“We play a game. It’s fun. That is all.”
Michael Kopech tweeted that as the debate over old-school vs. new-school got dragged back into the fore by the actions of his teammate. The injured pitcher was thousands of miles from the epicenter of the chain of events that thrust Tim Anderson into the national spotlight. But, thanks to social media, he’s been standing right beside Anderson all along.
Bat flips make for fun highlights and good marketing campaigns, but there’s a certain segment of players, fans and other baseball people that think they’re a display of arrogance, inappropriate behavior and a violation of unwritten but well-established rules that have developed in the game’s century and a half of existence.
Anderson has taken up the crusade of changing baseball for the better, making an at times old-timey game more fun and more appealing to different populations of fans, be they younger than the typical baseball fan or have a different skin color than the typical baseball fan.
Kopech has been among Anderson’s supporters.
Inject this right into my veins https://t.co/oo8Re3cSk5— Kopech (@MichaelKopech5) April 17, 2019
We play a game. It’s fun. That is all.— Kopech (@MichaelKopech5) April 17, 2019
Fans want to see their players have passion to win. Right? Right.......?— Kopech (@MichaelKopech5) April 17, 2019
In addition to his social-media support, Kopech provided his thoughts on the whole situation Friday, talking with reporters during his multi-day break from Arizona.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t throw at somebody because they pissed me off before. So I see both sides of it. But I’m not saying I’m right for throwing at anybody, either,” Kopech said from the home dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field. “What Tim is doing is having fun. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him having fun. So that aspect of everything is kind of controversial right now because there are people who agree and disagree and some people kind of agree with it.
“It’s at a point where the game either has to change or it’s not going to. I think Tim is making a push for the game to change, which is fine by me. Have all the fun you want.
“If I strike somebody out and I pound my chest or whatever, I don’t want anybody getting pissed off at me. If I give one up next year and it’s over that scoreboard, I don’t really care. Flip your bat. Do it. I might get mad at the time. But I’ll get over it.”
The level of offense people take from someone flipping a bat — a pretty silly thing to get mad about when you see it written out like that — has to do with a lot of different factors. The majority of White Sox fans seem to be behind Anderson, though their opinions might be different if he didn’t play for the White Sox.
Anderson’s teammates have been vocal in their support of him, though some have described themselves as “old school,” admitting to being in the camp Anderson is up against. Of course, they have the luxury of knowing Anderson and being around him on a daily basis, understanding what kind of person he is. If someone else did the same thing against them and they didn’t have the same kind of experience they have with Anderson, they might find themselves feeling much the way Brad Keller did when he plunked Anderson in the at-bat following that bat flip on April 17.
None of that should be forgotten as this debate rolls on with Anderson playing a starring role. The White Sox and their fans should have some extra appreciation for Anderson, especially as his hard work has yielded some tremendous results in the first month of the 2019 season. He received American League Player of the Month honors just Thursday and still led the AL in batting average and stolen bases heading into Friday’s game.
There’s been a sense that both with the offensive results and the displays of emotion on the field, we’re finally seeing the real Tim Anderson. Kopech agrees.
“He’s really confident. He’s always been that confident player,” Kopech said. “It’s fun to see him really come into himself because we know him as that guy in the clubhouse, but I think he’s made a few comments even that he’s never really shown that side of himself on the field and he’s starting to and it’s really fun to watch.
“He’s a great guy and a great player.”