By Ken Reed
There have been some unsettling developments in BaseballWorld recently.
First, we got a peek at Major League Baseball’s new uniforms, including the iconic New York Yankees jerseys, that will be sporting the Nike swoosh on the front. Yankees jerseys have remained virtually the same for about a hundred years. Nevertheless, starting next season the pinstripes will come adorned with a swoosh. God forbid!
Then we found out that it’s likely that the Houston Astros cheated repeatedly on their way to the 2017 World Series title.
According to Sports Illustrated, former Houston Astros pitcher Mike Fiers alleges that:
“Houston stole catchers’ signs from a camera positioned in centerfield at Minute Maid Park. The signs were read on a television monitor just steps behind the Astros’ dugout. A signal for an off-speed pitch would prompt someone to bang a dugout trash can loudly enough for the hitter to hear. The absence of such a noise would alert the hitter to a fastball. The use of devices to steal signs is illegal in baseball.”
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is reportedly conducting a thorough investigation into the matter.
Now, we’ve come to learn that Major League Baseball is proposing to kill minor league baseball in 42 towns across America MLB administrators say cutting 42 minor league teams would improve conditions over all in baseball’s farm system. They contend that the new structure would make development of young players more efficient and improve working conditions for players.
However, owners of the teams slated to be cut are worried about survival.
“I didn’t have an inkling, let alone any reason, to think we’d be in this position,” said a subdued Andy Shea, team president of the minor league Lexington Legends, a team that’s slated to be on MLB’s chopping block.
His mother, and team owner, Sue Martinelli Shea, added, “My hope and prayer is that Major League Baseball will reconsider this.”
Fans and politicians alike are upset with this MLB plan.
New York senator Chuck Schumer wrote a letter to Manford expressing “deep concern” about the proposal. He also said he’s open to reconsidering MLB’s anti-trust exemption allowing baseball to operate as a monopoly if this plan moves to fruition.
Of course, this MLB plan has little to do with player development and a lot to do with money. MLB owners want to get rid of teams and entire leagues in order to save money by cutting the number of players they have to pay in their organizations. MLB owners appear ready to end baseball in small towns across the country in order to save less than $1 million per team. For a relatively small amount, in a $11-12 billion industry, owners are apparently willing to risk losing current and future fans — young and old alike — and damaging the one big advantage baseball has over other professional sports leagues: tradition and nostalgia.
As Bill Madden, of the New York Daily News wrote:
“These are the same communities in which MLB has conducted clinics and outreach programs in an effort to ‘grow the game’. The same communities where baseball fans, who can’t afford, or can’t travel to, major league ballparks, have a chance to develop and nurture a love for the game through the future big league stars that play in their towns every year.”
It’s amazing how short-term greed can make some business people blind to the big picture. I guess history, tradition, loyal grass roots communities, and current and future fans aren’t part of their nearsighted, profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) thinking.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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