MLB Week in Review (August 18-24)

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Major League Baseball is like any other league in North America in that they are all getting bigger but all dealing with bigger issues.

For sports like hockey and football, the issue has become the health of their players in the wake of the concussion issues that have come to light.

In the MLB the biggest issue facing the league goes all the way down to the amateur level where enrollment has struggled.

Baseball used to be America’s past time but with the NFL dominating the headlines and so many other sports growing bigger, baseball is beginning to take a backseat when it comes to what kids want to play.

The sport has seen a dip in enrollment and that is especially true when it comes to African-American kids.

An increase in the travel teams that tend to cost a lot more and the lack of funding for teams in inner cities plus the fact that the sport is far from the most exciting has made the sport less accessible.

This is a concern for the MLB as they only grow with the best talent that they can get in the league.

That great talent only comes from the best athletes choosing baseball over all of the other sports that they can play.

The fact is that right now they aren’t choosing baseball and that leaves the future of the game with some questions.

They won’t be getting the best talent that they could be getting at least from the USA which means that the face of the game will continue to change.

There are still plenty of great young players coming up through the ranks in other countries as it is still a major Japanese sport and the only sport in much of the Caribbean.

The game will always keep going but it will continue to get further away from America’s past time.

The MLB would love to keep the sport going in the USA though and they are trying to make the right moves to achieve that.

A big part of trying increase that enrollment is to partner with the Little League World Series.

The LLWS is one of the most legendary youth tournaments out there and for the MLB has been a place where future stars get a taste of the big leagues.

With national broadcast rights and plenty of talk about the future of players in the tournament, the Little League World Series is a feeder system.

It is just the end of a much larger system though as little league baseball is a massive organization that spreads across the world.baseball-sidebar

The organization is the main provider of youth baseball throughout the USA and the Little League World Series is their annual celebration of all things youth baseball.

For the MLB it is also a massive chance to capture the minds and the hearts of those young players that are there.

That is where the Little League Classic comes into play as the MLB decided that they would get into the one-off game market while also appealing to youth baseball players.

Every league is beginning to put together unique one-off games that can grab the attention of fans.

The MLB travelled to Williamsport, Pennsylvania which has been the home of the Little League World Series for decades.

Pittsburgh and St. Louis played in front of a crowd full of little leaguers giving these kids a unique experience.

It was a nice thing to do for the MLB as they had the major league players watching the game and cheering on the kids.

The little leaguers also got to great the major league players as they came into Williamsport while the kids all got to see some of the best players in the world.

There was another goal though as the league hoped that this exposure to the big leagues would help keep the little leaguers together.

By exposing kids to something like this the league hopes that they will take memories and a good feeling about the sport for a long time.

The longer these kids play the most likely that they make their way to the major leagues and the more Americans that are in the MLB.

That is the end goal and the MLB continues to work towards one of the most pressing long term issues facing the league today.

The Little League Classic is just one of the many steps they are taking but the fact is that they know there is a problem and they are looking to fix it before America’s past time becomes a second-tier sport in the USA.

 

Extra Innings

Umpire Protest

Last week comments were made regarding the umpires as Ian Kinsler sounded off on what he thinks of the umpiring in the league. That soundbite led the umpires to band together and stage a protest by wearing white armbands to show solidarity. The protest was all about the perceived lack of respect and the increase in verbal abuse that umpires have been experiencing over the past year. The protest ended fairly quickly when Rob Manfred agreed to meet with the World Umpire Association regarding the issues that the MLB umpires are facing.

A Game of Fighting

Fights are not the most common thing in the MLB but they do happen when tempers flare and players let their emotions get the better of them. This week that happened multiple times in a game between Detroit and New York. It started when Miguel Cabrera and Yankee catcher Austin Romine got into it at the plate and yelling turned into a bench clearing brawl. The Yankees retaliated when Dellin Betances hit James McCann in the head clearing the benches for a second time and then they cleared for a third time when the Tigers hit Todd Frazier the next inning.

Heartbreaking End

 The Dodgers have been playing at a different level right now as they are heading into the final month with plenty of momentum. Things were looking good for a continuation of their winning ways with Rich Hill on the mound this week as he put together an impressive performance. He was working on a no hitter but got little support from his offence forcing extra innings. That’s when things fell apart as Hill allowed a walk-off home run in the 10th inning losing his no-hit bid and losing the game in heartbreaking fashion.

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