Wednesday, June 06, 2007

1989 Topps #343

This is the most punk rock Baseball card ever, and a bit of a reminder of why people hate Gary Sheffield to begin with. Here, the then-19 year old shortstop's arrogance is already apparent; he shows up for his first Topps card portrait with bling around his neck and enough of a smile to show off the "G" and the "S" inscribed in his two front teeth. A Future Star, indeed. Of course, dressing like an extra from an N.W.A. video probably doesn't endear yourself to the white Baseball-watching public, especially if you've already gained enough notoriety just by existing as Dwight Gooden's nephew. It would be sufficient to say that Gary Antonian Sheffield has not had the best relationship with media and the fans, and the latest thing that he has to say certainly hasn't helped.

It's really too bad that everyone is a little too busy responding by calling Gary Sheffield a "raving racist" or recounting the ways they hate him instead of acknowledging that his opinion about an issue that should be taken seriously should be taken seriously. There was nothing racist about what Sheffield said. He was asked his opinion on an issue and gave it. Instead of thinking about the reasons behind his response and contribute our own thoughts to the discussion like a good little roundtable should, we all decide to just yell HAY U RAAVING RACIST STOP SPEAKING OUT OF TURN THAT'S WHY YOU GOT TRADED TO SEVEN DIFFERENT TEAMS BC NO ONE LIKES U U RAVVING RASICT.

So I guess I'll just be alone in all this and add my own three cents.

Why American Black Kids Don't Play Baseball by Phenomenal Smith

There are precious few spaces in urban areas where kids can play a respectable game of Baseball. If there are, there's very little chance that there's even any kind of consistent groundskeeping, like cutting the grass once a summer or something, because many cities can't (or won't) put (much) money into them. In addition to the community's lack of funds, many individual urban black kids (and their friends) don't have money for the gloves, bats and balls, leaving very little Baseball in the streets and alleys of urban areas. Furthermore, they usually don't have the money to play organized Baseball if their neighborhood Little League requires a registration fee, which brings us to:

Many middle-class white kids growing up in the suburbs have been playing some kind of organized Baseball from a very young age, from t-ball to that one league where everybody bats .689 because the only thing the pitching machine spits out is 65 mph fastballs to Little League. If they never gain any athletic maturity and learn nothing else, middle-class white kids at least know the fundamentals of the game because every spring, there's a new coach to scream at them until they learn. By the time they reach high school, they've already have up to 10 more years of polished experience than most black kids who decide to try out for Baseball for the first time. If they decide to try out, which brings us to:

In what could very well be the most successful advertisement campaign in media history, Nike spent untold millions of dollars telling untold millions of kids to Be Like Mike. And untold thousands of kids earned college scholarships doing their best imitation of Mike. American black kids in urban areas were drawn to the instant gratification of Basketball and many young black urban males (perhaps in part without elder male figures in their lives to romanticize it for them) didn't really play all that much Baseball. Tying back to money, Basketball is also inexpensive; all you need is a basketball. It's also a lot more accessible in urban areas; hoops and pick-up games can be found everywhere. It isn't hard to imagine that perhaps a generation ago, Allen Iverson would've turned out to be a shortstop instead, or Dwayne Wade a centerfielder, but they're not and neither are their contemporaries. As evidenced by the 8.4% of Black Americans playing Baseball today, black kids just aren't growing up playing Baseball. While it's certainly a shame and there are things that can be done about it, it is what it is. The individuals that make up the system may not exactly all be racists but many of the factors that created the system has resulted in a certain socio-economical demographic's exclusion from Baseball. It isn't anybody's fault, really. It's just what happened.

But what the hell do I know, right? I'm just talking out of my ass like Sheffield did and writing it out on an anonymous blog, as if Jon Heyman is going to write in and be all, HAY PEHNOMENAL U SHOULD SHUTUP U RAVING RACISST THATS WHY NO ONE READS JOOR BLOG BC NO ONE LIKES TO TALK TO U BC UR NOT WHATS PURE ABOUT BASEBALL.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fuck you..plenty of black kids play baseball, you fucking faggot