per Schuba’s report, which can be read here in full, Fowler has claimed “‘severe and permanent’ external and internal injuries, as well as mental pain and anguish” following the collision.

No specific demands have been publicized yet. Fowler is said to be seeking money from both the White Sox and the Sports Facilities Authority, likely enough to cover the “large sums” he spent on medical care for the surgery and related treatments.