Friday, July 24, 2009

One man understands

A few days back, I wrote about the Iraq having a national baseball team. What I wrote wasn't actually so much about baseball or the team itself, but more of the situation they are in. Maybe it was a little political also, but I'm not concerned about that. The fact that the Iraqi's play baseball is great, and that they will be competing in tournaments is even better. If we all harken back to our Little League days, we can remember when we were issued our first uniform. I don't care if you were the star or the scrub, getting that uniform was still my single best baseball moment. Getting to wear it for the first time in an actual game was great.

Since the original story came out (not by me), it has been picked up by the main-stream-media. To be fair to them, they didn't turn it into a circus or political issue, but reported it on competently and eloquently, as far as I can tell. The main gist of the stories was the fact that the Iraqi team didn't have any uniforms, and very little equipment with which to play. So a true fan of the game, and someone who was willing to show a little charity at the expense of his own business has stepped forward to help out:

SEATTLE - When MSNBC host Rachel Maddow talked about the plight of the Iraqi National Baseball team on her show, Seattle’s Jerry Cohen jumped into action.

Maddow said, according to the McClatchy news service, the Iraqi team shared one baseball jersey, a five-year-old bat, three baseballs and nine gloves.

"I dashed off an e-mail saying we’d be happy to make the uniforms for the team and donate them," said Cohen, president of Ebbets Field Flannels, makers of vintage baseball uniforms.

Although the Iraqis just asked for jerseys, Cohen says he’s throwing in the pants, caps and socks.
I think is fantastic. Things like this happen more often than we ever hear about, and it's great that any company would be willing to donate their product to a worthy cause. I've bought Ebbets Field Flannels before, and you can bet I will again. This is a quality company, with a quality product, and they are well deserving of our support, if for no other reason, because of their support of people who want to play baseball.

As I've said many times before, I've lived and visited a few countries in my life. I've posted quite a bit about countries starting up baseball federations and just places simply trying to get teams started. In a lot of them, there is very little equipment, usually no uniforms, and no decent fields to play on. Here in the UK (which is a slightly different story), our home field is the best I've seen so far, and it's a converted soccer field. But at least it's level. Mostly. I've been on other fields where there was a discernible slope. If a G8 country like the United Kingdom can't get decent baseball fields built, how are countries like Iraq, Nigeria, and Cambodia supposed to get it done.

Bud, you've hooched the pooch again. I can't believe that MLB can't do something more for developing countries that want to play baseball. Where is the equipment? Where are uniforms? Where is help, if not building the fields, at least securing a decent enough field that one can be laid out? Is baseball broke?

Where's the international involvement, Bud? Yeah, a lot of teams are doing it individually? Is the league office so broke that it has to pass this over to the teams to do instead of running it collectively? Why are you wasting every opportunity to advance the game on the international level? How about some answers?

And some people might point out that MLB does run some programs to help, but they don't. Not run programs, at least. They use charitable opportunities for free advertising, but don't do nearly enough. And yes, maybe Ebbets Field Flannels is getting some free publicity out of this. But the difference is, they aren't the ones who are supposed to be doing it. But they are.

They're stepping up to the plate, Bud. Why are you and your boys still sitting in the clubhouse?

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Thomas Ogilvie said...

That's great. Sometimes a little encouragement can make all the difference between giving something up or making it an important part of your life.

If baseball is ever going to get back into the Olympics, MLB needs to do more to promote international baseball with events like the WBC, but also at a grassroots level. Then talent will begin to filter through from these new markets. As long-term investments go, I think it's a no-brainer.

Ron Rollins said...


I couldn't agree more. There is such an opportunity out there for baseball to increase their global profile, but for some reason, Bud is oblivious to it.

I'm going to keep harping on it every chance I get. I realize I don't get a lot of readership, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

Eventually, we'll get the word out there and maybe we can force them into action.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

Stuff like this just makes me wonder about the real intentions of the MLB. Maybe they didn't know about the uniforms, and in that case, it would be hard to fault them.

But I wonder if they would have anyway. Bud likes the big shiny things that bring lots of attention (Spring Training in China, Ripken to South Africa, etc.) and not the ones that don't (uniforms to Iraq). Is the MLB just out for their sake as a company? If they are, it seems part of American philosophy of working hard and making the most money you can, but isn't that just another way of saying exploitation?

Ron Rollins said...

I think under Bud they are a business first, and everything else second. Every move he has made has been to make money for the owners.

Most of the other commissioners saw the big picutre, but Bud doesn't. Remember, he was a used car salesman.

Until he sees a profit margin internationally, I don't see MLB ever getting involved.

The office is content to sit back and let the clubs spend their money to do it.