Bush and Morgan on inner city baseball

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President Bush is a big baseball fan and in fact was a previous owner of the Texas Rangers. In tonight’s MLB opener in the new ballbark in Washington DC, Bush threw out the first pitch and then spent a couple of innings in the broadcast booth with Joe Morgan and Jon Miller.

I’m not a big Morgan fan—he has a habit of stating the obvious and saying the most inane things during a broadcast—but a few years ago he wrote an article on trying to get inner city youth involved in baseball that I enjoyed and found myself agreeing with.

Morgan and others see the problem is not that baseball fails to find black players, but that the black athletes from the inner city and elsewhere are failing to choose baseball. While only 6% of top college teams are made up of blacks, half of the players on those same college basketball teams are black.

Tonight, the President brought up the issue. Many inner city youth see sports as a way out of the inner city and basketball is the sport of choice. Yet it is harder to become a pro basketball player. As Bush pointed out, baseball drafts more players, has larger contracts, and players have longer careers than any other sport. Even if you don’t make the 25 man roster on one of the 30 MLB teams, baseball has a rich farm system with AAA teams for each Major team as well as numerous AA and A teams, often more than one of each for each MLB team. You’re not going to make much of a livable salary until you reach the AAA level, but most players get some sort of signing bonus, often a large one.

Joe Morgan suggested that baseball should hold clinics in the inner city like the NBA does.

mary
April 7, 2008 6:31 AM

Baseball is America's game and past time, but I wonder about the true talent possibly being overlooked without these clinics like the NBA. I have gone to a few in Atlanta (which were fun) and there was some real possible innovators of the sport there. I would love to see baseball host clinics in the city at the level the NBA does and see the outcome. I think there would be some really interesting rising players to come to the game that for whatever reason missed the opportunity. But then again who knows with all the news that is coming out of baseball what its going to take. I love the game, being in Atlanta I get to enjoy the Braves doing well now...we'll see how long it last though. I don't see anything wrong with holding clinics inner city...only if the players are searched for pine tar. No offense, I thought you had interesting photos up about the "pine tar". Do you really think thats what it was??

Adam Kalsey
April 7, 2008 10:05 AM

As someone who umpires baseball at all levels and teaches new high school umpires, I'm certain that the Peavy pictures show pine tar on his hand.

mary
April 8, 2008 5:08 AM

When I got home yesterday I showed my brother and now he's obsessed and showing all of his friends your pics. But he agrees with you about the pine tar. Do you think that really helps...that might not be the most intelligent remark but I guess I am the kind of person who feels technique runs game and the equipment (or pin tar) is simply a highlight. You can have all the external help you want but if you don't have what it takes within...there's little hope. and you had better hope the next guy doesn't have "it".

Kevin
April 25, 2008 1:05 PM

Gary Sheffield first got me thinking about this a year or two ago. I think the clinics are part of it, and MLB does have some programs to encourage city kids to play the game. Problem is, not a lot of kids show up. I watched Real Sports this last week, and an interesting point was made. Basketball and Football are the types of games that you can fall in love with on your own, while baseball is a game that is often inherited from father to son. With a huge majority of inner city kids growing up in single mother households, that traditional inheritance of baseball never happens. I would argue that, more than any other major sport, baseball is a game that has to be taught for it to be watchable. You can watch football or basketball and know only the very basics and still have a good time watching it. So without that parental push, lots of kids are drawn to the faster, more physical games. Of course, there are cultural elements involved as well, but I thought this was a pretty good observation.

Dave
November 6, 2008 1:52 PM

I would like to list some top reasons why inner-city youth follow basketball more closely than baseball... 1) The "hip-hop" image basketball has 2) Lack accessibility to baseball fields in the city 3) Flip side to the above, ease of accessibility to basketball courts, whether inside or out 4) It is much easier to get a pick up game of basketball, over get a pick up game of baseball 5) Cost of the sport. Baseball is much more expensive to play than baseball. These are just a few points that I have seen while growing up. Tell me what you think.

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