By all accounts, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna is the best prospect in the minors. Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN all ranked Acuna as the game's No. 1 prospect going into spring training.
Although it is unlikely Acuna will break camp with the Braves -- MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports the Braves want Acuna to wear his hat straight:-- the team is already letting him know how they want him to conduct himself.
The Braves want Acuna to wear his hat straight and maintain a professional appearance while in uniform. But they do not want to change much about the fun-loving, flamboyant approach that has made him one of the game's most exciting young players.
"The main thing he needs to remember is keep your head straight and respect [your surroundings]," Jones said. "Be humble, but a humble-cocky."
Are we seriously doing this in 2018? Still complaining about how players wear their hats? It was a Very Big Deal when Ken Griffey Jr. first wore his hat backwards during the Home Run Derby more than 25 years ago. We're still doing it now?
First of all, no one knows why Acuna wears his hat crooked. Fernando Rodney wears his hat crooked to honor his late father, who was a fisherman and wore his hat to the side to keep the sun out of his face. Abe Alvarez used to wear his hat to the side because he's legally blind in his left eye, and it helped balance the lighting in the eye. Who's to say Acuna isn't honoring a friend or family member by wearing his hat crooked?
Or maybe Acuna wears his hat to the side because he's a just turned 20-year-old kid and he thinks it's cool. What's wrong with that? No one seems to mind Tim Tebow wearing his hat to the side.
Baseball is desperately trying to cultivate young fans -- I do mean desperately, it is priority No. 1 in the league's office -- and here is a team telling one of the game's best and brightest young players to stop showing so much personality. That's not going to help the league draw young fans. And if it pushes anyone away, I question how much they enjoy baseball in the first place.
No sport clutches its pearls and espouses the good ol' days like baseball. Everything has to be done the "right way" when, in reality, there is no right way. There's just the way everyone has done it in the past, which is a terrible reason to continue doing things a certain way. No one should force players to conform.
Let Acuna and all other players be themselves. People just might enjoy it.