There has been an emotional evolution in baseball over the past several years and the game is better for it.
Gone are the days of players hitting big home runs or getting a clutch strikeout and having to act like they’ve been there before. We’re now seeing more bat flips and celebrations from both hitters and pitchers in big spots.
That was increasingly apparent in the World Baseball Classic. The international best-on-best tournament provided some great moments and huge emotions from the teams and players involved.
Although it may be impossible to replicate the emotion of a single-elimination tournament in a 162-game regular season, baseball players are doing what they can to showcase their personalities.
One player that has always showcased himself is Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” and talked about why he's embracing baseball's new wave of emotions.
“You have to realize the people and their emotions and why they have them. Everyone has a different story of why they’re here and how they got here. A lot of times these guys are going out there and they’re showing their raw emotions, it’s because of how they grew up,” McCutchen said (19:30 in player above). “It’s because of where they come from. You look at Venezuela, and Dominican, you look at those teams, you watch their games in winter ball when they’re playing, you see the way that they play the game. You understand the crowd. You understand why it is the way that it is. It’s a different ballgame there. They want that. They’re showmen. They’re entertainers.
“Honestly, that’s what we all are. We’re here to entertain. That’s what people pay the money for, they pay to be entertained and you entertain them in different ways. It’s more than just the generic strikeout or home run. It’s what you do and it’s what makes you unique and what makes people remember you. I think you’re starting to see it more. The game’s evolving, changing in a lot of different ways, and that’s one of the ways it’s changing.”
McCutchen has always had a little flair to his game since breaking into the league in 2009. The game has changed even in the last 14 years in terms of how players show emotions and act on the field.
“There was definitely a little more policing in the game. You could be deemed this type of player if you acted this certain way,” he said. “If you were a person who felt like you were disrespecting the game in some certain way, shape, or form you might be taken in the corner and might’ve told you like hey, you can’t do that or you’re going to have a fastball thrown at your head next time. But I think it’s got to the point where people are like I don’t care if they throw a fastball at my head. It’s just the way that I am.”
Sports are supposed to be fun and baseball is starting to embrace that more and more. Celebrations have always been a part of football and basketball, so why not baseball too?
“It’s great for baseball,” McCutchen continued. “You’re able to individualize yourself in a team sport. You can do something that a little kid sees and a little kid’s going to do it. We see it even in today’s game. There are certain things that can be a little too over the top but at the end of the day you’re going to be who you are and stay true to yourself and if that’s what you do, that’s what you do.”
McCutchen started his career with the Pirates in 2009 and made stops with the Giants, Yankees, Phillies, and Brewers before returning to Pittsburgh this season. He's seen the emotions of the game change over the years but he's always been himself.