I want to like sports. I want to root for every sport to grow and be successful, which in the end, benefits all of us. There is one sport though, that at this point, I just can’t find happiness in. I’ll continue to pay attention to it, because that’s my job, and there’s nothing I hate more than people in sports media who blatantly don’t watch the sports they’re talking to you about, but I just no longer find joy in it. That sport is baseball.
This all hinges on a pretty simple concept. If the people playing the game aren’t allowed to enjoy it, why should I?
The latest entry in the joyless, soulless void that is Major League Baseball, is a home run we saw hit yesterday by Yasiel Puig. It was a three run shot that not only extended the Dodgers lead, but was also the go-ahead score that put LA in sole possession of first place in the NL West. Seems like something to be excited about, right?
Nah, not in the game (game, just want to emphasize the word “game”) of baseball.
Instead, Puig is expected to look at the ground and jog in a brisk fashion, because in baseball, even the speed of your home run trot is something that will get you beaned by a fake tough guy who knows he has a 6 to 1 advantage if you choose to charge the mound. (And by the way, you rarely get suspended for hitting a guy with a baseball, but God forbid he retaliate).
Speaking of fake tough guys, let’s zero back in on this specific incident. The guy who initially calls out Puig is Mets’ first baseman Wilmer Flores, who has done exactly one notable thing in his career: cry.
You mean to tell me that Wilmer Flores, of all people, got his feelings hurt? Color me shocked. He also had this to say:
More Flores: “I don’t think he knows what having respect for the game is. We’re playing horrible right now. We don’t need his s—.”
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) June 22, 2017
One of the biggest delusions in baseball is the “respect for the game”. Sure, it sounds nice to the old-school fan, but everything that surrounds it is why baseball has long been passed by football, soccer, and basketball. “Respect for the game” has become code for “this game isn’t boring enough for me”. How often do you hear about “respect for the game” when you talk football or basketball?
Don’t let the second half of that quote go unnoticed either. Flores basically says, “we suck, so don’t hurt our feelings”. May as well go the tee ball route and just not keep score.
Not to mention, a domestic abuser also attempted to lecture Puig about how to act. Oh, baseball.
The thought of Cespedes or Reyes lecturing Puig on being emotive on the field is pretty funny. pic.twitter.com/aRrX9L0IWP
— Chad Moriyama (@ChadMoriyama) June 22, 2017
There is always one aspect of these no fun allowed baseball incidents that always puzzles me. The intersection of people who say you shouldn’t “embarrass” the other team or hurt their feelings and advocate physical retaliation for being happy, and the people who love to throw around the word “snowflake”, is staggering. Every time I get into these incidents on-air, it’s almost like clockwork.
Who’s the snowflake in this situation? Is it the guy who celebrated success, or the guys that had their feelings hurt? Is it the guys that get excited when they do good things, or the guys that whine about other players when they “show them up”? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but a Dominican player smiling as he rounds the bases will send baseball traditionalists into cardiac arrest.
“But Jake, you like hockey, and they have an old-school code of unwritten rules”
Yeah, they do, but there are two big differences. First, your celebrations may be a bit restricted, but your emotion isn’t. Sure, if a guy is dancing on the ice, he’ll get clocked. I don’t agree with that, but it’s not a strict cap on happiness. It’s not egregious, so it’s just an “agree to disagree” factor for me in hockey.
Second, hockey players aren’t fake tough guys. They don’t throw fastballs at guys that can’t retaliate. If you’ve got a problem, you square up. The fact that you can’t fight in baseball doesn’t change the fact that you’re going after a guy who can’t defend himself. Isn’t that the definition of cowardice?
We’ve reached a point with baseball in which numbers continue to dip, and everyone stands a around like an idiot asking why. The sheer reaction to the NFL’s decision to greatly relax the limitations on celebrations should tell you half the reason. People want their sports to be fun.
The other half, is that sports need characters and storylines, not emotionless robots. It took a team losing for 108 years for us to finally get a compelling baseball story in this decade.
Baseball has trended down for years. Hell, the Yankees are finally good again with a star leading the way, and ratings are even down for them. Things can only go bad for so long, and when it’s obvious that what’s making them go bad won’t be changed anytime soon, you just have to give up. It’s easier that way.
Football and basketball are practically year-round now. Boxing and MMA give us at least one good event a month. Soccer is growing fast in America. As I said earlier, I’ll continue to watch, because it’s a facet of my job. Aside from that, I don’t really need baseball anymore, and that’s fine with me.