Pettiness. Passion. Playfulness.
I don’t care what you call it. Just give us more if you want more people to care about baseball.
They say hitting a ball with a bat in the major leagues is one of the hardest things to do in sports. This means that hitting a home run is even more difficult. Earlier this week, when Miami Marlins infielder Jazz Chisholm hit one against the Washington Nationals, he celebrated the difficult feat by hitting a James Harden-style Eurostep as he crossed the marble. The next day, Nationals pitcher Josh Rogers returned the favor by making the same move when he left the mound after knocking out Chisholm Jr.
This is what baseball needs. That’s what someone like me – who only watches playoff baseball – would tune in to see if that happened any more.
“I’ve never had a Euro pitcher, like doing everything I’ve done, but I’ve had pitchers that celebrated on me”, Chisholm said. “I like it, however, it locks me in more, and [it’s] something to really go out there and compete.
This is how the game should be played.
“Jazz is a sick player”, Rogers said. “He’s fun to watch. It’s The Show, man, so it’s entertainment for people.
Do you see this? No problem. No fault. Just fun.
This is what would make baseball cool for a lot of people. While the myriad “unwritten rules” and the old regime work hard to keep the game as rigid and boring as possible. But, every now and then, we have interactions like the one we saw between Rogers and Chisholm that prove the potential for joy.
We saw it when Tim Anderson’s home run won the Field of Dreams match.
And when the White Sox released their Nike City Connect uniforms, because they provided a much needed flavor.
Ironically enough, the amusing incident probably would have been flagged as a taunt in the NFL, as their application of the rule this season makes it seem like it’s penalize black players for not “playing the white way”, which is something that baseball culture has done to players of color for decades.
“The idea behind the taunt rule is to prevent more important things”, Ron Rivera said on Tuesday, as the league has no immediate plans to change the rule. “We had this example where a guy makes fun of a guy and then the guy comes back for a little rematch. And the next thing you know, you’ve got a big fight on your hands. You got guys from left field hitting each other. And that’s really what, for me, I think umpires are really looking for. They’re just trying to calm him down. You can party. They sent a tape and explained exactly what is mocking and what is not. And I think if you watch the tape and follow the tape, then that makes sense. I am all for the celebration.
According to people like Rivera, Rogers and Chisholm’s interaction ended with an NFL brawl, instead of friendly social media banter. Or, maybe nothing would have happened at all, because the emotional reactions to creating plays is what makes sports fun to play and watch.
In a sport like baseball, where trying to reach a younger, more diverse audience has been to their detriment for decades, it would be up to the powers that be to finally realize what brought them into the sport, to begin with. It is the fact that it is a Game that they had fun playing.