This year’s shortened MLB season is about 1/3 of the way though, and it’s safe to say I haven’t been watching baseball nearly as much as I have in the past. Due to a combination of the NHL and NBA playoffs being on right now—as well as the fact that The Red Sox suck and I would rather watch puppies drown than be subjected to those games—I’ve been somewhat avoiding baseball this year (with the exception of games that I bet on)
But something happened last night that has everybody talking about baseball again, and not for any of the reasons that the MLB would hope they’d be. During the 8th inning of the Padres/Rangers game last night, Fernando Tatis Jr. found himself at the plate with the bases loaded and his team ahead with a 10-3 lead. After 3 straight balls led to a 3-0 count, he was told by his base coach to take the next pitch for an assumed strike. Rather than do that, he swung and hit a grand slam instead––His 11th home run of the season, which leads the entire league.
Now to the normal sports fan, there was nothing wrong with this. Fernando Tatis Jr. is on fire and is quickly becoming the face of baseball, so seeing him hit a grand slam to add onto an already stellar season was awesome.
But then the bitching started. Pretty much everybody on The Rangers was pissed about it and said it was disrespectful. Then, surprisingly, The Padres manager expressed that he was also upset about his player’s decision to swing
My eyes and ears couldn’t believe the ridiculous reaction that was coming from this, and it only got worse on when I logged onto Twitter and started reading some of the dumbest takes I’ve ever seen.
On Twitter, all of baseball purist hardos were out in large numbers saying that Tatis Jr. had committed the ultimate crime by breaking one of baseball’s “Unwritten Rules”. They claimed that whenever faced with a 3-0 count, especially when your team has a large lead, you always have to take the next pitch. Interesting point of view, but I have a better proposal: Take those unwritten rules and shove them up your ass
I feel like I’m crazy for even having to say this, but apparently I do. This is Major League Baseball we’re talking about here. Professional athletes that are being paid millions of dollars to play the sport of baseball at the highest competitive level there is. Last time I checked, the point of the game is to win, correct? So stop talking about unwritten rules and worrying about adults getting their feelings hurt because somebody hit a grand slam and one team outscored the other by a large margin. What is this, little league? Should there be a 5 run slaughter rule too? If this is how the MLB feels and doesn’t like a team running up the score, you might as well stop keeping score altogether, give everybody a trophy, and then have the coach take the players out for ice cream after the games while you’re at it.
Another thing I saw people tossing around for why Tatis Jr. was in the wrong was that The Padres had a large lead, so “The game was already over”. Uh, have any of these virgins on Twitter ever played sports before? The game isn’t over until it’s over, and we’ve seen crazy things happen time after time. Don’t believe that a baseball team can come back from a crazy deficit? Allow me to take us back to 2012 for a second. Early in the season, my Boston Red Sox were up 9-0 against our rivals, The New York Yankees. I’m sure the “Game’s already over crowd” probably changed the channel when this happened, but I had to sit there in disbelief and horror as The Yankees went on to score FIFTEEN unanswered runs and beat us 15-9. Another example: Remember when The Patriots were down 28-3 in Super Bowl LI and the Falcons were just minutes away from being Super Bowl Champions? Exactly. It ain’t over until it’s over.
I mentioned little league as an example for softened down baseball above, but I’m not even sure if that’s true. When I played Little League and AAU as a kid, we always ran up the score and broke the so called unwritten rules, and I have no regrets. Whenever I found myself with a 3-0 count, I always swung for the fences because the pitcher would try so hard to throw a strike that it would always end up being a meatball right down the middle. Seems pretty self-explanatory to me why swinging on 3-0 is a good idea. Granted my coach was a bit psychotic and instilled a lot of these no mercy policies in us, but that’s what made him a great coach and why my teams were consistently good during my youth. If that was the attitude my coach, teammates, and I had at age 12, I don’t understand the problem with professional athletes playing that same way.
Lastly, I think the thing that makes these types of overreactions even crazier to me is the current state of baseball. It’s no secret that baseball is a dying sport that is struggling to grab the attention of the younger generation, and stuff like this is why that makes sense. To take somebody like Fernando Tatis Jr. -— An exciting young player that is launching homeruns, having a fun, and seemingly doing his best to revive the sport— and try to turn him into a bad guy for the inexcusable crime of swinging a bat during a baseball game is absolutely ridiculous. It doesn’t entice younger people to become fans of baseball, and I don’t blame them. Kids don’t want to watch a sport where they hold press conferences because a team’s feelings got hurt from playing a shitty game. Oh, you don’t want to give up grand slams and get blown out by the other team? Throw better pitches and score more runs next time. Until then, shut the fuck up.
PS: Just when I thought this story couldn’t get worse, I saw that The Padres made Tatis Jr. apologize for “missing the sign”. Fuck that. Never apologize Fernando. Tell your manager that him and his loser attitude can take a hike. The Padres are one of those teams that looks like they are turning things around and might have some promise in the future, but they won’t accomplish anything with a douche like Jayce Tingler leading the way as manager. His name sounds like he should be a gay porn star, not an MLB manager, and if I owned The Padres I would fire that guy immediately because he will not bring championships with the pussy attitude that he showed here. Thankfully, the MLB showed some balls and suspended 2 Rangers for throwing at Machado out of frustration after the Tatis Jr. grand slam