Sunday, April 25, 2010

Youth Baseball: Reviving Baseball in Inner-Cities (RBI)

Game 27

Nic's team plays a lot of games in a lot of cities across multiple states each year. No matter where he plays, the majority of the opposing players are white or Hispanic. The percentage of African American ball players he faces is very low. On Saturday, Nic's team beat an RBI team, a team made up almost entirely of African American players. RBI stands for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities. RBI is a Major League Baseball youth outreach program designed to:
  1. Increase participation and interest in baseball and softball
  2. Encourage academic participation and achievement
  3. Increase number of talented athletes prepared to play in college and minor leagues
  4. Promote greater inclusion of minorities into the mainstream of the game
  5. Teach the value of teamwork
More than 120,000 kids worldwide have enrolled in this great program since 1991. The RBI mantra is about keeping kids occupied and growing the game in urban settings. It has also been a stepping stone for some big leaguers, including CC Sabathia (Yankees), Carl Crawford (Rays) and Jimmy Rollins (Phillies).

Is the program that started in 1991 starting to work? Currently, 10.2 percent of the players of MLB players are black, a 24 percent increase by percentage from 2007 and the highest it has been since 2001. (The percentage of blacks in US is about 13%.) So perhaps it is.

Orlando Hudson (2B Twins) recently commented that Gary Sheffield and Jermaine Dye were having trouble finding jobs in 2010 because they are black. The media jumped on this story. The numbers above suggest that the MLB is addressing the issue. Yes Orlando Hudson, there is prejudice in the MLB. Prejudice against older players with declining skills who demand lots of money. Jermaine Dye is a horrific defensive player and batted .179 in the second half last year. He declined a $3 million dollars offer from the Cubs.

Crazy Youth Sports Parent Alert

The the only negative, the 3rd base coach had a chip on his shoulder like Orlando Hudson. Our 3rd baseman, who happens to be African American, made a tremendous play on a hot shot down the line. The 3rd base coach for the RBI team who had been making inappropriate comments all game long said, "Oh look what I found!" One of our parents finally asked him to please be more positive. He turned around and said, "Oh listen to the rich parents complain (then his obviously negative comments trailed off.)"

The Main Point

The RBI program is a wonderful program that benefits African American players who participate and the teams that they play against.

The RBI kids we played against were talented. They played with passion. They played to win. They played with smiles on their faces.

Our kids are talented. They played with passion. They played to win. They played with smiles on their faces.

Mr 3rd base coach, on that field it was not about white vs black, it was not about rich vs poor, it was about ballplayer vs ballplayer. Lose the chip on your shoulder because the great Jackie Robinson was surely smiling from above.

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