MLB marketing wants to 'let the kids play' -- some ballplayers would be wise to take the advice

MLB Marketing: Let the kids play!

Some MLB players: Only on my team! Not against me!

It's difficult to even know exactly where to begin here because it's an argument that's been discussed for at least a couple of decades. For the most part, the old-schoolers have lost. Major League Baseball has even created a marketing campaign around telling the curmudgeons to settle down about players getting excited about making big plays. It started with this brilliant ad in front of last postseason, including Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. 

Look at all those players included in there. Basically, it's a group of incredibly exciting and marketable players that would appeal to young fans and help grow the game's popularity for the next generation of adult consumers. MLB's marketing department doubled down on the campaign heading into this season: 

It's funny, for years fans on social media lament that MLB doesn't know how to market its players and that this campaign is the best job it has done. Look at all those marketable players being marketed! The best player in baseball closes with, again, "just let the kids play." 

On Wednesday, MLB social media continued the campaign, such as with White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson's blast -- with a long toss of his bat which some would call excessive: 

To be clear, Cut4 is a blog on MLB.com and the official MLB twitter account retweeted that. Later, this came from @MLB: 

Now, this is social media and not directly coming from Rob Manfred or the MLBPA or anything, but it's got MLB's name on it and players have worked with the league to create the campaign. 

The issue is everyone in MLB doesn't seem to be fully embracing this. Brad Keller of the Royals hit Anderson in his next at-bat and the benches cleared. So Keller and the Royals apparently aren't letting the kid play. What's funny is that pretty much every example - the Royals are just the flavor du jour here -- of stuff like this shows glaring hypocrisy. Some White Sox fans found and started circulating this on Twitter: 

Now, the easy reply here from Royals fans would be that this was a walk-off and it's OK in that case. Something something "big spot." That game ran the Royals' record to 19-36. Anderson's home run Wednesday broke a scoreless tie. I mean, we can argue about this if we really want to and we'll just end up going in circles of semantics. Where we end up is somewhere in the ballpark of ...

My guys can do it, but no one else can.

It's just hard for people to admit that hypocrisy that's been ingrained, and it's understandable. Just because it's understandable, however, doesn't mean it should be accepted. We can self-evaluate and grow from it. 

Remember the Jose Bautista bat toss? That was the biggest home run in Canadian history since Joe Carter's World Series clinching walk-off and people were still incredibly angry about it. It caused a fight the next year when Rougned Odor punched Bautista, and the pulse I got from social media was many fans of other teams were saying "good! He deserved it!" 

There's still a fundamental disagreement here. MLB is trying to market to younger people while there's an element of curmudgeon that's sort of embodied in this tweet from Randal Grichuk

Lots of people are wired this way. My question back would be: Why? Why does a hitter have to act how you want him to act? You, Randal Grichuk, don't get to decide what is OK for Tim Anderson. You just don't. 

Want to know what's a good phrase? To each his own. You don't have to flip your bat and celebrate, Randal, but in return, how about just letting Anderson be himself? 

For the record, Anderson owned Grichuk: 

You might ask how that's ownership? Because Grichuk claims he wasn't talking about Anderson even though -- given when the Grichuk tweet was sent compared to MLB action during the day Wednesday -- there's no way he wasn't talking about Anderson ... 

Poor attempt at a save there, Randal! Also, hopefully you are prepared to see a teammate "pimping home runs" pretty soon, because Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who will come up soon, is going to do it to what you probably deem excess. 

Individual tiffs and examples aside, I keep coming back to something I've been saying for years. Getting your feelings hurt about how an opponent acts is the furthest thing from tough or macho. It's being a cry-baby. Players should be more mentally tough than to get angry about an opposing player getting excited about something like a home run or big strikeout. 

An old coach of mine used to say "control what you can control." It sounds weird, but think about it. You can't control the weather or the umpire, but you as a player can control how you react. You can't control how your opponent acts on the field. You can control your own actions and being a sniveling cry-baby about the opponent's celebration just doesn't seem like a good choice in a game of guys who fancy themselves tough. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the tough guy route is to throw a temper tantrum on the field. 

To use my pet analogy on the so-called toughness front, if you saw kids on a playground starting to mix it up, would you think the tough one was the kid who ran 60 1/2 feet away and then threw a rock at the other kid? 

Throwing at a player because he hurt your feelings is the height of cowardice. I'll even go this far: If the Royals were that angry about Anderson's toss, they should have just thrown down right there instead of letting it fester a few innings then throwing at him. I'm not kidding. If it's that bad, just fight him on the spot. It's a hell of a lot tougher than throwing a ball at him. That would've been pretty stupid, but it's a lot more "tough guy." 

Here's an actual idea: If you see what you deem an excessive celebration, get him out next time (or if it's a position player mad at a pitcher, take him deep next time). Win the game. Beat him on the field. Be satisfied the excessive celebrator lost to you. [Note: The Royals did win; I'm speaking as a blanket statement for every situation here.]

Regardless, MLB's marketing right now doesn't seem to be lining up with the thought process of some of its players and that's a shame, because it's the best marketing they've ever done. Let's hope some of these guys with apparently fragile egos can start putting those aside for the good of the game that has made them rich. Things are a lot more fun to watch when the players are allowed to be themselves and that includes some pretty zealous celebrating. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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