But the Rainbow Coalition knows the difference, and on Monday members of the organization sat down with members of Atlanta's front office, including GM John Schuerholz and assistant GM Frank Wren. Why Atlanta? Because the Braves were one of two big league teams not to have a single African-American player on their opening day roster. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
"The team slipped ... down to [no African-Americans]; it wasn?t something that just happened," [Southern Regional Director Joe] Beasley said Monday afternoon. "I think it was a lack of diligence on the part of the Braves to recruit African-American players. There's not diminished enthusiasm for African-Americans playing baseball. It's simply the opportunity hasn't presented itself."Really? Because that flies in the face of the commonly-held perception that inner-city (read: "black") kids were more interested in playing basketball and football than baseball. I have no idea if baseball as an institution is responsible for that, or if it's simply the progression of the NFL (and for a while, the NBA) overtaking MLB in terms of overall popularity.
Despite attending the meeting, Schuerholz doesn't see that he's done anything wrong:
Less than 10 percent of major league players are African-Americans. In a recent interview on the subject, Schuerholz said: "You go to where the talent leads you. Finding major league-caliber baseball players is far too difficult if you try to narrow your criteria down to demographics."I have mixed feelings about this, because I can see where both perspectives are coming from. Schuerholz is correct that he's simply following the talent, and Beasley is correct that he's not making as large of a domestic investment. But the difference is that the Braves can open a baseball academy in a Latino country, sign prospects as young as 16 years old and train them all day long.
Countered Beasley, "As I expected, [Schuerholz?s] idea is the bottom line: I'll put the best 40 men I can get wherever I can get them from on the field, and that's fair. But the fact of the matter is if they put resources into recruiting here in the United States, and more specifically here in Atlanta, there are talented players here."
You can't do that in the states. Here, kids aren't eligible to be drafted until they finish high school, and a lot of the best potential players never make it that far as they've already been convinced to focus on another sport. I can't blame Schuerholz for trying to get the most bang for his scouting buck, even if the end result is a roster that fails to meet a comfortable quota.
(via Ben Maller)