MLB Week in Review (April 10-16)

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The MLB is through another week of the season and they took some time this week to honour a trailblazer in the league.

On April 15th, 1947 a man named Jackie Robinson stepped onto a major league field for the first time in Brooklyn.

It wasn’t just another routine call-up from the minor leagues though as this was the first time that an African-American had stepped foot on a major league field.

Robinson had moved from the Negro Leagues where he played for the Kansas City Monarchs and into the MLB system for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

It was a time in the USA where laws had separated African-Americans and whites. This was decades before the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

They were thought to be lesser than white people and for that many believed that they didn’t belong with white players so they were kept in the Negro leagues, that often had far better talent than the MLB, and away from the game that many white Americans thought of as a religion.

With the two races separated on the field and throughout society bringing in an African-American player, no matter how good that player could be, was unheard of and nobody wanted to take that step.

That was until Branch Rickey signed Robinson to a minor league deal and encouraged the team to call him up the rankings.

The signing was a revolutionary one in sports and in society as a whole with the colour barrier being broken.

It was a step that changed the face of sports and all of it took place before people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X began their crusade for equality.

baseball-sidebarHe is considered a hero in the Civil rights movement, a man who took a step forward that no other African-American had.

Many even see his involvement in the MLB as the first step towards equal rights and the Civil Rights Movement that began almost a decade later.

So the MLB takes one day a year, the day that Robinson broke the colour barrier, to honour the man who changed so much in the sport and in society as a whole.

Jackie Robinson Day is a day to honour the contributions of the second baseman when everyone plays with the #42 on their back, the only number that has been retired throughout the league.

It is a great gesture to honour one of the most important figures in MLB’s long history.

When this day approaches the MLB looks at the players that have a chance to play baseball because of Robinson and they get their opinion on how important Robinson has been.

That practice has been in danger in recent years though as the number of African-American players is relatively low from other years.

It has been a major concern of the MLB and with Jackie Robinson Day the debate about what the league can and should do continues to heat up.

In 2013 then commissioner Bud Selig put together a committee to figure out why the amount of African-American players had dropped to 8.5% compared to 19% in 1985.

It has been an alarming pattern as more international players take over while less African-Americans take up the sport. In 2014 the level had dropped to 7.5% of players as the MLB continues to struggle to attract African-American players.

There is some promising news this year though as the rate has not dropped but has remained the same.

The more promising news is that the majority of these African-American players are young. It could be a sign that the MLB is beginning to see some change in the number of African-American players but 7.5% is still not good enough.

The MLB is looking for solutions to this issue but with the data from this year the problem may just be one of time.

It could simply be that one generation chose other sports while this younger generation coming up could have chosen baseball.

Only time can tell but after another year Jackie Robinson Day will bring up the issue once again and see how the MLB has answered the call.

Extra Innings
(More on this week in baseball)

Dangers of Being a Pitcher
Injuries are common for pitchers but most are arm injuries which wasn’t the case for Carlos Carrasco who went down this week when a ball came right back at him and hit him in the face forcing him out of the game

Rogers Centre Turf Woes
The Toronto Blue Jays opened their home schedule for the year at Rogers Centre this week and began playing on a newly installed turf field but immediately it became a concern as it played much slower than the old turf enough that the MLB is looking into the new turf

Jeter Not Missing Baseball
It is the first season that the Yankees haven’t seen #2 on the field in almost two decades and although they and their fans might be missing him he is not missing the game as in a recent interview he said that he doesn’t miss the game, or at least he doesn’t yet

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Key Series:
Houston Astros 2 – 1 Texas Rangers
– The battle of Texas took on a little bit of a different look this time around as the Astros took two games from their in-state and division rivals in a series that was expected to go the way of the Rangers

Boston Red Sox 2 – 1 New York Yankees
– The rivalry continued and it was a wild one as the Yankees and Red Sox had a 19 inning game to open the series and the Yankees finished the series off with 14 runs in the final game although it wasn’t enough to get them the series win

St. Louis Cardinals 2 – 1 Milwaukee Brewers
– It can be seen as the beer rivalry as two cities known for their breweries faced off with the Brewers got out to an early lead wining the first game but the always strong Cardinals came back to take the final two games

Tampa Bay Rays 3 – 1 Toronto Blue Jays
– The Blue Jays opened their home schedule on a brand new field and whether that was the main effect or not their offence disappeared for all but one game as the Rays took three of the four games in Toronto

Upcoming Series:
Chicago White Sox vs. Detroit Tigers [April 17/18/19]
– It has been the biggest battle that the Tigers have seen during their reign atop the Central as the White Sox have been the only team that has challenged them as a Central rivalry has formed and continues this year with their first matchup

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates [April 20/21/22/23]
– The Cubs are supposed to be the team to beat this year and so far they are off to a good start while the Pirates have fallen short of high expectations this year but will be looking to beat the Cubs and find their way back to the top

Oakland Athletics vs. Los Angeles Angels [April 20/21/22/23]
– The A’s and Angles fought it out last year and this year that battle may come down to the end of the year as the A’s sit atop the division with the Angles not too far behind as both teams look for an early advantage in the season series

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Francisco Giants [April 21/22/23]
– It is one of the oldest western rivalries in the MLB as the Giants and Dodgers continue to fight it out for supremacy in the NL West and they look to get the early series win in what should be another season long battle for the top

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