Study confirms: everyone overstates the decline in African Americans playing Major League Baseball

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We talked about this yesterday, but here’s a story from MLB.com focusing on our friend Mark Armour’s research into the decline of U.S.-born blacks playing Major League Baseball. The upshot: that “27% of ballplayers were African American in the 1970s” stuff you here is pure rebop. Armour:

“What I determined, and I [analyzed data from 1947, when Jackie Robinson made his debut] up to 1986 … is that the number never got to 20 percent. The black-player number, counting all dark-skinned players, was in the high 20s for a period. But not the African-American number. All the press stuff that comes out every April compares the African-American numbers from today with the all-black-players number from the ’70s. And that’s where they make their mistake.”

The folks who peddle that 27 percent number may have their hearts in the right place, but if you’re in the business of counting noses rather than looking at the bigger picture, and you can’t even count the noses right, no one should be listening to you.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.