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Postby fiz » Sun May 09, 2004 11:15 am

juan pierre - arguably the best leadoff man in baseball
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Postby Spokes » Sun May 09, 2004 11:18 am

How is laughing being an ass? It was funny. He called Mike Young black. That's funny. Whatever. But, it seems to me that I am not the one who needs to chill out.
As far as this thread goes and it's REAL topic...
This is very true. Baseball doesn't connect with inner-city kids like basketball and football does and baseball knows that. More programs need to get involved with black kids, NO DOUBT. It really does suck that more black kids just basically ignore baseball these days.
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Postby KULCAT » Sun May 09, 2004 11:51 am

trippinonreality wrote:Sheffield, preston wilson, garret anderson, andruw jones, derek lee off the top of my head are all all-star caliber and I am sure there are more if I actually sat down and thought. While its true that the bulk are hispanic or white you mentioned Bonds and Griff who barring injury would have both been top 5 in terms of greatest ever.


Andruw jones is not american

Others there Vernon Wells and Dmitri Young
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Postby WhiteHot » Sun May 09, 2004 11:53 am

You guys forgot Willie Mays, Cecil Fielder, and Vlad the Impailer.
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Postby KULCAT » Sun May 09, 2004 11:55 am

fiz wrote:juan pierre - arguably the best leadoff man in baseball

Not american either.

Speaking about "color blindness" i couldnt believe Khalil Green and Lew Ford were white
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Postby trippinonreality » Sun May 09, 2004 11:59 am

Are we talking about african-american or are we talking about black?
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Postby j_d_mcnugent » Sun May 09, 2004 12:06 pm

KULCAT wrote:
fiz wrote:juan pierre - arguably the best leadoff man in baseball

Not american either.


according to his profile pierre was born in alabama.
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Postby j_d_mcnugent » Sun May 09, 2004 12:11 pm

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside ... _shooting/

What happened to the black baseball players?
Posted: Friday May 16, 2003 1:49 PM

On a night stand next to his bed, C.C. Sabathia has a keepsake given to him by former major league pitcher Jim “Mudcat" Grant -- a framed list of African-American 20-game winners.

The 22-year-old Cleveland Indians left-hander wants to be next on the list. For now, anyway, there’s not much competition. Besides Sabathia, Colorado Rockies teammates Darren Oliver and Shawn Chacon were the only black American-born starting pitchers on the 25-man Opening Day rosters.

“It’s just kind of weird," said Sabathia, who grew up outside Oakland, Calif., a fan of former A’s pitcher Dave Stewart. “I’m one of the few starters and probably a lot of people don’t even know who I am. That is part of the problem, too."

Only four other black American-born pitchers showed up on those Opening Day rosters. That’s no surprise to Atlanta Braves reliever Ray King, who in five big-league seasons has never been on a staff that had another African-American.

“Coming out of high school, I had five or six [African-American] guys on my team that were better than me," said King. “When I got to [Lambuth University] we had four or five. Then, my first year of rookie ball in Billings, Mont., I was the only one.

“I just don’t know where they are. I was joking the other day that there are almost more coaches than there are players."

That’s an intriguing question: Where have all the black ballplayers gone?

While the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others monitor baseball’s minority hiring practices, the pipeline of African-American players to the major leagues is as dry as its been since 1960. Blacks represented only 10.5 percent of players on the 2003 Opening Day rosters, according to an SI.com analysis.

That’s down from 27 percent in 1975 and 17 percent as recently as 1992 (the percentage of white players is down to 60 percent from 67 percent in 1992), according to figures compiled by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.

Obviously, the influx of Latin American talent -- about 28 percent of big leaguers -- factors into the ethnic mix. Baseball is the No. 1 sport in places like the Dominican Republic, where there is no tug from basketball and football for potential prospects.

And while Major League Baseball is committed to building a baseball academy in Los Angeles, its clubs have been mining Latin American talent in this fashion for two decades, building academies to attract and develop teenage talent. Because prospects from the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela aren’t subject to the draft, they’re considerably cheaper to sign and more cost-effective for big league teams.

But other issues are at play here, too -- everything from declining inner city youth programs and perceived racism in baseball to the faster paths to the glory promised by basketball and football.


The Sandlots

It's clear things aren’t like they used to be at the Belmont Heights Little League in Tampa, Fla. This is an inner city complex that made a national name in the 1970s and '80s, advancing to six Little League World Series and developing pro talent like Dwight Gooden, Gary Sheffield, Derek Bell and Carl Everett. The league is down to 300 players this spring, about half of what it was in its heyday.

Baseball is still a community sport here, but the neighborhood talent pool is in decline. Redevelopment has seen some of the housing projects torn down. A major highway has cut into the league’s boundaries. And officials say the neighborhood has grown old.

“It’s not the same," said Sheffield. “I tried to take over the program, but the city wouldn’t allow you to purchase the property and do things with those kids."

