Baseball is the only game where there is a right
way to play: the white way.” ~ Chris Rock
One week after Jackie Robinson Day, HBO posted a video on YouTube of Chris Rock discussing the absence of Blacks in Major League Baseball. Rock is a baseball fan, and he has some legitimate concerns. “Baseball is dying,” he says.
This is something MLB and the Baseball Sociologist have also focused on in recent years. Here are a few of the issues highlighted by Rock (the video is also posted below):
- Baseball is old-fashioned.
- The number of Black ball players has fallen from 20% a few decades ago to 8% today.
- Announcers are old, white-haired white guys.
- Baseball wants things to return to the way it used to be – from retro ballparks to organ music in the parks; this does not reflect the history and experiences of non-white fans.
- In a speeded up world, baseball is slowing down.
- There is an old-fashioned code: no celebrations allowed.
All of these things, Rock argues, do not reflect the interests and experiences of a large part of society. He sums it up: “Baseball is uncool. … you lose black America, you lose young America.”
So what are the solutions to this dilemma? I, for one, would like to start with his point about announcers. Let’s have Chris Rock and other celebrities (who are not old white-haired white guys) do the announcing some day. That would be pretty cool. And completely un-old-fashioned.
What are your suggestions?