If you live in a cave then you probably did not know what happened in game five of the American League Division Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers. In one of the craziest innings in recent post-season memory, Jose Bautista hit a mammoth three-run home run that put the Toronto Blue Jays on top to stay.
After he made contact, Bautista followed with one of the most epic bat flips ever. There has been a major backlash from former players and “baseball people” about the flip. Many stand up and talk about how it broke an unwritten rule and he should not have done it.
(Courtesy of MLB YouTube)
So let me get this straight. When a player get the biggest hit of his career and helps a team win their first series since 1993, he should carefully lay the bat down, show little to no emotion, and go about his job. Laughable. Those people should frankly just shut up. They do not care nor understand the future of this game and what it needs to be. They delve into the past to spite the future.
The Rangers Sam Dyson, the server of the epic home run, spoke out about the actions of Bautista.
“I told him Jose needs to calm that down,” he said of comments to Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays DH, “Just kind of respect the game.”
Dyson went on to say, “He’s a huge role model for the younger generation that’s coming up and playing this game. He’s doing stuff that kids do in whiffle ball games and backyard baseball. It shouldn’t be done.”
My advice to Mr Dyson, what shouldn’t be done is serving up a monster home run that costs your team and fan base the series. Spend a bit more time worrying about that and less about a guy celebrating in a true and natural way after accomplishing something incredible. Worry about how you pitch not how a hitter reacts. He did not jaw with you; he did not stare at you around the bases. Come on man, just do your job and let people be themselves. Bautista did nothing wrong.
And here come the purists, I have no doubt that I will be attacked by countless people for that stance. It is not good for the game, there are unwritten rules, or it just should not be done. My response is simple, why not? What is truly wrong with a pure act of celebration? Nothing at all. Did he show the pitcher up? No. He was ecstatic and let it be known. There should be no fault on him for that. The fault lies with purists who do not understand they are losing the market, they are spiting the future popularity of the game for the sake of the past. This disease has plagued baseball for years and still needs to change.
You hear “experts” and the Major League Baseball tout their TV contracts and their record gate attendance and tell you the sport is in great shape. They will tell you the future is bright along with a myriad of other spin methods. They must know the realty and just do not want to publicize it. I cannot believe the “smart people” do not see it.
If I am right then whey why are the television deals in place? That is quite simple and there are two reasons. The first is that the current fan base is still around and will watch. The other is the volume game. The amount of broadcasting you get from MLB is superior in numbers to that of any other sports. It fills time and allows for advertising revenue on nights when there is just nothing else on. It is just that simple.
Look at the chart above. It shows the median age of fans by sport. The younger generation, as a whole, does not care or gravitate to the game. The younger generation wants quick action; everyone is about going and in your face. Baseball by the nature of the sport does not provide that. That can only be tweaked but that is for a different article.
Now look at the chart above. It shows you that as each year moves forward the median age of the baseball fans goes up by one year. What does that mean? That the sport is not bringing in enough new people. There are not enough in the younger generation and the average age goes up. If that continues the sport is doomed to throw up on itself over time.
As previously mentioned, the pace of the game will never be conducive to younger fans but there are other things outside of that that can draw in the attitude era of society. Let the players show emotion, let the players be themselves. What Jose Bautista did last night is exactly what I am talking about. There is always a line and that should involve going directly at the other team or player. But if they want to celebrate let it be and celebrate it, push it and show the love for the game and inner pride these guys have for their teams, cities, and the sport.
Please don’t squash it and ridicule it, but rather embrace it for what it is and put it all over social media for the world to see. Let it help you demographic and save the game before it is too late.