Friday, March 11, 2016

Yes, MLB is different than in Goose Gossage's day. That doesn't make it bad.

I turned 49 a few weeks ago, but I still feel pretty young. Aside from being in the best shape of my life, thanks to adopting a fitness regimen I have stuck to, I think a lot of that has to do with my attitude. IMHO, nothing ages you faster than being closed to new ideas, and to viewing any change as a bad thing. If you want to look old, keep up a "get off my lawn" attitude and rip millenials because they see the world differently than you do. Before you know it, you'll look and sound like you've got one foot in the grave.

My friend Phil Watson, who is my age, shares a similar attitude to mine. He writes on basketball for Fansided, and had this to say when it came to basketball players of our generation ripping the current game.  
I’m almost 50 years old (it’s true, my birth certificate has the yellowing to prove it), but I can’t subscribe to the “it was better back in my day” chants that so many former players and so many media members are throwing around right now. About 20 years ago, I made a discovery that has shaped much of my life as I transitioned from mere adulthood into this dreaded ground people refer to as “middle age.” That discovery? For most people, there is one simple rule: All change is always bad, always. 
Is the NBA game different now than it was 20 years ago? Unquestionably. Is it worse?
Not that I’ve noticed.
It’s just, well, different.
I couldn't help but think of that astute asssessment when I saw two things in the news yesterday, from a current superstar and a crotchety Hall of Famer, that illustrated that very well.

ESPN the Magazine has an interview with Bryce Harper, in which the National League Most Valuable Player  

“Baseball’s tired,” he says. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig — there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun. 
“Jose Fernandez is a great example. Jose Fernandez will strike you out and stare you down into the dugout and pump his fist. And if you hit a homer and pimp it? He doesn’t care. Because you got him. That’s part of the game. It’s not the old feeling — hoorah ... if you pimp a homer, I’m going to hit you right in the teeth. No. If a guy pimps a homer for a game-winning shot ... I mean — sorry.”
He stops, looks around. The hell with it, he’s all in. 
“If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun. You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players — Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton — I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”
I, of course, completely agree with Harper. Especially with his affection for Cam Newton and Steph Curry. And it makes me wonder if Harper becoming a Yankee is the fait accompli that so many seem to think it is. After all, the Yankees are a franchise that, with the exception of A-Rod, isn't really known for styling and profiling. Is he going to sacrifice the ability to have facial hair, cool hairstyles, and a flamboyant personality to be a Yankee, when these days he can get the big bucks from other teams? I dunno.

I'm personally tired of the whole "act like you've been there before" stiff upper lip attitude. As I've written before, what's wrong with having some fun during what is supposed to be a game? Human emotion is what separates playing baseball on a video game, as opposed to watching real-life games.

Now, Squawker Jon pointed out to me that none other than Jonathan Papelbon shows emotion. But I say he's a jerk, so that's not what I'm talking about. (And Papelbon and Harper, of course, don't have the same worldview, given Harper also thinking that throwing to hit other players is "tired." That's what they fought about last fall!)

Ironically, yesterday former Yankee and MLB Hall of Famer Goose Gossage unleashed one of his tirades about these kids today. He complained to ESPN New York about the current state of the game:
"[Jose] Bautista is a f---ing disgrace to the game," Gossage told ESPN. "He's embarrassing to all the Latin players, whoever played before him. Throwing his bat and acting like a fool, like all those guys in Toronto. [Yoenis] Cespedes, same thing."
Why is Bautista or Cespedes representing all Latin players? Does Harper (or Gossage) represent all white players? Those are really unfortunate comments by Gossage. But even if you take out the racial issue, it's silly to complain about this stuff. Yes, the game today is different from Gossage's day. And I agree with Harper that MLB could use even more loosening up. Different eras, different styles.


1 comment:

Phil Watson said...

Hear, hear! This notion that the modern athlete needs to be an automaton is just silly. Particularly since I remember Goose doing some pretty intense celebrating of his own after saves.

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