Zac is a graduate of West Jones High School (2011) and the University of Southern Mississippi (2015). This is his fourth year covering sports at The Impact.

Baseball may be old as dirt, but it’s time to bring the sport out of the Dark Ages.

Most North American sports leagues have no issue putting out an entertaining product for consumers. Even with some newfound safety precautions, the NFL is still violent and can’t-miss TV. In the NHL, a fight can literally break out any moment. And what’s not to love about the drama-filled NBA, where the Petty Wars rage on.

In the fun department, there’s zero doubt that Major League Baseball is bringing up the rear. The latest evidence of this came a week ago as Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson was suspended one game for a verbal altercation with Royals pitcher Brad Keller, who instigated the altercation by intentionally throwing at Anderson. In his prior at-bat, Anderson launched a two-run home run off Keller and proceeded to flip his bat towards the White Sox dugout in celebration.

Nothing serious, right? Well, it is to baseball traditionalists. You see, these people believe in a set of “unwritten rules”, which discourage showboating and, quite frankly, having fun. When those people win and get what they want, that’s when I turn off the TV.

What’s mind-boggling is that MLB was initially using the hashtag “Let The Kids Play” in reference to Anderson’s bat-flip, only to suspend him a few days later. Talk about a confusing move…

I suppose Anderson was supposed to gently set his bat down, jog around the bases and show no emotions whatsoever. In my opinion, baseball is not in a good place right now, and it’s these narrow-minded traditionalists and their beliefs which are keeping the sport down.

Honestly, MLB should take a page out of the Pine Belt’s book. As a regular at high school ballparks across the Hattiesburg area, I’ve seen all kinds of home run celebrations this season and the last few years, and you know what happened after each one? Nothing. Well, the next pitch was thrown and the game went on. I realize there are some differences between the two levels of play. Most notably, professionals are getting paid millions upon millions of dollars, but even that doesn’t change the fact that it’s just a game.

Pitchers, do bat-flips anger you? Here’s an easy solution: Don’t give up home runs. And MLB executives, surely you want interest in the game to grow, especially within younger generations. I got another simple answer: Take your own advice and let the kids play. There’s nothing saying baseball can’t reclaim its title as “America’s Pastime”. It’ll be an uphill climb, but you gotta start that ascent somewhere.

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