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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 19, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsBend it like Beck

Bend it like Beck: Baseball moves into new era

Major League Baseball is upon us, and, while many pundits believe the sport is dying, it’s here to stay. Despite Opening Day’s tradition of folding before our eyes with the league’s stretching the games across three days, a new era of baseball has begun.

The league now features an exciting crop of young stars, such as Kris Bryant, 24; Bryce Harper, 23; Trevor Story, 23; Noah Syndergaard, 23; and Mike Trout, 24.

Story, the most recent success story in 2016, had seven home runs over his first six games, which was more than any other player hit over that span. He broke record upon record from the first player to homer in each of his first four career games and is the only player to have two multiple–home run games in his first four games. He even had his opening day jersey sold for $12,250 at an auction.

Carlos Correa, one of the upcoming superstars in the MLB, wrote a piece for SoleCollector.com before the season began where he described that baseball is “stuck in the past.” He also said, “We are so enamored by the idea of what we think the game should look like that we fail to see how it could be seen.” The 21-year-old explained the game is simply moving in a different direction from the past and away from the unwritten rules.

The debate about unwritten rules began when Jose Bautista launched a go-ahead three-run home run for the Toronto Blue Jays in the seventh inning of the American League Division Series in 2015 and flipped his bat in the air as an act of celebration. However, legends such as Goose Gossage and Johnny Bench have been very vocal about their desire to keep baseball from becoming a spectacle and have the game remain as they once played.

Personally, it’s refreshing to hear a player of Correa’s youth use his voice to make the sport he loves more exciting. Correa is right in that. Although previous generations of baseball players paved the way for their contributions to the game, it’s the current generation of athletes that is going to carry the sport into the future.

Newly elected commissioner Rob Manfred even agreed that baseball is headed in a new wave and should welcome any progression. But that’s probably only because his league is generating the second-largest revenue in professional sports with nearly $10 billion a year, which only trails the NFL. In fact, baseball’s attendance is at an all-time high, as nearly 75 million fans are going to see these young phenoms and excitement.

Baseball has turned a new corner as it is finally embracing its array of stars. If players want to flip bats to celebrate, then allow them to do it. The sport needs to keep progressing to keep up with the rest of the professional leagues in terms of popularity and revenue. It must keep finding players, like Harper and Trout, who can emerge as the next faces of the sport.

With a fresh season upon us, it will be intriguing to see how the league markets and handles the most prominent players and embraces a fresh era for the game.

Jonathan Beck can be reached at jbeck3@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @jonbeck365