Friday, August 04, 2017
3 August 2017
Willie Mays makes his famous catch off the bat of Cleveland's Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series, at the Polo Grounds. New York Giants went on to sweep the Cleveland Indians in four games.
In 1954, a young black man from Alabama, Willie Mays, took New York and then America by storm. A centerfielder for the New York Giants, he won the 1954 National League MVP and led his team to victory in the World Series, making a catch along the way that became arguably the most famous play in baseball history. But Mays was more than the game’s best player: he became became America’s most popular athlete, especially in the African American community. That popularity was famously captured as he played stick ball with kids on the streets of Harlem.
Fifty years later to the day, artist Thom Ross walked the grass outside an apartment building in upper Manhattan where the Giants’ home, the Polo Grounds, once stood, and calculated the spot where Mays made his phenomenal play. He set up his homage to Willie: a five-sequence life-size panel of “the Catch”. Many passersby stopped to study Ross’s work, but only a few older men could identify the player in those panels. Ross, a lifelong Giants fan, recalled: “I could scarcely find a young black man or teenager who recognized Willie Mays or even knew about the play.”
Ross’s experience demonstrates baseball’s current dilemma. After Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947, the National League integrated much faster and more thoroughly than the younger American League. Between 1949 and 1979, 19 African American (and two black Latino) players were their leagues’ MVP.
Then baseball changed.
The 1979 World Series winning Pittsburgh Pirates had five African Americans and one black Latino player among their starters. No championship team in either league has had as many since. (In 2014, neither of the World Series teams – the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals – had a single African American player. Last year, the Boston Red Sox led MLB with four black players in their regular starting line-up.)
The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates (left to right): Chuck Tanner, Omar Moreno, Tim Foli, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, John Milner and Bill Madlock
The decline was gradual at first: the percentage of African American players in the 1980s was still close to 20%. Since then it has fallen rapidly. According to the Racial and Gender Report card issued annually by Dr Richard Lapchick of the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, the percentage of African American players in MLB at the start of the 2016 season had fallen to 7.7%, down from 18% in 1991. In contrast, 69.7% of NFL players are African American; in the NBA, the figure is 74.4%.
There are so many reasons for the remarkable decline of African American players in baseball, it’s hard to know where to start. (It’s important to separate African American players from black players from countries such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic, who continue to thrive in the major leagues.) But the key factor may be summed up by the novelist and historian Kevin Baker, who is currently working on a history of New York City baseball. “Most black people in America live in cities, and there is less and less space in cities – especially New York and other urban areas in the north-east – for baseball to be played,” he says. “A great many New York ballplayers, from Lou Gehrig to Sandy Koufax, learned the game in pick-up games on sand lots. There’s no sand lots any more. If you want to play organized ball, you’re practically forced to get on a bus and head for the suburbs.”
In the suburbs, of course, Little League and Babe Ruth League baseball has become more and more expensive, and parents who want their kids to advance in the game shell out significant sums for private coaching and traveling leagues. That is fueling baseball’s reputation as a rich kid’s sport while a pick-up basketball game in the city requires far less space and equipment: sneakers, a hoop and a basketball.
It’s perhaps little surprise then that just four players on MLB rosters this year are from the New York metropolitan area. “I grew up in an apartment building,” one of those players, TJ Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican descent, told MLB.com. “We played Wiffle ball and football on concrete. We played basketball with a garbage pail. Most of these guys grew up in Florida, where there are parks and fields. It’s hilarious telling them my story.”
And a lack of facilities and training in the cities may be only part of the problem.A 2015 Baltimore Sun article bluntly addressed the lack of role models for young black players: there are simply far fewer African American baseball stars to look up to these days (this may be a wider problem for baseball: ESPN’s 2017 list of the world’s most famous athletes didn’t contain any baseball players; there were 38 soccer players and 13 athletes from the NBA). Perhaps the most eloquent summary of baseball’s shift towards an older and whiter base came from the comedian Chris Rock, himself a New York Mets fan. He perceptively pointed out wider problems for baseball’s future, saying: “If you lose black America, you lose young America.”
