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MLB’s push to ‘Make Baseball Fun Again’

By: Corey Parkinson

It’s a warm summer day. The sun is shining and the wind is briskly blowing out towards left-center field. Kids are laughing, vendors are screaming “Popcorn, get your popcorn!!!!” The smell of the freshly cut grass and the sound of the ball popping in the catcher’s mitt for a called strike; it’s the great old pastime of baseball. America’s sport.

Bryce Harper is one of the many young stars in the Major League trying to make the game more appealing to youth.

Bryce Harper is one of the many young stars in the Major League trying to make the game more appealing to youth.

For over 150 years this game has brought people together from one of 30 Major League cities to the minor league cities across the United States. Baseball is a game of tradition and prestige. From Babe Ruth, to Willie Mays, from Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey to Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Manny Machado; people flock to these games to see the spectacular home runs and incredibly fast pitches. The sport that has grown to include some of the most memorable sports moments in history. Who can forget Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s all-time career home run record or Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s home run race to 61 in 1998. The Red Sox coming back from down 3-0 in a series and going on to break an 86-year title drought.

Unfortunately, over the last decade baseball has fallen by the wayside with America’s youth. Especially when it comes to inner cities. It has taken a back seat to football and basketball. Until recently MLB had yet to accept and even overlooked this huge atrocity. It was getting boring, too traditionalist with so many ‘unwritten rules’ and quite frankly lacked great personalities for fans to be drawn to.

Welcome Bryce Harper, the enigmatic outfielder for the Washington Nationals. During an interview after the Opening Day game against the Braves, Harper donned a hat that read “Make Baseball Fun Again.” And with that statement a media firestorm began. Fans like when players admire their home runs, or shoot fake arrows after a strike out, or DAB after making a nice catch in the outfield. Baseball needs to embrace is and follow Harper as he looks to bring baseball back to the youth of America.

Two years ago, MLB started on a path to speed up the game of baseball with innovations that are deemed the Pace of Game rules. Rules such as batters are encouraged to always keep one foot in the box and thirty-second mound visits. This in theory is supposed to draw more young fans as it is believed that the length of baseball games caused people and fans in general to get bored. It’s not necessarily an issue that one game is three hours; the problem is that it is three hours every night. It’s really hard to follow a sport when you would have to watch 18 hours of the game a week.

Although, there has been no drastic change in length since the new rules were implemented. One thing kids and America’s youth do enjoy is hitting home runs and flipping their bats like Jose Bautista did against the Texas Rangers in the 2015 ALDS. Harper himself will stand and admire his home runs before trotting around the bases. Even Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins ace is known for staring down each batter after he strikes them out.

Old-timers such as Goose Gossage are somewhat vocal against this new movement but none the less the movement has gained momentum. Just this season, MLB decided to lift their short lived ban on custom decals on the bottom of the bat barrel.

The goal of this new movement is to bring kids back to the sport. Go to any sandlot or little league field and you will see kids mimicking “Big Papi” and Bautista with bat flips, and shooting arrows like Fernando Rodney after a strike out. In order to keep the interest of today’s youth baseball has to evolve. And that means it has to focus on skimming back on the unwritten rules that have been in this sport for over a century and a half.

Baseball can’t continued to be played like it is 1916, it needs to be played like it’s a modern sport, with more excitement. Players have to be allowed to be themselves. While baseball has had a very storied past and has withstood the times such as the dead ball era, and the steroid era, it’s time to allow individuality while finding a common ground that does not diminish what makes this sport the American Past Time.

With the future in the hands of young players not, it is inevitable that today’s youth will find baseball just as fun as the other sports. Who knows maybe even more enjoyable.

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Corey Parkinson

Staff Writer
Corey grew up a sports fanatic and an athlete. A baseball player up until he was 18, his passion and love for the game has remained unchanged. From the time he was five if it involved a ball that you threw or kicked, Corey was all in. His passion for journalism began at the age of 10 when he wrote a play about a World Series involving the Seattle Mariners and The New York Mets. As a Sports Media and Marketing major currently at Full Sail University, Corey is working his way to becoming an MLB beat writer. Writing for SoMuchSports.com has given him the platform to share his knowledge and passion for sports and primarily his undying love for baseball.

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