A couple of weeks ago, a 40-year-old major-league baseball (MLB) pitcher named LaTroy Hawkins authored a “Point After” column in Sports Illustrated titled “Pitching Changes.” In the column, Hawkins described changes that this seasoned player would like to see with America’s pastime.
The first change recommended by Hawkins was to send underperforming umps down to the minors. This would be analogous to my longtime suggestion to send underperforming MLB franchises down to the minors. That is the way a meritocracy is supposed to work.
The most provocative change suggested by Hawkins was for MLB to take affirmative action to correct the underrepresentation of blacks in baseball. Although most people in the mainstream are not aware of it, African-Americans comprise less than 10% of MLB rosters. This contrasts remarkably with the NBA, which is 78% African American. And most of the non-black NBA players are white non-Americans. Indeed, you can probably count on your fingers the number of white Americans that play NBA basketball.
As Vince Lombardi famously yelled, “What the hell’s going on out here?”
Talking about race and sports has been politically incorrect ever since Jimmy the Greek in 1988 was fired from his TV job for speculating on why blacks were better athletes than whites:
- “The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade … the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid.”
The political correctness at that time was so suffocating that Hollywood in 1992 tried to provide some fresh air with a Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes movie titled White Men Can’t Jump. But the movie was unable to ameliorate the self-censorship, and just a couple of weeks ago I heard the irreverent Don Imus comment on the shocking number of whites playing for the Wisconsin Badgers in the NCAA Final Four and then asking whether that was a racist comment. His black sidekick Tony Richmond absolved him of any guilt by noting that Imus was merely observing a fact and that is not racist. If only it were that simple.
Getting back to LaTroy Hawkins. Since it is apparently OK for him to bemoan the dearth of blacks in MLB baseball, I will question the dearth of American whites in NBA basketball. Why is it that there are so many white non-Americans playing in the NBA, but so few white Americans? This inquiring mind doesn’t know, but would like to know what smarter people think.