Lack of interest in youth baseball among blacks has a lot to do with money

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Yesterday, in that “Baseball is boring” post, I said as an aside that there were other, better reasons why kids are steering away from baseball than its no-fun culture. I will grant that, yes, there is likely some element of that involved, but there are probably more substantive reasons as well.

Economics is the one I’ve been hung up on for a few years now. The expense of youth baseball played at a high level initially. The fact that playing pickup baseball just isn’t the same as pickup basketball and that if you want to develop the skills you’ll need to turn scouts’ heads as a teenager, money matters. Andrew McCutchen said as much in a recent editorial. It’s been talked about for a long time and has spurred Major League Baseball’s recent “One Baseball” initiative.

This story from the News-Journal underscores that as well. The culture of baseball is given a mention way down the page, but first and foremost is this:

In Division I, FBS football programs are allowed to award 85 scholarships. Basketball teams are allowed 13 scholarships, for a roster of no more than 15 players. The maximum number of baseball scholarships is 11.7, for rosters of more than 30 players.

And because of budget constraints, many Division I baseball programs aren’t even able to offer 11.7 scholarships. So no college baseball player receives a “full ride.”

“I can go play football and get a full scholarship,” Delaware State University baseball coach J.P. Blandin said. “In baseball, a good scholarship offer is 50 percent. A lot of the big schools give 25 percent or 33 percent.”

That, and a mention of how playing basketball is, basically, free.

So, yes, culture matters to some degree. But like most things, it has an awful lot to do with money.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.