Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler brought talk of how the game of baseball is played back to the forefront of public consciousness at the World Baseball Classic.
Amidst the glow of the United States winning the World Baseball Classic for the first time, Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler delivered some interesting remarks to The New York Times about the contrasting styles with which the game is approached by different countries from an emotional standpoint.
"“I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. … That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.”"
It’s safe to assume that any baseball fan that hasn’t been living under a rock for the past two years remembers Jose Bautista’s bat-flip against the Texas Rangers in the 2015 playoffs.
That incident served as a lightning-rod about how today’s generation approaches the game a lot differently than generations past.
But Kinsler has taken it a step further with his comments.
He’s claiming this isn’t as much a generational gap as it is a cultural gap.
That’s partly true, if only because there aren’t as many baseball “traditionalists” in the Latin countries as there are in America, the birth place of baseball.
If you ask an older American, baseball is a game where there are many unwritten rules about decorum and not showing up your opponent.
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When you hit a home run, you’re supposed to put your head down and trot the bases without even looking at the man you just embarrassed.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Even so, I have to disagree with Kinsler.
This is a generational issue for baseball, not a cultural one. We’re living in 2017, where attention spans are short and big, splashy scenes are what is going to grab headlines.
There’s nothing wrong with a little pomp and circumstance.
In fact, it’s something baseball should embrace as it tries to appeal to a younger generation, something it’s made clear it wants to do with all of its in-game “improvements” over the last few years.
The old man on the porch can yell all he wants, but what happened in Toronto two years ago is probably more memorable in the minds of most baseball fans than the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series. It was that impactful.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with the way Kinsler plays the game. He’s a hard-working second baseman that usually gets his job done efficiently and silently.
Nobody’s going to rip on a guy like that. But he is a dying breed.
"“Baseball’s tired. It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. … If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun.”"
The point is this: Baseball needs to be fun.
You can’t ask this new breed of players to play like guys who played in the 1960s. This book of unwritten rules among players needs to be forgotten and replaced with a sense of youthful exuberance.
This is a kid’s game and should be treated as such. There is no need to take everything so seriously.
So let a guy watch his home run ball. Let a pitcher pump his fist when he strikes a guy out. Let’s make baseball great again.