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Sabathia: MLB at 'crisis' with lack of black players

The Fan

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Sabathia makes pitch for more black players
Associated Press

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- C.C. Sabathia looks around Cleveland's clubhouse and sees something missing.

"There aren't very many African-American players, and it's not just in here, it's everywhere. It's not just a problem -- it's a crisis."
-- C.C. Sabathia

"There aren't very many African-American players, and it's not just in here, it's everywhere," Sabathia said Wednesday between morning workouts. "It's not just a problem -- it's a crisis."

Sabathia, the only black player on the Indians' 25-man roster last season, feels baseball could be doing more to promote its game to inner-city kids who are gravitating toward basketball and other sports.

"I go back home to Vallejo," Sabathia said of his offseason time in California, "and the kids say, 'What's baseball?' It's not just an issue for my hometown, it's an issue for the whole country. I think Major League Baseball should do something about it. I don't know exactly what they could be doing, but I know it's not enough."

According to a 2005 report by the University of Central Florida Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, only 8.5 percent of major leaguers were African American -- the lowest percentage since the report was initiated in the mid-1980s. By contrast, whites comprised 59.5 percent of the majors' player pool, Latinos 28.7 percent and Asians 2.5.

Sabathia appreciates some of the steps baseball has taken to make itself more appealing to young blacks such as the Urban Youth Academy, which opened last year in Compton, Calif. Also, there's the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program, which has attracted more than 120,000 kids worldwide.

Still, it's not enough to Sabathia, who along with Florida's Dontrelle Willis are the only prominent black starting pitchers in the majors.

"That's amazing. That's unbelievable," he said. "I don't think people understand that there is a problem. They see players like Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado and just assume that they're black."

Sabathia is trying to do his part to make a difference and raise baseball's profile. He sponsors the North Vallejo Little League, providing equipment and serving as a role model for 175 kids from his hometown he hopes will see where baseball can take them.

"I try to do a lot with the league and with the rec centers," he said. "I want to show them. I came from there. These are the fields I played on. There is a way out, and it could be baseball."

One of the reasons for baseball's decline among African Americans may be that struggling inner-city families can't afford the necessary equipment. Aluminum bats, balls, gloves and uniforms cost money, a fact that pushes kids toward basketball because all you need to play is a ball and a hoop.

In addition, because there are so few African-American major league stars, kids don't identify with them the way they do with today's top NBA and NFL players.

"They don't see us playing," Sabathia said. "When I grew up, I was a pitcher and I liked the Oakland A's. I liked Dave Stewart. I was a big left-handed hitter, so I liked Dave Parker. You had Barry Bonds playing in San Francisco, guys like that. There were a lot of guys to look up to."

If he was a kid today, would Sabathia be playing baseball?

"No way," he said. "That's the truth."

The Indians have long been at the forefront of baseball's race game. The club was chosen to play against St. Louis in the inaugural Civil Rights game on March 31 in Memphis because it was the first AL team to have a black player (Admin Doby) and first in the majors to hire a black manager (Frank Robinson).

The lack of black, non-Hispanic players isn't just a problem at the major league level, either. In 2003, the NCAA revealed that only 6 percent of the nearly 9,800 Division I baseball players were black, compared to 25 percent in all sports combined.

Sabathia thinks another reason for baseball's dip in popularity among urban youth could be traced to the lure of big-money contracts in other sports.

"Black kids see LeBron [James] coming out of high school and getting his millions," the 26-year-old said. "So they see basketball and football as the quickest way out. But they don't realize I got to the big leagues when I was only 20."

Sabathia has spoken with Willis and Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins -- all are from the Bay Area -- about doing more to raise baseball's profile. He credited Minnesota outfielder Torii Hunter, who is seeking the best African-American amateur teams from across the nation and sponsoring a tournament.

