Even in baseball, fun should matter to viewers

by Gary Shelton on May 16, 2023

in general

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Frankly, I think people ought to get off my lawn.

And be quiet in class.

And get a haircut.

Bah. And furthermore, humbug.

When it comes to being a cranky old guy, I can harrumph with the next guy. I can tell you all about the Cartwrights on TV and the days when gas was 32 cents a gallon. When it comes to music, I am in favor of turning the volume down.

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So you can imagine my surprise at the others in the old fogey club when it comes to baseball these days.

An article in this week's New York Post suggests that Rays' outfielder Randy Arozarena has joined "the growing lists of stage-hogging athletes disresspecting the game." His crime? He posed. He hit a home run, and while rounding third, he crossed his arms and posed.

Another article,, this one in the Sporting News, suggests that Wander Franco reached "a new level of breaking the unwritten rules'" of baseball. His sin? He flipped a ball to himself before throwing out a baserunner.

Oh, the horror.

At the core of it, this is silly. We live in an age of bat-flips and mini-celebrations of getting someone out. What Arozarena does, and what Franco did, was fun. That should be the entire argument. Franco's play was amazing. Arozarena connects with fans every time he swaggers. This isn't about unwritten rules, whatever those are. This isn’t about disrespecting the game, or some other ridiculous notion.

I'll be honest. If I was Rays' manager Kevin Cash, I would discourage both Arozarena and Franco. Franco, because he increases the chances of the runner reaching base. Arozareana, because after one pose, he was plunked twice by the Yankees (evidently, that isn't disrespecting the game because Dizzy Dean did it).

But ask yourself: Were you more or less entertained by the ball flip?

That's what I thought.

Granted, I'm was once a practicing curmudgeon. For instance, I was mistrustful of baseball's new rule changes coming into the season. I simply didn't trust the powers that be to make the right decisions for the benefit of the game.

Turns out, I was wrong. Sure, a few players have whined about it, but what exactly are we missing? Batters hitting .191 stepping out and adjusting their batting gloves for 30 seconds after every pitch. Twelve throws-over to first when a baserunner is there? A shift that takes a fair shot after from a left-handed hitter? Every change has made the game better.

Let’s admit it. The game is better in its streamlined version. And it's better when players can celebrate an accomplishment with genuine emotion.

In the essence of baseball, these aren't the primary thrills.. None of them are a bases-loaded triple. None is a diving catch in left-center. None is a pitcher getting out of a jam. But Franco's play was amazing. Arozarena’s was inspiring.

If you can’t grasp that, go back and watch games in black-and-white highlights.

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