Cespedes says 'I think baseball would grow' if MLB added more Latin culture

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The 2017 World Baseball Classic wrapped up Wednesday night, and one of my favorite parts of the tournament is seeing all the different baseball cultures. Latin American players play with a ton of energy and passion. In Asia the fans chant and sing songs for each player. It’s great.

In the United States? Well, baseball is kind of uptight here. Play the game the right way, act like you’ve been there before, don’t show up your opponent. That sort of thing. Every year, without fail, we see players get into arguments or outright brawls because of a perceived slight. A bat flip, a fist pump, whatever.

Ian Kinsler made some headlines Wednesday afternoon when he seemed to disparage Latin American players for playing with so much emotion, though he later clarified his comments and said everyone should be celebrated. In a Facebook video produced by Mitú, Yoenis Cespedes says he believes “baseball would grow” by adopting some more Latin culture, meaning shows of emotion. Here’s the video:

Latinos make this look good

Posted by We are mitú on Thursday, March 23, 2017

“Baseball players in the U.S. need to understand that we are not doing this out of disrespect. It’s just how we play,” said Cespedes. “... Baseball in the U.S. is the best baseball in the world. We Latinos play baseball because it’s a passion. That is the difference to why we play baseball with more love. In my country, Cuba, the game is played with music. If in the U.S., we would introduce more of the Latin culture, I think that baseball would grow.”

Baseball, moreso than any other major U.S. sport, is steeped in tradition. There are passionate fans who are very protective of the old school game, which is why there’s so much opposition to implementing the designated hitter in the National League even though it would unquestionably bring more offense to the game. The history of the game is part of what makes it so great, and hopefully baseball never loses that.

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Yoenis Cespedes thinks MLB would benefit from some more Latin culture. USATSI

At the same time, baseball is a game and it should be fun. This is the entertainment business, after all. Bat flips are fun and I am pro-fun. Don’t want a guy to flip his bat? Then don’t give up a homer. Pump your fist when you strike him out instead. A little more flair never hurt anyone.

I do agree with Cespedes. I think baseball would attract young fans with a more emotional style of play, and MLB is desperately trying to cultivate a younger fan base. I also think there’s little chance of this happening anytime soon. The players police themselves, and game still predominantly features U.S. born players.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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