Marcus Stroman pitched a beauty of a game yesterday for the Blue Jays, going the full 9 innings, while only surrendering 7 H, 1 BB, and 1 ER in a 6-2 Toronto victory over the Angels.
Immediately after Toronto recorded the final out of the ball game and began their celebratory high-fives on the field, the camera then looked over to the Angels dugout where Albert Pujols and Mike Scioscia were looking none too pleased. It wasn’t until a few seconds later when the Sportsnet feed went to Jamie Campbell and Gregg Zaun that I found out why Pujols and the Angels dugout were so unhappy. Stroman, like he has a tendency of doing went a bit over the top with his victory celebration…so much so that it was enough to rub the Angels and old-school thinkers like Zaun the wrong way.
After the game, and as soon as the camera was on Zaun, he was simply shaking his head. He couldn’t believe that after such a wonderful performance, that Stroman would disrespect his competition like that, instead of just enjoying the victory and keeping quiet. Zaun touched on the idea that maybe this is just typical behaviour with today’s younger generation, but I’m not so sure that’s completely accurate. Although there are plenty of young athletes today who think they’re gods gift to whatever sport they play, that sort of thing is certainly not the case with most young athletes.
When I see an overly cocky young athlete like Bryce Harper or Brett Lawrie who think they’re all that and a bag of chips, sure I worry that perhaps the game is heading in the wrong direction. The good news however, is that there are still many more young athletes who thankfully play the game the right way. Take for example Mike Trout or Auston Matthews. These are easily two of the most talented athletes in their respective sports. They are 25 and 19 years of age, they play the game the right way, and have nothing but the utmost respect for their peers. Baseball needs veteran players like Pujols to police the game and help ensure that when a young player (or any player) steps out of line, they can put them in their place and explain what it was they did wrong.
Just to finish up on how Stroman reacted after beating the Angels. The Blue Jays have a 5-13 record at the moment. I repeat, the Jays are 5-13!! There’s no need for this sort of behaviour in baseball, especially when you’re playing against a team like the Angels who go about their business in a respectful manner, and when your team has a .278 winning percentage.
I love the intensity that Stroman plays with, but there’s a way of playing the game hard and with an edge, while at the same time not showing up your competition. And this is a lesson that all veteran ball players need to continue hammering into the heads of young ball players, otherwise we’ll end up with a league of immature brats who have little respect for the game, their competition, or the fans.