Atlanta Braves LF Ronald Acuna Jr. showing some emotion after a pivotal grand slam against the LA Dodgers. Photo from ESPN.com
By Eddie Francois
The Fall Classic Baseball Tournament is arriving in unique fashion this year. With the MBL playoffs in full tilt, the simplicity and laid-back feeling of baseball might be changed forever.The sport built on a no-nonsense approach to even a hint of showing up your opponent is fading on that approach.
Homeruns are no longer met with a quick drop of the bat and a light jog around the bases. Rather, they are now met with the theatrics of a bat flip and demonstrative steps towards first base. Even doubles and triples are being pimped like it’s the homerun derby.
Embrace it. Because it isn’t going anywhere.
Now this does come with the occasional blunder, like New York Yankees’ first baseman Luke Voit celebrating what seemed like a homerun against the Oakland Athletics only to end up with a triple. While it didn’t cost them a win this time, it could very well be the deciding factor as the playoffs stiffen.
But Voit is far from alone in bringing an unusual emotion for baseball players–excitement. Promising, up-and-coming players, like the Atlanta Braves leftfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. are hardly shy to watch their ball glide into a sea of fans and then start their route around the bases. Even some veteran players have given in, sometimes even staring down a pitcher as the ball defies gravity for a moment.
There is still the baseball purist group who believes Lou Gehrig turns in his grave every time someone lingers in the batter’s box too long. Nevertheless, times have changed and will continue to change.
Young kids aren’t drawn to a game lacking enthusiasm when they’re accustomed to seeing NFL players put on full skits after a touchdown or sack. If the MLB wants to continue to reach the youth, they must be comfortable with this new era.
This new wave of baseball doesn’t equate to a mockery of the ethics of baseball, it instead allows players to express the joy they have playing the game. Of course, the MLB is still a business, but many players enjoyed baseball for the game before they knew it could be a career.
So instead of criticizing the emotion they show for the game, we should be cherishing their fervor.