Tim Anderson is one of the faces of a changing sport of baseball.
Need some proof? Check out the cover of the latest edition of the "R.B.I. Baseball" video game.
Anderson’s on it.
The White Sox shortstop was announced as the game’s cover athlete Thursday, bringing more exposure to one of the South Side’s brightest young stars.
“Like a lot of kids, I grew up playing video games,” Anderson said in the announcement. “When I couldn’t get outside to play ball or we had bad weather, that was a time to have fun with my friends and live out some fantasies. And it was always cool to see who was on the cover every year — those were guys I aspired to be.
“So now to see myself on the cover of 'R.B.I. 21' is really part of a dream come true. And I hope that kids will see my picture on the cover and realize they can do this, too. They just have to believe in themselves, follow their dreams and work at it.”
Anderson has not only turned his game around in the last couple years — winning a batting title in 2019 and a Silver Slugger in 2020 — but he’s also cranked up his personal spotlight by being one of the torch-carriers for a new style of baseball that emphasizes fun and personality over antiquated “unwritten rules.”
His bat flip after a home run against the Kansas City Royals in 2019 earned him a retaliatory beaning from pitcher Brad Keller but more importantly amplified the conversation over where the game is going. In the wake of that incident, Anderson called baseball “boring” and vowed that he was working to change it. He told Sports Illustrated he was looking to emulate Jackie Robinson in breaking baseball’s “have-fun barrier” and rushed to the defense of San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatís Jr. when he came under similar fire last season.
The White Sox have backed their star shortstop all the way, using his words — “change the game” — as their official slogan last year.
Now baseball is leaning in, too. Just as it highlighted the personalities of its new generation of players with its excellent “let the kids play” ad campaign a couple postseasons ago, it’s putting Anderson on a video-game cover, promoting one of the game’s biggest advocates for the new style.
Now, what button do I push to do a bat flip?