Photo: Getty Images

Let me preface this article and state my bias outright, I don’t watch baseball. Let me tell you why. It’s too slow and there are no personalities. The first one can’t be fixed by any one player. It’s a pitcher’s league and their job is to strike players out. The pitchers of today are doing an amazing job of that. So with stagnant offenses and a season that spans 160 plus games, it’s easy to see why the public isn’t tuning in to watch baseball, specifically regular season games. The only way to remedy that is with the emergence of star players but more importantly star personalities.

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Baseball suffers from an “Aww Shucks” culture that clings a conservative and buttoned down etiquette. Take Mike Trout, who from all accounts is having the most phenomenal career the baseball world has ever seen, with the potential to be the greatest player the MLB has ever had. I wouldn’t recognize him if he bumped into me, and the same goes for an overwhelming majority of people. 99% of MLB players do the same humble routine and thank their teammates, or their coach, or god, or anyone but themselves for their accomplishments. Anyone that displays any act of cockiness or “disrespect” is quickly vilified by baseball analysts and media. Think back when Yasiel Puig burst onto the baseball scene two years ago. He does one bat flip in another team’s stadium and people just lost their tops. Puig faced criticisms that he “didn’t play the game right”, “he’s too cocky”, “disrespectful”, and “not a true student of the sport”. He was breaking the unwritten rules of baseball.  That’s what baseball heads were thinking. To the outside world, they saw a player that didn’t fit the boring old mold and wasn’t afraid to show off a little bit. For a moment wider audiences found something of interest in baseball, and baseball is famished for attention and audiences. It’s time a new player takes the unwritten rules of baseball and ignores them like they should be.

Obviously some of these unwritten rules are more in the line of common sense, like don’t steal third with two outs, but others just don’t make sense. They discourage competition, and individuality. Rules like, don’t flip your bat in the opposing team’s stadium, don’t steal bases when you’re down by a lot, or don’t bunt to break a no hitter. I say, why not? Why not steal any base you can and try everything possible to chip away at a big lead? Why not bunt and stop the opposing pitcher from having that feather in his cap against your team? Why not flip your bat after you slammed the ball out of the park as a sign of your dominance? These rules don’t break the game, but if they rub the other team the wrong way and cause them to make mistakes, I say go for it. This sport is a competition and if other players, specifically pitchers, can’t handle someone walking on their mound on the way in, or walking in front of the catcher on the way to the batter’s box, or admiring the ball as it flies into the second section of fans, then make their life hell.

Now imagine a player, it’s his turn to bat. He walks in front of the catcher as he gets into the batter’s box, dodges the pitchers attempt to bean him, glances back at the catcher’s signs, then proceeded to knock it out of the park. He stands and stares at the ball as it soars into the stands. He then flips his bat before lightly jogging to each base. The other team would be scowling, and cursing under their breath, and the Internet would blow up with talk of this play. Instantly this player would become the most hated and loved player in baseball. If you can’t make the game itself more appealing to a wider audience, the players should look to stand out amongst the sea of dull “Aww shucks” shoulders shruggers.

Photo: Peter Kemp/AP

Let’s look at the other major sports. The NFL, even with its no touchdown celebration rules, has many players willing to take the penalty and fine in order to express themselves. Dez Bryant is known for his flare ups and celebrations. He even has his own signature dance. Marshawn Lynch is constantly fined by the NFL for not doing interviews, and people know him for it. LeBron James comes into games and throws up the chalk. Russell Westbrook taunts the crowd and riles up his team after a big dunk. Mario Balotelli had the world buzzing when he threw off his jersey and flexed after scoring a historic goal in the European Cup. Even tennis had an athlete that transcended the sport for reasons beyond their ability. John McEnroe, whose celebrity has lasted beyond his tennis career because of his legendary temper. McEnroe made people pay attention to tennis in hopes that they would see him flare up and go on another classic rant. Even baseball had its version, John Rocker. Rocker was only a relief pitcher, but he remained relevant for much longer than his career warranted because of his mouth. He might not be the best influence because of the racism and homophobia, but he originally got famous for his in-game trash talk and competitive drive. People like rebels. They like to see a bit of edge in their athletes. Let Puig be himself. Let some other players loosen their collars and the MLB will get some of the attention they’ve been looking for.

 

Michael Gomez covers MLB for MyFantasySportsTalk.com and you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelGom3

https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/yasiel_puig_bat_flip_0_1429060316.jpg?fit=600%2C300&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/yasiel_puig_bat_flip_0_1429060316.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Michael GomezAnalysisBaseballMLBRecent Posts#MLB,Baseball,unwritten rules,unwritten rules of baseball,yasiel puigLet me preface this article and state my bias outright, I don't watch baseball. Let me tell you why. It's too slow and there are no personalities. The first one can't be fixed by any one player. It's a pitcher's league and their job is to strike players out....Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?