Sounds like MLB is finally thinking about getting tough when it comes to young Dominicans with questionable birthdays. The New York Times' Michael S. Schmidt:
Major League Baseball is studying a series of initiatives, including the fingerprinting of youths under the age of 16, as it attempts to gain control of the age and identity problems it has encountered in signing players in the Dominican Republic, according to several people with knowledge of the situation.
Those same people said Major League Baseball also planned to establish its own youth baseball leagues in the Dominican Republic to serve as an alternative to the current unregulated system for young players that is dominated by talent-finders known as buscones.
Charles S. Farrell, a former editor and reporter for The Washington Post who produces a newsletter on sports in the Dominican Republic and is currently trying to build his own academy there, said fingerprinting of young players would be enormously beneficial.
“Fingerprints are extraordinarily difficult to alter,” Farrell said in a telephone interview. “There are going to be flaws in the system but if you are fingerprinting 10-year-olds than it will be much less likely that they can take on another identity before they turn 16.
“This will help young Dominican players and baseball combat the image that many Dominican players lie about their identities and are older than they say they are,” he added. “That has become a big problem for the image of Dominican players.”
Hrrmmm. I thought the problem was for the baseball teams that have invested millions of dollars in players who turned out to be two or three years older than they said. I haven't noticed a great number of Dominican players suffering (granted, that's easy for me to say).
There's obviously something a little creepy about Major League Baseball fingerprinting 11- and 12-year-olds. Which doesn't necessarily mean it's "wrong" (whatever that means). But if MLB is going to take these kids' fingerprints, they should give something back. And I don't just mean better instruction (in fact, one might argue that there are so many outstanding Dominican players because they've not been locked into some rigid, Little League sort of program). I mean something tangible that might lead to better lives for the players if baseball doesn't become a profession. English lessons, business classes, better nutrition. I don't know, and I don't want to get all paternalistic.
It just seems to me that if MLB wants something from these kids, they're going to have to give something. Otherwise, why not just keep doing what they're doing? Fingerprints or no fingerprints, if a kid says he's 16 and he looks like a future superstar, somebody will sign him.