Now that we’re in the full throes of Let the Kids Play, the kids are playing more than ever. On one hand, we have Fernando Tatis Jr. swinging 3-0 for a late-game, blowout grand slam, which seemed to coalesce public opinion about just how ludicrous some of baseball’s unwritten rules can be.
On the other hand, Tatis was actually playing the game. MLB’s marketing slogan was, at the time of its release, geared more toward allowing a greater degree of celebration into the game. Bat flips and whatnot.
It is in that vein that we bring you Trevor Bauer, who celebrated a strikeout on Monday by pretending to open a beer on the mound. Bauer has long been outspoken about his support for emotional displays on the field, be they from pitchers or hitters. This, though, was so much more than that.
Prior to his pantomime, Bauer wrote the word “BUDS” on the back on the mound with his toe. What did it all mean?
It started on Aug. 14, when the Reds tweeted about Sonny Gray setting a team record with 45 strikeouts over his first five starts. Bauer’s succinct response in accepting a challenge: “Hold my beer.”
That was all it took. Because we live in a marketing-driven world and because Bauer is extremely online, Budweiser replied accordingly.
The guess here is that Bauer would have engaged with far less provocation. As it was, he jumped all over this corporate offering.
This, then, is how we end up with “BUDS” on the back of the mound …
… and with Bauer opening an imaginary beer to celebrate his 46th strikeout over five starts. (By game’s end, Bauer would have eight whiffs, and 49 on the season.
As it happened, his opponent that day was the Milwaukee Brewers. Could they be mad? Probably, but given that the pitcher’s pantomime had everything to do with Budweiser and nothing to do with them, it’s difficult to see this going much further. (No sign yet of actual Cincinnati Buds beer cans, as far as I can tell.)
Let the kids play. Then let them drink. Sometimes at the same time.
Update 8/27: The Buds have arrived.