This year’s baseball season is one for the record books. Fans in the nation’s capital celebrated for weeks at the chance their home team, the Washington Nationals — would see its way into a World Series for the first time ever. Considering the team is relatively new to D.C. following its relocation from Montreal (Expos) in 1969 and later renamed the Nationals, the very last time Washington won a World Series was in 1924 and the team — the Washington Senators — never won again. But, that was long before most of the fans in the seats, over the past week, were born. For most of them, getting here was worth the celebration.
The possibility of a World Series win became reality as the team kept pace with a three-time World Series team winner — the Houston Astros — up to the seventh and final game. Our deadline didn’t allow us to see which team won the trophy and the team members who will don world series rings, but we put all of our bets on the Nationals.
Regardless of who won the title, this year will be another one that the MLB must ask if it’s doing enough to increase diversity in America’s favorite sport. It was somewhat apparent this week with the Nationals showcasing three African-Americans players, against Houston with two. And, both USA Sports and Forbes reported that there were only 68 African Americans out of the total of 882 players in Major League Baseball on Opening-Day rosters, injured lists and restricted lists. Is this what Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Jackie Robinson — African-American baseball heroes — hoped for the future of baseball?
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports gave the MLB an overall grade of A- on the issue of racial hiring at the onset of the 2019 season when it released its annual report in conjunction with the 72nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the MLB’s color barrier. TIDES claims to provide a comprehensive resource for issues related to gender and race in amateur, collegiate and professional sport[s]. But its report only showed a 1 percent increase in racial hiring practices from 88 percent in 2018 to 89 percent in 2019.
With many eyes on them, the MLB realizes a disparity exists and is demonstrating efforts to increase the presence of African Americans and women on the field and in management. Kudos go to our home team for what it’s doing by touching neighborhoods across this city and proving it wants to make baseball an inclusive sport. It’s one way to win the hearts and cheers of Washington fans, although a World Series trophy shows winning where it matters!