It's no secret there are fewer African-American players in baseball today than there were a generation ago. Approximately 8 percent of players on Opening Day rosters this season were black, down considerably from about 19 percent in 1986.
During a recent segement on HBO's Real Sports, comedian Chris Rock ranted about baseball's lack of appeal to African-Americans and young people in general. The video is below and you are forewarned: Rock uses inappropriate language. Nothing crazy, but he does drop some F-bombs.
The rant is intended to be funny but there's a lot of truth in there. Rock notes Howard University, a prominent historically black college, recently dropped its baseball program entirely. He also mentions Little League participation is down substantially. Fewer kids are playing the game, regardless of race.
Rock also points out baseball's long-standing but increasingly absurd fixation on the good ol' days and playing the game the right way. No other sport romanticizes history as much as baseball, and while all that stuff is great, nothing gets accomplished by looking back all the time. Stuff like that is off-putting to young viewers.
Baseball right now is better than it has ever been before. The game is healthier financially than ever and the level of talent is through the roof. Yet the game doesn't have the same appeal to African-Americans or younger generations. They don't need baseball, but baseball does need them, and it's an issue the league must address.