Commentary: Black Fans Give Baseball Postseason a Big Yawn

Commentary: Black Fans Give Baseball Postseason a Big Yawn

Lack of Black stars, pace of old-school sport keep interest in national pastime down.

Published October 1, 2014

(Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

I can’t say no Black people care about the postseason in Major League Baseball, but you can hear more noise in a dungeon than you can about baseball this time of year among Black sports fans.

I had thought interest might be stoked in the sport after what 12-year-old Mo’ne Davis and the all-Black Little League team from Chicago did in August. They captured the fancy of sports fans of all colors and, for a sliver of the summer, made baseball appealing to Black folk.

But as summer has given way to autumn, baseball has returned to its position as a sport that doesn’t appeal to Black audiences. While Commissioner Bud Selig and baseball officials have done their darndest to revive interest in their game, they haven’t succeeded.

I can’t say I’ve done a survey on the topic. I guess whatever my thinking is about Blacks and their indifference to baseball is anecdotal. I mentioned it to a couple of friends, and they scarcely knew that the postseason started Tuesday night in Kansas City.

They had no clue the Royals, a bottom-feeder for the better part of two decades, had reached the postseason, and none of my friends knew the Royals were playing at home against the Oakland Athletics in a silly one-game series that passes for drama.

Ho-hum might describe it best, even for me — a man who once made his living writing about baseball. I just can’t get stoked about a game that has abandoned people who helped make it great. I can muster not an ounce of enthusiasm for a sport that is absent Black stars who can rival those who earn paychecks in the NBA and NFL.

Aside from David Price, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andrew McCutchen, I can think of nobody else Black who registers on my Richter scale, and I’m a sports dude who tries to keep a pulse on all sports.

Yet that makes me atypical, because I know the only Black people who keep track of what’s happening in baseball are Black men who are in their 40s and beyond, and I won’t even tell you how ambivalent Black women are toward the sport. The only people with less interest are Americans who live in the upper reaches of Alaska.

Let’s not shed a single tear for baseball. The sport has its audience, and the audience isn’t without diversity. Baseball has its megastars who are white, Latino and Japanese, and the sport does have a Black star or two as well. McCutchen’s name comes to mind here.

But one name alone isn’t going to get a Black fan to shell out money to buy tickets to a playoff game or waste a night in front of a 55-inch TV set watching a game that moves at a tortoise’s pace.

With football lording over the sports landscape, baseball has zero chance of overtaking it, the missteps of commissioner Roger Goodell that are battering football’s reputation notwithstanding. And if baseball’s postseason drags into November, the sport will lose whatever Black fans it clings to.

After all, will they watch LeBron James, Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers open the NBA season Oct. 30 against the New York Knicks or Price pitch the Detroit Tigers to a championship?  

A slam-dunk answer here: LeBron & Co.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

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Written by Justice B. Hill

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