The Easiest Marks in the World
By Kyle Koster
Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco, one of the most exciting young players in Major League Baseball, put some panache and flair on an otherwise routine 6-3 last night by flipping the ball in the air like a basketball player lining up a free throw line. It was pretty cool and thankfully didn't end in disaster because that would have been embarrassing.
Predictably, it was met with overwhelming, almost universal praise on social media. Not necessarily because the people chiming in enjoyed it but, more importantly, because it would trigger some people who prefer the old-school way of playing ball. It's the same tired response to anything halfway interesting that's happened on a baseball field we've seen for like a decade now. The easiest marks in the world falling all over themselves to stick their fingers in the chests of people who may or may not even exist. It's almost rote now and provides me the opportunity to write something no one will like, which I never pass up.
Here's the hot take. The people who only engage with baseball content to show how much they like fun and delight in shit that purportedly pisses off dudes wearing sunglasses in the front seat of their Ford 350s are actually more annoying than the sourdoughs who would complain. We all get it. Franco's play was slick and more entertaining than throwing the ball straight to first base. You're preaching to the choir. Why is it necessary to take pleasure in some fleeting fringe anger instead of just appreciating it on its own merits?
Again, not the end of the world but it seems both unhealthy and kinda lame to respond to what's become more and more common shows of showmanship with the general stance of "haha take that, assholes." Doesn't that get boring? Don't you realize that you're still fighting a battle that's already been won?
It's over. Fun was victorious and it's painfully obvious to anyone paying attention. Cranks are going to continue to crank yet their voices have been quieted to the point that the only thing that gives them oxygen is by reintroducing them as main characters into the process.
Ironically the Look At How Cool I Am sect is doing the exact same thing they think they are decrying and combating, which is holding onto the past instead of savoring the present.
Any real humans still getting triggered don't matter. It's time to move on. Playing the same predictable note over and over and over again is just as boring as throwing the ball over to first without ball-spinning.
Pushing my luck here but will offer this thought to dismiss. Do these posters really believe that playing demonstratively is the only way to have fun on the baseball diamond? That it's not pleasurable if it doesn't have a little extra stank on it? That the process of making a fine defensive play or bombing a ball 450 feet into the seats doesn't spark internal joy?
It's a new era. Both sides should stop living in the past and firing salvos that detract from the fun. Because why introduce a negative into a positive just to show how much you personally get it?