Let the kids play.
With those four words, Major League Baseball took a big step toward fighting back against the absurd code that suppresses joy in its game. With those four words, uttered by the illustrious Ken Griffey Jr. in the league’s new postseason ad, the MLB establishment might have just told us that it’s as fed up with the unwritten rules as many fans are.
Here’s the ad, titled “Rewrite the Rules.” It’ll get you hype for the postseason, you’ll geek out at the reveal and it’s absolutely needed:
😲 to this ad
✌️to the unwritten rules
— Yahoo Sports MLB (@MLByahoosports) October 2, 2018
For background: The ad includes many of the game’s great young stars who are pushing back against baseball’s archaic “unwritten rules” that frown on things like showing emotion on the field, celebrating a home run or flipping a bat.
Putting players like Yasiel Puig, Ronald Acuña Jr., Mookie Betts and Francisco Lindor front and center in the ad is no accident. They represent the new era of baseball players with their swagger and attitude. Particularly in the case of Puig and Acuña, they have a track record of being criticized for not “playing the game the right away.” Puig, for flipping his bat and wagging his tongue. Acuña, for not wearing his cap straight.
And let’s be completely clear about this: The ad is an endorsement from MLB of bat flips and celebrations and — gasp — fun.
There was no one better to deliver the message than Griffey, who was the first to challenge the idea that baseball didn’t have to keep being the way it always had been. But all these years after Griffeymania kicked down some doors, baseball’s old-school ethos just won’t die.
Sixty seconds of video on the internet won’t fix the entire problem. But if MLB itself is going to lend its voice — with Ken Griffey Jr. telling people, “let the kids play” — then we might be moving in the right direction.
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