It is 2015 and Major League Baseball is now 112 years old and the game itself is 145 years old. With that being said, the game has matured and grown to some degree. When the game was at its infancy, it was a skilled game of strategy and sacrifice. Not to say there is no strategy anymore, but the game has evolved to a point where the business aspect of the game factors in a certain degree.
Instead of sacrificing runners and putting the ball in play, we have a game full of swing and misses and long home runs. The game needed to have more action and excitement to drive television ratings and box office numbers. With this change came a different way the game was played. Being that I am a baseball purist in every sense of the word, this change has been difficult for me.
I’m not naive enough to believe that my views on the game are the law, but I do miss the sense of respect players had for one another in previous generations. The game was more of a gentleman’s sport and it policed itself. Now in this day of instant gratification the game has been altered to satisfy the masses. Fans expect to see action and enjoy the flare provided by modern ball players.
I find myself shaking my head initially after viewing some of these bat flips that have taken over Major League baseball. The act of flipping your bat after hitting a home run has become an absolute art form. Jose Bautista had an absolutely epic bat flip after hitting a three run homer in the 7th inning of the Jays’ Game 5 matchup against the Rangers. The stare and flip of his bat after the home run set off two bases-clearing shoving matches during the inning.
The action itself first looks to be an absolute showing up of the pitcher, but you must realize it is just the excitement of the player hitting the ball. There is no intent to show up anyone, but yet if you did such an act 20 years ago, you would be drilled your next at bat. So the game has matured. Players are now allowed to pump their fist and make hand gestures while striking someone out, so why not flip the bat if you hit a 450-foot home run. I get that. It’s now part of the game, and I’m beginning to enjoy the showmanship aspect of the game.
Take-out slides have also recently become a topic of hot debate. After Chase Utley “took out” Ruben Tejada, there came an immediate outcry for the rules to be amended. The slide from Utley was brutal, but only in the fact that Tejada broke his leg. If Tejada had not been injured, the slide would have been viewed like dozens of slides before it this year.
The magnitude of the situation and the severity of the injury magnified this whole situation like it was the dirtiest play in the history of the game. It was certainly not. I would rather not get into the play, as it has been dissected a million times by a million different opinions. The slide will probably change the game of baseball as Major League Baseball will explore amending some of the rules while attempting to take out a fielder on the bases.
The 2015 MLB Playoffs have already been memorable and we have only just begun. The generational shift that I spoke of in a previous article is in full effect. With this new era of playing the game, I surely hope all the tradition is not lost from America’s past time. Bat flips are going to be part of the game. There is no way to police an action a player takes after making contact with the ball. In that same regard, some players should not take offense to being hit after such action. Some players that play the game are “old school” and they will retaliate if they think you are showing them up.
There will always be these debates in the game of baseball. There really is no right or wrong answer, and if you think you have the right answer, you are only fooling yourself. Somewhere in the middle of all our opinions is the correct answer. The 2015 playoffs have been exciting thus far, and we have only just begun. Stay tuned baseball fans, its going to be an enjoyable ride.