I’m still processing this Jorge Ortiz article in USA Today, examining the link between baseball brawls and the cultural backgrounds of the players involved, as well as the evolving conflict of entertainment and tradition in the sport. These are not new issues, but there’s something in the way Ortiz has presented them that is particularly striking. That includes the fact that the overwhelming majority of bench-clearing brawls in the last five years have primarily involved players from different ethnic backgrounds. I encourage you to read and consider the article.
I’m reminded of what former Chicago Cubs catcher John Baker wrote earlier this year about his experience playing in the Dominican Republic, the baseball cultural differences he saw, and the relativity of “playing the right way.” How much can a player celebrate a homer or a big strikeout? And who gets to police how much is too much? And how should they police it?
There are so many tensions inherent in the game today, and all of them come stacked up against a sport that is simultaneously bulging with TV money … and struggling to recruit new fans.
I love baseball’s diversity, and I mean that in every possible way. Diversity of ethnicity, of culture, of age, of thought, of approach. We see it here in our discussions every day. It’s something that makes the sport special.
It’s also something that makes the sport increasingly challenging – or, I should say, it makes keeping the sport in your particularly-preferred glass box challenging. For me, I find that voting in favor of (1) inclusion, and, (2) fun, generally keeps you safe. That’s really all I’ve ever wanted baseball to be: fun for everyone.
In any case, this is all complicated stuff. Read Ortiz’s article. It’s very interesting.