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Freddie Freeman’s comments on alleged friction with Ronald Acuña Jr. highlight one of the major things that’s wrong with baseball and the Braves.
Whether or not there is real beef between Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr., this whole situation just serves to reveal how much baseball gets wrong when dealing with the image of its young stars.
If you haven’t been following, Acuña Jr. caused a stir when he went on Instagram Live and revealed that he won’t miss Freeman because there were “clashes” between the two players.
The Braves outfield pointed to a time when veterans in Atlanta wiped off his eye black in the clubhouse.
While Acuña has walked back his comments, claiming the media blew them out of proportion, Freeman was still prompted to respond and gave his side of the story.
Braves rules apparently created Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña friction
Freeman told MLB Network that he didn’t perceive any friction in his relationship with Acuña but he did confirm that as a clubhouse veteran he was often tasked with enforcing organizational rules around appearance.
“When you put on a Braves uniform in that organization, there’s organization rules,” Freeman said. “You don’t cover the A with sunglasses, you don’t wear earrings, you have your hair a certain length, you wear a uniform during BP, you don’t have eye black coming down across your whole face.”
Freeman was just enforcing the rules he was brought up in (he shared an anecdote of not being able to wear his Louboutin shoes because they violated the team’s dress code requiring heeled dress shoes). He’s not the root of the problem here: Archaic baseball standards are.
The league seems to do everything possible to beat the personality and flare out of its brightest stars. Players like Acuña and Fernando Tatis Jr. are constantly running afoul of rules, “unwritten” and otherwise, that feel like they’re from another era.
The fact that teams still dictate the kind of eye black or specific jewelry players can wear scrubs the game of uniqueness that could bring more fans to the game.
Instead of creating scenarios where a respected veteran has to get under the skin of a young star because of arbitrary aesthetic standards, MLB franchises should embrace the idea of players expressing themselves as they are.
Joc Pederson created a trend with a string of pearls. Let Acuña do it with eye black, sunglasses or whatever else he decides.