Major League Baseball has brought the game to 120,000 teenagers nationwide via its Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities [RBI] program, but more than ever baseball is evolving into a suburban game. The 'burbs are where you find the money and community involvement to build and run fields of dreams -- complexes with quality lighting, manicured diamonds and rows of batting cages.

“It is easy to go to an inner city and see a basketball court," said King, who grew up in Chicago. “You got a pole, a goal and a backboard and 20 to 30 feet of concrete. Baseball has to be more organized and has more cost involved."

The drag from other sports is also stealing more and more baseball prospects. High school football spring practice cuts into baseball season in some states. AAU and summer basketball leagues further siphon off talent.

These days at Belmont Heights, league president Annette Jenkins has to guard against summer league basketball coaches hunkered down in the stands.

“They come out to the park and try to steal the kids and take them to play in basketball tournaments," said Jenkins, a retired Air Force officer. “They sweet-talk the mom, who says, ‘That sounds good. I’ll take him out of [baseball].’ So he never gets a chance to play the full season."


The College Game

If you’re looking at major colleges as a source for black players, forget it. According to the latest NCAA numbers, 57 percent of Division I basketball players and 43 percent of football players are African-American -- but, incredibly, less than 7 percent of baseball players.

Long-time Mississippi State coach Ron Polk has had blacks on his team before, but not this season. The reason, he says, has as much to do with economics -- the NCAA permits schools to award 11.7 baseball scholarships -- as a shallow talent pool.

“Let’s understand, a 20 or 30 percent scholarship is likely all you’re going to get in [college] baseball," said Polk. “If they play football or basketball, they are going to get a full scholarship and they get more adulation for doing so. They go where the money is.

“If they’re offered a 30 percent scholarship and they get offered $150,000 [pro signing bonus], it’s a no-brainer. So most of the black players you see playing in the big leagues are guys signed out of high school."

Sabathia, a first-round pick of the Indians in 1998, is a prime example. Before accepting a $1 million signing bonus, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound product from Vallejo (Calif.) High School had signed to play football -- not baseball -- at the University of Hawaii.

“I played basketball, too, like a lot of other guys," Sabathia said.

The kids he played alongside saw greater reward in basketball and football. They saw Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant and others skipping off to the NBA. They flipped on the TV and saw college basketball and football players hyped like mini pros.

Other sports brought the prospect of instant gratification, like LeBron James weighing $30 million shoe dollars before he’s ever drafted. When they looked to baseball, even Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. had to toil in the minor leagues.

So it’s no surprise when the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport reports that African-Americans account for 78 percent of NBA players and 65 percent of NFL.

“If you have the athletic ability to play professionally and the choice, you go to the NBA or football,’’ said St. Louis Cardinals reserve outfielder Kerry Robinson, the club’s lone African-American. “You go straight there. It might take some time for you to get to the big leagues in baseball, and there is no guarantee you are going to get to the big leagues."

The Jackie Robinson Effect

Gene Orza, the No. 2 guy with the players’ union, believes African-Americans have mixed feelings about the game, dating back more than 50 years to Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color line. He sees baseball's treatment of Robinson as a weight around the sport's neck.

“Sometimes the weight hangs from the front and sometimes the weight hangs from the back," said Orza, a board member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation. “And when it hangs from the back, it makes baseball stand erect and it is proud how baseball contributed to the integration of America by the Robinson phenomenon. By the same token it hangs around the front of our neck, because people see it as a great stain on the sport.

“When baseball excluded blacks, the other sports didn’t matter. I think a lot of blacks associate the sport with the pre-Robinson era, fairly so. The stain that the discrimination represented was not as much a football, basketball or hockey stain as a baseball stain. Our stain runs deeper. And our relationship with black fans and our relationship with the inner cities and our relationship with that whole concept is a much more historically complex one. I think to his credit ... [Commissioner Bud] Selig understands this, because he has a sense of history about this."

Modern-day players like Sheffield, however, don’t sense the old wounds when they return to their community. Instead, the Braves' slugger recalls his family nurturing his love for the game, watching and playing ball with him as a child in Tampa.

But these same players notice the declining numbers. Robinson talks of feeling like the lone man on an island, much like he did as a kid playing youth hockey in St. Louis. King surveys the Atlanta clubhouse and wonders if he’ll ever have a black pitcher on the staff to share his thoughts with.

The trend isn’t likely to change any time soon, either. Of the almost 6,200 players in the minor leagues, 46 percent were born outside the U.S.

Mike Fish is a senior writer for SI.com.
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Postby KULCAT » Sun May 09, 2004 12:48 pm

j_d_mcnugent wrote:
KULCAT wrote:
fiz wrote:juan pierre - arguably the best leadoff man in baseball

Not american either.


according to his profile pierre was born in alabama.


My bad. I thought he was, maybe he´s from hispanic descent.
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Postby DK » Sun May 09, 2004 1:28 pm

Off topic real quick, isn't Juan Pierre such a confusing name? I mean, it starts off "Juan", which makes you think "Oh, he's hispanic". Then it goes off to "Pierre", which makes you think "Wait, he's French?" Then you go to his profile and see that he's African-American. "WHAT?"
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