Not even halfway through the season and baseball fans have already gotten to witness two fights. The most recent broke out last night as the Royals’ hard throwing Yordano Ventura plunked Orioles’ Manny Machado in the ribs. Machado wasted no time and beelined it toward Ventura with a purpose. Although I give Ventura style points for his casual drop-the-hat-and-glove-and-square-up move, I give Machado the win for being able to land a punch before the benches rushed in. However, who knows where this fight would have gone from a MMA perspective because it looks like Ventura had the favorable position when they both hit the ground.
Getting back on topic, baseball has now seen more fights in the past month than they have in years. Many are wondering what this is doing to the sport? Is it tarnishing the image that was established that baseball is a gentleman’s game, or is it bringing life and excitement to a sport that is being overshadowed in today’s day and age? Personally, I’ll go with the latter.
Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball. And I’ll be one of the first people to defend it against the naysayers who cite how boring it is to watch a 9-inning affair. But baseball, especially looking at past years, has lost its luster to a lot of people. It has taken a back seat to the likes of the NFL and the NBA. I think we all remember Bryce Harper’s beginning of the season goal to make baseball fun again.
Which brings me to my point that baseball lacks emotion. And fans love emotion. It add excitement and drama to a sport. Why do you think the NHL has refused to get rid of fights? Because they make hockey that much more entertaining to watch. Its exciting to see two teams battling it out and to see so much emotion that it boils over into a fist fight. Fans get the idea that players have an undying will to defeat their opponents. In baseball, players don’t regularly radiate that persona to fans.
Its not the players themselves fault, baseball players are taught to be emotionless. A player who “pimps” a home run is viewed as a showboat and is expected to get hit his next at-bat, or even worse get someone else on his team hit. Coaches don’t want to deal with guys who bring negative connotations to their team, so players don’t act that way. I’m not calling for baseball players to show up their opponents, but a little fire and emotion in tight ballgames can go a long way. Look at Jose Bautista’s home run in Game 5 of the ALDS. Obviously the moment called for a ton of excitement, but Bautista’s bat flip was the icing on the cake. Imagine how many kids all over America have replicated this bat flip playing wiffleball in their backyards.
These fights have brought life to baseball. Fans are seeing clear emotion and a desire to win from the players involved. We are not watching stoic robots hit and throw a ball for 9 innings, we are watching players filled with emotion and yearning for success. Again, I don’t want to see fights break out every week, and players becoming “hotdogs”, I just want to see a little more emotion in a sport that could use it. Its evident baseball needs change, its been losing interest among sports fans who’d rather watch hockey, basketball, or football. Sprinkle some bat flips and celebrations here and there and baseball will have the entertainment and emotion it needs to gain popularity back.