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Bryce Harper Has The Right Idea When It Comes To Baseball’s Stupid “Unwritten Rules”

Submitted by on March 10, 2016 – 10:59 amNo Comment

There are certain “unwritten rules” in Major League Baseball that players are supposed to follow at all times. Batters aren’t supposed to celebrate too much after they get a big hit. Pitchers aren’t supposed to show up batters after they record strikeouts. And everyone who plays the game is supposed to show the utmost respect to maintain the integrity of baseball as a whole. It’s a noble, but misguided, cause on the part of MLB.

Things have changed a lot in the sports world over the last 100 years, and situations that used to be perceived as disrespectful as far as celebrations are concerned simply aren’t anymore. For example, when an NFL player scores a touchdown, he will usually spike the ball in celebration, and no one will think twice about it. Or when an NBA player hits a game-winning shot, he will typically dance on the court and celebrate with his teammates without offending the opposing team. It’s the way things go now, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s actually kind of—gasp—fun. Athletes enjoy it, and so do the fans who are watching them play.

For whatever reason, though, this approach to sports hasn’t trickled down to baseball yet. So if an MLB player celebrates a big hit by flipping his bat, he gets criticized for it. Or worse, he gets hit by a pitch the next time he walks up to the plate. It’s a pretty ridiculous stance for MLB to take, but it’s the one they’ve chosen because those are the “unwritten rules” that baseball players are supposed to play by.

Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper doesn’t like it, and he seems to be on a mission to put a stop to these “rules.” He spoke with ESPN The Magazine recently about them and said that they are part of the reason people don’t love baseball as much as they love the NFL and NBA.

“Baseball’s tired,” he said. “It’s a tired sport, because you can’t express yourself. You can’t do what people in other sports do. I’m not saying baseball is, you know, boring or anything like that, but it’s the excitement of the young guys who are coming into the game now who have flair. If that’s Matt Harvey or Jacob deGrom or Manny Machado or Joc Pederson or Andrew McCutchen or Yasiel Puig—there’s so many guys in the game now who are so much fun.”

“If a guy pumps his fist at me on the mound, I’m going to go, ‘Yeah, you got me. Good for you. Hopefully I get you next time.’ That’s what makes the game fun,” he said later. “You want kids to play the game, right? What are kids playing these days? Football, basketball. Look at those players—Steph Curry, LeBron James. It’s exciting to see those players in those sports. Cam Newton—I love the way Cam goes about it. He smiles, he laughs. It’s that flair. The dramatic.”

It’s hard to argue with Harper’s logic. He’s a guy who, in theory, should be an even bigger star than he is. But so many MLB players are told to fall in line and act like everyone else in the league, so Harper is often vilified rather than celebrated. Unfortunately, it’s just the way it is.

But it’s not the way it has to be. MLB should take Harper’s concerns and do something positive with them. They obviously can’t change the game of baseball overnight, but so many people have agreed with Harper already and it’s clear that something has to change for MLB to regain the popularity it once had. So why not do everything in your power to make the game of baseball fun again? Those “unwritten rules” are just begging to be broken right now.

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