A preview of the upcoming World Series between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals on most shows would likely break down the pitching matchups, top hitters and other factors having to do with the game on the field.
Not so on MSNBC, despite the best efforts of daytime host Thomas Roberts to do so. Instead, The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin led his breakdown of the Mets-Royals series with the tidbit that neither team has ever been segregated.
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"Let's talk about the teams here," Roberts said. "They don't have a lot of history playing against each other. They last played each other in 2013, so what's the strategy as they go into this? Both have bats and pitching."
"This is as fascinating a World Series matchup as I think we've seen in years," Zirin said. "First and foremost for history buffs out there, it's the first-ever World Series against [sic] two teams that were never segregated. It's the first time ever we've had two teams that came into existence after 1947 and the breaking of the color line that have ever played against each other, so that's an interesting historical curio. As for the teams themselves…"
Zirin went on to actually discuss the teams' respective players in his ensuing commentary, going on to predict the Mets would win the Fall Classic in seven games.
Zirin blogged about the subject of both teams coming into existence after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier earlier Tuesday:
Jackie Robinson desegregated the game in 1947, and it is fascinating that this is the first time two post-1947 expansion teams have met. On one level, this is a tribute to the historic institutional power of baseball’s great teams that thrived under segregation like the Yankees, the Cardinals, and the Dodgers. (The Cards and Dodgers in particular had post-1947 success when they took integration seriously, stocking their rosters with black talent.) Yet franchises maintained quotas for decades to ensure that their integrated teams would not become too integrated. It was in 1971 when the Pirates fielded the first all-black-and-brown starting nine.
Still, it is remarkable, given the success that so many post 1947 expansion franchises have had, that this is the first time the stars have aligned to see two of these franchises meet in the big dance. It is also worth remarking upon for reasons beyond historic curiosity. Even with the absence of a segregated past, the Mets have just one black American player on their playoff roster, Curtis Granderson. The Royals will be starting, barring injury, one black American player, Lorenzo Cain. Both teams employ several players of African descent from Latin America. This all speaks to the oft-discussed issue of the work baseball needs to do if it is going to find purchase in the black community in the United States. I refer all questions on this to Chris Rock, although I’ll also add that baseball’s rush to invest billions in the Dominican Republic to develop players cheaply while publicly funded urban baseball programs are being slashed plays a major role in this.
New York swept the Chicago Cubs in the National League Championship Series, led by excellent pitching and the sizzling bat of second baseman Daniel Murphy, to make their first World Series trip since 2000. Kansas City, after dispatching the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series, is making its second consecutive appearance in the World Series after falling to the San Francisco Giants last year.