Rock is wrong on one point though: that, as he says, “blacks don’t care about history” in baseball. They most certainly do, and part of African American alienation from the game stems from being cut off from that history. What has been largely forgotten is that black Americans have a long and rich history in baseball. For more than 70 years, the Negro Leagues flourished all across the country, from New York, where Mays played as a teenager, to Alabama, where he played his first professional ball for the Birmingham Black Barons, to the midwest and west coast. The vast majority of those teams were owned by African Americans, including Effa Manley, co-owner of the Newark Eagles from 1935-1948, who was the first woman inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In comparison with other major sports, African American players have also suffered from the lack of attention by colleges. Professional football and basketball have a cost-free minor league system in America’s colleges, but college baseball is not organized to serve MLB, with many young athletes coming into the big leagues from high school. As the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutcheon, one of MLB’s premier black stars, put it: “No matter how good a baseball player you are, you don’t get a full ride in college. Kids from low-income families don’t have the same chance of going to college to play baseball and get an education as kids who play football and basketball.”
Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)
And that’s a huge shame, because professional baseball has huge advantages for any young athlete. The average salary of a MLB player is $4.4m compared to $2.1m in the NFL. (Average NBA salaries are higher, at $6.2m, but pro basketball teams carry about half the number of roster spots.) Careers in baseball are longer than in any other professional American sport, and MLB has by far the best post-career pension plan.
And baseball is also relatively easy on the body compared to football, with its alarming record of brain trauma. Bo Jackson, winner of the 1985 Heisman trophy as the best college football player in the country, played football for the Oakland Raiders and baseball for the Kansas City Royals. “People often ask me the biggest difference between the two sports,” Jackson once told me. “I’d say it like this: you play baseball every day: that’s fun. You practice football every day: that’s hell.”
So how can baseball win back young African Americans?
One way might be through MLB’s support of urban youth academies through their Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities program. Academies have now been established in a dozen major US cities across, providing young players with coaching, equipment, uniforms and transportation to playing fields. Says Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who grew up in Oakland: “We need the same kind of programs that have produced so many great players in the Dominican Republic, where all 30 major league teams have set up academies. It makes no sense that we don’t put the same resources into mining talent here as we do in other countries.”
The program provides programs for both boys and girls and is thriving due to support not only from MLB but individual teams and even corporate sponsors. Progress seems to be on the way: from 2012-2017, 41 of 204 first-round draft selections were African American. This year’s draft was just the fourth time the first two picks were African American and was the third year in a row that two of the first five picks were graduates of the RBI program.
And, says Kevin Baker, there are other ways for baseball to promote itself in urban areas. “Change the All-Star break into a series of promotional events in different cities, inviting kids to come for free to celebrity baseball and softball games with rappers, movie stars, comics, and former greats from other sports. The greatest player basketball ever produced was Michael Jordan, and what did he want the most? To play baseball.”
Thursday, August 03, 2017
August 2, 2017
Pete Rose takes a swing during Game 4 of the 1980 World Series between the Phillies and Royals. (Manny Millan/SI)
Every year within the Phillies organization, as the Wall of Fame Committee convened to select the honoree for the coming season, the same question would undoubtedly always come up.
“What about Pete?”
It wasn’t a tangled question based on whether Pete Rose, the baseball player, deserved a spot on the list of those who are enshrined with Ashburn Alley plaques in Citizens Bank Park. Of course, he did.
The problem was whether celebrating Pete Rose, the human being, would represent an embarrassment for the franchise. When he was judged to have bet on baseball, denied it in the face of damning evidence, and was banished from the game, Rose was clearly too toxic a figure to honor. Combine that with his perpetual, unsavory hucksterism and it was a lot easier to give Mike Lieberthal a plaque, for heaven’s sake.
Mike Lieberthal? Sure. Pete Rose? Not yet.
At some point, and it was just this April, the Phillies decided that Rose, like nuclear waste that has finally lost its radioactivity, was a safe inductee. He’d sell out the park — perhaps for two days, with a Pete bobblehead giveaway on Friday, Aug. 11 and then the Saturday induction — and enough time would have passed that a guy who committed baseball’s most egregious sin could receive whatever absolution a plaque in South Philly might offer.
