Let me get one thing absolutely straight here. I am writing about a tweet complaining about a bat-flip from a small college baseball game, and talking about how much of an idiot Jeff Frye is, for one reason and one reason only, and that’s because I take legitimate pleasure in this. Sure, he does a good enough job of making himself look an idiot, ending all of his tweets with #SheGone as if tweets are e-mails that need a sign off, but I don’t think he can realize the full extent of his idiocy unless someone else explains it to him.
Baseball is burdened by the unfortunate condition of being boring as shit, but even worse is that traditional baseball fans are so well accustomed to how boring their sport is, that they have begun to appreciate it, as if they are birds singing about how beautiful their cage is. Worse still, anyone that dares break out of that cage, and do something legitimately fun, is lambasted as a pariah, accused of ruining the spirit of baseball.
If the status quo they uphold is the “spirit of baseball,” then it deserves to be ruined.
We see it every year. Someone emphatically flips their bat after scoring a homerun, which already, is one of the hardest things to do in any sport, and sports media is launched into this massive uproar about the spirit of the game being ruined, because someone decided not to follow the unwritten rules. If these rules were that important, maybe someone should have written it down.
We’ve seen this with Jose Bautista, who triggered the Rangers so hard that they legitimately had to throw hands. Funny, all of that could have been avoided had their pitcher simply not thrown a dud for Bautista to smash into one of the windows of the hotel that overlooks Toronto’s Skydome. We saw this again in 2019, where MLB central’s analysts tried to justify legitimate acts of violence as a way of retaliating against someone that has the nerve to flip their bat in celebration of a homerun. Today we’re seeing it, with cellphone footage of an NAIA collegiate baseball game, not even NCAA.
The people mad about this should see how they play in Korea, the land of the batflips, the land of legitimately fun baseball.
The fact of the matter is that sports evolve. Basketball has a shot-clock to increase its pace. Football has made an effort to minimize head trauma. Hockey went from an exciting festival of skill, to an exciting festival of violence, to a boring festival of violence, back to an exciting festival of skill. Yet baseball in the major leagues remains unchanging, letting pitchers take their sweet time between pitches, adhering to a set of unwritten rules that were established when ball players were payed like bums, who needed to protect their employment status.
Three of those aforementioned sports have all embraced celebrations, fun, and enough hot-dogging to make your average Vienna citizen say damn. The NFL has been celebrating touchdowns ever since Homer Jones first spiked the ball into the ground at Yankee Stadium. The dunk in basketball became allowed so long ago that it feels like an early civil rights issue, that Kareem Abdul Jabbar fought tooth and nail to legalize. Even the NHL, one of the more reactionary leagues, has had a great relationship with celebrations, with players jumping into the boards, snapping their sticks, and sliding from one end of the ice to another. Yet here is baseball where people are expected to treat a homerun as if it’s an everyday occurrence to them.
Every time the MLB tries to unbutton its collar with marketing initiatives like Let The Kids Play, it is met with a great deal of resistance from these baseball purists, as if they’re watching the house they grew up in getting burnt down, and seeing their imaginary friend die in the fire. Those purists need to recognize that the game as they know it is dead.
Baseball is not an alligator. It does not survive a meteor. It must adapt like every other sport, because it is clearly going the way of the dodo in America. This current generation will not care if it dies either, looking at it with as much cold indifference as Drago from Rocky IV, and they’ll be right to do that.
If baseball dies, it dies.
Maybe its stuffy culture should have let the kids celebrated, either that, or maybe the pitchers should have just thrown better.