"Baseball's a game, and games are supposed to be fun."
Apparently the Kansas City Royals never saw "Mr. Baseball."
Tim Anderson went viral Wednesday and stirred up the never-ending argument over baseball's unwritten rules. Anderson, who talks so often of having fun and trying to bring energy to these White Sox, didn't so much flip his bat as he did throw it like a javelin after absolutely crushing a home run deep into the left-field seats at Guaranteed Rate Field. So when he received a plunking right on the behind the next time he came to the plate, no one was surprised.
The teams spilled onto the field and stayed there for quite a while. Anderson, clearly sharing words with the Royals as he somewhat circuitously made his way toward first base, was sequestered by Jose Abreu and Joe McEwing early on in the proceedings, leaving the coaching staffs, interestingly enough, to play the starring roles in the on-field get together. Rick Renteria repeatedly tried to shoo the Royals off the field, at one point coming face to face with Dale Sveum, who also once held the position of manager on the North Side of town. Ned Yost took exception to Renteria's instruction and those two were nose to nose at one point. No punches were thrown, and somehow Anderson ended up receiving an ejection — something everyone besides longtime White Sox foil Joe West was bewildered by.
But even though West earned plenty of scorn on social media, the overarching conversation dealt with Anderson and the Royals. This isn't Anderson's first run-in with the division rivals. Benches cleared in Kansas City last April when Salvador Perez took exception with Anderson's reaction to a home run. Some advice for the grumpy Royals, not long ago among the game's up-and-comers: Maybe stop giving up home runs to Anderson.
Renteria seemed to agree.
"He's going to be who he is. He doesn't do it to show anybody up. You clearly can tell that," Renteria said after the game. "If you look at the video, he's looking into (the White Sox dugout during his home run celebration). He's not looking at anybody else, he's not trying to show them up.
"Get him out. You want him to not do that? Get him out."
Whether they actually hold baseball's old-timey traditions dear or they were just irritated on this day after this home run, the Royals were the ones standing in the way of the new style Wednesday. Major League Baseball's marketing department has leaned in the opposite direction, trotting out slogans such as "let the kids play" in recent months. That chill-inducing playoff commercial narrated by Ken Griffey Jr. and featuring all sorts of screaming and celebrating showed which way they'd like the game to go, surely in an effort to attract younger viewers to a game well more than a century old.
The Royals might get that, to be fair. They might not be a bunch of crusty old-timers. Heck, Brad Keller is two years younger than Tim Anderson. But that's not how things looked Wednesday.
Anderson has been talking about having fun for years, and his batting average sitting north of .400 in the season's early going has finally put him in the spotlight. Who knows if he's seen "Mr. Baseball," but he gets that games are supposed to be fun.
"I’m going to continue to be me and keep having fun," Anderson said. "Our fans, they pay their hard-earned money to come to the ballpark to see a show. So why don’t I give them one?
"I’m going to continue to play hard and keep playing for my team and the South Side. I’m in a place where I want to be. I’m going to continue to play hard and keep having fun.
"I don’t have any rules. I play to have fun, and I play with a lot of energy."
Whether the Royals are still upset or not, whether old-timers watch the clip of Anderson's bat launch and furrow their brows, it's easy to see how Anderson's style can win over a lot of fans.
Anderson is gaining a bit of a reputation now, it seems. This wasn't his first run-in with these Royals, nor was it the first time he was ejected by West. You might remember back to last September, when Anderson was tossed from a game against the Cubs and said afterward "everybody knows he's terrible." A lot of fans on social media agreed Wednesday, perhaps still holding a grudge from 2010, when West ejected Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen and caused Hawk Harrelson to say, among many other things, "that is a flat-out absolute disgrace to the umpiring profession."
But Anderson's not looking to change his ways. And why should he? He's having fun. That's what you're supposed to do in a game like this. And his teammates are appreciative of that.
For those who don't like it, the route to fixing it is pretty clear, as Renteria illustrated: Get him out.
What would Anderson do if the shoe was on the other foot? If he was the pitcher and someone pimped a home run against him?
"Try to strike them out."
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