I read with interest two recently published articles that essentially agreed with the same notion …….saying that baseball is a tired sport that needs to make room for a new breed of players who do

MLB: NLCS-St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgersnot conform to what we’ll call baseball’s Code Of Behavior. This code is largely unwritten and has traditionally been handed down intact from each generation of players to the next.

It includes (just to give some examples) stipulations that players should make themselves available to fans and media both before and after games. And further, that these exchanges should be friendly and accommodating at all times. When on the field, good sportsmanship should be displayed. There should be no attempts to “show up “images-35 another player or umpire. Off the field, always remember that it is a privilege to play this game at this level and your behavior should always reflect that. And so on…….

Now, the question becomes this……..what is baseball to do when prominent players of the millennial generation say, “No, I need to be me.” And in (mostly) a nice way communicating that if you don’t like who I am…….too bad……live with it……..

As a member of the Baby Boomers generation myself, some of you may recall that I wrote in this space some imagerather scathing attacks on two of baseball’s emerging stars of today. In the first of three chapters, I took to task Matt Harvey’s behavior throughout the 2015 season (“Matt The Brat – A Big Pain In The Mets Brass”) and then later Bryce Harper (“Another Baseball Brat – Bryce Harper”) for what I believed to be their – It’s All About Me personna.

However, it gives me pause now to consider the thoughts (for example) of Mile Lupica’s compelling column the other day titled “Bryce Yourself – We Need More Harpers”.  In it, he writes, “Bryce Harper is an old-time ballplayer with a new-world sensibility. There’s always the feeling that he might say something provocative and light up social media. Or do something provocative on the field. To me, he’s the type of guy who might steal a base in an 8-0 game, get thrown at,ortiz-red-sox then lay down a bunt the next time up and try to run right up your back. In all the good ways, there’s always the sense that he’s about to go off.”

He also cites Harper in his own words……”If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James.image It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”

Tim Keown, writing in ESPN Magazine, explains in his piece titled (“Sorry, Not Sorry”) “Why pretend? Is false modesty any less distasteful than outward self-assurance?” And then, “He (speaking of Harper) wants to change the game. He wants to change the perception of baseball players, to become a single-name icon like LeBron andMLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Miami Marlins Beckham and Cam.”………

Can we live with that, and more importantly is baseball better off for it?

In retrospect, maybe we can simply because we have no choice. Neither Harper or Harvey are going to conform (add someone like Jose Bautista to the mix too with his exaggerated bat flips and Jose Fernandez and his strike out antics)…………these are the stars of the future who make someone like Derek Jeter look like a “Uncle Tom” imagefor being “good”. 

In the end then and as Lupica argues…….We have to make room for them. And perhaps, we need to recognize that baseball is indeed a tired sport. But at the same time, I will never –  ever accept what we see in the NBA and the NFL today with the endless taunting between players and general rowdiness during games.

Baseball hasimage historically been perceived as a Gentlemanly Sport (Chase Utley exception noted). So let’s not forget that either by keeping room open in the game for that too……..while welcoming at the same time the spirit of the new breed to baseball………

I’m in……at least for now………….




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s