1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Rhoden Agrees With Sheff

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Boom_70, Jun 10, 2007.

  1. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    No surprise here

    Sports of The Times
    The Bottom Line: Sheffield Is Right to Speak Out
    The quality that most sports journalists respect about Gary Sheffield — even if it makes us uncomfortable — is his candor. I learned long ago that if you don’t want to know the answer, you don’t ask Sheffield the question.

    Sheffield, with a new team, the Detroit Tigers, and with a new book, “Inside Power,” is baseball’s bull in the china shop. This week, he put a controversial twist to the continuing issue of the African-American disappearing act in Major League Baseball.

    He spent most of the week responding and not responding to comments he made in an article in GQ magazine to the effect that Latino players are more desirable to major league teams because they are easier to control than African-American players.

    Sheffield’s choice of the word control was harsh. There is a malaise among athletes in general in terms of challenging the status quo. But at a time when immigration is a searing topic, Sheffield raised a crucial issue about a delicate subject: the competition for jobs between African-American and Latino players in Major League Baseball.

    “Baseball has a choice of which black faces it wants representing baseball,” Sheffield said Thursday during a telephone interview. “They’re choosing Latinos. What I was saying is that they’re choosing them because they can sign them for $2,000 and if they don’t take it, what do they have to do? They got to go back to where they’re from and they got to eat hot dogs for dinner.”

    Sheffield wasn’t being anti-Latino, but simply advocating nurturing homegrown talent. Major League Baseball has the resources to mine phenomenal players from South America and the Caribbean while developing African-American players.

    Everybody knows the numbers by now: Only 8.4 percent of major league baseball players are African-American, according to an annual report by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports. The report showed that 29.4 percent of players last season were Latino.

    Citing baseball’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program, Sheffield said it had “been around for years, but you see more kids coming out of the academies in the Dominican Republic and not out of R.B.I.”

    This isn’t entirely correct. Since 1989, the program has produced a number of professional players. The program is in 165 communities serving 120,000 youths in urban America.

    Jimmie Lee Solomon, Major League Baseball’s executive vice president for baseball operations, said that there were two academies in the United States — one in Compton, Calif., and the other in Atlanta. The academies, which are run by Major League Baseball, are geared toward inner-city youths.

    But many major league teams have built academies in South America and the Caribbean. Solomon helped make Sheffield’s case that the popularity of Latino players is largely part of an economic imperative that makes them more appealing than African-American players.

    “The reason that the academies were put there is basically economic,” Solomon said yesterday. When a major league team develops a player in Latin America, that player is not subject to baseball’s draft. “When a club builds an academy in the Dominican Republic and signs a bunch of players, those players belong to that club and they can sign all those players,” Solomon said.

    They often are signed for less than their counterparts in the United States. Baseball’s draft, which began Thursday, gives American-born players — black and white — a higher price tag. Just about every player in the United States is going to have an agent, and every agent is going to know the economics of his clients’ draft position.

    “We have choices,” Sheffield said, referring to African-American players. “We’re in the draft where you have to pay us, you don’t have to pay them — why do you think they sign them underage? It’s like, I’m going to find the cheapest worker.”

    Again, Solomon doesn’t disagree. “When you go to Latin America, you can sign kids usually for a lot less, because they didn’t go through the draft process,” he said.

    In fact, the journey to the major leagues for Latin American players, and the journey of aspiring African-American players, is a precarious one. While the aspiring young African-American player finds it extremely difficult to enter the baseball pipeline, large numbers of aspiring young Latino players learn the game in the sports academies operated by major league teams.

    But, as Solomon points out, these baseball factories are rigorous, and it is a major accomplishment to make it out of the academy and reach the minor leagues.

    For all the controversy surrounding Sheffield’s statement in GQ, the larger issue is that the Latino presence in baseball is 29 percent. Arturo Moreno, who owns the Los Angeles Angels, is the only Latino owner of a major sports franchise in the United States.

    There is a critical mass that should begin making its presence felt in the dugout and in the front office. There should be collaboration, not competition, between Latino and African-American players. “Latin players go through the same thing as black players,” Sheffield said. “There’s no difference.”

