Globalization has been instrumental in the growth of sports. As everyone knows sports are global and are a part of many different cultures. This can be seen more with baseball than any other sport, especially Latin and American countries. The major league baseball (MLB) pulls many different players from around those countries but also all over the world ranging from Japan to Ireland. While many countries are represented in the MLB there is one place that is known as a talent pipeline for baseball players. That place is called the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean country beside Haiti.
Alan Klein discusses the changes and relationship between the MLB and the Dominican Republic throughout his book Dominican Baseball: New Pride, Old Prejudice. Throughout the book, Klein discusses the differences and battles of the MLB and the Dominican baseball players. There is a power struggle between the power that the MLB holds and the poor Dominican baseball players. Klein does research on the MLB and Dominican players through personal knowledge, interviews and research on mass media. This book review will examine how the book portrays the MLB within the Dominican and how this is only one way to understand the relationship between the two.
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Klein uses a process called the global commodity chain (GCC), which exploits resources and produces them to consumers. He uses the process to show how the MLB exploits the Dominican players because they have nothing else on the Island. The MLB is exploiting these players because they can get them for cheap and get a higher rate of return on their investment.
In the Dominican, guys either play baseball and get a way out or they start working in the cannery. Since the MLB knows this they can offer baseball as a way out and let them take the chance for themselves without being help responsible. The league can say that they are doing the country good by bringing in jobs and good to the community. Klein (2014) states the player is both the goal and means of production (p. 30), which again shows that baseball is their only way out. Each MLB team offers an academy for prospects to define their baseball skills and give them educational needs.
Throughout the book, Klein discusses the baseball academies and has proficient knowledge on the matter. He discusses not only the academies themselves but how they search for talent, how they benefit both the player and the team and how they are structured. Because of this, Klein has a strong argument on his understanding of the academies making it a strength of the book.
The academies are there for the MLB to scout for new and rising players in the Dominican. They offer many resources to the adolescents that they would not have otherwise. The academies allow the players to continue playing baseball while still furthering their education. Klein goes into depth about the players and how the academies help their baseball future while also helping with their personal lives. These Dominican players see baseball as a way out and are willing to sacrifice everything to get there.
The MLB sees these academies as a way to enhance their odds with the best talent out there (Klein, 2014, p. 38). One can see that through this book and through a documentary, Baseball: Pelotero. The players go through tremendous tryouts to make it onto an academy team. The relationship between the MLB and Dominican players is all about money and Klein starts to show a bias throughout the book. He shows a bias against the MLB and the corruption they are a part of. The Dominican players are using the MLB as labor migration, which gives the players economic factors and the desire and search for professional opportunities. Americans and the MLB see the academies and themselves as a good thing because it gives the players an opportunity to leave and capitalize on their talent. Klein sees it as exploitation because while being there and researching he saw the things that went on and difficulties these young players go through.
The buscones play a major role in the Dominican baseball players worlds. Klein discusses the relationship between the MLB and buscones right after he discusses the academies because they go hand in hand. One would think that since the buscones and MLB work closely together that they would like one another. That is completely not the case and is made clear in the book. In the book, Klein interviews many buscones to show the importance of them but still shows a bias towards the MLB. He states that the buscones are responsible for the players and how they play to the day they try out and sign professionally. The reason behind it all, of course money.
Klein (2014) states that buscones had evolved into the multifaceted institution that finds players, contracts with them, develops them, houses and feeds them, secures tryouts, and plays a role in negotiations with teams (p. 73). Buscones pour more time and energy into these adolescents than anyone else. Baseball is usually the adolescents full time job and they are with the buscones for over forty hours a week. Klein discusses how the work that the buscones do should make them loved but that America sees them as evil and exploiters. He tries to state that the exploiters are in reality the MLB.
The MLB uses the academies to exploit their adolescent players and offer them many things such as a potential offer and a further education. The odds are against the players making it professionally and if they do not sign with a team on July 2 by the time they are 16 and a half then their worth drops drastically. Also, if they do not sign with a team the academy can drop them and with that the player stops playing baseball and loses their education. With the buscones, they are responsible financially for the adolescent and in the book, looks like they have their best interests. Klein tries to make a point that buscones do make a profit off a player but only if they get a signing bonus or what the player and buscone had in agreement.
The MLB, buscones and Dominican players are all after one thing, the biggest profit. The MLB uses the talent pipeline of baseball players in the Dominican Republic for their benefit. In the end, the MLB is a corporation and the job of a corporation is to make money. They see those adolescents as an investment with a high return on their money. The players are a vast majority in the MLB as the Latin country.
Buscones are in it for the money as well. They take care of the prospect by coaching them, housing, feeding, and making sure they receive the attention they deserve. They do this as a benefit for the player but also themselves. They get a percentage of the signing bonus or some sort of cut that the player gets. They do it for a return on their investment as well. If a player does not make it then the buscone just does not make money.
The player is in it for money as well. Making it professionally is the players way out of the Dominican Republic and with that comes money. They are able to be financially well off and usually in return help their family and give them what they deserve.
Throughout the book Klein discusses the relationship between the MLB and the Dominican Republic. With his knowledge, research and interviews he makes strong arguments that discuss how the MLB exploits the Dominican players. There is an overall bias tone towards the MLB which after reading the book and watching the documentary I understand. So many adolescents are putting their future into many hands and have no control over the outcomes. Seeing how the MLB acts makes me realize that the company does seem to exploit those adolescents. Watching the documentary was shocking and made me re-evaluate how things are handled just because they are a large company. I had always known that companies such as the MLB, NFL and NBA are all about money but I did not realize to what extent. I also never really paid attention to the amount of Dominican Republic players the MLB has. I do not pay that much attention to baseball other than going to games with friends for the entertainment part. It amazes me that people can feel good about themselves while still exploiting adolescents just because they are from a third-world country. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it brought attention to my eyes about corruption that happens. These large companies are backed by so many people and legal ways that they can get away with. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the MLB and all that goes into it.
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