Today we sit and wait for the owners and players of Major League Baseball to come to an agreement so we can all begin to enjoy baseball again. An agreement that is mostly focused on money. Big money!
So what do I do while in limbo waiting for this baseball season to start? I go to my granddaughter Molly’s 12 year old softball games and some local High School baseball games. This is baseball at its purest level. I see young kids playing, laughing and working hard as they dream of becoming a professional ballplayer.
Last night I watched Burbank California’s John Burroughs high school baseball team play John Muir High School from Pasadena. I noticed that everyone on Muir had a 42 on his sleeve and then realized that it is the high school that Jackie Robinson attended from 1935 to 1937.
The next day I was looking for information about the lockout and came across a video of the Dodgers Dave Roberts at Dodger Stadium talking to 60 student athletes from John Muir. Giving them a nice motivational talk while standing in front of a statue of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate.
Another motivational speaker that the kids listened to was one of Jackie’s sons, David Robinson. As I watched on my laptop my email icon lit up. Oddly enough it is colored “Dodger Blue” with a red number that tells me how many messages I have not opened. The red number on that Dodger blue background was 42.
I thought, is Jackie Robinson trying to send me a message? If so, what kind of message could it be? Like maybe, hey meatball, stop complaining about the lockout and be concerned about all that is wrong in the world today.
Baseball will return one day and Jackie would like that. But how people treat each other is what he spent his life trying to fix. We all know about the horrors he endured in becoming the first person of color to be allowed to play professional baseball. Martin Luther King said, “Jackie Robinson made my success possible. Without him, I would never have been able to do what I did.”
Today we see baseball filled with people of color at every level and I hope we will see more. Latin America alone is producing so many amazing players who give us incredible thrills. If not for Jackie Robison we would not be seeing any of them play at this level.
The players, owners and our commissioner need to look at Jackie Robinson Day and that 42 and think about what he did for all of them. By opening up the door for so many more incredible athletes to show off their skills on the diamond. Giving them the opportunity to become rich and famous. They need to stop being greedy and think about the next generation of fans that have seen nothing but wealthy men thinking about making more money.
MLB needs to rethink their decisions to make the draft smaller and the down sizing of the minor leagues. This year there will be 40 rounds. I say it’s not enough. That will prevent fans from seeing greatness by missing out on players like Mike Piazza who was drafted in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft by the Dodgers.
They need to slow down with all the changes they are making in player development that does not include seasoned knowledgeable baseball lifers who have taught young players how to be professional ballplayers from the beginning. They need to develop pitchers again who can start and finish a game of 9 innings. Teaching them how to pitch instead of just throwing 100 mph. They need to allow the coaches to teach them to bunt, steal and move runners with situational hitting.
But first, they need to settle this mess and get on the field. So far they have laid an egg. That goose that has been laying golden eggs for them all these years is beginning to dry out as they see young fans loosing interest. There may not be enough bandaids to heal the wounds.
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