The clocks have sprung forward an hour, the weather is getting warmer and March Madness is upon us. That only means another season of baseball is getting here faster than an Aroldis Chapman fastball.
And so too are some pressing issues for the game.
Rewind to last week when on the same day, both Bryce Harper and Goose Gossage came out and publicly said baseball needs to change its ways. The issue? They wanted opposites to happen.
Gossage came out criticizing instant replay and the art of arguing a call, says “nerds have ruined the game,” and threw the names Jose Bautista, Yoenis Cespedes and Harper under the bus.
Surely Gossage isn’t wrong that the game is losing its human element with the advancement of instant replay and having a manager allowed a challenge in the first seven innings. He is wrong about the statistical side of baseball though.
Baseball has always been about the numbers. And though there have been more statistics added in recent memory, including everybody’s go to stat, WAR (Wins Above Replacement), everybody cared about the players numbers on the back of their baseball card. Some of baseball’s greatest seasons are ranked by numbers (i.e. 60 home runs, 300 strikeouts, 200 hits, etc.) or premiere clubs (i.e. pitching and hitting triple crowns, 40-40, 20-20-20-20, etc.).
Gossage is also wrong that the aforementioned names are a disgrace to the game. Jose Bautista’s bat-flip came after he hit the go-ahead three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning in a Rogers Centre filled with thousands of postseason success hungry fans in a win or go home situation in game 5 of the ALDS.
If anybody was allowed to have that moment in time for a franchise that had not made the playoffs since 1993 (same year they won the World Series), it was Bautista, who has been there through the good and the bad in Toronto, continuing to be a voice for the game.
That showed the emotion the game that many call boring can bring to not only the players in the moment, but the fans. It’s something that the game could use more of. Sure, people hate when Fernando Rodney “shoots an arrow” after a save or the bat flips after a home run, wanting to see hustle out of the box after every swing. There will always be those people. However, let the players play with emotion and play as if they have a chip on their shoulder like Bautista did in that moment or Harper continues to do, no matter the situation.
It’s not to say everybody will or should flip their bat or have a celebration for just about anything. Another player leading the new generation into the game is Mike Trout who backed up Gossage’s comments. Trout has been known as being just as good, if not better than Harper, but playing humbly rather than with the emotion Harper displays. There isn’t anything wrong with that either. A combination of both could do the game some good, and should be allowed, and should exist in todays game.
The game is not the same as it was when Gossage was in the game. It’s not the same as it was 10 years ago. There is no longer Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Barry Bonds (who also has a signature celebration moment with home run No. 756), Pedro Martinez, you name them. It’s now going in a new direction with new faces. It’s now about Clayton Kershaw, Trout, Harper, Kris Bryant and so many other talented players.
MLB has a complex image that people want to see resolved one way. Instead of wanting it one way, why not have it multiple ways? The only thing the league should have as one is with the DH (that’s a whole different subject though).
Let’s have it show the diversity in personalities. Former players like Gossage should silence themselves, instead of ranting like he has multiple times in the last week. Rather, he should just be happy that incredible, unscripted moments continue to happen on a regular basis in the game, and that there’s another wave of amazing talent coming through to hopefully help baseball’s ratings.