Thursday, October 15, 2015

It's past time for baseball to flip its script

Chris Rock said it best: Major League Baseball is far too reserved. Actually, what he said was way more awesome, and I recommend checking out his video. I'll wait.

Pro baseball needs personality much more than it needs unspoken rules. The sanctity of the game is all well and good, but in an age where fans decry the far-more-animated NFL for being the "No Fun League," aggressive adherence to a players-as-robots philosophy threatens to kill the sport within a generation or two.

From a business standpoint, you want marketable players. The NFL, NBA and NHL have those in droves. Each league makes efforts to clamp down on offenders, but otherwise like when a player is well-known, even if notoriously. With the major leagues, on the other hand, you often get the feeling that having names on the backs of jerseys is an indulgence.

From a fan's perspective, the game needs to be more human, just like it used to be at its cultural peak.

Baseball has some of the most memorable athletes in any sport — men who surged beyond iconic status — and it wasn't just for their play. But in today's MLB climate, Babe Ruth's famous point would be seen as a breach of etiquette. Ten years from now, celebrating the World Series with a team pileup might be considered gauche.

The fact that a bat flip is heresy in baseball speaks to how conservative the game has become. Is a bat flip the classiest move? Perhaps not. But any celebration in any sport is going to offend someone, because half the people watching would rather not have such an outcome. 

But for me, at least, I like seeing personality in sports. It's a game. Entertainment. Let's see players love it. Let's see opposing fans hate it. Stir up some emotion. Maybe then, baseball can stir up a whole new fan base. This is a prime opportunity.


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