Since his first day as a New York Met, Yoenis Cespedes has been one of the most entertaining and fascinating players in the sport, and that’s not a bad thing. During his time with the team, Cespedes has captured headlines for his dyed hair, golf outings, bat flips, flashy cars, and underhand throws, just to name a few. Before he even saw a pitch in the United States, Cespedes intrigued fans across the country with his showcase video, which concluded with the slugger and his family roasting a large pig over an open fire.
Naturally, when a player has a personality like Cespedes does, they’re bound to have their fair share of “old man yells at cloud” critics. And Cespedes’s most recent critic is the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. A recently published article questioned whether or not the Cuban’s “antics” and attitude towards the game was a detriment to the Mets. Sherman received a well-deserved pounding on Twitter for the piece.
Cespedes isn’t maliciously destroying the national pastime from within or acting as a virus on the team. He is doing what every player getting paid to play the game of baseball should be doing: having fun. A player wearing his hat backward and catching balls behind his back during a spring training fielding drill isn’t a crime against humanity. It’s adding some levity to an otherwise ho-hum activity that he’s probably done thousands of times in his career. These players aren’t robots, and in the words of Jay Bruce “...not everyone does things the same way.”
Even the conductors of the drill mentioned in this case, Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mickey Callaway, had no problem with Cespedes’s actions, instead praising the “energy” that he brings to the team. Both also noted that as long as the work gets done, the players can perform their jobs however they like.
Frankly, the league could probably benefit by having more players with the attitude of Cespedes. With a league whose demographics skew towards the older side, a blue haired, bat flipping, Lamborghini driving All-Star would go a long way in attracting a younger audience. Major League Baseball as a whole should be promoting the unconventional nature of players like Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Odubel Herrera rather than trying to make them conform to what the league wants them to be.
The unpredictable and unusual actions by Cespedes haven’t alienated him from his teammates. He’s probably even one of the most well-liked players in the team’s clubhouse. Over the course of the past few seasons, Cespedes has gotten friendly with Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Reyes, rode horses with Noah Syndergaard, and created home run handshakes with multiple players including Neil Walker and Jay Bruce. There hasn’t been any evident resentment towards Cespedes coming out of the clubhouse, and many fans, across all the teams in the league, view him as one of the most enthralling players in baseball. With a good chunk of the players and fans in his corner, Cespedes must be doing something right.
The way that Yoenis Cespedes goes about playing baseball should be appreciated, not vilified. One of the main purposes of the sport of baseball is to provide entertainment, and there are few players better at doing that than Cespedes. People should try to embrace Cespedes for who he is instead of creating mountains out of molehills and looking for controversy. It might be a long time before a player like Cespedes comes around again, so why not sit back and enjoy the show while we still can?