    Gary Sheffield, baseball’s bull in a china shop, has indelicately brought attention to a delicate subject.
  2. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    It was Torii Hunter, I believe, who I heard make the point that mlb teams can go down to Latin America, set up academies and sign loads of players for $2,000 a pop. But if they draft an African-American, they have to pay a multimillion dollar signing bonus. I think there is something to that. I also know that that ISN'T what Sheffield said. It's interesting that after the backlash of what he said, he's now shifting his argument that way and making it seem that is what he meant.

    Sheffield is blunt. And he's honest. It doesn't make him right. And it doesn't mean he can't be a jerk. It's hard to hold someone up as a beacon of honesty and integrity when he has a pattern of stopping trying on the field (making errors on purpose) when it's a contract year and he hasn't gotten what he wants.

    Also, the question of African-Americans in baseball cuts across multiple reasons. Go to the typical black neighborhood in a decent-sized city and you don't find baseball teams. You find pick-up basketball courts, and when there is organized sports, you find football. Those kids talk about playing in the NBA, not MLB. They see the NBA as a quick path to riches (wrongly, but that is the perception). They see baseball as the minor leagues and no guarantee of riches. The fact that black kids aren't playing baseball, and haven't been for years, explains the decline of blacks in the majors more than anything else. And that isn't a conspiracy on the part of the league.
  3. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    The problem I have with this is that MLB clubs can go to Latin American countries, set up a baseball academy, sign a player cheap and start to replace white players.

    Seriously, this could eventually kill the MLB draft.
  4. rokski2

    rokski2 New Member

    I can't even get myself to read Rhoden's junk yet. It's still too early.

    As soon as Sheff said this, I thought about Rhoden. He's one of the 'conspiracy theorists' about the Euro influx to the NBA. Of course, sports leagues and their demographics aren't just naturally cyclical based on socio-economics. Nope. They had been until the Mighty African-American laid permanent demographic claim due to his natural athletic superiority. This, apparently, is the reasoning of the Rhodens of the world. Forget about Eastern Europeans working on their games 10 hours a day to escape bombed-out cities. That means nothing to the Rhodens of the world. Forget about our American video-game-saturated, constant-cell-phone-talking culture which saps hours and hours of work time for aspiring pro athletes. Nope. It all comes back to Latinos being easier to control and NBA owners wanting their 12th men to be white.

    Same old crock of crap.

    The contortions and convoluted reasonings which go into perpetuating this and similar canards would seem too fatiguing, yet Rhoden, Scoop, etc. continue on their Ahabian quest. Dr Harry Edwards, in my opinion, has done a great job of pointing out the real reason that fewer and fewer talented African-Americans are going into professional athletics: Incredibly high incarceration rates. That's where there's a crisis, that's where people need to focus. That is a travesty and morally unjust.

    I taught middle school immigrant children, most of whom were from the Carribean. These kids constantly talked about baseball, and their heroes were Sosa, A-Rod, etc. Some liked basketball, less liked football. Soccer was #1 followed closely by baseball. Contrast that with modern American culture: baseball is 'slow' and 'boring.' Do I think that there are real problems with African-American children having access to good equipment and baseball instruction? Yes, I do. But that doesn't explain the extent of the phenomenon that we are seeing, both in the NBA and MLB. No American kid is going to fashion a 'glove' out of a milk carton. No American 15 year-old (or very few) can decide to forgo school to work on their basketball game. It doesn't work that way, for a variety of reasons.

    All empires eventually collapse under their own weight and their sense of self-satisfaction. When you watch the Collin Ferrell (sp?) bomb 'Alexander,' one thing they get right is the waning desire of Alexander's troops to continue to expand the empire. Once that happens, there's nothing that is going to hold back the tide.

    Americans - white and black, and every other hue - are getting outworked, all across the board. Just look at China's economy or the success of Indian outsourcing. That American professional athletic leagues are feeling the same effects is not only not surprising, it's quite expected. Too many luxuries, not enough hunger and a world of competition that simply 'wants it more.' That has nothing to do with 'who's easier to control:' athletics has long been the residence of the more disadvantaged. Americans just aren't used to that population not being taken from members of their own society. The leagues look beyond America much more than in the past, and there are a number of countries throughout the world which have the nutrition, talent and population base to legitimately help feed the USA's pro sports leagues' rosters.

