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It’s Time to Put Baseball’s Biggest Cliché on Display

Derek Jeter and Mike Trout/USA Today

Derek Jeter and Mike Trout/USA Today

“Play the game the right way,” is the most overused term in baseball. From coaches to parents to broadcasters and followers of the game, playing the game “the right way” is used by everyone who has ever had a relationship with baseball.

A game that is learned as children, baseball is Americas Pastime. It is learned through playing, watching, studying, reading, and everything in between. Baseball is a game that makes grown men cry like babies, eight-year-olds cheer and shout, and turns everyone at any age into a major league baseball manager.

Weather it’s for three hours or seven hours, baseball has given everyone who follows it a chance to be themselves. Everyone who has watched, followed, or played the game of baseball has learned about it from someone else. Maybe a dad teaching his son how to play catch, an uncle showing his nephew how to follow through on a swing, a coach teaching a player how to shield his eyes on a fly ball caught in the sun, or even a grandfather showing his grandson the back of a Mickey Mantle baseball card.

Baseball is a national treasure for people everywhere. The “Play the game the right way” cliché has been said by almost every coach, parent, and follower of baseball. It is used in examples such as Derek Jeter, or Mike Trout, Yogi Berra and Hank Aaron. These are guys that have played the game the right way. Major League Baseball players are role models for young kids, and set examples for people at all ages. Jeter, Trout, Aaron, and Berra have all been successful and have played baseball and continue to play, (Trout) hard each and every day.

It’s constantly said by all that it is important to play the game the “right way.” There is just one problem, what really is the “right way.” Well let’s put it this way, each and every major leaguer has his “own way” of playing the game.

Some players like Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays like to play flashy. These guys like to hit the ball 500 feet and walk to first base after flipping their bats celebrating their home runs. Some guys like Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols like to point to god after hitting a home run or scoring a run. Other guys like Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson like to play the game hard every single day. Bryce Harper has also been one of those guys that plays hard each and every day, however at some points he doesn’t respect the game.

It is important to play baseball the way you want to, but it is also important to respect the game of baseball. Players come from all different areas of the world. Some have had it harder than others, and some like to have little tributes weather it is pointing to the sky, flipping a bat, or squatting before heading up to the plate. Players all have different stories, but there is no excuse to disrespect the game of baseball.

Harper, and Washington Nationals reliever Johnathan Papelbon had an altercation recently after the 40 home run and sure fire NL MVP didn’t run out a routine pop-up to left field. Papelbon wasn’t pleased and the two exchanged words and later shoves in the dugout.

Harper has played flashy throughout his career thus-far, and is arguably the best player on the planet, but Papelbon’s message is definitely one that Harper should listen to.

Harper like everyone else in the league plays the game “their way.” Just because he does this however doesn’t mean he or any other major leaguer should disrespect the great game. Not running a ball out, wearing a ball cap backwards, not tucking in a jersey are all examples of disrespecting the game.

In Harper’s case, in playoff contention or not, giving 70 percent is not acceptable in any way. Kids all over the world that follow baseball look up to Harper and model their game after him. To see a guy like that not giving his all running out a ball is a sign of disrespect.

Again, everyone is different when it comes to a batting stance, pitching motion, and throwing style. Look at St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith. Smith played the game in his own way, but never disrespected it. He always hustled and made a Hall of Fame career out of it.

So sure playing the game the “right way” is following the rules of baseball, but respecting the game is playing hard, and competing.

As for one of baseball’s best, in Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium last year, a song came on after his unbelievable walk-off single. It was Frank Sanatra’s “My Way,” with his famous line echoing through Yankee Stadium “I faced it all and I stood tall; I did it my way.”

That song was a perfect ending to Jeter’s career because he did indeed do it his way. Maybe not as successful as Jeter was, everyone else who has ever played in Major League Baseball has done it their way, and that is the right way. As long as a player respects the rules, umpires, and little things in the great game, their way is the right way.

The game of baseball has changed throughout the years sure, but there are still four bases, nine fielders, and a batter. There is still a white ball sealed with 108 (connected stitches), and only the best still play in October.

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