It has been said many times that baseball is a kids’ game. On any given Saturday afternoon, during the summer months, you can find youngsters taking their positions on Little League fields across the country with hopes of eternal glory… or an ice cream cone after the game. They play the same game that big leaguers play, only with less skill and a whole lot more joy. Kids generally wear their emotions on their sleeves, always willing to flash a big smile after a base hit or a good defensive play. Children seem to be genuinely happy just to play the game and emulate their heroes.
On the other end of the spectrum is Major League Baseball. It is no longer simply played for the enjoyment or the ice cream. Major League Baseball is not just a business, it is a Big Business. Players are paid ridiculous amounts of money to play the same game that children play on Little League fields or in their own backyards. However, with the money comes expectations and constant scrutiny. Maybe that is why many Major Leaguers seem to lose the unbridled joy that they once played the game with when they were kids.
For this reason, it is extremely refreshing to see players who play the game with the same joy they possessed when they were a child. For the Chicago Cubs, one such player is Javier Baez. Javy leaves no doubt in fans’ minds that he is completely at home on a Major League diamond and that he absolutely loves being there. He plays every pitch with passion, flare, and the unbridled joy that we see from 10-year olds on local fields. He swings every swing like it could be his last and he leaves it all on the field. He is not shy about flashing a big smile after making a magical defensive play or hitting a long home run. Javy plays with the joy of a 10-year-old but the skill of a future All Star. When he smiles Cubs fans smile with him.
Photo from yahoosports.com