Players Weekend is upon us. If you ask me, Players Weekend is one of the best things Major League Baseball has added to its schedule in recent years. As the game looks to expand and connect with new fans, it’s begun to play in different countries and locales — take, for instance, last weekend’s Little League Classic at the Little League World Series.
Nothing is as good — or as important, really — as Players Weekend. In combo with the players’ union, Players Weekend was created to give players a chance to show off their personality in a new way. Baseball is, traditionally, a sport that stifles individuality. So it’s not hard to see why the game hasn’t had a *true* superstar since Ken Griffey Jr.
Players Weekend won’t immediately solve the big problem, but it chips away at it. For one weekend, MLB tosses away the uniform and equipment norms and lets players go wild with the customization and personalization. Players wear nicknames on their uniforms, use eye-catching painted bats, wear custom-designed cleats and pay tribute to people important to them with jersey patches. It’s all over social media right now — trending on Twitter even — a sign that players and younger, tech-savvy fans are into it too.
But why does it have to be just one weekend? Why can’t baseball be like this more often? That’s the topic of my Open Mike video this week here on The Spin on Yahoo Sports. Players Weekend is one of the best ways MLB can tap into the personalities of its young stars. In a 162-game season, doing it for three games doesn’t seem like enough — especially considering MLB is doing all it can to attract a younger generation of fans.
So what does Players Weekend 2018 look like? Like this:
Custom Bryzzo bats for Cubs stars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant
Todd Frazier (aka the Toddfather) wearing cleats inspired by “The Sopranos” and “The Godfather.”
Francisco Lindor wearing a number of socially aware hashtags on this cleats
Scooter Gennett paying tribute to Dale Earnhardt with his Players Weekend uniform and bats
Even the great Hank Aaron getting into the act.
If you don’t like this, I’m going to guess there are plenty of things you don’t like about life in 2018 — so this is the least of your problems.
As far as modern baseball goes, this is the step the game needs to take. It doesn’t need to happen every day — or even every weekend — but if MLB wants to keep showcasing its players and building a bridge to a new generation of fans, then more of this is a necessary step.
PREVIOUSLY ON OPEN MIKE:
• When it’s OK — or not OK — to flip your bat
• How celebrities would make baseball cooler
• “Rookie of the Year” Turns 25
• Celebrate baseball’s best holiday: Bobby Bonilla Day
• Tanking isn’t as bad as you say it is
• Pace-of-play isn’t killing baseball — the Fun Police are
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