Do we need to question the dearth of blacks in the big leagues today?

Yes…

…But ONLY if we can also complain about the lack of Hispanics in football, the paucity of whites in basketball, and why there are so few Asians in pro hockey.

See how inane this is? About as inane as Torii Hunter’s racial blast at Hispanic “imposters” last month.

This is such an overplayed topic still somehow perpetuated by the Joe Morgans of the world today. That a north Chicago-based writer who attended Syracuse (all white neighborhood, very rich school) like Yahoo’s Jeff Passan wrote not one but two articles about this topic (and “racism”) on Jackie Robinson Day is equally appalling.

Passan also has his facts completely wrong about certain players, which I can explain at length if requested, but will do so briefly (article linked above):

orlando-hudson-race-relations-baseball

  • Kenny Lofton was over 40 when he retired, and probably had about three or four extra chances he did not deserve.
  • The same can be said for Rickey Henderson.
  • Ray Durham’s 38, and just not that talented anymore
  • Gary Sheffield, 41, is a clubhouse cancer (like Carl Everett, Albert Belle, Brandon Phillips early in his career in Cleveland and quite a few others – this matters in terms of promotion throughout the minors) who hit just ten homers last season.

Mr. Passan conveniently omits that Jermaine Dye, at 36, has already rejected a $4 million dollar contract offer for this season after having the worst peripheral statistics of any regular starting corner outfielder in the second half of the 2009 season. In the end, Dye was actually released by a black General Manager in Kenny Williams of Chicago.

The counter to this discussion, among others, is Ken Griffey Jr., who statistically doesn’t belong in the MLB anymore, but because he is a character guy, the Mariners let him ride off into the sunset.

My favorite quote of all the garbage I’ve had to read this week also came from Passan:

“When a black ballplayer walks into a clubhouse, he will see, on average, one other black player. This is the black experience in baseball today: near solitude.”

Replace the word “black” with “white American” and “clubhouse” with “NBA Locker Room” in this propaganda and see what you come up with, sir.

That we have been discussing “it” (racism? really?) for years now, proves that the media will find any way to castigate baseball over minor issues.

It’s one thing to honor Jackie Robinson every April 15 (though prior to 1997, they never did, so why every year now?);  it’s another to have a “Civil Rights Game” in Cincinnati each season with a meals, meetings, celebrations, etc. All this in 2010 in the LEAST racist nation on earth? Is that not enough? No other sport does that.

That the keynote speaker at this $5000 per table Civil Rights Luncheon May 15 in Cincinnati is Andrew Young, a noted anti-Semitic/anti-Asian bigot, and they’re honoring Harry Belafonte, a racist, America-hating Communist, is a lot worse than having 11% blacks in baseball.

Much as Dr. Martin Luther King would be ashamed of what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have done to “race relations,” so too would Robinson over the spectacle of his day. Orlando HudsonMilton Bradley and Gary Sheffield complaining about perceived mistreatment because of their race disgraces the people like Robinson and Hank Aaron who had to overcome real hurdles.

Statistically speaking, Commissioner Bud Selig should simply explain that back in 1980 when MLB was 27% black, there were maybe 10% Hispanic and 0% Asian players.  Now there are 30% Hispanic and over 5% Asian. That’s what occurred. This should end any further discussion, though it won’t.

Are those current numbers illegal? Should we deport the Hispanic and Asian players and practice affirmative action for blacks? What are next, forcing inner-city kids to play baseball instead of basketball or football?

That’d just be wrong, but it’s typical that we’d even discuss the topic. Don’t blame me. These diatribes might make disingenuous do-gooders Peter Gammons, Bob Costas, Passan, or Morgan happy, but they’re unfair. They already have forced EVERY player to wear #42 one game per season (regardless of race), whereas only a very select few black players did so from 1997-2007.

Related: I attend a ton of minor league games throughout America each year, where there are plenty of black players (and the numbers in the Majors are in fact up this year — from 9 to 11%), but promoting players who are not ready or deserving is wrong, especially when others — many of whom risked life and limb to arrive in America —  are.

joe-morgan-race-in-baseballJoe Morgan and other race-baiters need to pipe down. After all, this should have ended when we elected an unproven man with suspect credentials to the most important job in the world — mostly due to his skin color. {Read black columnist Larry Elder, please.}

The media and baseball are agenda-driven and have it all wrong. Six of the top seven homerun hitters of all time are black, by the way. That is 86%.