The Phils like to claim the honorees are selected annually by the fans, but that isn’t exactly accurate. Fan voting gives the “special Wall of Fame Committee” a five-person ballot, but even within that framework there is great leeway for the organization to carefully choose the winner. Don’t let anyone tell you the fans messed up this year. It was the Phillies. They trusted Pete Rose, and that’s a dangerous game.
The team announced Wednesday that “due to recent events,” Rose would not get his spot on the wall, and 2017 would be left blank on the list of inductees. In fact, the events that caught up with Rose are far from recent. The allegation that he had a continuing sexual relationship with an underage female referred to events that began more than 40 years ago. Rose didn’t deny the relationship. His defense was he thought the girl was 16.
If the Phillies aren’t appalled at what he did, only that “recent events” made it public, there is a bigger problem here. To take their side, this wasn’t an easy one to handle when it blew up on Monday. They did the right thing by canceling the induction — as if they had a real choice — but there is an opportunity to make a bigger statement. Don’t just cover the hole with a tribute to former inductees, which is now the Saturday centerpiece. Use some of the weekend proceeds to support programs that help rape victims and that encourage prevention and education regarding rape. Do something more than pretend the schedule has been altered due to “recent events.”
It is ironic that Rose brought this further shame on himself, as has been the case with all of his problems. He sued investigator John Dowd for defamation last year after Dowd went on a West Chester radio station in 2015 and accused Rose of being a serial statutory rapist. That lawsuit, with Dowd as the defendant, is why the woman’s testimony was filed in federal court here in Philadelphia. Hey, he thought she was 16.
This lawsuit was in the works well before the Phillies selected Rose as the 2017 Wall of Fame honoree. The organization should have been more diligent in its own investigation of what might arise from it. The Phils dropped the ball.
If Rose were just the baseball player, he’d have been on the wall a long time ago (and in the Hall of Fame, of course). Rose played his last major-league game in 1986. The Phillies put Steve Carlton on the wall in 1989, the season after he retired. They put Mike Schmidt on the wall in 1990, the season after he retired. Who did the Phillies honor in 1987, the season after Rose stopped playing? Granny Hamner.
After Rose went nuclear in August of 1989, the Phillies waited for him to cool. Up on the wall in the interim went Bob Boone, John Vukovich, Juan Samuel, John Kruk, Pat Burrell, Jim Thome, Lieberthal, and others. All great contributors to the organization, all worthy of being remembered. But none were Rose.
It was a cynical wait, and an annual question. What about Pete?
Everyone knew it would be a risk, no matter when. Everyone knew that it could never be just Pete Rose, the baseball player. That would have made the decision easy. Instead, the Phillies got a week that has been very hard.
Next year, though, the same question won’t come up. Rose has answered it himself for many years to come.
By Ann Coulter
August 2, 2017
US-Mexican border in Arizona (Alamy)
In 1994, after 40 years in the wilderness, Republicans swept both houses of Congress, running on Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America," in which the GOP promised to hold votes on 10 popular policies in the first 100 days. They won, fulfilled the contract, and went on to control the House for more than a decade.
More recently, the country gave the GOP the House in 2010, the Senate in 2014 and the presidency in 2016. But we're not seeing any difference. The GOP has become a ratchet, never reversing Democratic victories, but only confirming them with teeny-tiny alterations.
It's time for the voters to issue a "Contract With Republicans." Unless our elected representatives can complete these basic, simple tasks, we're out. There will be no reason to care about the GOP, anymore.
Whether these objectives are accomplished by President Trump or a rhesus monkey, the Democrats, the Bull Moose Party or the U.S. Pirate Party -- it will make no difference to us. We just need somebody to fulfill this contract in order to get our vote.
Here are our first three contract terms.
1) BUILD THE WALL
People said the chant, "Build the wall!" was mere shorthand for a whole slew of immigration policies, unified by the single idea of putting Americans' interests if not "first," then at least "above the interests of complete strangers to whom we owe absolutely nothing." It was called a term of art, meaning we want to stop sacrificing the welfare of our nation on the altar of liberal idiocy.
