Have we taken the joy out of the game from Little League on? Held up to the light of other baseball-loving nations, it certainly appears that way.
Written by Kyle Magin
If you give the world fun baseball, the world will love baseball.
Give the world the Jew Crew with their Mensch on the Bench and locker-room Seinfeld references and it’ll fall in love with this most American of exports.
Let them watch Frankie Lindor–possibly the only man on God’s green Earth who can push Carlos Correa off of his throne at shortstop–dive deep into the 5.5 hole to prevent a double and they’ll jump.
Allow them to see the best fans on the planet*–those who back la Republica Dominicana–in action as they dance, sing, toot horns, play giant cheese graters with sticks, and they’ll want to join the party.
(*I can speak from experience here. I got to attend a second round matchup between the Dominicans and Team USA in San Diego. The DR fans–maybe a 20th of the crowd?–generally comported themselves like they were at a nine inning-long Daddy Yankee concert. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a baseball game that didn’t have October implications.)
This tournament has everything a sports fan of any nationality could want. Giancarlo Stanton parked a home run in the second deck of the Western Metal Supply building here in America’s finest city, and that ball was interrupted in its upward flight path. Adam Jones jumped halfway to the goddamn moon to pull a ball back in. Those are both feats that would excite anyone with two eyes, regardless of what they think they know about baseball.
So why is every baseball thinker on the planet saying this tournament needs to be fixed?
Go read them if you want an answer, I guess. I am a baseball fan, so, grain of salt, but I think this is a great tournament.
The only thing wrong with it that I can see is our stuffy-ass team and *some* of our dipshit fans.
Look at this terribly sleepy bullshit from US second baseman Ian Kinsler in the New York Times ahead of Wednesday’s final between the stars and stripes and Puerto Rico: “I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays,” Kinsler said. “That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.”
Open your mind, Kinsler. The world wants to see flashy dudes go nuts before they tag somebody out, scream and pump their arms after scaling a wall to rob a home run, or flip the fuck out of their bats after baptizing a ball in the name of Louisville, Kentucky. They want to see young men celebrate after performing great feats of speed, agility, coordination, strength and cunning. When they root, they want to jump and yell and have the elderly couple behind them be OK with that. This stilted, unwritten-rule-baseball appeals to the corner of the baseball fan venn diagram that overlaps with Donald Trump’s base and white AARP card carriers. This is a base the sport can afford to piss off because they’ll all be dead in 20 years anyway. If baseball is to grow, it has to attract new people with the excitement that’s already baked into the game and the passion that needs free reign to express itself.
Baseball, and American baseball in particular, needs to embrace the concept that it is fun, and behave that way.
P.S. — What the hell is up with the Team USA baseball logo? It looks like it was designed to support American roller hockey at your local rink in 1992, or as the letterhead for a third party with strong opinions on correct valuation. Please, God, can we get a graphic designer before 2021?