"We can all do more," Sabathia said. "Talking about the problem isn't going to solve it. It's time to do something."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
 

furcalchick

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another one of these forced diversity articles...i really don't like these kinds of articles.

i don't feel it's a crisis with the little amount of black players in the league, as now compared to old times, blacks can get into the game of baseball. forced diversity is never an answer, as all it does is get people that don't want to do things to do things, and that doesn't create much fun.

i do have a major problem with the following: "One of the reasons for baseball's decline among African Americans may be that struggling inner-city families can't afford the necessary equipment. Aluminum bats, balls, gloves and uniforms cost money, a fact that pushes kids toward basketball because all you need to play is a ball and a hoop." two problems.

1. this could be considered racist as it assumes that all black families live in inner cities, when that is false (many do, not ignoring that), too much of a blanket statement regarding black people. there are many black people in the middle and upper classes and this ignores that.

2. most of the players in latin america, esp. the dominican republic had less to work with than the inner city folks. but yet, they still play baseball. you don't need a uniform to play baseball, all you need is a bat, gloves and open space to play baseball. it's not the best, but it works. i think this is used as a crutch as to why they don't want to play baseball.

here's the reasons why i think most blacks aren't going into baseball.

1. baseball culture. compared to basketball and football, it's old fashioned and behind the times, and not very attractive to alot of young people, especially with the hip hop culture more predominant with blacks.

2. minor leagues. the big payday in baseball is much later than in football or basketball, and thus unattractive to a poorer person who wants to get their family out of the hood. cc actually mentioned this, but 20 year olds in the bigs are like kobe bryants getting out of high school.

3. "it's boring". when most black people talk about baseball, they think it's boring. don't know why though. most likely related to 1.

i'm okay for more black interest in baseball, but don't force blacks into it because of the lack of blacks.
 

Iowa

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another one of these forced diversity articles...i really don't like these kinds of articles.

i don't feel it's a crisis with the little amount of black players in the league, as now compared to old times, blacks can get into the game of baseball. forced diversity is never an answer, as all it does is get people that don't want to do things to do things, and that doesn't create much fun.

i do have a major problem with the following: "One of the reasons for baseball's decline among African Americans may be that struggling inner-city families can't afford the necessary equipment. Aluminum bats, balls, gloves and uniforms cost money, a fact that pushes kids toward basketball because all you need to play is a ball and a hoop." two problems.

1. this could be considered racist as it assumes that all black families live in inner cities, when that is false (many do, not ignoring that), too much of a blanket statement regarding black people. there are many black people in the middle and upper classes and this ignores that.

2. most of the players in latin america, esp. the dominican republic had less to work with than the inner city folks. but yet, they still play baseball. you don't need a uniform to play baseball, all you need is a bat, gloves and open space to play baseball. it's not the best, but it works. i think this is used as a crutch as to why they don't want to play baseball.

here's the reasons why i think most blacks aren't going into baseball.

1. baseball culture. compared to basketball and football, it's old fashioned and behind the times, and not very attractive to alot of young people, especially with the hip hop culture more predominant with blacks.

2. minor leagues. the big payday in baseball is much later than in football or basketball, and thus unattractive to a poorer person who wants to get their family out of the hood. cc actually mentioned this, but 20 year olds in the bigs are like kobe bryants getting out of high school.

3. "it's boring". when most black people talk about baseball, they think it's boring. don't know why though. most likely related to 1.

i'm okay for more black interest in baseball, but don't force blacks into it because of the lack of blacks.
Wow. There are more holes in that post than.. well something with a lot of holes in it.

The only thing sabathia can be faulted for here is beimg ignorant about not knowing that MLB has tried recently to make baseball more readily to the inner cities. If he knows about these programs and he still doesnt believe its enough.. more power to him because you cant fault a guy for trying to give kids a chance when they didnt have that opportunity before. The whole culture, payday and boring reasoning is just stupid and has nothing to do with making baseball more available to kids in the inner city.

It made me cringe reading your last 3 points because CHILDREN don't think about that. CHILDREN think about doing things they love doing.. I don't know about you, but i remember PLAYING baseball before WATCHING it.. thats how I grew to love the game: playing it... and if that opprtunity to play little league ball wasnt available to me, i too would probably think its boring and old-fashioned.. and that has nothing to do with the "hip-hop" culture.