"Build the wall" was said to entail: a Muslim ban, deporting illegals, ending unconstitutional sanctuary cities, ending Obama's unconstitutional "executive amnesty," a dead-stop to the refugee scam and a massive reduction in legal immigration.
Yes, it means all that. But it also means: Build the wall.
If this is done only for reasons of conservative ideology, in recognition of the fact that the United States is a sovereign nation, entitled to protect its homeland, that's fine with me.
But I note in passing that, if I were a progressive constantly virtue-signaling on transgenders and refugees, and occasionally pretending to care about African-Americans, the very last thing I'd want to see is the continuing dump of low-wage workers on the country, undermining black fathers' ability to earn a living, to stay married and to pass down savings and a work ethic to their children.
The great civil rights hero Barbara Jordan understood that. The fact that our current low-rent liberals are unable to rise to her level is all the proof we need of their uselessness.
Moreover, in the future, we will once again have presidents with a taste for fascist executive orders, purporting to grant "amnesty" to illegal aliens. We will continue to have bought-and-paid-for legislators, pushing cheap labor in return for campaign donations. In the blink of an eye, they can undo every part of Trump's America First agenda on immigration, just as Obama undid our victory in Iraq.
A wall is the only part of Trump's immigration reforms that will not be instantly reversed by the next Barack Obama or George Bush. Allowing border patrol agents to do their jobs is a policy that lasts only as long as Trump is president. A wall is forever.
2) SUPREME COURT
Republicans need to stop having their victories written in wet sand. During the campaign, Trump vowed to impose a Muslim ban if elected; both political parties hysterically denounced him; he won the election; issued a highly modified, temporary travel restriction from a handful of majority Muslim countries; and ... a handful of carefully selected federal court judges announced that, during the Trump administration, they would be implementing immigration policy.
That's why President Trump must appoint, and the Senate confirm, brilliant conservative judges, preferably in their 30s and with good EKGs, so that they can keep issuing opinions well into their 90s.
As long as they are sufficiently vetted to ensure we're getting no David Souters or Harriet Mierses -- vettings even MORE exhaustive than the alleged rectal probes given to the San Bernardino terrorists before admitting them to commit mass murder -- Supreme Court justices can have nearly the same permanence as the wall.
3) STOP WASTING MONEY AND PRECIOUS LIVES ON POINTLESS WARS
The left is way ahead of us on this one, already hard at work turning the greatest military in the world into taxpayer-funded adventures in lesbianism and transgenderism. (Sorry, taxpayers! We gave your Social Security to mental-case penis-choppers.)
Every recent war has been counterproductive at best. At worst, they have been meat-grinders for our bravest young men. Imagine that some small portion of the trillions of dollars poured into the endless -- and ongoing! -- war in Afghanistan had been used to build a 100,000-seat soccer stadium in Baghdad. And then imagine that we built 100 more just like it, right next to one another.
If we had taken a satellite photo of all those stadiums filled to capacity, the caption would be: "Not one American life is worth all the lives pictured here."
That's not anti-Arab. I'm sure they would feel exactly the same. I would respond, "Yes, of course, you're right to feel that way."
If we're ever attacked, we should be prepared to unload our full arsenal. But it's not our job to create functioning democracies in primitive rape-based societies around the globe.
Apart from an attack on U.S. soil by a foreign country, we are going to live our lives, go to work, celebrate the Fourth of July, and never bother learning the difference in Sunni and Shia Arabs. Once a decade, when we fleetingly remember Yemen or Saudi Arabia, we will hope they're doing well, then get back to our lives -- surrounded by a wall and living in a constitutional democracy, where our greatest young men aren't continually sacrificed in pointless wars.
COPYRIGHT 2017 ANN COULTER
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
By C. Edmund Wright
July 30, 2017
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) went against the GOP by voting against the "skinny" Obamacare repeal bill.
There was a report from Bloomberg of "audible gasps on the Senate floor" as John McCain voted NO on the Obama Care skinny repeal bill. Gasps, really? I would've gasped had he done anything different. McCain was simply, predictably, being McCain. This is the same McCain who continually tries to sabotage Donald Trump. This is the same McCain he's been for at least 25 years.
