Monday, July 30, 2007

The World's Pastime

In the July 22, 2007 edition of Parade magazine, an insert in our local Idaho State Journal, there was an interesting article about San Pedro in the Dominican Republic.

A surprising number of major league players hail from San Pedro. Sammy Sosa, Robinson Cano, and Alfonso Soriano. Of the active 849 players, 99 of them are from the Dominican Republic. The Alou boys, Adrian Beltre, Wilson Betemit, Melky Cabrera, Luis Castillo, Juan Encarnacion, Julio Franco, Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Wily Mo Pena, Placido Polanco, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Willy Taveras, Miguel Tejada, sort of Alex Rodriguez, and a whole list of others.

The break down: 849 active players, 246 of them born outside the 50 United States, 208 born in Latin American or the Caribbean (Puerto Rico 28 and Venezuela 50), and 18 born in Asia.

Why Dominicans over Puerto Ricans? Or why Dominicans over Cubans? Or Dominicans over Asians? Of active players, there are 18 Asians. That's a mere five shy of the number of major leaguers out of Idaho in the entire history of Major League Baseball. Crazy, isn't it? In fact I can name four active Cuban imports (Livian Hernandez, Orlando Hernandez, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez) and only two Idahoans in the entire history of baseball (Harmon Killebrew and Larry Jackson).

After thinking about it, I realized my favorite active player, Julio Franco, is from Hator Mayor, Dominican Republic. Go figure.


Adam Graham said...

I noticed the same thing when I purchased a program at the Hawks game. About a third of the Hawks come from the Dominican Republic.

The downside to this is that this has come at the cost of Major League Baseball in the inner-cities. Baseball teams like to go through the Dominican Republican to get players because initially they have to pay them less and don't have to give them a signing bonus.

For example, Hawks Catcher Josh Donaldson got an $825,000 signing bonus, but those guys from the Dominican don't get anything, or if it is, it's not much. Overall, I'd love to see more of a baseball focus on the inner-city where games of stickball and baseball itself is sadly a thing of the past. Don't get me wrong. It's wonderful we got players coming from other countries, but baseball shouldn't be languishing here.

Tara A. Rowe said...

In that same article there was a comment about Gary Sheffield attacking the MLB for neglecting the inner-cities. It was met with some criticism, but I think he (and you) have a point. The inner-cities aren't being fairly represented in the game.

Tara A. Rowe said...

There are at least two on the Idaho Falls team that are Dominican, too.

Jared said...

It seems to me, the inner-city sport has evolved into basketball. It could be out of necessity, because baseball requires a large field and 18 kids to man a full team, though it can be played with a few less. Basketball can be played with 2-10 people, requires less space, and almost everyone can have their very own court in their driveway, though admittedly there aren't many driveways in the inner-city. Now I am no baseball aficionado. You could say I groped it with soccer: a long, low-scoring, and boring. Well, until I lived in Europe for 2 years and began to appreciate soccer. Anyway, I follow the MLB playoffs and World Series and that’s it, so maybe with more exposure I could learn to love it, but I still appreciate its place in American history and culture. I am, however, a big fan of basketball and have been perturbed with the thugificiation of the sport. But I think I'm getting off subject and what I really wanted to say is that perhaps out of necessity, baseball lost its place in the inner-city to game that is more convenient given the circumstances.