Yesterday, I posted a link to Adam Jones talking about Jackie Robinson and blacks in baseball in 2015. Here’s Marlins’ players Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton said last year:
Every year, MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day – April 15 – by donning #42 uniforms, hosting special events, and talking about the importance of Jackie Robinson to baseball and society. One of my favorite players, Adam Jones, always tells it like it is, and Jackie Robinson Day a few years ago was no different. Click here to check out Adam Jones’ 2015 comments here.
This year is the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. As we count down to Jackie Robinson Day, let’s think about what this means to the players, the game, and us – the fans.
Are you ready to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day? This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the day that Jackie Robinson broke the color line in baseball. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his major league debut, thus opening the door to MLB for African Americans and players of other races.
This year, you can have new Jackie Robinson shoes from Adidas, a Daytona Tortugas‘ Jackie Robinson giveaway t-shirt, or a replica of the new statue of Robinson installed at Dodger Stadium. I’ll have more Robinson-related posts as we countdown the next few days.
I think Saturday’s gonna be a great day!
Yesterday, Kathie Lee Gifford expressed her love for the Bowie Baysox on national TV! Gifford grew up in Bowie, MD, and highlighted our local minor league team on the Today show’s “Favorite Things” feature.
On Opening Day, Today also did a nice piece on baseball for Opening Day. It, too, mentioned the minor leagues. And for MiLB Opening Day, a few MiLB mascots made sure they got themselves on TV:
It’s nice to see minor league baseball getting national coverage. I’m still not sure how much casual fans know about the minor leagues, or if they follow them like The Baseball Sociologist does, but at least someone at the Today show loves MiLB!
The longer I study the Orioles’ minor league teams, the more I wonder about all the roster moves and how it affects the players and fans. On Saturday, I was surprised to see that Henry Urrutia was not on the roster when I went to see the Norfolk Tides at the Charlotte Knights. Then I found this tweet:
You see, I didn’t see that part about the IronBirds, at first. So, immediately I searched the roster of the Bowie Baysox on the MiLB First Pitch app. The Orioles had outrighted Urrutia to Bowie last year, so I thought maybe he’d just ended up back there. But he wasn’t on the Bowie roster. So I checked the Frederick Keys, the Delmarva Shorebirds, and then the Aberdeen Ironbirds’ rosters. No Henry.
Where was Henry? What happened to Henry? What did they do to Henry?
I was beginning to think it was some sort of a conspiracy. After all, the O’s had recently released fellow Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez. After he got hurt. After the O’s tried to convert him to a pitcher. After it was announced he needed Tommy John surgery. Poor guy gets sidelined and the O’s cut him. (But more on him later.)
It was eventually brought to my attention that – despite my inability to find him on the IronBirds’ roster – the original tweet that had started my feverish search for Henry Urrutia had indeed stated he was on the IronBirds’ roster. I checked First Pitch again and realized they only had two outfielders listed, and since they don’t start play until mid-June, maybe updating the app was not a priority.
I was happy to see this tweet on Sunday:
The Tides’ box score did confirm that Henry played in yesterday’s game. He was a pinch hitter. He didn’t get a hit, and the Tides lost, but at least he got in the game.
I’m a little sensitive about my players, you see. The Orioles like to manipulate the rosters of their various minor league teams. A lot. And I’m still a little annoyed that Pedro Alvarez was sent to Norfolk this year to learn the outfield. He was a major leaguer for the Pittsburgh Pirates for more than five years. Last year, playing part-time with the O’s he still managed to hit 22 home runs. Pedro does not belong in AAA.
Which brings me back to Dariel Alvarez. Two days after his release, the Baltimore Sun attempted to humanize the Orioles by saying that Alvarez could come back. The Orioles are interested in signing him to a minor league contract if he clears waivers. It’s the least they could do. I hope they at least pay for his Tommy John surgery. That minor league contract better not be a huge pay cut, though.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that with everything going on in baseball, it’s hard to get the whole story. Baseball sociology requires more than just rosters, box scores, and stats. To know how society impacts the sport, and how baseball impacts society, we need to dig deeper. We need to know more of the story.
SO much great baseball this week! One of the best moments? Yadier Molina in “The Search for the Missing Baseball” and the Cubs response.
Baseball is crazy with statistics, but the stats that are most interesting to me, are those related to people: demographics, attendance, community impact, etc. Fortunately, there are baseball stats on that, too! For the 2017 season, I will periodically highlight important social stats about baseball – on “Stat”-urdays!
Here’s an interesting take on the decline of Black players that was posted in 2014 by Business Insider. Do you agree with their conclusions?
Data through 2016 was recently posted by SABR.