Here’s why fewer black kids are playing baseball

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Tim Keown of ESPN.com tells that committee that MLB has set up to investigate the decline of U.S.-born blacks in baseball what’s really going on. It’s not about baseball not being cool or flashy or whatever. It’s about the money. It’s always about the money:

The committee members need to see the industry of youth baseball for what it has become: A business enterprise designed to exclude those without the means and mobility to participate. Over the past 15 to 20 years, the proliferation of pay-for-play teams in youth baseball — and the parallel proliferation of parents willing to pay for them and coaches willing to cash their checks — has had more of an impact on African-American participation than anything another sport has to offer.

As the father of a son living in an affluent and mostly white suburb I’ve seen this first hand. It happens in baseball. Soccer too. The local league set up by the parks and rec department is for those who aren’t serious. Anyone with some amount of talent — identified as young as age six, I’ve observed — is steered toward more intense leagues, which tend to be pay-to-play and which involve a lot of travel.

When you look at the schedules involved — games 20 miles away at 4pm, games 30 miles away under lights at 7pm — I have no idea how any kid can meet the obligations of these leagues without having at least one full-time stay-at-home parent who will pick the kid up at school and schlep them out to wherever. Run those obligations against whatever socio-economic demographic numbers you can find and you’ll see why these sports select for well-off white kids.

(thanks to Ethan for the heads up)

And That Happened: Thursday’s Score and Highlight

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Yeah, singular. Other than those ESPN Sunday Night games that opened the season for several years until recently I can’t remember a regular season day or night with only one game scheduled. I also don’t much like it, but no one asks me these things.

Cubs 9, Cardinals 6: The Cardinals led 3-1 heading into the Cubs’ half of the fifth, at which point Chicago went off for five runs, with Ian Happ hitting a two run homer and Jason Heyward, Antony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist each knocking in a run. St. Louis would continue to score but each time they did the Cubs answered, never trailing again.

Heyward had three hits on the night, Happ had that dinger, Rizzo had two doubles and Victor Caratini, giving the just-returned All-Star Willson Contreras an extra day off, had three hits and scored three times.

As for pitching, check out this usage pattern from Joe Maddon:

I guess everyone was fresh after the break, though, so why not?

We get a full slate of 15 games today. As God and Nature intended.