Ballpark Village

Ballpark Village has hosted a pair of concerts my wife, friends and I attended.

On July 12, 2015, George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic played to a standing-room-only crowd of which 99 percent of the folks in attendance were black. It was a fantastic evening – and it was also scorching on that Sunday evening.

Hundreds of people were waiting in a lengthy line in an attempt to buy tickets when the show sold out. Instead of turning them away, the St. Louis Cardinals, owner of Ballpark Village, televised the concert on high-definition big screens outside.

Yes, the franchise reaped the benefit of selling beer and food but it was still a nice gesture to not turn away people who hoped to view the amazing show.

Last year on May 26, Morris Day and The Time performed on the outdoor Busch II Infield Stage at BPV. Perfect weather and a peaceful, party crowd made for another outstanding concert. When the Cardinals opened the venue, many years after it should have made its debut, I never would have guessed it would host R&B artists and thousands of their respective fans.

A tip of the cap to the Cardinals for that.

Love the Cardinals or hate the Cardinals, BPV and the franchise did not deserve the tragic episode last Sunday night that left one person dead and another seriously wounded.

Corey Hall, who was an innocent bystander, was mortally wounded when a fracas between other attendees at a ticketed event led to gunfire on the roof of the Budweiser Brewhouse.

The 38-year-old Hall was from Spanish Lake, a father of two daughters, had been married earlier this month and was a coach. His friends remember him as “always smiling.”

The gunman turned himself in to St. Louis police Wednesday morning.

In the wake of the shootings, Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III said security will be heightened at BPV during a press conference on Monday.

“There will be some enhancements. Some of those I'll just leave vague, because there is an element of not wanting to telegraph everything we do from a security standpoint,” he said.

He said this type of event has been held without trouble in the past.

I’ll say what he probably wanted to right here, “This involved black people, and we’ve had no problems with black events or guests in the past.”

He used the adjectives "disgusted, alarmed, sad," to describe his feelings. Welcome aboard, Mr. DeWitt.

The venue of the latest violence has made it a topic of just about every sports and news talk show in St. Louis. The fact that there are too many guns, too many bullets and too many gun deaths in the region is hardly news.

If the site of this latest murder-by-gun helps spark even the slightest change in how this region handles its escalating level of violence then so be it.

Hitting a Wall

Once again, the Washington Wizards failed to advance to the NBA Eastern Conference Finals after dropping a six-game opening-round series to the Toronto Raptors.

Instead of taking on the winded Cleveland Cavaliers, who escaped a seven-game showdown with the Indiana Pacers, the Wizards’ season is over.

Following the series, Washington guard John Wall praised the play of backcourt mate and St. Louis native Bradley Beal.

Wall missed half of his team’s games, including 28 consecutive contests from January to April, with various injuries.

“And for these guys to even compete the way they did and for Brad to have an MVP-type season for our team and making more strides is big-time for us. He held it down and other guys competed and made it a fun season and had an opportunity to make the playoffs,” he told the Washington Post.

Beal averaged a career high 36.3 minutes per game. He added career highs in points (22.6), assists (4.5) and rebounds (4.4) In the final game of the Raptors series, Beal poured in 32 points, including six three pointers.

Washington head coach Scott Brooks said the Wall-Beal on-court relationship is getting stronger.

“John giving Brad a lot of credit, there's been talk about before I got here that that would not have been the case. But from the two years I have been here, they have been connected at the hip. They know that they have to keep getting better and keep becoming better leaders,” Brooks said.

Personally, I think the best option for the Wizards is to perform a hip surgery and send Wall to another team for a first-round lottery pick and a seasoned player.

Beal disagrees with my thinking.

“They have trusted us, to build around us,” Beal said following the playoff setback.

“I’m not really a fan of change and starting over again. Hopefully (owner Ted Leonsis and team president Ernie Grunfeld) won’t give me the boot — or give either of us the boot.”

Front office follies

While Major League Baseball’s headquarters in New York is improving its diversity, individual teams’ respective front offices are not, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at Central Florida.

The report examined data collected by the MLB central office and sent to the TIDES research team, which examined data as of Dec. 31 and then updated listings of owners, general managers and managers as of April 1.

About 34.8 percent of the MLB central office’s professional staff is comprised of “people of color.”

Women represented 31.8 percent with 17 people of color and 25 women holding positions of vice president or higher at the commissioner’s office, MLB Advanced Media and the MLB Network.

Teams received a B-plus for racial hiring at senior and professional administration levels but only a C-minus for gender hiring in those areas.

With only one black manager, teams received a C-minus for both managers and general managers, with the study reporting four people of color in each of those categories.

“If (teams) are to reach the (diversity level of) Major League Baseball central offices, which I think should be their goal, then a lot more work has to be done,” said TIDES Director Richard Lapchick.

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, is a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and can also be heard on Frank Cusumano’s “The Press Box” and The Dave Glover Show on NewsTalk 97.1 His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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