Bryce Harper. Yasiel Puig. Anyone else who fights against the dumb unwritten rulebook which, apparently, mandates that no fun or expression be had on a baseball field. Those are the men who Sports on Earth’s Tomas Rios hails:
Baseball’s obsession with notions of “class” and “respect” and “tradition” and “endless other vagaries no one cares about” are largely to blame for this static state of affairs. Follow a team for a season and you’ll become intimately familiar not only with the RULES, but the frequent Victorian fainting couch trips that follow transgressions against the RULES. Grown adults flopping about dramatically, back of palm on forehead, reaching for yet another opium calmative — all because someone has dared sully the gentleman’s game.
I can’t disagree. It is entirely possible to show flair and emotion and have some damn fun without being a bad sport or a bad teammate. As long as you aren’t mocking the opposition (in an absolute sense; not under the dumb codes baseball players have developed) and as long as you aren’t pissing off your teammates, go forth and be demonstrative, my friends.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.