As the 2019 Major League Baseball season approached, a commercial was released with some of the biggest faces in the sport doing a press conference. Aaron Judge, Francisco Lindor and Ronald Acuna were among the players on the stand, answering questions about the upcoming season while smiling the whole time.
The camera turned to focus on Mike Trout at the end of the piece with a reporter asking him if there was anything else he wanted to say.
“Just let the kids play.”
The league has been looking for more ways to grab ahold of a younger audience and the number of superstars in the league has grown that audience. These stars are not just recognizable but are very likeable athletes on and off the field.
While the MLB marketing team continued to lean into that slogan, it appears the league itself should take some of those ad plans as advice.
Last week, there was an incident in a Kansas City Royals-Chicago White Sox game which broke out a debate about how players should be allowed to react after a big play. White Sox shortstop and Tuscaloosa native Tim Anderson crushed a home run of pitcher Brad Keller before throwing his bat toward his own dugout in celebration.
Keller and the Royals did not take kindly to the event and threw at Anderson, hitting him with a pitch and ensuing both benches to clear. It sparked a conversation from players around the league and former players on who was in the wrong.
Some people feel like players should act like they have been there before when hitting a home run while others believe it adds excitement and fun to the game of baseball. Either way, the solution should never be to throw a baseball 90-plus miles per hour at another human being.
It is amazing what a hitter does with their bat can be deemed more disrespectful than literally running circles around the guy you just hit a homer off of. It seems like a weird place to draw the line.
Both players got suspended for their roles in the incident. Keller got six games, essentially one game for a starting pitcher, while Anderson got one game, essentially one game for a hitter.
MLB decided it was worth suspending a player the same amount of time for celebrating a home run and for intentionally hitting someone with a pitch. One of those things is letting the kids play while the other is dangerous and unnecessary.
Meanwhile, it was the league’s social media team being ahead of the curve already with a tweet supporting Anderson.
“Keep doing your thing, @TimAnderson7. #LetTheKidsPlay”
Anderson said he plays to have fun and will continue to play his game while playing with a lot of energy. And that should not just be allowed for a hitter but for all players involved in the game.
If a hitter wants to celebrate by tossing his bat and yelling at his own dugout, that should be allowed. If the other team responds with a home run of its own and a player mocks the bat flip, that should be allowed too.
I love baseball and I do not want to see a ton of changes to the game. Some of those unwritten rules are worthy of being there but if the league is going to push this slogan, the rulings and reactions of the commissioner’s office should show that.
Maybe it’s time to side with the players who are out here having fun and not the ones endangering the health of the league’s players.
Just let the kids play.
Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for The Herald.