Book Review of Dropping the Ball by Dave Winfield

Dropping the Ball: Baseball’s Troubles and How We Can and Must Solve Them by Dave Winfield

According to former all star Dave Winfield, if baseball keeps on the path that it is going right now, it will one day, in the not to distant future, reach a point where there are no longer any African Americans in the game. Obviously this is an overstatement by Winfield to make an impression on the reader, but he does so early in the book, and then dedicates most of the rest of his work to addressing this problem. He also addresses other problems like what he feels to be the lack of involvement of Major League Baseball in communities across America.

Throughout the book, Winfield refers to his plan he calls Baseball United, which he claims will help to fix all or most of baseball’s problems. In the plan he outlines many situations in baseball that need to be fixed such as the fact that the relationship between players and owners is continually going down the wrong road. According to Winfield, each needs to learn to have the right amount or respect for the other in order for the game to run smoothly.

Winfield also finds major faults in the ways that MLB has tried to market the game to almost everyone over the past few decades. He cites that the NBA and NFL have special marketing programs in place to try to entice those of other races and cultures into watching or getting involved in the game. If something along these lines is implemented, Winfield claims that MLB would see a climb in attendance, ratings, and an overall acceptance of the game.

More reasons for the drop in baseball popularity, at least among people who are choosing which sport to play at high levels, stem from finances that are available in many different levels of the game. Part of the reason stems from the fact that baseball may be the most expensive sport to play, in addition to the fact that one cannot play it by themselves. Another part of the reason is that in the NCAA, baseball teams are able to offer fewer scholarships, in terms of percentages of participants, than almost any other in collegiate sports.

Winfield further explains that other problems in America may not have to do with baseball, like unfit children. He put a challenge up to parents to get their kids away from their televisions and computers and outside for some time per day. He also blamed coaches and parents who tell them if they are built for a certain sport and the kid should find out which sport is right for them by actually playing the game.

Further, Winfield proposes that the federal government should jump in on this situation and do something to allow kids in the inner cities to be able to play baseball. With the economic situation in this country, most probably can’t imagine this actually happening, but with MLB giving programs that promote inner city baseball millions of dollars every year, they may take its place.

According to this plan, Winfield also claims that the media can do a better job of promoting the game. He explained that baseball would receive more publicity if MLB made a bigger deal about their individual awards and other aspects of the season that usually happen behind the scenes.

Overall, Winfield presents a very interesting argument and while some of his proposed bandages to this problem may be a bit much, especially at this time, he may be pointing the baseball world in the right direction. While his issues may have to take a backseat at this point, it would be very easy for MLB to start promoting the game in some of Winfield’s suggestive ways.

(Winfield is currently a vice president in the San Diego Padres organization. Dropping the Ball was his first book and is available in most bookstores nationwide. It was published in 2007.)

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