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Of What’s To Come
Baltimore riots empty baseball stadium

Baltimore Riots Are Tip Of Iceberg
Of What’s To Come

You need a 25-person roster to contribute.

It was sadly fitting that during the Baltimore riots this week, the Orioles just played the White Sox in baseball, and no one was in attendance. How empty the game was without the interaction of fans yelling, screaming, booing or expressing disappointment if their team gives up a home run. It’s all part of the fabric of the game that makes it fulfilling and gives us joy.

So the team is leaving town to play in Tampa Bay this weekend even though they were supposed to be Baltimore’s home games. The team will return the second week of May, when everything is “back to normal.”

As the riots end and life resumes in Baltimore, many Americans will think the problem is over, or at least solved for now. But it’s not. This country continues to sit on a powder keg, and many of us don’t even realize it.

The issues that are rising to the surface about how minorities, especially African-Americans, are treated by law enforcement are just starting to surface. Sure, they’ve set up a national task force to address the problem and talked about cameras on police and improving relations between police and the community. But what happened in Baltimore goes beyond the relationship between the police and community and how young men are treated.

We have a world of history to look back on and a parallel of sorts happening in the Middle East. When young men feel hopeless and lack opportunities in their lives, some turn to violence and crime. A lot of us will say, “That’s their problem; we take care of our own lives, and they should take care of their own.” Many people in the small Illinois town I grew up in probably have those sentiments, in fact.

But now is the time to let go of that out-dated way of thinking.

We don’t live in a vacuum. We’re all part of an ecosystem where if one part is damaged it works its way to other parts. Every part of the system depends on the other.

I tell my friends who are sports fans that it’s like a 25-man roster in baseball. The organization is large, and players are developed in the minor leagues and come to the majors to contribute to the big-league club to vie for a championship.

You have eight position players on the field, five starters, and a bullpen that you must rely on to win. But it’s not only that, you have backup players in the infield and outfield and people who come off the bench to pinch-hit. What it all means is that over a course of a 162-game schedule, you need the contribution of all 25 men, and more from the minor leagues if you’re going to win. Your team needs superstars, solid contributors, journeymen and rookies – if no one gets on base in front of the superstar, they don’t have anyone to drive in for a run.

A good pitcher can’t win a game unless the second baseman, even if he’s towards the bottom of the roster, turns the double play to keep the other team from scoring.

The success of a team depends on the contributions of others. And the United States is most definitely a team, one playing in the global economy arena.

We need everyone to have the skills and talents to compete against the heavy-hitting economies in China and elsewhere around the world. We had the run following World War II where we were the manufacturing powerhouse, and our grandfathers and fathers had great jobs and pensions. If we’re going to rebound, we have to raise up everyone’s education and skill level to handle the jobs of the future and provide opportunities by creating those jobs.

It’s tough to break the cycle of poverty and all the problems associated with it, from drugs to a lack of education.

But we all pay a price by not solving these problems.

We’re all going to have to sit down and talk and come up with solutions for dealing with this issue. What we see in Baltimore this week is only going to get worse.

If we don’t deal with this, you can forget about America making the playoffs or even contending. Other countries are going to blow right by us, and our greatness will only be something we read about in history books.

Either we fix the problem, or we’re going to strike out. That’s not how any of us want the game to end.

We want the runs driven in and the fans screaming and cheering with the walk-off victory.

Let’s figure out a way to do that.

Share any ideas or thoughts you have on how to best save this country below.

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