Archive for April 16th, 2010

The Yankees welcome the Texas Rangers to town for the start of a three game series. Game 1 will feature a matchup between initialed lefties C.C. Sabathia and C.J. Wilson. Wilson was scratched from his last start due to food poisoning, so he will be pitching with two extra days of rest. On April 8, Wilson threw seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays. The start was his first since 2005, and snapped a string of 234 consecutive relief appearances.

vs. C.J. Wilson PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 8 0.333 0.500 0.833 1 1
Nick Johnson DH 2 1.000 1.000 1.000 0 1
Mark Teixeira 1B 2 0.000 0.500 0.000 0 0
Alex Rodriguez 3B 11 0.000 0.182 0.000 0 0
Robinson Cano 2B 12 0.222 0.417 0.333 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 16 0.385 0.500 0.769 1 5
Marcus Thames LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Curtis Granderson CF 4 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 1 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 56 0.2326 0.3393 0.442 2 7
  • Before the game, the Yankees announced that Chan Ho Park was headed to the DL with a hamstring injury. Boone Logan has been called up to take his place.

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Every Jackie Robinson Day brings about a reexamination of the diminishing number of black America players in major league baseball. Unfortunately, some misguidedly present the issue as a residue of racism. We’ve seen Gary Sheffield and Torri Hunter both imply that baseball teams are willfully using Latin players to phase out the black American athlete. Of course, even if this was true, the exact same thing could be said about white American players. After all, while the number of black American players has declined from 17.8% in 1990 to 10.2% in 2008, according to the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, the number of white (mostly American) players has also declined from 70% to 60.4%.

Baseball needs to revise its amateur draft, but Commissioner Bud Selig is likely to stand in the way.

Making up the lion’s share in the decline of white and black American players has been an exponential increase in the number of Latino players. At 27% of the major league talent pool, the number of Latino players has more than doubled since 1990. Also, Asian players have carved out a 2.4% segment of the pool after not being represented in 1990.

What makes the racism angle so dicey is that many of the Latinos playing baseball are, in fact, black. It seems kind of odd to deny them this distinction based on their country of origin. It would be like not considering Jason Bay and Justin Morneau as white because they are Canadian. For some reason, however, many in the game and media have felt the need to make the separation. So, players like Robinson Cano, David Ortiz and Vladamir Guerrero are not considered to be black. Nonsensical suppositions like that only serve to cloud an already complicated issue.

In order for baseball to really address the decline in black, and yes even white, American players, we need to get past the smokescreen of race. Instead, our focus should be on talent, namely how can baseball ensure that the highest percentage of the most talented athletes in the largest number of countries are playing the game. Baseball shouldn’t really care what color skin its players have, but it definitely should be concerned if a segment of athlete is not playing the game.

Now, the question becomes, does MLB want to put its money where its mouth is? Tributes to Jackie Robinson and initiatives like RBI are all very useful, but they really don’t scratch the surface of the issue, which is investment in player development. To fully address that issue, however, baseball has to do something revolutionary…it has to either discontinue or significantly revamp the Rule IV draft.

The Rule IV draft was instituted in 1965 as a means to prevent larger market teams (mostly the Yankees) from either hording talent, or using surrogate teams to circumvent bonus rules that required players making a certain salary level to remain on a big league roster (for years, the Kansas City Athletics were referred to as a Yankees’ minor league team). At the time, most of the players were drafted out of high school, so there really wasn’t a noticeable impact on the kinds of players entering the league. With integration fully taking hold, the percentage of black American players jumped to nearly 30% in the 1970s. (more…)

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