Baseball’s unwritten rules have been a hot topic during the 2013 season. First the Atlanta Braves took exception to any player hitting a home run off of them and celebrating it. They plunked Bryce Harper on his side, nearly started a brawl with Jose Fernandez, and then would not even let Carlos Gomez touch home on his home run.
Fast forward to the post-season, Yasiel Puig and the Los Angeles Dodgers are now catching fire for “over-celebrating” their hits in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals criticism, especially Carlos Beltran‘s, comes off as a bit snobbish:
“As a player, I just think he doesn’t know [how to act],” Beltran said. “That’s what I think. He really doesn’t know. He must think that he’s still playing somewhere else.
I took some exception to the “He must think he’s still playing somewhere else” bit, as Beltran seems to be taking a shot at Puig coming from elsewhere and playing in the Major Leagues.
Puig of course is from the island nation of Cuba. It’s well known that Cuba has been under a direct dictatorship for a long time, but what the people of Cuba have to go through on an everyday basis is not something that everyone can relate to. That is why so much exception was taken last season when Ozzie Guillen stupidly made his Fidel Castro comments.
Now I realize that Beltran was born and graduated high school in Puerto Rico, before being drafted by the Kansas City Royals. There is however is major difference in the politics of Puerto Rico and Cuba, something we are not going to get into here.
When I heard Beltran’s quote, it immediately reminded me of something Jose Fernandez said before his first big league start in New York.
“I’ve been in jail. I’ve been shot at. I’ve been in the water,” Fernandez said of his path to the big leagues. “I’m not scared to face David Wright. What can he do?”
It’s easy for veterans to tell a player that “you need to respect the game.” But the game is not a living thing, it’s hard to respect something like that. Even if you want to “respect” the game, there is not one singular way to show respect to something though.
For Fernandez and Puig, they came from having less than nothing in Cuba, and now they are having as much fun as they can when it comes to playing in the majors. Instead of viewing it as “disrespecting” the game, players and fans need to take a step back and try to see the game from their perspective.
Fernandez grew up playing baseball in the streets with a branch and rocks, he was not fortunate enough like some of the Americans playing the game today to get to play in organized leagues. Playing in the major leagues is something he probably never though he’d have an opportunity to do when he was sitting in a jail cell in Cuba for attempting to escape. It was certainly the last thing on his mind when he jumped into the Ocean to save his own mother’s life.
Of course, I never played baseball, so my opinion on this matter means jack squat, right Mark Mulder?
Only thing I’ll say about unwritten rules- if you haven’t played in the big leagues then nobody cares if you understand the unwritten rules.
— Mark Mulder (@markmulder20) October 17, 2013
This tweet fits the claim I made about baseball are snobs. Most fans sitting at home watching baseball grew up playing the game and love it as much as any player currently playing. Unfortunately for us, we were never afforded the talent or luck that major leaguers have to play the game as an everyday job.
That sure as hell doesn’t mean we don’t know the game as well as the players or that we don’t care about it as much.