By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA. (BASN)–Major League Baseball moves into the 2021 season and continues to lose ground. It is the only sport that lost a massive number of fans during the Covid-19 era. The City of Oakland could also lose its baseball team, the attendance in the major leagues continued to drop and African American players in the majors are at an all time low.
Major League Baseball continues to lose another generation of younger fans to soccer, football, basketball, and yes, even hockey. They are losing because the game is too slow and wants to remain that way wedded to the past. This has to change in order to bring professional baseball back and join the rest of the modern sports world.
Black Movie Director Spike Lee stated many times “DO THE RIGHT THING”, which is what baseball should be engaging the players and the owners to do. Many Americans continue to lose interest in this unique sport because it will not modernize the game and continues to drag their feet on the issue of inclusion.
Memorial Day weekend was special for baseball fans as they looked forward to the early baseball season. On this day as a child we still remember the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Philadelphia Phillies double hitter every year. The Chicago Cubs played two with the St. Louis Cardinals. It does not happen anymore.
The City of Oakland, The Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Commission, and the Oakland Athletics Baseball Club, cannot not agree on anything about the new Harbor Baseball Park at Jack London Square-Howard Terminal. This will be the 35th year of negotiations for the Athletics. Major League Baseball needs to step in a say, enough, either get the project done or move on. The question remains do they really want a baseball team in Oakland? The question will be answered on July 23, 2021 when all three groups will meet for the final time. The Coliseum is the 5th oldest park in the majors behind the two parks in Los Angeles and the top two Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston.
Major League Baseball continues to tell America that current Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussia did not know the Oakland A’s Bash Brothers, (Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire) were taking performance enhancing drug. Will MLB now deny the following future Hall of Fame players because of steroids?
(1.) Barry Bonds 762
(6.) Sammy Sosa 609
(8.) Mark McGwire 583
Should these 500 Home Run Club members be denied a place in the Baseball’s Hall of Fame just as Shoeless Joe Jackson, just as gambler Pete Rose? If so then they need to remove others like Jimmy Foxx for his racist views. The fact still remains Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire would be in the Hall of Fame steroids or no steroids because of their offensive records on the field.
What happens to the baseball records before African Americans played in the majors? Are they still legitimate?
Tony LaRussa and Major League Baseball wants to keep their archaic baseballs unwritten rules like hitting a home run on a 3-0 count with a sizable run lead, like breaking up a no-hit game in the 8th inning with a bunt single, like throwing at a batter that has hit a home run in the game earlier (showing up the pitcher). Do not throw the bat after a home run just run around the diamond like you have done it before. NO EMOTION PLEASE….These moves are not baseball strategies they are just unwritten rules that were made up 100 years ago. The baseball rules of edicts, Gentleman’s rules. These unwritten rules are killing the game.
Major League Baseball is trying hard to attract young Black fans by including those records and players of the Negro Leagues into the Hall of Fame this year but is it too little too late. Little Black boys want no part of this game because they see MLB commercials on television and these commercials do not have Black faces in them.
Baseball wants to hold on to history but it needs to move into the future. The 2020 move to put a runner on 2nd base at the start of extra innings is a start but not well thought out because it puts pressure on the home team to score to end the game in nine innings.
Several other recommendations could be considered to improve American attitudes toward baseball.
1) 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 commissioner.
First on the list should be the intelligent and avid sports fan Condoleezza Rice she would become the first Black Commissioner and the first female. A baseball historical moment, but with “baseball being baseball”, this will not happen.
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. However, they are not actively promoting this program. The results are obvious because so many African Americans are not informed. Many people are citing this program as a political stunt to ward off African American political leaders and the Black Congressional Caucus. RBI will be over 30 years old this year but the enrollment of Black Players in the Major Leagues continues to drop to all time low of below 8%.
At the start of the 2021 season only 62 Black players on Major League fields, there are three teams without a single Black player. Major League Baseball seems to be cultivating Latino and Asian players not inner city African American youngsters and it’s showing up on the baseball diamond.
