By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA.– If Major League Baseball wants to get back into the hearts and minds of the American people, it needs to take steps toward the future, not keep returning to the past.
Baseball is sick, its problems are so great, that 20 different medicines as prescribed by this doctor below, are necessary to give it a cure. MLB needs a major shake up with major changes.
The question is whether the lords of the game have the courage to move into the future like hockey, basketball, and football. The sport is out of touch with reality and the fan base. The sport wants to continue to live in the 1940-50’s when the world has moved on to the 2000’s.
A prime example of returning to the past is the lack of color on the field. Jackie Robinson would not be pleased. The sport continues its decline or stagnation of African Americans on the field with participation under ten percent. This has not changed in 14 years. Many African American fans are beginning to question MLB’s efforts.
Aaron Judge Mookie Betts
Here are the few Black stars that stand out today: outfielder Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox, Aaron Judge-New York Yankees, Khris Davis of the Oakland A’s and Andrew McCutchen of the Philadelphia Phillies.
With only one Black manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it does not look good. There are only three other managers of color on the bench: Washington’s Dave Martinez, Boston’s Joey Cora, and Chicago’s Rick Renteria-Chicago White Sox.
Baseball has to be better.
MLB, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), and Fox Sports continue to promote Caucasian players like pitchers Zack Greinke-Houston Astros and Clayton Kershaw-Los Angeles Dodgers, New Jersey’s own Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Pitchers Steve Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals with outfielder Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies.
We cannot forget third basemen Alex Bregman-Houston Astros and All Star outfielder Christian Yelich-Milwaukee Brewers. All great players but what happened to African American all stars?
This year the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers are the best teams in each league. This may sound familiar. It should: they have met in the World Series eleven times and most likely will meet again this year.
Meanwhile, MLB will have to deal with three teams that are struggling, games that are being played over three hours, and breaking the MLB home run record that causes games to be laughable spectacles rather than truly competitive events.
Here are some recommendations to improve this great game of baseball.
1) Commissioner Rob Manfred was installed to continue the polices of former commissioner Bud Selig, this is not good faith bargaining by the league and the owners.
The commissioner of baseball should be the Commissioner for the game not the commissioner of baseball owners. This office should serve the fans, players, and owners. If baseball really wants to change then they should have an impartial independent commissioner.
Mr. Manfred is not it.
2) Create a comprehensive racial diversity program to attract inner city Black youngsters. Currently Major League Baseball has a program called (RBI) Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. The results are obvious because not many African Americans know about this program.
Many people are citing this program as a political stunt to ward off African American social leaders and the Black Congress. RBI will be over 30 years old but the enrollment of Black Players in the Major Leagues continues to stay between eight-ten percent.
Baseball should at least look like America at 12-14 percent African-American. Major League Baseball seems to be cultivating Latino and Asian players instead.
MLB executive positions need to be open to minorities with general managers, presidents, vice presidents, and CEO’s positions. Also there is a lack of female participation in MLB offices with two female general managers.
MLB had the chance to embrace African American fans by naming the Washington Nationals- the Grays in honor of the old Negro Leagues Homestead Grays. If they had done that. The Washington Grays would have been my baseball team immediately leaving the New York Mets, the team I grew up with.
Baseball would have gained so many new African American baseball fans but lost the opportunity by naming the team Nationals aka Nats which writers called the past Washington teams. It was business as usual.
3) Both leagues should establish a balanced schedule. MLB could be moving toward a four team division with four teams in each division but its not fast enough.
Montreal, Canada, Charlotte, North Carolina, San Antonio, Texas, Portland, Oregon, Las Vegas, Nevada, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Mexico City or Monterrey, Mexico, are among the markets that could eventually land on baseball’s radar as potential locations for new or relocated franchises.
4) At the beginning and end of the season teams should only play teams with-in their leagues because it affects each pennant race.
5) The three strike rule applying to cities that cannot support their major league team. Washington D.C. is a prime example of this. The three strike rule is when one city loses two teams they are no-longer eligible to receive another team.
Ted Williams- 1970
The original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960 to become the Twins who have won the World Series multiple times. The expansion 1961 Washington Senators moved to Arlington in 1971 to become the Texas Rangers and they have won the American League pennant two times. The three strike law would apply to the city of Washington, D.C. if and or when they lose this current team.
Yes, this rule does not exempt the Big Apple of New York City where the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to Sunny California the same year 1958.
6) MLB had no business placing teams in the states of Florida and Arizona. Don’t they have spring training in both of these states?
Robinson and Doby Roberto Clemente
7) Retire number 21 for Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder Roberto Clemente in honor of the Latin players in Major League Baseball, just as it was done for Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues. Number 42 will never be worn again.
8) Removal of baseball’s anti-trust clause. When this is accomplished we will then have true and honest trading between clubs.
If Congress had taken action years ago, the playing field would be level and the game would be held accountable to the fair trade practice laws in the United States.
It is interesting to note each time Congress threatens to do repeal the anti-trust clause; baseball momentarily cleans up its act. This is done to keep the political heat off of the game.
9) A hard salary cap. This would prevent super power teams from being formed. Other major sports have implemented a cap and it has worked to balance their leagues. The New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, and the Boston Red Sox have this advantage.
10) End the Wild Card one game play in game. It makes no sense to have 162 game season ending in one game play in game. Expand the play in game to a three games series.
Create a four team, four-division race in each league. Win your division or go home.
The current wild card system was designed for teams that do not have enough wins to take a divisional crown. The truth of the matter is the wild card increases playoff revenue for the owners, MLB, and that team’s city.
The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees forced baseball to change the wild card rules because they were the two best teams in the American League in the 1990-2000’s.
Each team would look at the standings and picked which team they thought they could beat in the first round, creating the change.
Special thanks to all that have made this my 800th article on Black Athletes Sports Network
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at email@example.com
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