Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavila III, Wikimedia
Rob Manfred

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has two strikes against him in my book.

The first has been festering for a few years since my cable carrier in Florida – without any warning – abruptly stopped carrying the MLB (Major League Baseball) channel. It seemed like many around Southern Florida were shut out.


If Manfred was doing his job and trying to grow the game, he’d get the powers in charge to lower what they would charge cable companies and we would have the MLB channel back. Baseball’s bosses have made it much harder than it was to follow the news, views, and interviews to follow the game today and the history associated with yesterday’s heroes.

Think of all the young people growing up without any knowledge of what the channel carried and being shut out from seeing different teams in different ballparks and listening to different play-by-plays almost on a daily basis during the season.

Come on Mr. Commissioner, do what you have to do to get the station carried on cable again, at an affordable price. You’ll make the oldsters happy again and will gain some youngsters as lifelong fans. Younger fans and future fans are growing up missing being exposed to baseball programming. One big strike against the commissioner.

The second strike is the false elevation of Negro League stars by comparing their averages to former major leaguers. The New York Post had the perfect headline when the news hit the papers at the end of May: MLB’s Revisionist History An Insult.

The Negro Leagues had many superstars who were also great historical figures. Being north of 80 I had the pleasure of meeting several mostly in the 1970s decades after their careers ended. Buck Leonard, Satchell Paige and Monte Irvin were my favorites. Leonard and Paige missed having long careers in the majors while Irvin made it to the majors in1949 with the New York Giants and stayed in the bigs through the 1956 season.

It’s hard to get a reading on how good they were as there weren’t box scores for every game from decades ago still around today. But the trio I mentioned in the preceding paragraph were superstars in the Negro Leagues and the best hitter in those leagues was catcher Josh Gibson, often referred to as the black Babe Ruth.

Revisionist POW (prisoner of Woke} historians via the commissioner’s office claim that Foster has a .372 career batting average bettering Ty Cobb’s .367.

Here’s how the New York Times described how a three-year research project incorporated Negro League games into the major league record book.

“A 17-person committee chaired by John Thorn, Major League Baseball’s official historian, met six times as part of the meticulous process of examining statistics from seven Negro Leagues from 1920-48. Nearly seventy-five percent of the available records have been included, according to MLB, and additional research could lead to more changes.”

You can’t put Negro League averages equally with major league averages unless they faced the same pitchers. I’m basing the aforementioned on several conversations I had with Monte Irvin who was part of Bowie Kuhn’s Commissioner’s office when we talked in person in the late 1970s when I headed The Baseball Bulletin, a national monthly.

Irvin compiled several high batting averages in the 1940s that were closer to .400 than .300, but modestly admitted that Negro League teams, as good as they were, couldn’t compete on a season long basis with major league teams because their pitching staffs weren’t as good as those in the major leagues.

Of course, Satchell Paige would have been a star on any big-league staff, but he couldn’t pitch in every game. So, there you have it. Many players of color were shut out of a chance to star in the major leagues because of racism. But to claim that high batting averages against inferior pitching means Negro Leaguers should be rewarded by going into major league record books with those statistics is also wrong.

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Author, columnist, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed many legends of the game before accepting a front office position with the Detroit Tigers where he became the first orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring (1984).