Institutional racism, especially in sports, is dead — and has been for nearly half a century. To say or argue otherwise would be scandalously untrue — or as “legitimate” as La Raza suing the NFL for lack of Hispanics. (Actually, if any group has a case for “collusion,” it’s white American (not European) basketball players who truly are often racially-discriminated against by coaches, teams, fans and media types — on and off the court. But nobody cares about that!)

Can’t we just go back to annoying complaints about length of game, competitive balance, and steroids? Or at least focus on good black ballplayers who produce well, earn well and don’t gripe, like proven stars Curtis GrandersonCarl CrawfordPrince FielderDerek LeeRyan HowardAndrew McCutchen and Jason Heyward?

Or maybe just stop worrying about skin color? I prefer that.

Someone pass this info along to Joe Morgan, Orlando Hudson and Major League Baseball.

**********

* – Joe Morgan photo credit: OaklandMagazine.com

* – Orlando Hudson photo credit: Getty Images via MLB.com



About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.

Comments

  1. Well said. People are constantly afraid of pushing the issue of race "under the rug" so instead they overcompensate for an issue, which clearly no longer exists.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Exactly. I really pity Joe Morgan, for example, as you can see. Such a bitter man for someone who leads one of the easiest and most privileged lives on earth.

  2. Right on AJ!

    Political correctness, especially as it relates to racism in sports, has irritated me for years now.

    I am an Anglo minority in California. Do I mind? No! Do I want some PC liberal to come to my aid? NO!

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      I like the individualism and the honesty. PC is brutal & dangerous in the nonsports world (national security, etc0 but in sports it’s justa s annoying.

  3. The major sports in most Hispanic areas are soccer and baseball.
    The major sports in most black communities are basketball and football.

    It is tough to place blame on anyone over statistics.

    Why don’t we see blacks and Hispanics play hockey? Because it’s not a
    popular sport in their communities.

    • By the way, great column. I’m impressed with how you handled the topic with facts
      and truths, not assumptions and personal opinions.

      • AJ Kaufman says:

        "you handled the topic with facts and truths, not assumptions and personal opinions"

        Thanks. That's the best compliment I can receive. I think it's what separates blogs from the mainstream media and why the MSM is dying.

      • I wholeheartedly agree. Great job AJ, as always.

  4. Nice job AJ, really worth the read!

  5. AJ Kaufman says:

    Interestingly, the Reds have decided to wear the #42 AGAIN tonight! Hey, why not every night the rest of the season, Dusty???

    Eight teams who did not play Thursday are wearing #42. That may be a first too, but the Reds are doing it twice.

    Then Harold Reynolds, who I really like, on MLBN, is talking about "how important" it was for an African-American like Andre Ethier (he's black?) to get the game winning hit on Robinson Day Thursday night. This is rather sick now, folks.

    It again shows the media lives in a terribly isolated bubble as they fail to realize most just don't care.

  6. AJ Kaufman says:

    Passan, to his credit, posted some reader replies to his aforementioned article, which was the impetus for mine. Unfortunately, he did not include my letter nor this article — both of which I sent him. Also to my chagrin, half of his replies were quickies, jokes and of course "satire" as they say. He also made some dumb racial jokes, bashed the Tea Party and so on. His schtick is old and annoying. I wonder why Yahoo has not found a better MLB writer:
    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AjEKHHr73.b

  7. Obviously baseball is overcompensating and, yes, it is a sad spectacle. I am, however, sympathetic to Joe Morgan. I doubt very much if the bitterness you see is narrowly constituted. Imagine how it must grate on him to see "his game" not simply eclipsed in his community but quite often obliterated. It is shocking to see the disinterest among black kids with respect to baseball.

    For a great player like Joe — also a great fan — to be constantly and futiley quizzed about "what can we do, what can we do" by many whites when there is essentially NOTHING that can be done externally, well . . . This is what you get as a result. Joe feels impotent because he is impotent on this issue. This is one of those areas where the focus is clearly geared in the wrong direction. When BLACK COLLEGES can't find enough black college baseball players and WHITE COLLEGES have remarkably few, the "problem" (if there is one) is obviously in the black community

  8. Great article and comments by all. It would seem that most people still prefer to take the easy way out. They cannot do anything themselves but will be more than happy to tell you what to do. The semi-silent majority knows that these comments come from the bitter people in our society who want it their way, period. We, as a whole, need to drop this whole PC thing. I am a white guy who can’t jump and has no rhythm maybe I should complain about something out there.

