MLB Week in Review (June 9-15)

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In North American sports the environment has changed in a major way from when the major leagues began to this point.

When these leagues first began they were made up of players that you could see right down the street from yourself.

You knew the players personally and they often did it as a past time rather than a real career but that is far from the case anymore.

Players are now less accessible and far more boring than they have ever been and it is all because of the growth of professional sports.

The bigger the leagues got the more money that people were willing to spend to watch a game and eventually where their team’s gear.

The more money fans spend the more money that teams had and eventually the more money the players demanded.

As the leagues continued to grow they continued to be something far different as the money invested leads to entirely different leagues than from years ago.

The bigger these leagues get the more things change and over the past two decades a lot of that change has been taking away the personalities of the players.

As teams get bigger and make more money they have to be more responsible because there are more eyes watching them.

They want to continue to make more money and if something happens that hurts that goal they need to fix it quickly.

Teams can quickly gain the ire of any type of group should they do something that isn’t quite acceptable to the society outside of sports.

That includes anything that a player says which can sink the player’s entire career if that player says something wrong.

It has happened time and time again and so teams often inform their players that they are to keep answers as simple as possible.

It has lead to boring post game interviews and a lack of personality throughout many of the leagues.

The players are often limited to giving canned answers and when any of them speaks out the team or the league fines them, sometimes with good reason.

The MLB is much like this as they prefer players to go about their business and give the easy answers so as to avoid controversy.

There has been a shift in all of the leagues and in the MLB though as the evolution of Social Media has had its effect on players.

Almost every player now has a Twitter or Instagram account and usually, it is a place for them to be themselves and build their own brand.

That is how many of the younger players are taking it as they hope to be more than just that baseball player on that team.

Players like Marcus Stroman are creating their own things outside of baseball like Stroman’s HDMH, created after his “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart” saying, clothing line.

Stroman is constantly on social media providing a glimpse into things outside of baseball and more players are doing the same.baseball-sidebar

As the presence on these platforms increase players are feeling more comfortable expressing their own opinions and being themselves.

The real shift has come with the fans accepting this change and loving this change seeing their favourite players as more than just players.

They love to hear the real opinions and when players are more authentic and less boring their following grows more than ever.

Teams that allow their players to be themselves tend to gain bigger followings and it is becoming something bigger to simply allow the real unique players to be unique.

It is because of this that the MLB announced a new theme weekend throughout the league that they are calling the Players’ Weekend.

It is an innovative idea in an industry that is often terrified of individuality among players but in order to gain those all-important Millennial viewers the MLB is willing to make some changes.

From August 25 to 27 the MLB will relax its uniform rules allowing players to be a little more unique.

They will be allowed to replace their nameplates with their nicknames, a la the XFL, they will be able to wear cleats, wristbands, arm sleeves and batting gloves with any colour they wish, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the umpire’s view so white is out of the question.

Catchers will be able to customise their masks, potentially like the NHL goalie masks for those using that type of catcher mask, and there will be a patch on the jersey for the player to include a person or organisation that influenced them.

These aren’t major changes but they are a massive step for one of the big four leagues that simply do not allow individuality on the field.

If things go well and this weekend is well received it is easy to see the MLB expanding this to include more relaxed rules on the uniforms and potentially making it more than one weekend.

It is also very likely that leagues like the NFL, aptly nicknamed the No Fun League, NHL or NBA adopting this type of promotion to get more eyes on the game during their slow parts of the season.

The MLB will hold this in the “dog days of summer” where baseball can often fall into the background before the postseason run in September.

It is another promotional tactic and for the MLB is it surprisingly innovative allowing the players to be themselves for at least one weekend as the league looks to stand out from the pack.

 

Extra Innings

The New Generation

The MLB draft took place this week welcoming a new generation of players to the league in the hopes that they can make an impact for their teams. After plenty of debate, the Twins opened up the draft taking shortstop Royce Lewis while Cincinnati made a big splash taking two-way star Hunter Greene. Along with these, there were plenty of familiar names as the Blue took Kelly Clemens, son of Roger Clemens, and the Washington Nationals took Darren Baker, son of Dusty Baker and the infamous batboy that was almost run over after running to the plate mid-game.

Puig on the sidelines

Yasiel Puig has had a good season so far making fewer headlines than years before and becoming less of a distraction. It was only a matter of time before he made some though and this week was the time as he flipped off Cleveland fans after hitting a home run. Reportedly the fans were heckling Puig all game and after he hit the home run he just let emotions get the best of him. For that, he was suspended for one game and fined for the gesture.

Taillon’s Return

The Pirates have not had the best season but they are in the midst of an emotional story that will hopefully give a bright spot to the fans this year. In May Pittsburgh pitcher, Jameson Taillon was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery to remove the tumour. After five weeks of recovery, he made his return to the mound giving the fans a reason to cheer after throwing five scoreless innings in his first game back.

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