(if you think these guys look mean, wait ’til you see their reaction to a William Devane-managed game at the Astrodome being called after two innings)

Bridgeton, NJ’s Babe Youth League can’t seem to find many willing participants this spring, and league prez Sam Hunter blows a perfect opportunity to blame it on Facebook or Street Fighter IV in his chat with NJ.com’s Joe Green (link culled from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

“I get a lot of, Yeah, I’m coming out! But I’ve only had nine signed up,” Hunter lamented.

He suggested a few reasons for the apparent apathy.

Gangs may be the scariest.

Angry, frustrated teens sometimes go to gang meetings.

After they show interest, Hunter said, “the gangs will pursue them to become members.”

“I’m sure gang activity is contributing to the kids not becoming involved in the league,” said Albert Kelly, city councilman and president of Tri-County Community Action Agency, Inc., headquartered on Cohansey Street.

“But baseball is just not as popular as other sports now,” he added. “Baseball is not as highly visible as it used to be in this community.”

Kelly said basketball gets year-round attention on ESPN, and kids tend to dream of stardom on the court rather than the diamond.

Oh c’mon, how much basketball do you see on ESPN in the middle of July or August?  If we’re gonna blame ESPN’s programming decisions for baseball’s slump amongst Jersey teens, how about the year-round prevailance of poker?