By Danny Torres
Throughout social media, the Players’ Weekend (now in its third consecutive year) hasn’t been about what nicknames the ballplayers have on their backs or their customized cleats, but let’s be honest – who came up with this atrocious idea of monochromatic uniforms?
Black and white uniforms?
Really? C’mon MLB, where’s the true diversity within this game? Did their uniform designers (although something tells me this was a corporate decision) have any idea how to use the color wheel?
And I think that, subliminally at least, Major League Baseball is basically trying to control what the players can and cannot wear in the “work field.” This defeats the purpose of the Players’ Weekend on what I would define as a dress-down day for employees.
Today, how often do we continue to see players ‘speaking-out’ through colorful, creative designs on their cleats, batting gloves, and most importantly what ballplayers have worn for over 30 years on the wrists – the iconic Mimsbandz.
My dear friend and Los Angeles native, James Mims began this extraordinary business venture of giving Major League Baseball players the opportunity to design their own wristbands (including a facsimile of their autograph, a meaningful slogan and their own self-portrait embroidered within this unique sports apparel.)
This ‘express-yourself’ idea was already conceived by a Black entrepreneur who lives in California and MLB finally decided to jump on the bandwagon.
But uniforms aside, last week, I read a rather interesting article by my friend Bob Nightengale of USATODAY who wrote about the state of modern Major League Baseball. He quoted some astute, baseball minds who played/managed in the big leagues; including an extraordinary reliever who didn’t hold his tongue.
He said the game is “unwatchable.”
In a well-written article by Nightengale, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Goose Gossage who is never one to mince words stated matter-of-factly:
“I can’t watch these games anymore,” Gossage said. “It’s not baseball. It’s unwatchable. A lot of the strategy of the game, the beauty of the game, it’s all gone.”
Gossage added: “It’s like a video game now. It’s a home run derby with their (expletive) launch angle every night.”
Considering I’m always at Citi Field, I spoke directly with the players on where they see today’s game and the inordinate amount of homeruns. Do these Met players (I even asked the same question to long-time WFAN reporter Ed Coleman) believe Goose Gossage’s frustration and critical comments with baseball in 2019 have any validity?
Eddie Coleman, WFAN: I think it’s harder for me to watch the game these days because a lot of it is centered on getting home runs. As far as I’m concerned, there are too many strikeouts in the game today. That’s why I like a guy like Chili Davis who is the hitting instructor for the Mets. He loves three-run homers like every hitting coach loves that. But at the same time, if it’s not there, you have to look elsewhere. You have to spray the ball a little bit and use all fields. You can become a better hitter that way. People talk about offense and I think people do like to see offense as opposed to that 1-0 game. Those are a joy to me. I’m not sure that’s a joy to everybody but there’s different ways to score. It’s more entertaining when the ball is put in play – to me. I think it’s better for the fans. Once you put the ball in play, it allows the other team to make a mistake and that can help you.
Michael Conforto: I think over the past four-five years, there’s been a big change at how the hitters are looking at the game. I think a lot kids coming up are trying to hit the ball in the air and trying to hit home runs. They are seeing the power hitters are getting paid. Those are the big free agents on the market. For me in the minor leagues, they didn’t want to change what I was doing. What I see are guys like Jeff [McNeil] who are more and more valuable and can “spray the ball” over the field. When I look around the league and see guys hit the way Jeff can, I think that’s one of the coolest things. I hope that hit tool becomes a bit more valuable than the raw power tool. It makes baseball a lot more fun when balls are in play and more action. Guys are always going to hit home runs but we should be developing the art of hitting more than just swing for the fences.
Jeff McNeil: A lot of the game nowadays is about hitting the ball over the fence. The power numbers, OPS (on-base plus slugging) and I don’t really try to think about that. My main goal is to get on base as much as I can through walks, hits and that’s kind of the player I’m going to be.
Amed Rosario: From my perspective, I see the game perfectly fine. For example my style of play, I don’t rely on home runs. I see the little things especially to advance the players over especially in a hit-and-run scenario. Everyone knows I don’t have immense power but possibly one day I might have that home run power. It’s not what I focus on or even look for. Yes, the game has evolved and the analytics do help. It’s not always 100 percent accurate but certainly it can help the team to win.
Seth Lugo: Personally, the home run, the launch angle, and all that stuff is fun to watch in a home run derby. For me, that takes away from the game. I think the true fans of the game understand the small ball and the pitch sequences. It’s fun to see someone pitch 100 mph but realistically not every pitcher is going to throw like that. When guys don’t throw that stuff, [they] learn how to pitch, [rely] on defense, and the players making plays behind them. Hitters have to rely on small ball and try to figure out what the pitcher is throwing. That’s the game within the game. That’s what’s fun about the sport and how I grew up loving baseball. It’s what I’ve tried to understand and learn from everyday. You see all of these academies that specify throw as hard as you can and hit the ball as far as you can. I think that puts a lot of strain on the body. A lot of players are getting injured younger and younger. I love the chess match inside the game. Hopefully it will get back to that and I believe it eventually will.
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