A black former Major League League All-Star is complaining the game is not suitable for African-Americans and that it doesn’t cater enough to black players.
In a new book excerpt published by The Undefeated, Cy Young-winning hurler C.C. Sabathia, a six-time All-Star, suggests that by attempting to become more diverse, the MLB is nevertheless failing. In his memoir, he also writes about what it was like for him to be a black player in a league dominated by whites.
“Baseball is boring too much of the time,” Sabathia, a World Series champion, notes in his book, “Till The End.”
“The game needs to change, and I don’t mean using more data to shift guys on the infield. I’m talking about the way people say, ‘He played the game the right way’ when what they mean is ‘He played it the white way,'” Sabathia added.
“What they mean is they don’t like the flair that Black and Hispanic guys bring to the field,” he continued, a reference to fist-pumping, bat flips and dancing across home plate as well as other actions that are generally frowned upon but make good highlight reels that go viral on social media.
Keeping those responses and actions to a minimum, some say, will keep the MLB’s fan base getting older as younger sports fans turn to the NFL and NBA, where flamboyant celebrations are encouraged.
“When I first came up, there were so many Black players in the league you had the luxury of not liking some of them,” Sabathia wrote, adding that ethnic players were often self-segregated.
“The Latino guys all hung out together, because they were the real minority in the game at the time. By this point, though, that was us,” he continued, meaning black players.
“We all knew one another. We all talked to one another. We had to talk to one another. I had a million white friends in the game, guys who couldn’t be more on the opposite end of the spectrum from me in how they grew up or in their political views. But if you saw another Black dude on the other team, it’s automatic: Oh, we’re going to dinner tonight,” he wrote.
“You can play baseball a long time, have a lot of fun, and make a lot of money. But right now, this sport is not for us, and we know that. If the game doesn’t change, it’s going to be in trouble, and not just with Black people,” Sabathia continued.
He went on to claim that because black players are a “serious” minority in the league, they are more reluctant to speak out than black NFL or NBA players who dominate those leagues about social issues like changing allegedly offensive team names.
Sabathia noted that when he played for the Cleveland Indians as a rookie, he could have spoken out about the team’s name — the organization is now in the process of changing the name of the legacy franchise after 106 years — but, he said, because there were so few other blacks in the league it would have been difficult politically and culturally.
“There were plenty of years in Cleveland when I was the only Black player on the roster; New York was better, but even with the Yankees, most seasons I was one of a maximum of four or five Black players on the 25-man roster. That’s a lonely place to be at any point in your career, but especially if you’re a younger guy trying to prove yourself in the game,” he wrote.
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