If CC thinks there is more to be done in making baseball more readily available to inner-city youth so they can be given the option of playing, an option they may have never gotten before, more power to him.
 

Junior

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Iowa why is Tyrus wearing #32 in that picture?
 

MarlinFan10

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Well, there certainly is less black players today, but I don't see it as a crisis. There's a lack of black players in the NHL, but it isn't a crisis. People just want to play football and basketball nowadays.
 

Iowa

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Iowa why is Tyrus wearing #32 in that picture?
No idea.. I'm guessing it was a photo just after the draft or something. Not sure why he changed it though? Players are weird with their jersey numbers.
 

Markickass21

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Torri Hunter said the same thing last year. Baseball should listen and try to do something about it.
 

TarHeel324

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another one of these forced diversity articles...i really don't like these kinds of articles.

i don't feel it's a crisis with the little amount of black players in the league, as now compared to old times, blacks can get into the game of baseball. forced diversity is never an answer, as all it does is get people that don't want to do things to do things, and that doesn't create much fun.

i do have a major problem with the following: "One of the reasons for baseball's decline among African Americans may be that struggling inner-city families can't afford the necessary equipment. Aluminum bats, balls, gloves and uniforms cost money, a fact that pushes kids toward basketball because all you need to play is a ball and a hoop." two problems.

1. this could be considered racist as it assumes that all black families live in inner cities, when that is false (many do, not ignoring that), too much of a blanket statement regarding black people. there are many black people in the middle and upper classes and this ignores that.

2. most of the players in latin america, esp. the dominican republic had less to work with than the inner city folks. but yet, they still play baseball. you don't need a uniform to play baseball, all you need is a bat, gloves and open space to play baseball. it's not the best, but it works. i think this is used as a crutch as to why they don't want to play baseball.

here's the reasons why i think most blacks aren't going into baseball.

1. baseball culture. compared to basketball and football, it's old fashioned and behind the times, and not very attractive to alot of young people, especially with the hip hop culture more predominant with blacks.

2. minor leagues. the big payday in baseball is much later than in football or basketball, and thus unattractive to a poorer person who wants to get their family out of the hood. cc actually mentioned this, but 20 year olds in the bigs are like kobe bryants getting out of high school.

3. "it's boring". when most black people talk about baseball, they think it's boring. don't know why though. most likely related to 1.

i'm okay for more black interest in baseball, but don't force blacks into it because of the lack of blacks.
So CCs argument is invalid because not all black families are in the inner city...but blacks arent going into baseball because they cant get a big payday to get their families out of the hood? :blink: Arent you contradicting yourself?
 

furcalchick

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So CCs argument is invalid because not all black families are in the inner city...but blacks arent going into baseball because they cant get a big payday to get their families out of the hood? :blink: Arent you contradicting yourself?

all i'm saying is that when these type articles get run, it has the impression of saying that almost all black people are poor and in the hood. i will admit that many blacks are in the lower class, this gives the idea that only a few blacks are in the middle and upper classes. what i said was that for poorer folks, black or otherwise, baseball is less attractive to them because of the payday coming later. so, no, i'm not contradicting myself. and i didn't say all of cc's points were invalid, more baseball in poor communities is a good thing. just don't try to have forced diversity in baseball.

and another big reason why it's harder to play baseball...you need more people than in football and basketball to play a pickup game. in basketball, just need a ball and a court (find those anywhere) and a couple of friends for a game. football, just a ball and a few more friends and some open space in a park. baseball you need a bunch of people and at least one set of gloves, and a bat and ball. that's kinda hard to play pick up anywhere, so that's a big hurdle to go against.

one more thing, there are less americans in the big leagues than 20 years ago. about 1/3 of the players today are foreign-born, so saying only 8.5% of players are black, while low, is also lowered when you consider all americans. and in the 80's, football and basketball boomed in popularity, as they overtook baseball as america's sport, and because it was easier to access for people in general, especially the poor, combined with early paydays, this led to a migration of the poor away from baseball...at least that's what i think.
 

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