Since the beginning of March, several countries from all over the world have gotten together to participate in the World Baseball Classic. The combination of cultures has highlighted all of the very unique and exciting ways in which baseball is played and celebrated around the globe.
Between the rambunctious Puerto Rican squad dyeing their hair and celebrating after every play, overwhelming crowds cheering for every move Team Japan makes and the undeniable passion exhibited by the Dominican Republic team, it seems as though every country enjoys the game with their own style and adds their own flair that makes them unique.
Individual players have also taken center stage and made international baseball fun. Watching the joy of young players like Javier Baez, Manny Machado and Carlos Martinez as they represent their countries and break the standard conventions of American style baseball has made for great entertainment and Major League Baseball should take notice.
MLB players have a long established history of inflicting punishment upon opposing players who celebrate too much. Stand and watch the home run you just hit just a little bit too long? A fastball is sure to find it’s way into your ribs the next time you come up to bat.
These acts of vigilante justice being performed by Major League veterans are responsible for driving the youthful exuberance out of the sport in this country, and not only at the professional level.
Young children look up to professional athletes and rehearse every move their idols make. These kids take notice of all the exciting superstars showing massive personalities as they perform in the NFL and NBA. When there is a lack of personality in MLB, the children lose interest and the game as a whole suffers.
Since taking office, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been searching for a way to make the game of baseball more marketable to younger audiences. Recently, his focus has been placed on pace of play.
Manfred has eliminated the intentional walk, ordered that pitch clocks are installed in every Minor League ballpark and suggested alterations to standard rules during extra inning play. All in the name of attracting a younger audience.
This is a clear case of MLB missing the real issues. Things like intentional walks are not driving kids away from baseball.
A lack of excitement is.
The culture of international baseball is a powerful force and it needs to be embraced by the most important individuals within the game.
Home runs are meant to be admired. Strikeouts are meant to be celebrated. Winning baseball should be a fun experience and youth baseball in America needs to be made aware of this.
It is about time for Major League Baseball to let its guard down and embrace the cultures found throughout the rest of the world.