    Sorry, Mr. Rhoden, the genii is permanently out of the bottle on this score. No matter how much you disingenuously attempt to re-affix the lid to keep things as they have recently been.
  5. nafselon

    nafselon Active Member

    Thanks for the sermon. BTW the topic is slightly misleading, I just wanted to point that out.
  6. bomani jones

    bomani jones Member

    It's worth noting that basketball and football are better routes than baseball to college scholarships, not just professional riches.
  7. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    It is also worth noting that Rhoden is a divisive assclown
  8. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    A fact worth noting is that Rhoden and Sheff share same editor and publisher for their books. I reread column and did not see any disclosure of this important detail.

    No word yet if Rhoden is going to write a book sequel called "$2000 Slaves" which deals with the lesser paid and always compliant Latin American professional baseball players.
  9. Big Chee

    Big Chee Active Member

    Clearly that is what I believed Sheff was alluding to from jump. I dint have a fetish that everyone should make sure all the I's are dotted and T's are crossed when making a passing comment. But what works for me maybe a matter of privilege to some, so someone like Sheff may or may not get that honor.

    I really don't feel like rehashing the things I've already said in here, but obviously none of it is sinking in whether it comes from myself, Rhoden or anyone who points that economics are the primary reason why baseball has given the African American community the cold shoulder.

    Baseball clearly knows who they're targeting and as a result some are going to be displaced because of it.

    And to hear the point that the make up of African American neighborhoods lacking the facilities to play the game of baseball as the reason few are playing the game is completely FALSE. Nothing physically has changed about the African American community today from 30 years ago. For every kid using a milk carton for a glove in the Dominican Republic today there was an African American kid in the 70's digging in the trash for a broom stick handle to use as a bat. For every kid in Venezuela using a rock for a baseball, there was an African American kid buying a can of spray paint to create a strike zone on a schoolyard wall. The typical black neighborhoods whose basketball courts housed the world famous Rucker tournaments featuring Earl the Pearl Monroe and Dr. J, still had a wealth of African American's playing baseball in their day.

    How someone disconnects those facts and state that the unchanged landscape which surrounds the African American community today being the primary reason for the lack of African American's particpation in baseball makes little to no sense.

    Exactly what happened for the love of the game we once had is the issue.

    And to erroneously refer to Dr. Harry Edwards point that African American male incaceration rates SOLEY effecting the game of baseball is clearly false. I don't see those rates creating an across the board downturn of African Americans participation in other sports. So why is baseball the only victim of it? Are incarcerated African Americans mostly made up of baseball players?

    I don't get the use of your selective math.

    Clearly, some of you are letting MLB off the hook.

  10. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    The difference with Tori Hunter explanation is that drafted players who get multi million dollar contracts are much further along in development. The latin players getting $2000 contracts are going into developmental programs at age 15/ 16 that also include schooling.

    Big Chee what I guees I continue to fail to understand is why MLB has an obligation or responsibility to reach out to African American community to develop baseball players.

    What is the african american community doing? What are you doing? Are you voluntering your time to coach a team?

    MLB could certainly toss a boatload of money at problem but without adult support within the community nothing will change. If you look at well run little league teams they take at least 3-4 adults to run program.
  11. Big Chee

    Big Chee Active Member

    I can't believe you're going to say that I have zero say in making a point because I may not have some volunteering in my resume.

    Go ahead, get personal, run with it. That isn't worth addressing.

    MLB has no obligation to push the game of baseball in the African American community. But to place fault on African Americans for no longer playing the game is a bunch of horse shit. To disregard the fact that we once had love for the game and economic factors being the primary reason for the lack of African American participation in the sport is plain wrong.
  12. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    It seems to me that you are now letting MLB off the hook. You are contradicting yourself. Baseball will come back in the black community if the community itself takes responsiblity.It will not come back if the community stands by waiting for a handout from MLB.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page