With all of the progress African-Americans have made in this country over the past 30-plus years, you would think there is still major oppression occurring when listening to some public figures.
Now, the cries of “oppression” seem to extend to Major League Baseball.
The percentage of African-Americans playing Major League Baseball is at an all-time low and Gary Sheffield says he has a theory why that's the case.
In an interview with GQ magazine that's currently on newsstands, the typically outspoken Tigers designated hitter said Latin players have replaced African-Americans as baseball's most prevalent minority because they are easier to control.
"I called it years ago. What I called is that you're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out. … [It's about] being able to tell [Latin players] what to do -- being able to control them," he told the magazine.
"Where I'm from, you can't control us. You might get a guy to do it that way for a while because he wants to benefit, but in the end, he is going to go back to being who he is.
So the insinuation here is that black guys in the Tampa area (where Sheffield’s from) lack discipline, causing them not to gain wisdom from coaches who can help them be better major leaguers. Sounds like career suicide to me.
And that's a person that you're going to talk to with respect, you're going to talk to like a man.
Ah, but that person can cause dissention on a team, say idiotic things to the media, and be more concerned with his own stats than his club winning. But he still deserves respect, huh? Got it!!
"These are the things my race demands.
What, the permission to undermine authority without consequences? Sorry, but no race in baseball should get by with that.
So, if you're equally good as this Latin player, guess who's going to get sent home?
The guy who isn’t the team player. And, according to you Gary, it’s going to be the black guy.
I know a lot of players that are home now can outplay a lot of these guys."
In your opinion. Which, given the absurd comments on display in the GQ interview, is hardly worth the paper it’s written on.
According to a 2005 report by the University of Central Florida Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, only 8.5 percent of major leaguers were African-American -- the lowest percentage since the report was initiated in the mid-1980s. By contrast, whites comprised 59.5 percent of the majors' player pool, Latinos 28.7 percent and Asians 2.5.
The fact of the matter is these days fewer African-America kids are even expressing an interest in baseball.
Now why is that?
Many theories abound as to what is the main culprit. One that stands out is how young black kids believe the only way to making it in life is to be either an athlete or rapper, which is not only absurd but borderline tragic. Unfortunately, the high profile that is attributed to pro athletics or the hip hop genre is what enhances that belief.
Baseball often doesn’t provide the instant millions that, say, a first-round NBA draftee can attain. In baseball, a player often has to slog along in the minor leagues for at least a few years, riding buses and doing their own laundry, etc. But if one is drafted in the NBA in the first round, the glamour and glitz of pro basketball is available to these players almost immediately. So when a young black kid is, say, 12-years old what sport do you think he’s going to focus on? Again, since he might believe that athletics is one of the few ways to make it in society, naturally he’ll choose what is perceived as the most lucrative.
It isn’t that baseball is shunning African-American ball players. The sad fact is there aren’t a lot of those players available because of what appears to be declining interest.