Is Major League Baseball too Hispanic? This was the headline to an article written by Tim Keown for ESPN.com. The question itself made me feel uncomfortable and after reading the entire article I was dumbfounded, are you really asking this question? The question leans towards the racist side, although the article I find is just written from a limited point of view, which is why I felt the need to express my point of view.
Here are a couple of quotes from the article:
“A question occurred Monday around the time JuanCruz was pitching to NelsonCruz, which was a half-inning after AlexiOgando got the Rangers out of a seventh-inning jam and one inning before NeftaliFeliz came in to close out the Rays. The question was this: Do young American baseball players understand what they’re up against?”
“This season, 27 percent of major league players and more than 42 percent (conservatively) of minor league players are Hispanic. Which raises an uncomfortable but inevitable question: Is baseball too Hispanic?”
“The stories of the kids who arrive from the Dominican after playing years with a milk-carton glove and a tree-branch bat are dissolving into folklore. They might start out that way, but, as soon as they show promise, they’re funneled into academies that are run like schools…”
“The most funhouse-mirror example of the phenomenon came in 2008, when 16-year-old, 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher Michael Ynoa signed with the A’s for a $4.25 million signing bonus.”
As a sports reporter myself, I have had the opportunity to meet and spend time with a number of baseball players from all over and of all ages and have had the opportunity to visit academies in the Dominican Republic. Some of the things that bother me about this article is that in my opinion it seems to imply that players in Latin America have it easier then American players. That is something that couldn’t be further from the truth, yes players are signed at a young age usually 16/17 if they show talent.
What this article fails to discuss is that these kids are still living in poverty. Even if they are given a signing bonus for thousands of dollars, that usually goes to the purchase of a home and a lot of these kids can make as little as $250 dollars every two weeks (the rate can vary), but that’s money that usually goes to supporting their families. My point, for every kid that gets a signing bonus in the millions, there are still hundreds making the minimum and working as hard as they can in the hopes of making it to the big leagues. What sounds better, that or living with your family, getting an education, and playing baseball all at the same time?
I honestly don’t think that the fans care what nationality a player is, as long as they are good and helping to win games. Case in point the 2011 World Series, Texas Rangers vs the St.Louis Cardinals. Among the names we hear being chanted by the fans are Cruz and Pujols, between both teams there are 15 Hispanic players. Jaime Garcia pitcher for the Cardinals, became the first Mexican born player to pitch in a World Series since Fernando Valenzuela did it in 1981. Nelson Cruz of the Rangers made history with the most homeruns in a postseason series. Albert Pujols is tied with Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson for most homeruns in a single World Series game. And all this is only in the post season, Robinson Cano who is probably the best second baseman all around won the Homerun Derby and fellow countryman Jose Reyes won the 2011 Batting Title, beating out Ryan Braun, these are just a few of the things that come to mind.
As former Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said, “Baseball is an extension of society”, therefore if the number of Hispanics in the US is growing, isn’t it inevitable for the same to occur in Major League Baseball? So to answer the original question, Is MLB too Hispanic? I’d say we’re just getting started.
By guest contributor, Jennifer Mercedes of La Chica Deportes.