There's plenty of rules in the game of baseball, especially those moronic "unwritten rules" that players and fans still think those that play the game should follow.
I follow one rule: if you make "baseball purists" angry, I like you.
The best part about this is the player in Major League Baseball that's made many purists angry this season is Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson.
As a White Sox fan, this makes me happy because one, Anderson's a fantastic player to watch and a great example on and off the field for the organization with the way he carries himself as a professional and two, people are actually being made aware that the city of Chicago has two baseball teams and have had two for quite some time.
Anderson's been a focal point of discussions in the national spotlight for his enthusiasm hitting home runs and celebrating those homers because it's not "classy" and he's not "respecting the game."
"When I'm standing on the mound, and whoever it is, pick your guy, and he hits a home run out over the plate and it was a mistake and he wacks it, and then I gotta watch him do a pirouette and whatever else, I'm emotionally disturbed," former MLB pitcher Al Leiter said during a discussion on MLB Network after Anderson chucked his bat and yelled at his dugout after hitting a homer in a game with Kansas City on April 17.
In the midst of the same debate, former scrub, er ... Cub Mark DeRosa, asked out loud, "Do you want your nine-year-old throwing his bat like Tim Anderson?" He then proceeded to answer the question himself and said, "If my son did that, we're going to the car."
The whole 13-minute discussion can be found on YouTube, but those specific quotes were taken for a mash-up video that Anderson himself tweeted out on Twitter about a month after the whole debacle that brought people to his side to show everyone that, hey, baseball's supposed to be fun. I'm having fun and I really don't care if you approve of me having fun my way, along with further his own personal brand, which now has apparel available for purchase.
"I don't have any rules," Anderson said after the April 17 incident. "I play fun, I play to have fun and I play with a lot of energy."
Whether the generation before me wants to believe it or not, baseball needs more players like Anderson. Not only is Anderson an enthusiatic player who wears his emotions on his sleeve — just like I did when I played the game at a young age — he's becoming a legitimate star this season for the Sox.
"If we had 25 guys in that clubhouse going about their business the way Anderson does both off the field and on the field, we'd be winning a lot of ballgames," White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said in an interview on MLB Network yesterday when asked about the discussions surrounding the way Anderson plays.
Hahn is correct and it's more than just what a guy does with his bat after he hits a home run.
Recently, Block Club Chicago reported that every base Anderson steals this season, he will donate $500 to anti-violence work he does around Chicago and other places. People don't see the bigger picture with his impact on Chicago, the White Sox organization and the young black kids across the country that get to see themselves in Tim on a national stage simply because he flips (and/or throws) his bat when he's excited.
Do you see how idiotic that is? I hope so. Because you're getting mad at a guy for celebrating while playing a game.
If you don't want him celebrating, don't serve up fastballs over the heart of the plate that he can put in the cheap seats. It's really a simple concept and has been since the beginning of baseball, guys.
It's not because I'm a White Sox fan, but because Anderson's impact runs much deeper than hurting the feelings of pitchers across the league and who cover the league, like the dorks on MLB Network that took issue with Anderson's "showboating."
"I’m bringing something to baseball that’s never been brought, as far as the swag,” Anderson said in a Sports Illustrated profile with Stephanie Apstein back on April 30. "I love fashion, and just being different, and bringing black culture to baseball and doing it in a different way, because today’s game is boring. (After the bat flip,) a lot of people who don’t watch baseball, they actually gave me feedback, like, ‘Man, if this is going on in baseball, I better watch it.’"
Basically, Anderson is what Will Smith told Tommy Lee Jones when he returned to the Men in Black organization during Men in Black II.
"What you remember is you used to drive that old busted joint," Smith said, as they debated who was going to drive their vehicle, a brand-new all-black Mercedes-Benz. "I drive the new hotness."
Unwritten rules are the old, busted way to play baseball. The new hotness is having fun, flipping a bat or two and playing the game like kids do.