Major League Baseball has found itself in a little bit of a predicament.
Before the regular season kicked off, an advertising promo hit screens everywhere with an overall message of “Let the kids play,” hoping to see more emotion in the game. It was a little weird the defending World Series Champions didn’t have a representative at the long table of faces of the league all taking questions from everyone’s favorite media representatives, but that’s a different story.
Basically, everyone was being modest giving the cliché answers for the first few questions before Alex Bregman broke the silence by stating the Astros will win this World Series and the next before Carlos Correa added the next one after that, but in Spanish.
From there the supposed monster duo in the Bronx in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton argued over who’s going to eclipse 70 home runs to upstage the Brewers’ Christian Yellich’s estimation of 50 for himself, although the reigning NL MVP’s number actually might be attainable.
Plenty of other crazy goals are thrown out and Mike Trout is given the final spotlight and asked his thoughts; “Just let the kids play,” he said with a shrug.
So, what does that mean?
Basically, let the players, who are playing a game at the end of the day, get excited about the things that made them want to play the game when they were kids in the first place. It is hard – extremely hard – to hit Major League pitching, so when you hit a home run, that deserves the bat to be thrown violently away with the batter stating emphatically that the bat has done its job and will no longer be needed until the next at-bat.
That concept of an ensuing at-bat following a mammoth home run is probably not the first thing on a batter’s mind after flipping his bat, but it likely enters the pitcher’s brain soon after. Such was the case last week in Chicago where Tim Anderson of the White Sox took Kansas City Royal hurler Brad Keller deep and celebrated by taking the top end of his bat and throwing it behind him to his dugout and gave a nice yell and flex to his teammates with his shoulders square to the first-base dugout.
That two-run bomb broke a scoreless tie in the fourth and was not lost in the mind of Keller, who greeted Anderson back to the plate in the sixth inning (with the score tied at two) with a pitch right on the upper leg as a response to not flip his bat the next time.
Of course, the batter didn’t take too kindly to that and was restrained on his way up the first baseline although the teams still spilled out of the dugouts to talk further about it, and that’s another whole different story which will likely be the next column you see from me.
Just for the record, Keller was given a five-game suspension for his actions and Anderson was suspended one game for his role in the incident. In any case, this hasn’t been the first situation this year where a bat flip was answered with a beanball and nobody can really tell if we’re ready to let the kids play or not.
Clearly, the pitchers don’t enjoy being shown up after giving up a home run and being forced to watch the ball travel hundreds of feet away from where it started and that’s totally understandable. But the responding answer can’t be an intentional hit batsman every time. The pitchers need to be able to show their emotion too, it’s just going to have to come after a strikeout where he is the one yelling and pumping his fists for recording an out the same way one or two runs were scored.
The only way that’s going to balance out is if pitchers quit hitting batters who bat flip on them, or the kids will never get to come out and play. The whole point of that campaign is to draw new viewers in who expect the age-old, boring, drawn-out game that is no longer being played but they don’t know.
Guys need to get more excited to pop up on more highlight reels in order to turn more regular names into household names not only in their respective cities but in any sort of baseball conversation in general. So at the end of the day, the kids need to be allowed to play the way they were when it was fun and that can be provided on both sides of the game.
There is plenty of room for change in the game of baseball and this is one that definitely needs to happen and can’t be wiped out by countless pitchers throwing at hitters. Keep it simple, keep it loose and keep it fun, just let the kids play here boys.