    Seriously, AJ great article.

  9. 1) Economics and availability:. Back in the day, inner cities had baseball fields where a kid could learn to play. Now it's much cheaper to lay down some concrete, and a few hoops in a lot less space than even one baseball diamond. .

    2) What I perfer to call the Thuggery factor. Baseball is game of quiet, yet intense discipline that involves ever changing strategies and requires the ability to both hit and throw. It is not always spectacular. Let's face it, over 162 games, there will be a few less than impressive games and.or efforts. Aside from the occasional home run fist pump, or walk off home plate melee, lets face it….there are very few opportunities to pound your chest and proclaim your greatness. it just doesn't have that me first attraction. And I have to share the spotlight with 23 or so other guys? And I have to wait my turn in line to get to bat? In hoops, 11 others max and if I'm on the floor, I"m stealin' the show.

  10. Part 2
    Basketball is a game thats always up…especially during a dunk or block. It requires athleticism, but allows for massive amounts of self expression, self gratfication and trash talk. It is now, on a professional level anyway, a game of The Hood. As a sport like NASCAR attempted to expand cross cultural from its Carolina mooshine haulin' ways, Pro Hoops have gone from everywhere else, to the Streets of Urban America.

    Sorry to break it to the professional apologists. I don't think MLB is looking to change the image or the style of the game, just to appeas the professional trash talkers of race.

  11. Good article and all your points are right on. I don’t think there is an issue with race in baseball nor is there any one talking about one except a few die-hard racial warriors looking for attention and wishing it was 30 yrs ago so they could get their blood boiling about something legitimate.
    That said, since you brought politics into this so will I, granted you used Larry Elder as your source material but all this anti-Obama noise (not your article specifically) leaves me scratching my head. I didn’t vote for Obama cause he was black, I voted for him because he came across as the SMARTEST person in every room he walked into and god damn it if America doesn’t deserve to have a smart person trying to navigate our country through this period of uncertainty. I won’t bring up Bush’s credentials because he had none unless you county ruining the rangers and Texas in brief stints… You say he lacked experience or credentials? I say he wasn’t tainted by American politics.Give the man a chance, if everything is on fire in 4 yrs then we were foolish for voting for him but give him the opportunity to leave the country better than he found it before judging him. I hated bush but I gave him till he invaded Iraq illegally before I started to get on his case. Also I consider my self a conservative, I own guns, and I go to church/also sorry for ranting.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Good comments.

      Politically-speaking, I have given Obama every chance. I will keep trying because unlike Bush haters, I like my nation and respect the Office of the President.

      But Obama has failed in nearly every area. He is the consummate politician. I have never seen a more rehearsed, robotic, boring, empty politician.

      He may be smart/educated, but he is unwise, as evidenced by his agenda that is antithetical to everything American stands for, and the fact that in 15 months he’s dropped 30 points in the polls as people recognize this. ALL his policies poll terribly and he has very radical people around him — not to mention his America/White/Jew-hating mentors ala Wrigth, Ayres et al.

      Bush was far wiser, and his policies — many of which Obama is following on national security — were correct in turns out.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Continuing….

      There was nothing illegal about Iraq. That’s a lie.

      There was never a treaty ending the Gulf War. Saddam violated all the sanctions, so we had every legal reason to go in there — a war that’s now won thanks to Bush, bnt Obama and the Dems who tried to lose it at every turn from 2004-2008.

      BTW, I don’t consider myself particularly conservative, don’t go to church and have never fired a gun. But I also understand good and evil, strong leaders and weak ‘leaders’ (-:

  12. This hits the nail right on the head. See attached for the flipside…why aren’t us white people up in arms?? (haha)
    Toby Gerhart is a bull…
    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=AsXFnGh5CR5

  13. Space Human says:

    The article started out normal, but it took a weird turn somewhere and by the end it felt like the author is actually motivated by racist sentiment.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      That's it. Call names when you cannot combat the facts. Oh, and call yourself "Space Human"

      Usually, the person calling someone racist or accusing them of "racist sentiment" is in fact the real racist.

  14. henry krinkle says:

    awesome response to Passan’s article. I would love to see the two of you debate the topic.

    • AJ Kaufman says:

      Passan wont reply to my emails or the article. He is a coward, like most media members who cannot back up their conjecture.

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