Baseball, Our Game, Is Lootville

When the news broke that Miami Marlins' outfielder Giancarlo Stanton agreed to a record-setting 13-year, $325 million deal, the first thing that came to mind was how African Americans have lost their way in Major League Baseball.

Stanton, who is 25 and half-black, is the game's next big superstar.

Hopefully, many young black kids will look up to him and want to be just like him: strong, talented and paid.

It shouldn't have to take loot, but maybe Stanton's gigantic payday might jumpstart black people's love for the game again.

After all, baseball is our game.

Somehow, we started thinking baseball is for others, not us. In 2014, blacks made up just 7.8% of players in MLB.

We couldn't be more wrong. Baseball is a part of our heritage, is cut from our cloth.

Since 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the national pastime, becoming the first African American player in the majors, the influence of our people has been great in the sport.

Check the record books. It's pretty amazing how dominant African Americans have been in a sport we weren't even allowed to play in until 60 years or so ago, yet the sport has been around more than twice as long.

When you look at the Top 10 players in homers all-time, black players hold four of the top six spots, including the top two with Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron, respectively. Babe Ruth is third.

And of the 25 players who have hit 500 or more, 11 of those players are African American.

Robinson's impact was, of course, bigger than just on the field. He made black people feel proud, and part of an America which at that point treated us as second-class citizens through segregation and Jim Crow laws.

But in the last twenty years or so, black kids have been mostly steered to basketball and football.

That should change. Parents, in fact, should scratch that football off the Christmas list for their son this holiday season.

Instead, moms and dads should go out and buy him a new glove and bat.

For sure, that's the correct move if you're trying to steer your future baller to a sport.

Baseball is healthy and has plenty of money to spend.

This large paper is nothing new for MLB. In fact, baseball owns 21 of the top 22 biggest contracts in the history of sports. Only Floyd Mayweather's two-year, $180-million deal with Showtime ranks on that list at 12.

That right there should be enough incentive to get your son signed up for Little League this spring. There are plenty of other jobs in baseball at the minor league level, too.

The biggest missed opportunity is in college. There are plenty of scholarships to play baseball. In the African American community, fewer kids are playing baseball at a higher level. Hence, even historically black colleges have given the scholarships to white and Hispanic kids to play baseball for its teams. Crazy.

We get it. Basketball is easier and doesn’t require as much. All a kid needs is a ball, a hoop and all day at the park.  But there are only 400 jobs in The Association and only 30 players get a guaranteed deal each year.

The Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant's 2004 deal for $136.4 million is first basketball contract on this list, ranking only 34th.

Sure, there are more gigs in the NFL – more than 1,600 job compared to about 800 in MLB.

There are two big differences, though. The average career is just 3.5 years in the NFL. Most of the money players sign for in pro football isn't guaranteed.

The Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson is the first NFL player on the list. His $132-million pact signed in 2012 ranks 37th. (Only $53 million was guaranteed).

Secondly, and more importantly, the health concern in football is serious business. There have been so many concussions and the aftereffects are front and center.

Many former players have come out and talked about all their health problems after they left the sport, even Hall Of Fame-bound quarterback Brett Favre.

No wonder fewer kids are playing Pop Warner football. According to ESPN's "Outside The Lines," there's has been a 9.5 percent drop in participation from 2000-2012.

Baseball should be the route for either an education or the big bucks. All it takes is a glove and bat to get started.

There's no doubt Stanton got both under his Christmas tree at some point.

Now, he's paid. 

Rob Parker is a columnist for The Shadow League. He is also an analyst for Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles. He co-hosts The Odd Couple on Fox Sports Radio and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.