Cleveland Indians: Ian Kinsler Can’t Be More Wrong About Emotion In Baseball

Mar 10, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; USA infielder Ian Kinsler (3) looks on as he pops out in the third inning against Colombia during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 10, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; USA infielder Ian Kinsler (3) looks on as he pops out in the third inning against Colombia during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

Ian Kinsler’s comments regarding emotion and joy in the World Baseball Classic couldn’t be more wrong.

I want to temper the headline just a bit before we dive right in. I can applaud Detroit Tigers’ Ian Kinsler for crushing a big home run in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA, a huge key to winning the WBC title for the first time ever. I can also appreciate Kinsler’s track record as a steady performer and solid teammate. But I still cannot stand Kinsler, and not just because his line drive broke Cleveland IndiansCarlos Carrasco’s hand.

In addition, the reason is not only because he has played for the Tigers for long enough to earn it. That’s only about half of it.

It’s also due to Kinsler’s statements, which were stated to the New York Times scribe Billy Witz regarding the way the Dominican and Puerto Rican teams specifically approach the game of baseball.

Kinsler cannot be more wrong on the appropriateness of the joy and emotion those two clubs play the game as opposed to what Kinsler alluded to as a more serious and matter of fact way to play the game.

As a Tribe fan, these comments represent the opposite of what makes the Indians such a joy to root for. The last few seasons have been successful, yes, but it isn’t just the wins alone that has made being a Cleveland fan great again.

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Ever since manager Terry Francona has taken over from the likes of Eric Wedge and Manny Acta, the fun has returned to the field. It should not surprise anyone that a higher level of play has followed.

I remember vividly attending a game shortly after Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela were brought up to the Indians in 2015. While their defensive talent first caught my attention, I was more impressed with the way they looked to be having the time of their lives out there.

How is that not what makes baseball great? We certainly all feel that it helps make the Indians great. For Lindor, it’s a major reason why fans feel so strongly about his place in the organization.

It’s more than just Lindor. Jose Ramirez made waves with his crazy hairstyle and engagement on social media. Jason Giambi helped form The Goon Squad of bench players when he was on the roster. Francona’s folksy and down to earth persona is the driving force behind a strong clubhouse, red scooter and all. Even the team’s official Twitter account is easily the best in baseball.

Would 2016 had been as great without the Tyler Naquin “rock fist” after scoring on a walk-off inside the park home run or the Jason Kipnis celebration after scoring on a passed ball from second base?

Would we have had the same feelings about 2016 without the Party at Napoli’s? Maybe Kinsler bristled at those things while the Tigers were at home during the postseason.

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Playing with emotion has always been a part of the success of this club. Don’t forget about how those 1990’s teams played the game every day.

Jose Vizcaíno and Omar Vizquel used to put huge bubbles of gum on teammates shoes and hats during games. Not to mention, there are also a few players who looked like they were having more fun at shortstop than Vizquel.

Kenny Lofton smiled through almost every robbed home run and every stolen base. Even Albert Belle played with emotion, albeit often aggressive emotion. But, sometimes that type of emotion is better than none. Without it, the bicep flex Incident would never have occurred. Granted, it also led to the Fernando Vina trainwreck.

At the end of the day, baseball is supposed to be fun. It is a profession and takes an exceptional amount of hard work to get to the major league level. It should be hard and there should be some seriousness in approaching the craft.

But that doesn’t mean it’s supposed to be joyless, as Kinsler eludes. To his point, young players should see how hard the American team worked to win the WBC.

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That said, they should also see the comradery and unbridled excitement of teams like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. After all, baseball is just a game, right?