The Arizona Senator and I first crossed paths during the 1992 Campaign between incumbent George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. McCain was emerging as a media darling during this time, putting his days in the Keating Five Savings and Loan Scandal behind him. The Keating Five? Oh, McCain and four Democrats, of course. Some things never change. Certainly not McCain.
Meanwhile, Clinton's team of James Carville and George Stephanopoulos had put North Carolina squarely in the cross hairs as a must-win state in 92, and a series of odd events had landed me as Communications Director of NC Bush Quayle. Thus, as a small government pro-liberty Reagan conservative, I was in the service of a mushy moderate President who was determined to distance himself from Reagan, along with his rhetorically challenged VP. It was a root canal experience, let me tell you.
Team Bush was struggling because they couldn't, or wouldn't, run clearly to the right of Clinton and expose the differences. When Ross Perot entered the race, he further muddied the waters because his agenda agreed with the conservative agenda about 75% of the time, yet he clearly despised Bush more than he wanted to defeat Clinton. Whatever Perot's motivations were, the result was that the 92 election was an ideological mess, and Bush was not a man who even understood that, let alone overcame it.
To make things worse, enter John McCain, who was riding his war hero story, and a questionable passion for the pro-life position, into stardom on the right during this time. A big part of McCain's self-serving strategy was to ingratiate himself to the liberal media by trashing other Republicans, which he did often. So, paradoxically, he gained credibility on the right, by trashing the right, because he became the only man (ostensibly) on the right that the media liked, and we were desperate on the right to be liked by anyone in the media. Consider: talk radio was new and small, CNN was the only cable channel, and Andrew Breitbart was just starting to emerge from his "hippy dippy" liberal youth (his words).
The Mainstream Media still ruled the roost, and McCain's message to them was that Bush "must stop being so extreme," as in so extremely conservative. The exact opposite was true. Bush wasn't nearly conservative enough, nor capable of articulating those views on which he was conservative. Clearly McCain knew this, wanted Bush to lose, and to climb the ladder in the vacuum a Bush loss would create. And the media was all too happy to help. I was forced to try and use whatever media influence in North Carolina I could muster to overcome McCain's message, which is why I remember it like yesterday.
And yes, I fully understand that now, everybody on the planet is onto McCain's schtick. Most of that didn't really happen until at least 2000, and into 2008 and beyond. In ‘92 however, I was on a lonely planet. I even got into a heated dispute with the host on the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show in early 1993 about this. Gordon was still drinking the McCain Kool Aid, as were all of his listeners.
Now back to the future: everyone knows what's in the Kool Aid now.
So here we are, with McCain shaking off the effects of cancer to cast a vote that ensures we probably won’t get the same treatment he did. The John McCain who sabotaged the so called 'skinny repeal' vote over Obama Care, and who fought openly with Donald Trump months ago, is exactly the same John McCain he has always been. He not only trashes conservatives at every opportunity, he then takes credit for being this courageous "maverick," even as everybody knows that trashing conservatives to the media is the easiest, most gutless thing a person can do.
Almost everything about McCain's carefully crafted image is a lie. It always has been. And now, in a somewhat cruel irony, McCain has access to massive amounts of Obama Care-exempted health care, while voting to make sure you and I remain trapped under this failed disaster. In other words, McCain is just being McCain. This is who he's always been.
He "reached across the aisle" in the 1980's to enrich himself while the Savings and Loan scandal was bankrupting average Americans. He reached across the aisle in the 90's to help Bill Clinton. He reached across the aisle in 2005 and 06 in the name of comprehensive immigration reform. He reached across the aisle to help foist the corrupt Dodd-Frank bill on us. And on and on it goes.
Now he's reaching across the aisle in service of a corrupt, lobbyist contrived and bureaucrat enforced abomination called ObamaCare. Of course he is. This is who John McCain is, and always has been.
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/07/mccain_gonna_mccain_.html#ixzz4oVZMPFTR
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Edmund Wright is a contributor to Breitbart, American Thinker, Newsmax TV, and author of 2013 Amazon Best Selling Elections book, WTF? How Karl Rove and the Establishment Lost…Again.