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Volume 26 No. 48
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MLB Looks For Right Balance Of Fun In "Let The Kids Play" Era

Muncy's home-run celebration and Madison Bumgarner's reaction sparked headlines on Sunday
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The new generation of baseball players "isn't all in" on MLB's "Let The Kids Play" mantra, and it is an "inner-baseball conflict that isn’t just going to sort itself out with another commercial or two," according to Mike Oz of YAHOO SPORTS. Giants P Madison Bumgarner made headlines on Sunday for his reaction to Dodgers 1B Max Muncy celebrating a home run against him, and Bumgarner "called out the 'Let the Kids Play' tagline in his postgame comments." He said, "You've got to just let the kids play, that's what everybody is saying. They want to let everybody be themselves. Let me be myself -- that's me, you know? I'd just as soon fight than walk or whatever." Oz noted fans and media "can’t simultaneously want players to show emotion on the field by celebrating and not want them to show emotion when they’re upset." Oz: "Emotion is emotion. You take the good, you take the bad. ... Quite honestly, the more conflict in baseball, the better -- so long as nobody’s getting hurt." MLB could "use the boost of excitement these days" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/10). In N.Y., Bradford Davis writes MLB is "desperate for loud rivalries from spirited players." The sport "needs storylines that pique national interest." Muncy and Bumgarner "delivered exactly what they needed to" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/11).

KEEP IT COMING: In Arizona, Dan Bickley wrote MLB "needs a revolution" in the form of a "new generation of trash talkers and bat flippers." It needs an "army of anarchists to burn the unwritten rules to the ground." That is the "only way out for a sport dying of disinterest." This "became clear for the billionth time over the weekend," when Bumgarner "barked at Muncy to quit admiring" his home run ball. Bickley: "What other sport frowns on oversized displays of passion?" The "only way out of this mess is through the power and appeal of unique personalities, to roll out new sensibilities inside a tired sport" (ARIZONASPORTS.com, 6/10). In Georgia, Travis Jaudon wrote Bumgarner's "fiery reactions are just as important to allow as the bat flips and slow cruises around the bases for home-run hitters." While commercials "promoting the game’s brightest young stars tend to use the phrase 'let the kids play,' they seem to only want the batters to do the 'playing.'" Bumgarner "rightfully says he should be allowed to play in the way he wants if the batter can put on a mini-performance after a big fly and before a trot ever actually begins" (SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS, 6/10).

LIGHTEN UP, FRANCIS! MLB Network's Chris Rose said, "Too often we're asking baseball players in particular to live in a very small box, and whether it's the unwritten rules or that's the way it used to be and all that stuff, I'm sick of that" ("Intentional Talk," MLB Network, 6/10). The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said he is "sick of baseball etiquette" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/10). CBSSN's Adam Schein said the back-and-forth between Bumgarner and Muncy was "just incredible, (and) is amazing for baseball." It brings "juice and excitement" to the league ("Time to Schein," CBSSN, 6/10).

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH? In Pittsburgh, Tim Benz writes if recent incidents are MLB's "idea of 'letting the kids play,' then it shouldn’t." Whether it is Reds 2B Derek Dietrich "posing for every home run he hits, Max Muncy acting like a first-inning homer in June is a walk-off homer in October, Madison Bumgarner channeling his inner Crash Davis and chasing batters up the first-base line" or the benches clearing last night at SunTrust Park after Braves 3B Josh Donaldson was hit by a pitch, "one thing is for certain." If "you give Major League ballplayers an inch, they’ll take a mile." MLB "needs to quickly get it back" because things are "going off the rails" (TRIBLIVE.com, 6/11).