3.) The three strike rule should apply to cities that cannot support their major league team. Washington, D.C. and New York City are prime examples of this. Washington lost The original Washington Senators that moved to Minnesota in 1960 to become the Twins.
The expansion 1961 Washington Senators moved to Arlington ten years later to become the Texas Rangers.
The New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers headed for sunny warm California in 1958 leaving the Bronx Boomers the only team in New York City.
4) Removal of baseball’s anti-trust clause. When this is accomplished we will then have true and honest trading between clubs. The Yankees, Mets, Braves, Red Sox, Angels, and Dodgers would be prevented from purchasing great players by solvent teams leaving poor teams to fend for themselves. Each team would have to trade players of equal compensation.
If Congress had taken action years ago, the playing field would be level and make baseball would be held accountable to the fair trade practice laws in the United States. There would not be Super Teams
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.
5) Either end the Wild Card playoff or expand it to best of three series. This would prevent teams like The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox-division leaders to stop tanking at the end of the season to play the wild card team or the team they think they match up well against.
6.) Either have the (DH) designated hitter rule for both either leagues or none at all. The only division that does not have a D.H. rule is the National League.
Major league basketball, football, and hockey have unified league rules while baseball has diverse rules between its leagues. Baseball should follow the National Football League-National Basketball Association standard.
7) Reduce intra-league play to a 14 game two-week format. These games tarnish what the World Series was meant to be. The mystery of the city, the mystery of the ballpark, and the opposing players are lost in this format.
Presently the only intra-league games of interest to most fans are the inter-city rivalries for example teams like the Mets-Yankees; Cubs-White Sox; Giants-A’s; Dodgers-Angels.
The second examples are the intra state rivalries like the Cardinals-Royals; Reds-Indians; Rangers-Astros, Nationals-Orioles, and ending with Rays-Marlins.
The question remains what do you do with the other teams that don’t have geographical rivalries? Examples the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners.
8) Owners that want to have a new stadium (the owner) should financially invest in the building of the stadium.
The city of New York built not one but two new stadiums for the Mets and Yankees the same year. Then both teams asked the residence of New York City to pay for both of these ballparks. In a time of a recession, they added insult to injury displacing minority residence by destroying their neighborhood.
9) Owners of new stadiums should resist the installation of Astro- turf or indoor-domed ball parks. The game of baseball was design to be played outside on natural grass.
10) Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field are the only original remaining stadiums and should never be demolished. They should stand as museums for the American and National Leagues.
11) Baseball should make every effort to bring the game back to the average American fan. Teams should lower ticket prices. Teams should have family fun days, and more weekday weekend day games. The Oakland Athletics continue to be fan friendly with day games and lower ticket prices.
12) Diversity does not seem to be in baseball’s immediate future. In MLB executive positions there are only two African American managers and two Latino American managers. The inclusions of female executives are a start with Ms. Kim Ng General Manager of the Miami Marlins.
13) The home team should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, wear dark or black uniforms. The home team are the good guys, this practice of wearing dark or black uniforms formulated from spring training games were every team wears their dominate color.
Let’s not kid ourselves here they are wearing their dark or black jerseys to promote the selling of these jerseys. A marketing scheme that seems to be working, baseball understands money.
14) MLB should schedule its Divisional League, League Championship, and World Series games at an earlier time so younger fans can watch their favorite team on television or attend the ballpark.
Remember we were once the younger fans. “Baseball being baseball” does not get it. They have lost at least two past generations of younger potential fans. Soccer and hockey is closing in on baseball and the Lords of the game continue to turn a blind eye.
These are the fourteen steps Major League Baseball should take if they want to get back into the hearts and minds of the American people. But Baseball being baseball we all know what will happen
NOTE: I would like to thank my fellow Popsicle Brothers (NHL)-MIG LINE Michael Louis-Ingram, former BASN Editor and Chief, Tony McClean, Michael Lewis Ingram, my Mother, Joan H. Gray, BASN-CEO Roland Rogers, and fellow writers of BASN for their contribution in achieving the milestone of 500 articles on this 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 News Radio Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod.