Chris Rock debuted on HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel last night, and wondered what became of African-Americans in baseball. Rock’s the latest comedic voice tapped by HBO to close the sports show’s episodes with some take on an element of the sports industry. In February, HBO announced Bill Maher would debut this new segment on the program as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.
“I’m an endangered species: a black baseball fan,” Rock began. “When I was growing up, we loved baseball. … Back then almost 20% of all Major Leaguers were African-American, and I could actually have conversations with other black people about baseball. … Now if I say to a black person, ‘Did you see that Met game last night?’ they’ll say, ‘What the f*ck’s a Met?'”
Last year, Rock noted, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series “without any black guys on the team. … The team the Giants had to beat to get there, the St. Louis Cardinals, had no black players. How could you ever be in St. Louis and see no black people? And the crowds were more than 90% white – like the Ferguson Police Department.”
Rock continued: “We don’t need baseball, but baseball needs us. Black America decides what’s hot and what young people get exited about. … Ask Mitt Romney: You lose black America, you lose young America.
“Of people who still watch baseball on TV, five out of six are white, and the average age is 53,” Rock said. “That’s not an audience — that’s a Tea Party rally. … Maybe if baseball gets a little hipper, a little cooler, just a little more black,” it will have a future. But until then, he said, “blacks and baseball just ain’t a good match anymore. Blacks don’t care, but baseball should be terrified.”
HBO’s making a big push for Gumbel’s 20th anniversary season on Real Sports, also including Gumbel’s first Q&A appearance at a TCA Press Tour in 19 years, in which he told a couple hundred members of the media there is “so little” sports journalism being practiced these days.
“What passes for sports coverage is terribly sycophantic.” The expression “broadcast partner,” he said, ”is the worst word in the English-language. Once you have that, you’re not doing journalism.”