Throughout the entire season, we’ve been seeing MLB try to promote the surplus of young talent that’s playing at the moment. They’re right to do so — you could easily argue that this will end up being a golden age when it comes to the talent level. So MLB is letting everybody know that they’re going to Let The Kids Play and let them Play Loud as well.
This isn’t to say that this new-age ethos hasn’t been put to the test. Earlier this month, Ronald Acuña Jr. incurred the wrath of the Cardinals after he committed the ultimate baseball crime of celebrating just a little too much after hitting a home run in the playoffs. If change is going to come, then sometimes you have to drag their unwitting souls with you as you’re on the way to first base after hitting a home run.
I’m not just pulling this out of thin air — carrying the bat with you was the main story for the first half of Game 6. Alex Bregman became the man of the moment in the first inning when he hit a moonshot into the Crawford Boxes to put Houston ahead at that time. It was an amazing moment, and the budding Astros superstar made sure to enjoy it by carrying his bat with him all the way to first base before finally dropping it.
It’s pretty clear that the Nationals took offense to it, but this was the World Series. This is no time to enforce the Unwritten Rules with whatever punishment might be deemed necessary the next time they got an encounter with Bregman. So this was a situation where Washington had no choice but to Let The Kids Play, and it seemed like that was that. However, one of the Nationals hitters kept it in his memory bank and decided to do something about that.
That ended up being one of the other kids on the field: Juan Soto. Soto has had himself a bit of a postseason party and now he’s living the dream as he gets to play in the World Series after turning 21 during the Fall Classic. He saw Bregman was having a good time at Washington’s expense, so he figured that he wouldn’t let Bregman forget about it. However, he didn’t wait until the end of the game to complain about it and he didn’t try to convince the pitcher to get some revenge for him. Instead, Soto went about his revenge tour in a way more positive manner.
By the time the fifth inning rolled around, the game was tied at two after Adam Eaton decided that hitting dingers was more fun that bunting. So Soto entered the batters box and took four pitches before sending the fifth pitch from Justin Verlander into orbit.
Juan Soto is the youngest player in @MLB history to hit 3 HRs in a #WorldSeries.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) October 30, 2019
Juan Soto has more HRs in this #Postseason (5) than any player 21 or younger in *any* Postseason.#ChildishBambino // #STAYINTHEFIGHT pic.twitter.com/BE3q4omeHW
Soto took the bat with him to first base and then dropped the bat as if he was an MC dropping the mic after spitting some heat in a battle. Bregman started the freestyle battle and Soto finished it.
Up until the complete chaos that happened a couple of innings later, this was probably going to be the moment that defined Game 6 of the 2019 World Series. The kids were out there playing and they were loud about it. In a just world, that would have been the end of it and the postgame discussion would center around a 25-year-old and a 21-year-old turning the World Series into their own personal game of baseball H-O-R-S-E. Unfortunately, this is still baseball so people were still trying to restore order once the dust cleared following the game.
A.J. Hinch didn’t like it.
A.J. Hinch: “Bregman shouldn’t carry his bat past 1B. And Soto shouldn’t carry his bat to 1B either.” #WorldSeries— Scott Miller (@ScottMillerBbl) October 30, 2019
Bregman apologized for it.
“I let my emotions get the best of me. I’m sorry for doing that.” -Alex Bregman on carrying his bat down the 1B line after his HR.— Julia Morales (@JuliaMorales) October 30, 2019
Davey Martinez said he’d sit down with Soto about it.
Dave Martinez said “we didn’t like it” when Bregman carried the bat to first base. Then said “I didn’t like it” when Soto carried his bat to first. Said he would talk to Soto about it— Erik Boland (@eboland11) October 30, 2019
Soto, on the other hand, was a complete and total “G” about the whole thing.
Juan Soto on MLB Network, on mimicking Alex Bregman's bat drop: "I just told it to myself, as soon as I saw that, what Bregman did in the first inning, I was like 'that was pretty cool, I want to do that!'"— Blake Finney (@FinneyBlake) October 30, 2019
Watch him say it, it’s great:
Soto was absolutely right in his postgame assessment of what happened. Bregman’s celebration was pretty cool and Soto was right about deciding that he wanted to try it for himself. Soto was the one who went about getting revenge the right way. There’s no need to whine about a home run celebration after the game or try to physically retaliate during the game. Instead, Soto literally hit Bregman and the Astros where it hurt them the most — on the scoreboard. Soto’s homer put Washington ahead for good as they forced a Game 7 in the World Series and Soto seemed to be one of the only people who realized just how awesome and cool that was. He treated that moment with the reverence that a children’s game deserves and it was honestly refreshing to see a kid treat what’s supposed to be a fun game like it’s fun!
If baseball wants to “Let Their Kids Play” and let them be “Loud” about it, then it would be nice if stuff like this didn’t turn into something where other players and managers decided to act gravely offended whenever someone decides to actually have some fun on the baseball diamond. Give the kids the space to actually play and give them a microphone to drop at first base and we’ll start seeing the fun factor continue to rise. Now let’s all root for a huge home run in Game 7 that sees someone flip their bat into the moon’s orbit.