A conversation about MLB, on the field, off the field.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

From the basement March 15 07

I have written here before about the declining numbers of African Americans playing MLB. The subject is gathering momentum amongst baseball's chattering classes. This week there was an AP story in which C.C. Sabathia lamented the decline. Also this week Peter Gammons wrote a piece praising Tori Hunter for acting as a role model for fellow African American players as well as promoting baseball in urban African American communities. As well, MLB has officially acknowledged the situation and is busily spinning the issue. The MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton is soon to open, Frank Robinson who was recently hired to work with Jimmie Lee Solomon on these sorts of "minority initiatives" was on hand for the photo op. MLB is staging a 2 day media event in Memphis, March 30 - 31, the theme is baseball and civil rights. March 30 MLB will host a roundtable discussion featuring amongst others the aforementioned Mr. Gammons. The following day MLB will stage the inaugural Civil Rights exhibition game preceded by the inaugural Beacon Awards luncheon, amongst the recipients will be Spike Lee and Buck O'Neill. In a previous post I commented on an opinion piece by Ms Diane Grassi which was published on bizofbaseball.com, in which she is very critical of MLB and it's relationship ( or absence of one ) with African Americans. Amongst her comments, why is MLB staging a Civil Rights game if no African Americans will be watching? or words to that effect.

I think MLB is paying lip service to the issue. MLB wants to be perceived as proactive and working with the African American community ( whatever that means ) on bringing them back to the game but a critic like Ms. Grassi would point out that teams have made much, much larger investements in developing players in the Dominican Republic and Venezuala ( pre Chavez ) than they have in "inner city" US communities.

Guys like me read FORTY MILLION DOLLAR SLAVES and opinion pieces of the like and I blog about the subject as well because I think it's interesting and revealing but in real terms the chatter we are hearing about the disappearing African American in US baseball is limited to a very small group of us. As I've blogged before I think the same thing about steroids in the game, everybody hates Bonds, but beyond that I don't think fans care. The rank & file guy that goes to an MLB game doesn't read this stuff, and that's not meant as a criticism.

The role of Liberty Media in MLB gets more and more interesting. As we know they recently purchased the Braves from Time Warner ( pending approval from the owners ) and they also recently purchased DirecTV ( which will be the sole provider of MLB's out of market Extra Innings package.) We also knew that they hold an interest in an online gambling business, which rasied some eyebrows, but now and maybe most importantly this: According to Sports Business Journal, Liberty Media is now in control of CDM Fantasy Sports. That should ring a bell, CDM Fantasy Sports "is locked in a bitter legal dispute against MLB Advanced Media and the MLB Players Association over the unlicensed use of players names and statistics in commercial fantasy games." There is huge money at stake here not only for MLB but for all pro sports. As I previously blogged, all the US based pro leagues of any note file "amicus briefs" ( I don't know from that ) on behalf of MLBAM and the MLBPA in the appeals filings. I'm very curious how this plays out.

Tuesday nite I was watching a few innings of the Padres vs the Rockies. I have seen a couple of AB's by former Lynx. Jamey Carroll was in the game for the Rockies ( I agree with Naete Sager, I think Rox is wrong ). Carroll proved himself a capable everyday player last season at 2nd after having had the reputation as a backup infielder. However I keep reading that the Rockies will give Kaz Matsui every opportunity to play everyday at 2nd this season. Will Carroll see some time at short if much hyped rookie SS Troy Tulowitzki struggles ( he's also a little banged up presently ) or will the AB's go to former starter Clint Barmes? Former Lynx Jack Cust was playing for the Padres, he was reassigned to minor league camp a day or two later, don't know if he accepted the assignment. Karl, does he hold the Lynx season record for walks? I thought Cust would hit big time for the Lynx, he is an accomplished Triple A power hitter but didn't put up the big numbers here. I've never seen the stats but I think that Lynx Stadium is not a good park for home run hitters ( fine with me, I like the old school small ball ). Karl, have you seen the stats over they years on this? One more question for Lynx blogger Karl, Scott Strickland is pitching for the Padres, is he a former Lynx? I know he is a former Expo. I think he's been struggling with arm trouble the past few years. Classic spring training finish to this "tilt" ( I feel like Tank McNamara, sic?) 5-5 tie, 10 innings.

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