Change is inevitable with everything on this planet, which makes it no surprise that the climate of Major League Baseball has changed a lot over the years - both on and off the field. What’s noteworthy about the change in professional baseball in America is that it has been very similar to the way that America has changed as a country.
Like the United States of America, Major League Baseball has become a melting pot of players hailing from all corners of the globe who flock to the states not only for baseball contracts but for better lives for themselves and their families. This is nothing new but recently it seems that more and more players from outside the United States are showing up on MLB rosters than in decades past. This influx of non-American born players has undoubtably changed the culture of the game of baseball.
With this pollination of eccentric players in Major League Baseball comes the baseball culture that they know from their home countries. Foreign players more often than not have played in ballparks that Americans would liken to their local Little League fields fitted with little security and filled with rabid fans, which makes for a hostile environment both on and off the field. This brings me to my point.
This past Sunday, Texas Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor clocked Toronto Blue Jays' outfielder Jose Bautista with a mean right hook after Bautista took out Odor with a late slide at second base. Players from both dugouts and bullpens flooded the field to join in the melee that ensued. It was a good ol’ bench clearing brawl, something that baseball has been missing. Major League Baseball has followed in the the footsteps of American politics in that it has become too politically correct.
In the past five seasons, Major League Baseball has made substantial changes to try and control the game. Chewing tobacco, whether it is harmful to their health or not, has been a part of baseball since its creation and a handful teams have banned players from using tobacco products within their confines. Umpires are far too quick to issue warnings to teams when pitchers hit or brush back a batter when trying to send a message or stick up for a teammate. And don’t even get me started on the MLB replay center. To sum it up, Major League Baseball has caved and has taken actions to cater to the traditional American baseball fan.
With this attempt to be politically correct, MLB management has taken away a lot of the passion and energy that the game used to have. I was excited to see the brawl in Texas on Sunday because it brought energy and emotion to a game that is at times tiring to watch. I am not suggesting that players go out every game with the intention of starting a brawl, but they should be given a longer leash by the umpires when it comes to camaraderie with their opponents.
As the great ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
I think it’s time for Major League Baseball to stop trying to control the cultural influence brought in from foreign players and in return bring some excitement back to America’s pastime.