As I sat and reflected on a long day at work on Wednesday evening, I did it in unusual territory: a professional baseball game.
Yes, a real one. There were peanuts, hot dogs, pretzels, you name it. The Nats were playing the Cardinals in their third game of the series, and we were going for the sweep, which turned out to be unsuccessful.
It was a partly sunny 80 degree day in the district, and there has been no better time to be a D.C. sports fan than right now.
But, it's baseball. Not Brad Beal or Wall. But Base-Ball.
I hardly see anyone out there that looks like me and I didn’t grow up playing on the block, so it's just a little tough to relate to.
When I think of baseball, I’m reminded of my favorite Keanu Reeves film. Not John Wick and definitely not the Matrix (shoutout Jada), but Hardball — truly one of the most unsung sports flicks of all-time — Rest Easy G-Baby.
Black boys from the projects of Chicago come together, overcoming the struggle of living in the hood, through what is known as ‘America's Pastime.’
The movie reaches many in our community far greater than any picture about the sultan of swat.
It puts in perspective what you can do once you step out of your comfort zone. The boys try something different, and end up sticking with it after a little hard work and dedication. It’s a real success story, if you ask me.
Now, at the same time that this movie came out in 2001, I was, in fact, a baseball player in my own respect — well a T-Ball player. But there's hitting and all that involved, so I'm calling a spade a spade here.
And although it was an outlet for many of us on the team, none of us actually grew up to play baseball in college or even high school for that matter.
I began to play football and basketball the next year, and the rest is history. But why?
Not only did baseball not have the flashiness of being in the NBA or NFL, but the game is just so slow, there’s too much standing around for me personally.
With traumatic injuries to the brain and other long-term effects of playing football, maybe more young kids should consider baseball more heavily. Before going out and imitating your favorite player on the gridiron, try going for batting practice or playing catch, if you’ve got a glove.
The latino community does it. So why can’t we?
David Ortiz, Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols etc. are all famous Latin American sluggers that each immigrated into the U.S. with a bat in order to fulfill their ‘American Dream.’ Everyday, baseball scouts from the majors travel to the Dominican Republic and other countries to recruit the next great latin sensation.
20 Percent... Let that sink in.
The league has struck gold with its foreign born athletes, but the lack of black baseball players is quite concerning considering our history in the sport. To put this in perspective, black players played in the negro leagues for nearly 30 years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.
At one point in time, there was a whole ‘major league’ consisting of black players, but today we make up less than 10 percent of the MLB.
Even though I was disinterested at times during the game Wednesday night because I didn’t grow up playing as a kid, I was very much intrigued by the circumstances currently at hand.
The MLB is, and has been for some time, devoid of black players.
The energy we put into ladder drills ‘in the field’ or one-on-ones could very well be used to experiment with this ‘Pastime.’ It may feel like baseball was popular among blacks ages ago, but it was once our sport, too.
Who knows where we could take the game in the next decade or so, if we become the change we can see.
Instead of trying to be like Mike, it would be nice to see more of our youth pitch like Satchel.
The future starts with you.