The New York Times reports that Major League Baseball is looking to get proactive in an effort to combat OhMyGodHesReally25 disease:
Major League Baseball is studying a series of initiatives, including
the fingerprinting of youths under the age of 16, as it attempts to
gain control of the age and identity problems it has encountered in
signing players in the Dominican Republic according to several people with knowledge of the situation.
Those same people said Major League Baseball also planned to establish
its own youth baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic to serve as an
alternative to the current unregulated system for young players that is
dominated by talent-finders known as buscones.
The fingerprinting seems . . . odd. I mean, what good are fingerprints if you don’t have something to check them against? The article says that baseball is “reviewing whether the fingerprinting of players, perhaps as young as 11 or 12, would be legal,” but it’s not like people down there haven’t been passing off teenagers as 12 year-olds for years. The only way you could really have confidence in a fingerprinting program is if you had prints of every boy under the age of, hell, ten years old. And once you start doing that, the whole international scouting business starts looking more like factory farming than it does talent development.
Color me similarly dubious about the MLB-run little leagues. Yes, I’ll grant that the problem of buscones may very well be legitimate, but I can’t help but think that there’s an ulterior motive at work here: bolstering baseball’s plan to impose an international draft. If such a thing comes to pass, there’s little incentive for individual teams to set up and operate training academies like they do now, and there will be a need for some other reliable talent-identification system like, say, an organized league.
This doesn’t make it a bad idea, but it does make the claim that the leagues’ purpose would be to protect the kids from buscone-exploitation something less than the full story.