This is Not Your Father's MLB – and Amen to That
Updated: Aug 25
I've got some good news to share from south of the border.
Record temperatures and drought in California have finally been broken thanks to the river of tears Rangers' manager Chris Woodward shed during his postgame presser earlier this week.
Let me set the stage for you: the San Diego Padres were up 10-3 in the 8th inning against Texas. Bases loaded. 3-0 count.
One of the most electric young players in the game, Fernando Tatis Jr., sees a complete meatball of a pitch, drives it over the wall – and the pitchforks came out because the Padres had a 7-run lead? Huh?
(Skip to the 1:15 mark if you're a glutton for second-hand embarrassment).
Now afterwards, Tatis admitted to missing the 'take' sign from Padres manager Jayce Tingler and instead, swung for the fences.
But therein lies the problem: despite having a large lead, the game wasn't over and last time I checked, this is professional sports. Every hitter on the planet should have the green light on a 3-0 count, regardless of the situation.
The 'unwritten rules,' however, state otherwise.
This is why we can't have nice things, baseball.
Every time somebody pimps a home run, throws at a typically deserving hitter or goes against any of the antiquated traditions, purists tumble out of their recliners en masse and shake their fists at fun.
Purist schmurist – who honestly gives a shit if those scoring at home are upset. Baseball needs excitement. Baseball needs its rising stars to deliver memorable moments for its fans of the future. At a time where the game is experiencing a ratings uptick (one could argue that MLB's lift may have more to do with a lack of content thanks to COVID-19), baseball needs to embrace this type of energy with open arms.
It was nice to see current and former Big Leaguers come to the young star's defense. And for once, it seems like the tide has turned a little more than usual on this type of issue. The majority of commentary surrounding the Tatis grand slam was in favour of the young phenom. And even his manager reversed course by clarifying that he was more concerned with Tatis missing a sign in general (not that it was a 'take' sign).
But until those around the sport come to terms with the fact that players are human beings, wired like the rest of us with natural instincts and emotions - I think we'll continue to see finger wagging and 'holier than thou' reactions in situations like these.
Swing away, kids. It's a game and it's supposed to be fun.