MLB creates a task force to study the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball

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Even if we are taking the annual Lapchick study with a grain of salt due to its failure to use common denominators, Major League Baseball takes the underlying issue of the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball seriously enough that it’s doing something about it:

Major League Baseball has created a task force to study why the number of African-Americans playing the sport has declined in recent years, The New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The 17-member committee, which will be chaired by Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski, will hold its first meeting in Milwaukee on Wednesday. He’ll be joined by several other baseball executives, plus Stanford athletic director Bernard Muir; Frank Marcos, senior director of baseball’s scouting bureau; and former White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel.

I wish baseball hadn’t made a mockery of task forces and studies with that whole Oakland thing, because I would like to think that this would lead to some actual useful and actionable information. Here’s hoping it does, because it would tickle me pink if baseball could figure out how to get more kids to put down the footballs and basketballs and pick up a bat and a glove.

The answer, at least in part, is probably money and engagement by people and organizations with money. Because we have to face facts that baseball is not a cheap sport to play on the amateur level, what with its single-use fields, travel and equipment requirements.  I know there are urban initiatives afoot by the league, but in addition to that I’d like to see something less charitable/community-involvement-oriented and something of something that is more ruthlessly talent-development-orients. A system in which teams try to identify and support young baseball talent in the U.S. with an idea toward making them major league ballplayers. The draft disincentivizes this, sadly, but perhaps there’s a workaround or league-wide solution.

The Royals traveled to Boston to play for 12 minutes

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The Kansas City Royals lost to the Baltimore Orioles last night. After the game they flew to Boston to play the Red Sox. They played for 12 whole minutes this afternoon, lost, and are now on their way to Cleveland to take on the Indians tomorrow. For their part the Red Sox are now heading to the airport to fly out to San Diego for a game against the Padres tomorrow.

All of this was the result of a suspended game on August 7, which was halted as the Royals and Red Sox were tied 4-4 in the top of the 10th inning. It was resumed, and concluded quite quickly, this afternoon.

When the game was suspended, Josh Taylor had just come on to pitch for Boston and Royals catcher Meibrys Viloria was ahead in the count to 2-1. It resumed at 1:05pm. Nick Dini pinch-hit for Viloria and lined out and the next two Royals batters went down in order as well.

In the bottom of the 10th Andrew Benintendi struck out, Christian Vázquez doubled, Chris Owings pinch ran for him, Sam Travis was intentionally walked and then Brock Holt singled in Owings. Game over, with the proceedings ending at 1:17 PM.

Not that it was a waste of everyone’s time. The Red Sox wisely made a fun day out of it by allowing anyone who is 18 or under to attend the game for free. All others were allowed to enter for a $5 donation to the Jimmy Fund. Concessions were dirt cheap, with sodas and hot dogs going for a buck or so. Kids were allowed to run the bases afterward and they kept the concession stands open for a good long while.

The reporters and some fans on the scene were tweeting about how great an atmosphere it was so, hey, not too bad.